The Gospel

Friday, June 30, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : 1st Martyrs of Rome

Saint Symeon the New Theologian : “Jesus touched him and said, ‘I do will it. Be cured.’”

2nd book of Kings 25,1-12.

In the tenth month of the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his whole army advanced against Jerusalem, encamped around it, and built siege walls on every side. The siege of the city continued until the eleventh year of Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the fourth month, when famine had gripped the city, and the people had no more bread, the city walls were breached. Then the king and all the soldiers left the city by night through the gate between the two walls which was near the king's garden. Since the Chaldeans had the city surrounded, they went in the direction of the Arabah. But the Chaldean army pursued the king and overtook him in the desert near Jericho, abandoned by his whole army. The king was therefore arrested and brought to Riblah to the king of Babylon, who pronounced sentence on him. He had Zedekiah's sons slain before his eyes. Then he blinded Zedekiah, bound him with fetters, and had him brought to Babylon. On the seventh day of the fifth month (this was in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard, came to Jerusalem as the representative of the king of Babylon. He burned the house of the LORD, the palace of the king, and all the houses of Jerusalem; every large building was destroyed by fire. Then the Chaldean troops who were with the captain of the guard tore down the walls that surrounded Jerusalem. Then Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, led into exile the last of the people remaining in the city, and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon, and the last of the artisans. But some of the country's poor, Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, left behind as vinedressers and farmers.

Psalms 137,1-6.

By the rivers of Babylon we sat mourning and weeping when we remembered Zion.
On the poplars of that land we hung up our harps.
There our captors asked us for the words of a song; Our tormentors, for a joyful song: "Sing for us a song of Zion!"
But how could we sing a song of the LORD in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand wither.
May my tongue stick to my palate if I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem beyond all my delights.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 8,1-4.

When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, "Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean." He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I will do it. Be made clean." His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Then Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them."

Commentary of the day :

Saint Symeon the New Theologian (around 949 – 1022), Orthodox monk
Hymn no. 30

“Jesus touched him and said, ‘I do will it. Be cured.’”

Before the divine light shone,
I did not know myself.
Then seeing myself in darkness and in prison,
caught in a quagmire,
covered in filth, wounded, my flesh swollen…,
I fell to the feet of him who had illumined me.

And he who had illumined me
touched my bonds and my wounds with his hands;
where his hand touched and where his finger drew near,
immediately my bonds fell,
the wounds disappeared, as well as all filth.
The stain on my flesh disappeared…
so much so that he made it similar to his divine hand.
Strange marvel: my flesh, my soul and my body
have a part in divine glory.

As soon as I had been purified and freed of my bonds,
there he was, stretching out a divine hand to me;
he drew me completely out of the quagmire,
he embraced me, he hugged me
and covered me with kisses (cf. Lk 15:20).
And he took me on his shoulders,
me, who was totally exhausted
and who had lost my strength (cf. Lk 15:5),
an d he led me out of my hell…
That is the light that carries and upholds me;
it draws me to a great light…
He lets me contemplate by what strange remodeling
he himself has remolded me (Gen 2:7) and has torn me from corruption.
He has given me immortal life
and has clothed me in an immaterial and luminous garment.
He has given me sandals and
an incorruptible and eternal ring and crown (cf. Lk 15:22).

Today the Church celebrates : St. Paul, St. Peter

Saint Leo the Great : “When you are older … another will … carry you off against your will” (Jn 21:18)

Acts of the Apostles 12,1-11.

About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (It was (the) feast of Unleavened Bread.) He had him taken into custody and put in prison under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. He intended to bring him before the people after Passover. Peter thus was being kept in prison, but prayer by the church was fervently being made to God on his behalf. On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter, secured by double chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison. Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, "Get up quickly." The chains fell from his wrists. The angel said to him, "Put on your belt and your sandals." He did so. Then he said to him, "Put on your cloak and follow me." So he followed him out, not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first guard, then the second, and came to the iron gate leading out to the city, which opened for them by itself. They emerged and made their way down an alley, and suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter recovered his senses and said, "Now I know for certain that (the) Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting."

Psalms 34,2-9.

I will bless the LORD at all times; praise shall be always in my mouth.
My soul will glory in the LORD that the poor may hear and be glad.
Magnify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.
I sought the LORD, who answered me, delivered me from all my fears.
Look to God that you may be radiant with joy and your faces may not blush for shame.
In my misfortune I called, the LORD heard and saved me from all distress.
The angel of the LORD, who encamps with them, delivers all who fear God.
Learn to savor how good the LORD is; happy are those who take refuge in him.

Second Letter to Timothy 4,6-8.17-18.

For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance. But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 16,13-19.

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Commentary of the day :

Saint Leo the Great (? – around 461), Pope and Doctor of the Church
Sermon 82/69 for the Anniversary of the Apostles Peter and Paul

“When you are older … another will … carry you off against your will” (Jn 21:18)

You were not afraid to come to this city of Rome, o holy apostle Peter! … You were not afraid of Rome, the mistress of the world, you who in the house of Caiaphas took fright when faced with the high priest’s servant girl. So was the power of the emperors Claudius and Nero less than Pilate’s judgment or than the fury of the Jewish leaders? It is because the power of love triumphed in you over the reasons to fear. You did not think you had to fear those whom you had been sent to love. You had already received this intrepid charity when the love you professed for the Lord was strengthened by his threefold question (Jn 21:15f.)… And so that your trust might grow, there were the signs of so many miracles, the gift of so many charisms, the experience of so many marvelous works… Thus, without doubting in the fruitfulness of the task and without remaining ignorant of the time you still had to live, you brought the trophy of Christ’s cross to Rome, where through divine predestination , both the honor of authority and the glory of martyrdom awaited you.

Saint Paul came to this same city. With you, he was an apostle, a chosen instrument (Acts 9:19) and teacher of the nations (1 Tim 2:7). He came to be with you in this time when already all innocence, all freedom, all modesty were oppressed under Nero’s power, who in his madness was the first to decree a general and terrible persecution against the Christian name, as if God’s grace could have been stopped by massacring saints… But “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.” (Ps 116:15) No cruelty could destroy the religion founded through the mystery of Christ’s cross. The Church is not reduced but rather enlarged through persecutions; the field of the Lord is constantly clothed with a greater harvest when the seeds that fall alone are born again as many (Jn 12:24). What a lineage those two divinely sown plants produced as they developed! Thousands of martyr saints, imitatin g the two apostles’ triumph, ... crowned this city with a diadem adorned with countless jewels.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Irenaeus

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta : Bearing wonderful fruit

2nd book of Kings 22,8-13.23,1-3.

The high priest Hilkiah informed the scribe Shaphan, "I have found the book of the law in the temple of the LORD." Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, who read it. Then the scribe Shaphan went to the king and reported, "Your servants have smelted down the metals available in the temple and have consigned them to the master workmen in the temple of the LORD." The scribe Shaphan also informed the king that the priest Hilkiah had given him a book, and then read it aloud to the king. When the king had heard the contents of the book of the law, he tore his garments and issued this command to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, son of Shaphan, Achbor, son of Micaiah, the scribe Shaphan, and the king's servant Asaiah: "Go, consult the LORD for me, for the people, for all Judah, about the stipulations of this book that has been found, for the anger of the LORD has been set furiously ablaze against us, because our fathers did not obey the stipulations of this book, nor fulfill our written obligations." The king then had all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem summoned together before him. The king went up to the temple of the LORD with all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: priests, prophets, and all the people, small and great. He had the entire contents of the book of the covenant that had been found in the temple of the LORD, read out to them. Standing by the column, the king made a covenant before the LORD that they would follow him and observe his ordinances, statutes and decrees with their whole hearts and souls, thus reviving the terms of the covenant which were written in this book. And all the people stood as participants in the covenant.

Psalms 119,33-37.40.

LORD, teach me the way of your laws; I shall observe them with care.
Give me insight to observe your teaching, to keep it with all my heart.
Lead me in the path of your commands, for that is my delight.
Direct my heart toward your decrees and away from unjust gain.
Avert my eyes from what is worthless; by your way give me life.
See how I long for your precepts; in your justice give me life.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 7,15-20.

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.

Commentary of the day :

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), Foundress of the Missionary Sisters of Charity
No Greater Love

Bearing wonderful fruit

If someone feels that God is asking him to become involved in reforming society, that is a matter between him and his God. We all have the duty to serve God where we feel called to do so. I feel called to serve individuals, to love each human being. I never think in terms of masses, of a group, but always according to persons. If I thought of the crowds, I would never undertake anything. It is the person who counts. I believe in face to face encounters.

The fullness of our heart becomes visible in our actions: how I behave with this leper, how I behave with this dying person, how I behave with this homeless person. Sometimes, it is more difficult to work with down-and-outs than with the people who are dying in our hospices, for the latter are at peace, waiting to go to God soon. You can draw near to the sick person, to the leper, and be convinced that you are touching the body of Christ. But when it is a drunk person yelling, it is more difficult to think that you are face to face with Jesus hidden in him. How pure and loving must our hands be in order to show compassion for those beings!

To see Jesus in the spiritually most deprived person requires a pure heart. The more disfigured the image of God is in a person, the greater must our faith and our veneration be in our search for the face of Jesus and in our ministry of love for him… Let us do so with a sense of profound gratitude and with piety. Our love and our joy in serving must be in proportion to the degree to which our task is repugnant.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Cyril of Alexandria

Saint Vincent de Paul : “Treat others the way you would have them treat you”

2nd book of Kings 19,9-11.14-21.31-36.

The king of Assyria heard a report that Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, had come out to fight against him. Again he sent envoys to Hezekiah with this message: "Thus shall you say to Hezekiah, king of Judah: 'Do not let your God on whom you rely deceive you by saying that Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria. You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all other countries: they doomed them! Will you, then, be saved? Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; then he went up to the temple of the LORD, and spreading it out before him, he prayed in the LORD'S presence: "O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned upon the cherubim! You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made the heavens and the earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! Hear the words of Sennacherib which he sent to taunt the living God. Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and cast their gods into the fire; they destroyed them because they were not gods, but the work of human hands, wood and stone. Therefore, O LORD, our God, save us from the power of this man, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God." Then Isaiah, son of Amoz, sent this message to Hezekiah: "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, in answer to your prayer for help against Sennacherib, king of Assyria: I have listened! This is the word the LORD has spoken concerning him: " 'She despises you, laughs you to scorn, the virgin daughter Zion! Behind you she wags her head, daughter Jerusalem. For out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant, and from Mount Zion, survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.' "Therefore, thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: 'He shall not reach this city, nor shoot an arrow at it, nor come before it with a shield, nor cast up siege-works against it. He shall return by the same way he came, without entering the city, says the LORD. I will shield and save this city for my own sake, and for the sake of my servant David.'" That night the angel of the LORD went forth and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. Early the next morning, there they were, all the corpses of the dead. So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, broke camp, and went back home to Nineveh.

Psalms 48,2-4.10-11.

Great is the LORD and highly praised in the city of our God: The holy mountain,
fairest of heights, the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, the heights of Zaphon, the city of the great king.
God is its citadel, renowned as a stronghold.
O God, within your temple we ponder your steadfast love.
Like your name, O God, your praise reaches the ends of the earth. Your right hand is fully victorious.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 7,6.12-14.

Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces. Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets. Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Vincent de Paul (1581-1660), Founder of religious communities
Conversation of May 4, 1659

“Treat others the way you would have them treat you”

What is the first act of charity? What does a heart animated by charity produce? What comes out of it that is different to a person who has no charity? It is to act towards each person as we would reasonably want others to act towards us. That is how charity can be summed up. Is it true that I do to my neighbor as I would wish him to do? Ah! That calls for a big examination of conscience…

Let us look at the Son of God: what a heart of charity, what a flame of love! My Jesus, please tell us a little what drew you from heaven to come to suffer earth’s curse, so many persecutions and torments that you received. O Savior, o source of love, humbled to the point of becoming like us, to the point of infamous torture, you who love your neighbor more than yourself. You came to expose yourself to all our woes, to take on the form of a sinner, to lead a life of suffering, and to suffer a shameful death for us. Is there any love like it? … Only Our Lord is so smitten with love of creatures that he left his Father’s throne to come and take a body that was subjected to infirmities.

And why? So as to establish love of neighbor among us by his example and his word… O my friends, if we had a little of that love, would we remain with our hands in our laps? … Oh no! Charity cannot remain idle; it makes us busy for the salvation and consolation of our brothers.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Jose M. Escriva, Blessed Raymond Lull

Dorotheus of Gaza : “Then you will see clearly”

2nd book of Kings 17,5-8.13-15.18.

For this, the king of Assyria arrested and imprisoned Hoshea; he then occupied the whole land and attacked Samaria, which he besieged for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria, and deported the Israelites to Assyria, settling them in Halah, at the Habor, a river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. This came about because the Israelites sinned against the LORD, their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt, from under the domination of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and because they venerated other gods. They followed the rites of the nations whom the LORD had cleared out of the way of the Israelites (and the kings of Israel whom they set up). And though the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and seer, "Give up your evil ways and keep my commandments and statutes, in accordance with the entire law which I enjoined on your fathers and which I sent you by my servants the prophets," they did not listen, but were as stiff-necked as their fathers, who had not believed in the LORD, their God. They rejected his statutes, the covenant which he had made with their fathers, and the warnings which he had given them. The vanity they pursued, they themselves became: they followed the surrounding nations whom the LORD had commanded them not to imitate. till, in his great anger against Israel, the LORD put them away out of his sight. Only the tribe of Judah was left.

Psalms 60,3-5.12-13.

O God, you rejected us, broke our defenses; you were angry but now revive us.
You rocked the earth, split it open; repair the cracks for it totters.
You made your people go through hardship, made us stagger from the wine you gave us.
Was it not you who rejected us, God? Do you no longer march with our armies?
Give us aid against the foe; worthless is human help.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 7,1-5.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,' while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye.

Commentary of the day :

Dorotheus of Gaza (around 500 - ?), Monk in Palestine
Letter no. 1

“Then you will see clearly”

Some people change every food they absorb into a bad mood, even if the food is healthy. The fault does not lie in the food but in their temperament, which changes the food. Even so, if our soul has a bad disposition, everything harms it; it transforms even useful things into things that are harmful to it. If you throw a little bit of bitter herbs into a pot of honey, won’t they change the whole pot by making all the honey bitter? That is what we do: we spread a little of our bitterness and we destroy our neighbor’s good by looking at him according to our bad disposition.

Other people have a temperament that transforms everything into a good mood, even bad food… Pigs have a very good constitution. They eat pods, date seeds and garbage. But they transform that food into succulent meat. In the same way, if we have good habits and a good state of the soul, we can benefit from everything, even from what is not beneficial. The Book of Proverbs says it very well: “The one who sees with gentleness will obtain mercy.” And in another place: “For the foolish person, everything is contrary.”

I heard it said of a brother that if, when he went to see someone else, he found his cell in a state of neglect and in disorder, he told himself: “How happy is this brother to be completely detached from earthly things and to carry his spirit on high so well that he doesn’t even have the time to tidy his cell!” If he then went to another brother and found his cell tidy, clean, and in good order, he told himself: “This brother’s cell is as clean as his soul. As is the state of his soul, so is the state of his cell!” He never said of anyone: “This one is untidy,” or: “That one is frivolous.” Because of his excellent state, he benefited from everything. May God in his goodness also give us a good state so that we might benefit from everything and never think badly of our neighbor. If our malice inspires us to pass judgment or to be suspicious, let us quickly transform that into a good thought. For with God’s help, not seeing what is bad in our neighbor brings forth kindness.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Twelfth Sunday in ordinary time, Blessed Jutta of Thuringia

An ancient Greek homily: “Why are you so terrified?”

Book of Job 38,1.8-11.

Then the LORD addressed Job out of the storm and said: And who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb; When I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands? When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door, And said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!

Psalms 107,23-26.28-31.

Some went off to sea in ships, plied their trade on the deep waters.
They saw the works of the LORD, the wonders of God in the deep.
He spoke and roused a storm wind; it tossed the waves on high.
They rose up to the heavens, sank to the depths; their hearts trembled at the danger.
In their distress they cried to the LORD, who brought them out of their peril,
Hushed the storm to a murmur; the waves of the sea were stilled.
They rejoiced that the sea grew calm, that God brought them to the harbor they longed for.
Let them thank the LORD for such kindness, such wondrous deeds for mere mortals.

Second Letter to the Corinthians 5,14-17.

For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 4,35-41.

On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, "Let us cross to the other side." Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" They were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"

Commentary of the day :

An ancient Greek homily
Wrongly attributed to Origenes (around 185 – 253), Priest and Theologian

“Why are you so terrified?”

His disciples drew near to him, woke him and said: “Help, Lord, we are perishing!” … O blest, o true disciples of God, you have the Lord your Savior with you and you are afraid of danger? Life is with you, and you are worried about your death? You wake from his sleep the Creator who is present with you, as if even asleep, he could not calm the waves and stop the storm?

What answer do the beloved disciples give to that? We are very small children who are still weak. We are not yet strong men… We have not yet seen the cross. The Lord’s passion, his resurrection, his ascension into heaven, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, have not yet given us solidity… The Lord is right to tell us: “Why are you so terrified? Why are you lacking in faith?” Why are you lacking in strength? Why this lack of trust? Why so little recklessness when you have Trust with you? Even if death were to irrupt, should you not bear it with great constancy? In all that happens, I will give y ou the necessary strength, in every danger, in every trial, including the soul’s departure from the body… If in dangers my strength is necessary in order to bear everything courageously, how much more necessary is it in the presence of life’s temptations so as not to fall!

Why be troubled, you people of little faith? You know that I am powerful on earth; why don’t you believe that I am also powerful over the sea? If you acknowledge me as true God and the Creator of everything, why don’t you believe that I have power over all I have created? “He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea: ‘Quiet! Be still!’ The wind fell off and everything grew calm.”

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Birth of St. John the Baptist

The Syrian Liturgy: “There was a man named John sent by God, who came as a witness to testify to the light” (Jn 1:6-7)

Book of Isaiah 49,1-6.

Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The LORD called me from birth, from my mother's womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, Yet my reward is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God. For now the LORD has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, That Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him; And I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD, and my God is now my strength! It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Psalms 139,1-3.13-15.

For the leader. A psalm of David. I LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.
My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar.
You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.
I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! My very self you knew;
my bones were not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth.

Acts of the Apostles 13,22-26.

Then he removed him and raised up David as their king; of him he testified, 'I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.' From this man's descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus. John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, 'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.' "My brothers, children of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 1,57-66.80.

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, "No. He will be called John." But they answered her, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name." So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name," and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, "What, then, will this child be?" For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.

Commentary of the day :

The Syrian Liturgy
Hymn attributed to Saint Ephrem (around 306 – 373), Deacon in Syria, Doctor of the Church

“There was a man named John sent by God, who came as a witness to testify to the light” (Jn 1:6-7)

In you, John, we recognize a new Moses, for you saw God, no longer in symbols but very clearly. We see you as a new Joshua: you did not cross the Jordan from one side to the other, but with the Jordan’s water, you let people cross over from one world to the other… You are the new Samuel, who did not anoint David, but who baptized the Son of David. You are the new David; you weren’t persecuted by the evil king Saul, but you were killed by Herod. You are the new Elijah; in the desert, you were not nourished by ravens with bread, but by God with grasshoppers and honey. You are the new Isaiah; you did not say: “The virgin shall be with child and bear a son” (Isa 7:14), but you proclaimed to everyone: “She has borne the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (cf. Jn 1:29)…

Blest are you, John, chosen by God, you took hold of your Master, who grasped in your hands the flame whose brilliance makes the angels tremble. Morning star, you showed the world the true Morn ing. Joyful dawn, you manifested the day of glory. Gleaming lamp, you showed the Light without equal. Messenger of the Father’s great reconciliation, the archangel Gabriel was sent before you to announce you to Zachary as a fruit that was well beyond his expectations… The greatest among the children of men (Mt 11:11), you came before the Emmanuel, before him who goes beyond every creature. Firstborn of Elizabeth, you precede the Firstborn of all creation.

Today the Church celebrates : The Sacred heart of Jesus, solemnity, St. John Fisher

Saint Bernard : “With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation” (Isa 12:3)

Book of Hosea 11,1.3-4.8-9.

When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; Yet, though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer. How could I give you up, O Ephraim, or deliver you up, O Israel? How could I treat you as Admah, or make you like Zeboiim? My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred. I will not give vent to my blazing anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again; For I am God and not man, the Holy One present among you; I will not let the flames consume you.

Is 12,2-6.

God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation,
and say on that day: Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!

Letter to the Ephesians 3,8-12.14-19.

To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light (for all) what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things, so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens. This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness of speech and confidence of access through faith in him. For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 19,31-37.

Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may (come to) believe. For this happened so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled: "Not a bone of it will be broken." And again another passage says: "They will look upon him whom they have pierced."

Commentary of the day :

Saint Bernard (1091-1153), Cistercian monk and Doctor of the Church
Homilies on the Song of Songs, no. 61,3-5

“With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation” (Isa 12:3)

So where can our fragility find rest and security if not in the Savior’s wounds? ... They pierced his hands, his feet, and his side with a thrust of a lance. Through these gaping holes, I can taste the honey from the rock (Ps 81:17) and the oil that flows from the very hard rock, which is to say, “Taste and see how good the Lord is.” (Ps 34:9) He had plans of peace (cf. Jer 29:11), and I did not know it. “For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?’” (Rom 11:34) The nail that enters his flesh has become for me a key that opens to me the mystery of his plans.

How could we not see through these openings? The nails and the wounds cry out that truly, in the person of Christ, God reconciles the world to himself. Iron pierced his being and touched his heart so that he is no longer ignorant of how to suffer my weaknesses. The secret of his heart is laid bare in the wounds of his body; we see revealed the great mystery of his kindness, the merciful tenderness of our God, “the Dayspring who visited us from on high.” (Lk 1:78) And how could this tenderness not be manifested in his wounds? How could you show more clearly than by your wounds that you, Lord, are gentle and compassionate and very merciful, since there is no greater love than to give one’s life (Jn 15:13) for those who are condemned to death?

So all my merit is the Lord’s mercy, and I shall not be lacking in merit so long as mercy is not lacking in him. If God’s mercies multiply, my merits will be many. But what will happen if I have to reproach myself with many faults? “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” (Rom 5:20) And if “the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting,” I for my part “will sing forever the favors of the Lord.” (Ps 103:17; 89:2) Is that my righteousness? Lord, I shall remember your righteousness alone, for it is my righteousness, since you became righteousness of God for me (Rom 1:17).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher

Saint Teresa of Avila : “When you pray, say: ‘Father’” (Lk 11:2)

Book of Sirach 48,1-14.

Till like a fire there appeared the prophet whose words were as a flaming furnace. Their staff of bread he shattered, in his zeal he reduced them to straits; By God's word he shut up the heavens and three times brought down fire. How awesome are you, ELIJAH! Whose glory is equal to yours? You brought a dead man back to life from the nether world, by the will of the LORD. You sent kings down to destruction, and nobles, from their beds of sickness. You heard threats at Sinai, at Horeb avenging judgments. You anointed kings who should inflict vengeance, and a prophet as your successor. You were taken aloft in a whirlwind, in a chariot with fiery horses. You are destined, it is written, in time to come to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD, To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons, and to reestablish the tribes of Jacob. Blessed is he who shall have seen you before he dies, O Elijah, enveloped in the whirlwind! Then ELISHA, filled with a twofold portion of his spirit, wrought many marvels by his mere word. During his lifetime he feared no one, nor was any man able to intimidate his will. Nothing was beyond his power; beneath him flesh was brought back into life. In life he performed wonders, and after death, marvelous deeds.

Psalms 97,1-7.

The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice; let the many islands be glad.
Cloud and darkness surround the Lord; justice and right are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him; everywhere it consumes the foes.
Lightning illumines the world; the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim God's justice; all peoples see his glory.
All who serve idols are put to shame, who glory in worthless things; all gods bow down before you.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 6,7-15.

In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one. If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), Carmelite, Doctor of the Church
The Way of Perfection, chapter 27

“When you pray, say: ‘Father’” (Lk 11:2)

Our Father who art in Heaven. O my Lord, how You do show Yourself to be the Father of such a Son; and how Your Son does show Himself to be the Son of such a Father! May you be blessed forever and ever! This favor would not be so great, Lord, if it came at the end of the prayer. But at the beginning, You fill our hands and give a reward so large that it would easily fill the intellect and thus occupy the will in such a way one would be unable to speak a word.

Oh, daughters, how readily should perfect contemplation come at this point! Oh, how right it would be for the soul to enter within itself in order to rise the better above itself that this holy Son might make it understand the nature of the place where He says His Father dwells, which is in the heavens….

O Son of God and my Lord! How is it that you give so much all together in the first words? Since You humble Yourself to such an extreme in joining with us in prayer… For You desire that He consider us His ch ildren …In being Father He must bear with us no matter how serious the offenses. If we return to Him like the prodigal son, He has to pardon us. He has to console us in our trials. He has to sustain us in the way a father like this must. For, in effect, He must be better than all the fathers in the world because in Him everything must be faultless. And after all this He must make us sharers and heirs with You…

My Jesus, You have spoken, as a favored son, for Yourself and for us… Well, daughters… does it seem right to you now that even though we recite these first words vocally we should fail to let our intellects understand and our hearts break in pieces at seeing such love?

Today the Church celebrates : St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Saint [Padre] Pio de Pietrelcina : “Close the door, and pray to your Father in private”

2nd book of Kings 2,1.6-14.

When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, he and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, "Please stay here; the LORD has sent me on to the Jordan." "As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live," Elisha replied, "I will not leave you." And so the two went on together. Fifty of the guild prophets followed, and when the two stopped at the Jordan, stood facing them at a distance. Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up and struck the water, which divided, and both crossed over on dry ground. When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask for whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you." Elisha answered, "May I receive a double portion of your spirit." "You have asked something that is not easy," he replied. "Still, if you see me taken up from you, your wish will be granted; otherwise not." As they walked on conversing, a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. When Elisha saw it happen he cried out, "My father! my father! Israel's chariots and drivers!" But when he could no longer see him, Elisha gripped his own garment and tore it in two. Then he picked up Elijah's mantle which had fallen from him, and went back and stood at the bank of the Jordan. Wielding the mantle which had fallen from Elijah, he struck the water in his turn and said, "Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?" When Elisha struck the water it divided and he crossed over.

Psalms 31,20-21.24.

How great is your goodness, Lord, stored up for those who fear you. You display it for those who trust you, in the sight of all the people.
You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from scheming enemies. You keep them in your abode, safe from plotting tongues.
Love the LORD, all you faithful. The LORD protects the loyal, but repays the arrogant in full.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 6,1-6.16-18.

(But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.

Commentary of the day :

Saint [Padre] Pio de Pietrelcina (1887-1968), Capuchin
GF, 173; Ep 3, 982-983

“Close the door, and pray to your Father in private”

Be assiduous in prayer and meditation. You told me you had already begun. That is a great consolation for a father who loves you as himself! So continue to progress in this exercise of love of God. Take another step every day: at night by the weak light of a lamp, in the midst of weakness and in spiritual dryness; or by day, in joy and the illumination that dazzles the soul…

If you can, speak to the Lord in prayer, praise him. If you cannot manage that because you have not yet progressed enough in the spiritual life, do not worry. Go to your room and close the door and place yourself in God’s presence. He will see you and will appreciate your presence and your silence. Then he will take you by the hand, will speak to you, will take a hundred steps along the paths of the garden of prayer, and there you will find consolation. Remaining in God’s presence simply in order to show our will to acknowledge that we are his servants is an excellent spiritual exercise, which will make us progress on the way of perfection.

When you are united with God through prayer, look at who you are in truth. If you can, speak to him, and if that is impossible for you, stop and remain before him. Don’t make any other effort.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Ss Alban, Julius and Aaron

Gregory of Narek : “This will prove that you are sons of your heavenly Father, for his sun rises on the bad and the good.”

1st book of Kings 21,17-29.

But the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite: "Start down to meet Ahab, king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He will be in the vineyard of Naboth, of which he has come to take possession. This is what you shall tell him, 'The LORD says: After murdering, do you also take possession? For this, the LORD says: In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, the dogs shall lick up your blood, too.'" "Have you found me out, my enemy?" Ahab said to Elijah. "Yes," he answered. "Because you have given yourself up to doing evil in the LORD'S sight, I am bringing evil upon you: I will destroy you and will cut off every male in Ahab's line, whether slave or freeman, in Israel. I will make your house like that of Jeroboam, son of Nebat, and like that of Baasha, son of Ahijah, because of how you have provoked me by leading Israel into sin." (Against Jezebel, too, the LORD declared, "The dogs shall devour Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.") "When one of Ahab's line dies in the city, dogs will devour him; when one of them dies in the field, the birds of the sky will devour him." Indeed, no one gave himself up to the doing of evil in the sight of the LORD as did Ahab, urged on by his wife Jezebel. He became completely abominable by following idols, just as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD drove out before the Israelites. When Ahab heard these words, he tore his garments and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh. He fasted, slept in the sackcloth, and went about subdued. Then the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, "Have you seen that Ahab has humbled himself before me? Since he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his time. I will bring the evil upon his house during the reign of his son."

Psalms 51,3-6.11.16.

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.
Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.
For I know my offense; my sin is always before me.
Against you alone have I sinned; I have done such evil in your sight That you are just in your sentence, blameless when you condemn.
Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my guilt.
Rescue me from death, God, my saving God, that my tongue may praise your healing power.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 5,43-48.

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Commentary of the day :

Gregory of Narek (around 944 – around 1010), Armenian monk and poet
Book of Prayers, no.74

“This will prove that you are sons of your heavenly Father, for his sun rises on the bad and the good.”

Many are my debts, beyond all number,
but they are not as surprising as your mercy.
Many are my sins,
but they are still less compared to your forgiveness…
What can a little darkness do
to your divine light?
How can a little bit of obscurity be a rival
to your rays, you who are so great!
How can the concupiscence of my fragile body
be weighed against the passion of your cross?

In the eyes of your kindness, o Almighty,
what can the sins of all the universe appear to be?
See, they are… like a drop of water,
which disappears immediately
in the downpour of your abundant rain…

It is you who give the sun
to the bad and the good,
and who makes it rain for both indiscriminately.
For some, peace is great
because they await the reward…
But you forgive out of mercy
those who preferred the earth:
together with the first, you give them a remedy of life;
you still await their return to you.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Romuald

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus : “Hand him your coat as well”

1st book of Kings 21,1-16.

Some time after this, as Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel next to the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria, Ahab said to Naboth, "Give me your vineyard to be my vegetable garden, since it is close by, next to my house. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or, if you prefer, I will give you its value in money." "The LORD forbid," Naboth answered him, "that I should give you my ancestral heritage." Ahab went home disturbed and angry at the answer Naboth the Jezreelite had made to him: "I will not give you my ancestral heritage." Lying down on his bed, he turned away from food and would not eat. His wife Jezebel came to him and said to him, "Why are you so angry that you will not eat?" He answered her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, 'Sell me your vineyard, or, if you prefer, I will give you a vineyard in exchange.' But he refused to let me have his vineyard." "A fine ruler over Israel you are indeed!" his wife Jezebel said to him. "Get up. Eat and be cheerful. I will obtain the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for you." So she wrote letters in Ahab's name and, having sealed them with his seal, sent them to the elders and to the nobles who lived in the same city with Naboth. This is what she wrote in the letters: "Proclaim a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. Next, get two scoundrels to face him and accuse him of having cursed God and king. Then take him out and stone him to death." His fellow citizens--the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city--did as Jezebel had ordered them in writing, through the letters she had sent them. They proclaimed a fast and placed Naboth at the head of the people. Two scoundrels came in and confronted him with the accusation, "Naboth has cursed God and king." And they led him out of the city and stoned him to death. Then they sent the information to Jezebel that Naboth had been stoned to death. When Jezebel learned that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, "Go on, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite which he refused to sell you, because Naboth is not alive, but dead." On hearing that Naboth was dead, Ahab started off on his way down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

Psalms 5,2-3.5-7.

Hear my words, O LORD; listen to my sighing.
Hear my cry for help, my king, my God! To you I pray, O LORD;
You are not a god who delights in evil; no wicked person finds refuge with you;
the arrogant cannot stand before you. You hate all who do evil;
you destroy all who speak falsely. Murderers and deceivers the LORD abhors.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 5,38-42.

You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897), Carmelite, Doctor of the Church
Poems: “Vivre d’amour” [Living of Love] and “Pourquoi je t’aime, ô Marie” [Why I love you, o Mary]

“Hand him your coat as well”

To live of Love is to give without measure,
without demanding a salary here below.
Ah! I give without counting, very sure
that when you love, you don’t write a bill!
To the Divine Heart, overflowing with tenderness,
I have given all … lightly I run.
I no longer have anything except my only wealth:
To live of Love.

To live of Love is to banish all fear,
every memory of past faults.
I see no trace of my sins,
in an instant, love burned it all!
Divine flame, o very sweet blaze,
in your hearth I settle down to stay.
In your fire I am at ease to sing (cf. Dan 3:51):
“I live of Love!”…

“To live of Love, what strange madness,”
The world tells me. “Ah! Stop singing,
don’t lose your perfume, your life.
Know how to use them usefully!”
To love you, Jesus, what a fruitful loss!
All my perfume is yours without return.
I want to sing while leaving this world:
“I am dying of Love!”

&n bsp; * * * * *

To love is to give all and to give oneself.

Today the Church celebrates : The Body and Blood of Christ, St. Elizabeth of Schoenau

Saint John Chrysostom : Adoring the Body of Christ

Book of Exodus 24,3-8.

When Moses came to the people and related all the words and ordinances of the LORD, they all answered with one voice, "We will do everything that the LORD has told us." Moses then wrote down all the words of the LORD and, rising early the next day, he erected at the foot of the mountain an altar and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then, having sent certain young men of the Israelites to offer holocausts and sacrifice young bulls as peace offerings to the LORD, Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls; the other half he splashed on the altar. Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, "All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do." Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words of his."

Psalms 116,12-13.15-18.

How can I repay the LORD for all the good done for me?
I will raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD.
Too costly in the eyes of the LORD is the death of his faithful.
LORD, I am your servant, your servant, the child of your maidservant; you have loosed my bonds.
I will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,

Letter to the Hebrews 9,11-15.

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation, he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer's ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 14,12-16.22-26.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?" He sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"' Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there." The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover. While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take it; this is my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Commentary of the day :

Saint John Chrysostom (around 345 – 407), Bishop of Antioch, then of Constantinople, Doctor of the Church
Homilies on the 1st Letter to the Corinthians, no. 24,4

Adoring the Body of Christ

In order to draw us towards loving him more, Christ gave us his body as our food. So let us go to him with great love and fervor… The magi adored this body when Jesus lay in a manger. These pagans, these foreigners left their homeland and their house, set out on a long journey in order to adore him with fear and trembling. Let us at least imitate these foreigners, we who are citizens of heaven…

You yourselves no longer see him in a manger but on the altar. You no longer see a woman holding him in her arms, but the priest who is offering him, and the Spirit of God, with all his generosity, is gliding above the offerings. You not only see the same body that the magi saw, but in addition you know his power and his wisdom, and after all the initiation to the mysteries that was given you with precision, you are not ignorant of what he accomplished. So let us awake, and let us awaken in us the fear of God. Let us show much more piety for the Body of Christ than these foreign ers did…

What is offered on this table strengthens our soul, gathers together our thoughts, upholds our assurance. It is our hope, our salvation, our light, our life. If we leave the earth armed with this sacrament, we shall enter the sacred courts with confidence… But why speak of the future? Already in this world, the sacrament transforms earth into heaven. So open heaven’s doors… and then you will see what I have just said. I will show you here on earth what is most precious in heaven. What I am showing you is neither the angels nor the archangels nor the heaven of heavens, but him who is their master.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : Ss Teresa and Sancia of Portugal

A Greek 4th century homily: “I tell you”: The old Law fulfilled by the one who gives the new Law

1st book of Kings 19,19-21.

Elijah set out, and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat, as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, "Please, let me kiss my father and mother good-bye, and I will follow you." "Go back!" Elijah answered. "Have I done anything to you?" Elisha left him and, taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them; he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat. Then he left and followed Elijah as his attendant.

Psalms 16,1-2.5.7-10.

A miktam of David. Keep me safe, O God; in you I take refuge
I say to the Lord, you are my Lord, you are my only good.
LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you have made my destiny secure.
I bless the LORD who counsels me; even at night my heart exhorts me.
I keep the LORD always before me; with the Lord at my right, I shall never be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure,
For you will not abandon me to Sheol, nor let your faithful servant see the pit.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 5,33-37.

Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, 'Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.' But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. Let your 'Yes' mean 'Yes,' and your 'No' mean 'No.' Anything more is from the evil one.

Commentary of the day :

A Greek 4th century homily
Inspired by the Treatise on Easter by Saint Hippolytus of Rome (? – around 235), Priest and Martyr

“I tell you”: The old Law fulfilled by the one who gives the new Law

The Law given to Moses is a collection of various teachings and imperatives, a collection that is useful to everyone as regards what it is good to do in this life, and a mystical reflection of the customs of life in heaven: a torch and a lamp, a fire and a light, replicas of the lamps on high. The Law of Moses is the itinerary of piety, the rule for honest morals, the brake put on the first sin, the outline of the truth to come (Col 2:17)… The Law of Moses is a teacher for piety and a guide for righteousness, a light for the blind and a proof for the foolish, an educator for children and a mooring for the imprudent, a bridle for the stiff-necked, and a constraining yoke for the impatient.

The Law of Moses is Christ’s messenger, the precursor of Jesus, the herald and prophet of the great King, a school of wisdom, a necessary preparation and a universal teaching, a doctrine that came at its time and a temporary mystery. The Law of Moses is a symbolic and enigmatic summar y of future grace, announcing in images the perfection of truth that is to come. Through the sacrifices, it announces the Victim; through the blood, the Blood; through the lamb, the Lamb; through the dove, the Dove; through the altar, the High Priest; through the Temple, the dwelling place of divinity; through the altar’s fire, the full “light of the world” (Jn 8:12) that comes down from on high.

Today the Church celebrates : St. John Francis Regis

John Paul II: The demands of Christ and joy of heart

1st book of Kings 19,9.11-16.

There he came to a cave, where he took shelter. But the word of the LORD came to him, "Why are you here, Elijah?" Then the LORD said, "Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by." A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD--but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake--but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire--but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, "Elijah, why are you here?" He replied, "I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. But the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to the sword. I alone am left, and they seek to take my life." "Go, take the road back to the desert near Damascus," the LORD said to him. "When you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king of Aram. Then you shall anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel, and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you.

Psalms 27,7-9.13-14.

I Hear my voice, LORD, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me.
"Come," says my heart, "seek God's face"; your face, LORD, do I seek!
Do not hide your face from me; do not repel your servant in anger. You are my help; do not cast me off; do not forsake me, God my savior!
But I believe I shall enjoy the LORD'S goodness in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the LORD!

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 5,27-32.

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.' But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Commentary of the day :

John Paul II
Discourse to young people in the Netherlands, May 14, 1985

The demands of Christ and joy of heart

Dear Youth, you tell me that you often think the Church is an institution that does nothing but promulgate rules and laws… And you conclude that there is a deep discrepancy between the joy that issues from the word of Christ and the feeling of oppression that the Church’s rigidity gives you.. But the Gospel shows us a very demanding Christ who invites to a radical conversion of the heart, to detachment from the goods of the earth, to forgiveness of offenses, to love of the enemy, to patient acceptance of persecutions and even to the sacrifice of one’s own life out of love for our neighbor. Where the particular area of sexuality is concerned, we know the firm position he took in defending the indissolubility of marriage and his condemnation even as regards the simple adultery committed in the heart. And could anyone not be impressed when faced with the precept to “tear out one’s eye” or to “cut off one’s hand” when these members are an occasion of “scandal”? …

Moral lic entiousness does not make people happy. Similarly, the consumer society does not bring joy of heart. The human being only fulfills himself to the extent to which he is able to accept the demands which flow from his dignity as a being created “in the image and likeness of God” (Gen 1:27). That is why, if the Church today says things that are not pleasing, it is because it feels obliged to do so. It does so out of a duty to fidelity…

So is it not true that the gospel message is a message of joy? On the contrary! It is absolutely true. And how is that possible? The answer can be found in one word, one single word, one short word, but its contents are as vast as the sea. And that word is love. It is perfectly possible to reconcile the stringency of the precept and joy of heart. The person who loves does not fear sacrifice. And he even seeks in sacrifice the most convincing proof of the authenticity of his love.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St Aurelian, Holy Trinity

Saint John Chrysostom : “Go first to be reconciled with your brother”

1st book of Kings 18,41-46.

Elijah then said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain." So Ahab went up to eat and drink, while Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, crouched down to the earth, and put his head between his knees. "Climb up and look out to sea," he directed his servant, who went up and looked, but reported, "There is nothing." Seven times he said, "Go look again!" And the seventh time the youth reported, "There is a cloud as small as a man's hand rising from the sea." Elijah said, "Go and say to Ahab, 'Harness up and leave the mountain before the rain stops you.'" In a trice, the sky grew dark with clouds and wind, and a heavy rain fell. Ahab mounted his chariot and made for Jezreel. But the hand of the LORD was on Elijah, who girded up his clothing and ran before Ahab as far as the approaches to Jezreel.

Psalms 65,10-13.

You visit the earth and water it, make it abundantly fertile. God's stream is filled with water; with it you supply the world with grain. Thus do you prepare the earth:
you drench plowed furrows, and level their ridges. With showers you keep the ground soft, blessing its young sprouts.
You adorn the year with your bounty; your paths drip with fruitful rain.
The untilled meadows also drip; the hills are robed with joy.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 5,20-26.

I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, 'You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, 'Raqa,' will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

Commentary of the day :

Saint John Chrysostom (around 345-407), Bishop of Antioch, then of Constantinople, Doctor of the Church
Homilies on the 1st Letter to the Corinthians, no. 27

“Go first to be reconciled with your brother”

The Church does not exist so that we remain divided when we come to it, but rather, so that our divisions might be made extinct. That is what the assembly means. Thus, if we have come for the Eucharist, let us not do anything that is in contradiction to the Eucharist, let us not hurt our brother. You have come to give thanks for the kindnesses you have received; don’t separate yourself from your neighbor.

Christ offered his body to everyone without distinction when he said: “Take and eat, all of you.” Why do you not admit everyone to your own table? ... You are remembering Christ and you disdain the person who is poor? ... You are taking part in this divine meal; you should be the most compassionate of all people. You have drunk the Lord’s blood and you do not acknowledge your brother? But if you have ignored him until now, at this table you must acknowledge him. We must all be in the Church as in one common house: we form only one body. We have only one baptism, one single table, one single source, as well as one single Father (cf. Eph 4:5; 1 Cor 10:17).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St Vitus

Saint Augustine : “I have come, not to abolish, but to fulfill”

1st book of Kings 18,20-39.

So Ahab sent to all the Israelites and had the prophets assemble on Mount Carmel. Elijah appealed to all the people and said, "How long will you straddle the issue? If the LORD is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him." The people, however, did not answer him. So Elijah said to the people, "I am the only surviving prophet of the LORD, and there are four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. Give us two young bulls. Let them choose one, cut it into pieces, and place it on the wood, but start no fire. I shall prepare the other and place it on the wood, but shall start no fire. You shall call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The God who answers with fire is God." All the people answered, "Agreed!" Elijah then said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose one young bull and prepare it first, for there are more of you. Call upon your gods, but do not start the fire." Taking the young bull that was turned over to them, they prepared it and called on Baal from morning to noon, saying, "Answer us, Baal!" But there was no sound, and no one answering. And they hopped around the altar they had prepared. When it was noon, Elijah taunted them: "Call louder, for he is a god and may be meditating, or may have retired, or may be on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened." They called out louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until blood gushed over them. Noon passed and they remained in a prophetic state until es, for the number of tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the LORD had said, "Your name shall be Israel." Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come here to me." When they had done so, he repaired the altar of the LORD which had been destroyed. He took twelve stones, for the number of tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the LORD had said, "Your name shall be Israel." He built an altar in honor of the LORD with the stones, and made a trench around the altar large enough for two seahs of grain. When he had arranged the wood, he cut up the young bull and laid it on the wood. "Fill four jars with water," he said, "and pour it over the holocaust and over the wood." "Do it again," he said, and they did it again. "Do it a third time," he said, and they did it a third time. The water flowed around the altar, and the trench was filled with the water. At the time for offering sacrifice, the prophet Elijah came forward and said, "LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things by your command. Answer me, LORD! Answer me, that this people may know that you, LORD, are God and that you have brought them back to their senses." The LORD'S fire came down and consumed the holocaust, wood, stones, and dust, and it lapped up the water in the trench. Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said, "The LORD is God! The LORD is God!"

Psalms 16,1-2.4-5.8.11.

A miktam of David. Keep me safe, O God; in you I take refuge
I say to the Lord, you are my Lord, you are my only good.
They multiply their sorrows who court other gods. Blood libations to them I will not pour out, nor will I take their names upon my lips.
LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you have made my destiny secure.
I keep the LORD always before me; with the Lord at my right, I shall never be shaken.
You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 5,17-19.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church
Treatise on the Psalms, 149

“I have come, not to abolish, but to fulfill”

Brothers, let us “sing to the Lord a new song.” (Ps 149:1) To the old man, the old song; to the new man, a new song. The Old Testament is an old song, the New Testament a new song. The first covenant concerns mostly temporal and earthly promises. People who remain attached to the things of the earth still sing an old song. In order to sing the new song, a person must love eternal things. That love is both new and eternal; it is always new, because it never grows old.

But if we think about it, this love is very old. How could it be new? My brothers, was eternal life born yesterday? Eternal life is Christ, and as God, he was not born yesterday. For “In the beginning was the Word… and the Word was God. He was present to God in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, and apart from him nothing came to be.” (Jn 1:1f.) If he made what is old, what is he other than eternal, co-eternal with the Father? It is we who, by sin, have fallen into old age… Human beings have become old as a consequence of sin. It is by God’s grace that we are renewed. All who are thus renewed in Christ sing a new song, for they are beginning to be established in eternal life.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Today the Church celebrates : St. Anthony of Padua

Saint Jose-Maria Escriva de Balaguer : “It gives light to all in the house”

1st book of Kings 17,7-16.

After some time, however, the brook ran dry, because no rain had fallen in the land. So the LORD said to him: "Move on to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have designated a widow there to provide for you." He left and went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the entrance of the city, a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her, "Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink." She left to get it, and he called out after her, "Please bring along a bit of bread." "As the LORD, your God, lives," she answered, "I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug. Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die." "Do not be afraid," Elijah said to her. "Go and do as you propose. But first make me a little cake and bring it to me. Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son. For the LORD, the God of Israel, says, 'The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'" She left and did as Elijah had said. She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well; The jar of flour did not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry, as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.

Psalms 4,2-5.7-8.

Answer when I call, my saving God. In my troubles, you cleared a way; show me favor; hear my prayer.
How long will you people mock my honor, love what is worthless, chase after lies? Selah
Know that the LORD works wonders for the faithful; the LORD hears when I call out.
Tremble and do not sin; upon your beds ponder in silence.
Many say, "May we see better times! LORD, show us the light of your face!" Selah
But you have given my heart more joy than they have when grain and wine abound.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 5,13-16.

You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Jose-Maria Escriva de Balaguer (1902-1975), Priest, Founder
Homily of April 5, 1957

“It gives light to all in the house”

The Lord described his disciples’ mission as filling the world with light, being salt and light, carrying the good news of God’s love to the furthest confines of the earth. It is to this that all Christians must dedicate their life in one way or another… The grace of faith was not given us so as to remain hidden, but on the contrary, in order to shine before people…

Some will perhaps ask themselves how they can communicate this knowledge of Christ to others. I shall answer: with naturalness, with simplicity, by living exactly as you do in the midst of the world, devoted as you are to your professional work and to the care of your family, participating in all the noble aspirations of people, respecting the legitimate freedom of each person… Ordinary life can be holy and filled with God. The Lord calls us to sanctify our usual tasks, because that is also where Christian perfection dwells.

Let us not forget that almost all the days Mary spent on this earth were spe nt in a way very like the days of millions of other women who are also dedicated to their family, to the education of their children, to household tasks. All of that, which many wrongly consider to be insignificant and of no value, Mary sanctified even to the smallest detail… An ordinary blessed life, which can be so full of the love of God! For this is what explains the life of Mary: her love lived to the point of forgetting herself, completely happy as she was to be in her place where God wanted her. That is why her smallest gesture was never banal, but on the contrary, can be seen as full of meaning… It is up to us to try to be like her in the exact circumstances in which God wants us to live.