Sunday, February 27, 2011

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (addendum1 -Homily)

An addendum to February 27, 2011 - 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Sexagesimus Sunday

HOMILY by Msgr. Charles Pope

When we read today’s Gospel (Matthew 6:24 –34) we must be careful not to misinterpret its basic vision.  Jesus is not telling us what to do, but offering us something to receive.

The wrong way to interpret this gospel is to simply hear Jesus say, “Stop worrying.”  We all get this advice from people every day and it isn’t very helpful.

This is not what Jesus is saying.  For, remember,
• in the Sermon of the Mount which we are reading, Jesus is describing what a transformed human person is like.
• And what he is teaching us here is that, as He begins to live his life in us many of our anxieties will diminish and go away.

The transformed human person trusts God,  and is even able to see God’s hand in the difficulties of life.  It is this trust growing in us by God’s grace that ultimately diminishes and removes fear.  Trust God and fear diminishes.  This is the gift that Jesus offers in this Gospel.

We can distinguish three particular aspects of  anxiety that Jesus sets forth: The Problem of Possessions, the Problem of Paternity, and the Problem of Priority. Let’s look at each and see how the Lord want to free us from them.

1. The Problem of Possessions – The text says, No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Mammon is variously understood as riches, greed, or possession. In an extended sense, it can refer to the agenda of the world which is focused essentially on material things and which ties our dignity only to those things.

Whose slave are you? The Lord is clear that we cannot serve mammon  if we wish to serve God. The Greek word translated here as “serve” is δουλεύειν (douleuein) which more specifically means to “serve as a slave.”  We tend to miss the strength of the text when we miss the slavery aspect. For it may happen in our culture that one serves in a job or some capacity yet, after work hours, goes home and is free of obligations. Hence we tend to figure we CAN serve God and mammon. But the Greek here speaks, not of a mere servant,  but a slave. And a slave is wholly given over to the will of another. The Greek thus is more intense than the English.

What the Lord is saying is, Look, you’re either going to be a slave of the Lord or you’re going to be a slave of the world.”  And the honest truth is that most people are a slave of the world, a slave of mammon, riches, greed and the agendas associated with it. These worldly things tend to completely overwhelm us and then, when we hear of some demand of God, we feel overwhelmed, even angry that something “more” is required of us. Our anger at God is a sign that we are a slave to mammon.

We are usually too proud to admit that we are slaves of the world, but the fact is most of us are, to a large extent. The world and its demands press on us, and take up nearly all the oxygen in our life. It is this terrible slavery that is a huge source of our anxiety and  from which the Lord offers to free us.  The Lord’s describes the anxieties that flow from slavery to Mammon, to the world, it’s riches and agenda:
I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink,  or about your body, what you will wear….. Why are you anxious about clothes? Do not worry and say, What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’
Still anxious! For us who live in the Western World, the anxieties about merely HAVING such things may have receded a bit. We are well supplied and may not worry IF we will have clothes, food etc. But even having them in abundance, still we obsessively worry them. For example, we worry if we have the right clothes, if they are in fashion, if they look good on us, etc. We worry that we eat too much salt, too much fat, indeed, many are quite obsessed about what they eat. We have never lived so long, and so healthy, and yet we have never been so anxious about our health! It’s amazing when you think of it, we have plenty of food and still we worry about food! Worry, worry, worry.  Anxiety about these things is a sign that we are slaves to them. Scripture says, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep. (Eccles 5:12)

What the Lord offers us here to live his life in us so that we will not be slaves to mammon, but slaves to him. We may not like the image of slavery, but I have news for you: We are so small and powerless, we are going to be slaves of someone. It might as well be the Lord. Being wholly devoted to the Lord and what pleases him breaks our obsession with the world, money, possessions, popularity, fashion and the like.

As the Lord’s life and His will begin  to replace our own life and will, our obsession with the world’s demands diminishes and it’s power is broken. As we grow in  to a deeper relationship with the Lord, our ties and concerns with worldly agendas fade. And as the ties are broken the anxiety diminishes.

You and I, in our flesh are not going to stop worrying. But the Lord, living his life in us, isn’t worried at all. And as His power and influence over us grows, the worries lessen,  the anxiety goes.

This is the gift the Lord is offering if we but let him take greater possession of our hearts. How do we do this? Through the medicine of prayer, sacraments, daily doses of scripture and spiritual reading. Gradually the Lord’s heart, mind, and will transform our heart, mind and will to be like his own.

2.  The Problem of Paternity  –
The Lord Jesus wants to draw us to deeper relationship with his Father. It remains a common spiritual problem that, even those who develop something of a relationship with Jesus, still find the Eternal Father to be distant or remote.

To many, the Father is a stranger. They have surely heard of Him and read of Him in the Scriptures. But he is stranger. Some even have a sort of fear of him. There are Old Testament texts that may come to mind, or perhaps some people struggle because their earthly Father was either stern or remote.

Whatever the problem, the Lord Jesus want to lead to us His Father. Note that the phrase, “your heavenly Father” occurs twice in this passage and four times in Chapter 6 overall. There are two other references to the Father as “God” in today’s gospel, and,  it is in Chapter 6 of Matthew, that Jesus teaches us the “Our Father.”

Now all of these references to the Father, in close proximity to the invitation, “do not worry,” cannot be overlooked. There is a to be seen here an antidote to anxiety in having a closer relationship with the Heavenly Father. Our Heavenly Father knows what we need.  He cares for birds and flowers and countless other things, and thus he is able and willing to care for us. To embrace and experience His love for us is to experience a lessening in anxiety.

Perhaps an illustration will help. When I was six years old, I had something of a fear that someone would break in to our home, or that perhaps something bad would happen in the night. But when my Father was home I did not have these fears. In 1968 he left for Vietnam and was gone a year. In that year I had an extended bout of on-going fear that something bad might happen in the night. Daddy was gone and I felt unsafe. But in 1969 he returned and my fears went away. I did not cause them to go away. It was not an act of the will on my part, that was able to dismiss my fears. It was simply this, Daddy was home.

And thus, you and I may not simply be able to dismiss our fears and anxieties by a simple act of the will. But, to the degree that our “Daddy-God” is near, and we feel his presence, our fears just go away.

Here is a critical gift that Jesus wants to give us: a deep, personal experience of, and love for his Father. It is our perceived distance from the Father that causes our anxiety. But when we experience that our Heavenly Father “knows what we need,” we experience our fears melting away.

Seek this gift from Jesus that his Father will be known and loved by you, that His presence will be close at hand. And then, watch your fears melt away. The Lord Jesus can do this for us.  Take time and slowly read the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), and realize that the parable is really about the Father, more than the sons. Jesus is saying, “This is what my Father is like.”

3.  The Problem of Priority. The Text says,  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. One of our greatest struggles is to have proper priorities and, in the end, to do just one thing. This third matter is not unlike the first but it is more about choices and directions rather than things and allegiances.

The simple truth is that we have a lot of trouble deciding what is most important and how to make good decisions. This causes a lot of grief and anxiety for us. We want too many things. We want to please too many people. We are too easily distracted from our goal. In many ways we have not even fully clarified our goal.

What is it that you want? What is the one thing that really guides every other thing you do? Now be honest! You may say “God.” You may say “the world” or “the career.”  But the fact is, a lot of people don’t really have a clear answer as to what the one thing they want is. The fact is they want a lot of things,  and have never really sat down and reflectively determined the one, over-arching goal of their life. And thus they run about, chasing butterflies and experiencing lots of anxiety.

Imagine a man driving north to New York from Philadelphia. And he knows this is his destination. Along the way he sees lots of signs but is able to quickly determine which ones pertain to his journey, and which ones are to be ignored. If he sees a sign that says, 95 South Baltimore, he is able to simply ignore the sign and experiences no anxiety about it at all.

But now imagine another man who is not sure where he is going. It may be New York, or maybe somewhere else. He just isn’t all that sure. Frankly, he hasn’t thought about it all that much and just sort of lets life happen. Now HE sees the sign 95 South Richmond and struggles to know if he should take it or not. The sign makes him anxious. It is a fork in the road and he is not sure what to do. Should he take it, or not? And even if he does finally make a choice, he wonders if he did the right thing. His choice only heightens his anxiety. He made a choice but keeps looking back, second-guessing and wondering. Yes, he is anxious, for he has not sought first to determine his real destination.

Many live this way today. They have no real priority, no definite choice.  And even if they have some vague direction (e.g. “I want to be happy”) they have little idea what it really takes to get there. And frankly, they don’t want to know the specifics all that much. Commitments and decisions are eschewed. But, strangely, in trying to avoid a decision or commitment, they are not less anxious, they are more anxious. Every intersection is bewildering: “What should I do?”

Now the Lord wants to save us all this anxiety and thus offers us the grace to become clear about what we want and where we are going. As He begins to live his life more fully in us, our mind gets clearer, our heart desires with greater clarity.  When Jesus’ own life begins to replace our own, we want what He wants. And he wants the Kingdom and its values. He loves his Father and everyone and everything His Father loves.
And so do we. By grace and by degrees the Lord begins to change us, to clarify things for us and increasingly our life becomes about only one thing: “That I want to die and leave this world loving God and his kingdom….That I want to be with him forever.”

Received, not achieved – In all three of these areas please remember that the Lord is not merely saying to us that,  by our own flesh power, we must serve only God, experience Him as Father (Abba), and seek first the Kingdom of God. If it depends on us, it will last twenty minutes (max).

No, what the Lord is doing here is painting a picture of the transformed human person, and what we will increasingly experience if we let him live his life in us and transform us by stages. This work begins in us and continues when we get on our knees and beg the Lord to do it. It begins and continues when we are serious about having a steady diet of prayer, scripture, Church teaching, Sacraments, Holy Mass and holy fellowship.

Now if you want to just stay anxious and fretful, fine, you can have all my turns. But, if you seek serenity, then ask the Lord into your life, re-invite him every day. Stay faithful to spiritual practices. And if you do, I promise you (I am a witness), you will see anxieties lessen, fears abate, serenity grow and confidence strengthen. The choice is yours.

This video illustrates the Scripture: but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep. (Eccles 5:12)

And this Video speaks of the doing just one thing (pardon the slight profanity):

SOURCE: Archdiocese of Washington - Msgr. Charles Pope
This is a direct copy and paste - edited only by slightly reformatting for my ease of reading.

There are so many important things that are "there for the taking" in today's Gospel. There are also, so many crucial points that Msgr. Pope highlights for us in this homily. Here is a nugget pure revelation for me the first time I read his Homily:
It is the Secret of Happiness . . . .

As the Lord’s life and His will begin  to replace our own life and will, our obsession with the world’s demands diminishes and it’s power is broken. As we grow in  to a deeper relationship with the Lord, our ties and concerns with worldly agendas fade. And as the ties are broken the anxiety diminishes.

You and I, in our flesh are not going to stop worrying. But the Lord, living his life in us, isn’t worried at all. And as His power and influence over us grows, the worries lessen,  the anxiety goes.
This brings me full circle . . . . right back to our Baltimore Catechism. It all just makes sense.  The secular world is filled with distractions that take us away from God, our purpose and our happiness.
6. Q. Why did God make you?

A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.

Monday, February 21, 2011

February 27, 2011 – 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Sexagesimus Sunday)

Today is Sexagesimus Sunday.  Ash Wednesday is but a week and a half away.
“Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.”

Isaiah 49:14–15
I will never forget you.

Psalm 62:2–3, 6–9
R. Rest in God alone, my soul.

1 Corinthians 4:1–5
. . . . he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness
and will manifest the motives of our hearts . . . .

Matthew 6:24 –34
. . . .  seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness . . . .
Listen Here!    

Do Not Be Anxious (a reflection by Scott Hahn; edited, added to, bolded and graphically enhanced by Soutenus)

We are by nature prone to be anxious and troubled about many things.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus confronts us with our most common fears. We are anxious mostly about how we will meet our material needs—for food and drink; for clothing; for security for tomorrow.
Yet in seeking security and comfort, we may unwittingly be handing ourselves over to servitude to “mammon,” Jesus warns. “Mammon” is an Aramaic word that refers to money or possessions.
Jesus is not condemning wealth. Nor is he saying that we shouldn’t work to earn our daily bread or to make provisions for our future.

It is a question of priorities and goals. What are we living for? Where is God in our lives?
Jesus insists that we need only to have faith in God and to trust in his Providence.

The readings this Sunday pose a challenge to us. Do we really believe that God cares for us, that he alone can provide for all our needs?
That well-known Scripture from Matthew 6 will be read this Sunday:

Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?

Think about it - really ponder the beauty of those words. And what about these words from Scripture?

Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.

If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?

Do we believe that he loves us more than a mother loves the infant at her breast, as God himself promises in this week’s beautiful First Reading? Do we really trust that he is our rock and salvation, as we sing in the Psalm?

Jesus calls us to an intense realism about our lives. For all our worrying, none of us change the span of our days. None of us has anything that we have not received as a gift from God (see 1 Cor. 4:7).
St. Paul reminds us in the Epistle that when the Lord comes he will disclose the purposes of every heart.
We cannot serve both God and mammon. We must choose one or the other. Our faith cannot be partial. We must put our confidence in him and not be shaken by anxiety.

Let us resolve today to seek his Kingdom and his holiness before all else—confident that we are beloved sons and daughters, and that our Father in heaven will never forsake us.

Scott Hahn, Ph.D

John Michael Talbot wrote a beautiful song based on Psalm 62

Sometimes songs can help us remember Scripture!

Go right to 2:26 for the beginning of the song OR right to 3:48 for Scripture reference. One of my very favorite scenes from the movie version of Godspell . . .

Bishop Anthony B Taylor 's Homily:

Probably most of us have had at one time or another some troubling experience that forced us to open our eyes to some reality to which we previously had been blind. What went on inside you the first time you ever saw desperate poverty? I remember how I felt the first time I ever saw a filthy baby held by a toothless young mother with sunken cheeks begging for a few coins and realized that worse than her material poverty was the profound sense of abandonment — the spiritual poverty—the loneliness, fear and despair lurking behind her sad eyes.

Poverty and despair are as old as the human race but once our eyes are opened to these and other human tragedies, we have a choice. We can give away a few coins and then close our eyes to the bigger issues lurking below the surface, try to put it all out of our mind, or we can keep our eyes open and gain a new, more accurate, understanding of reality that puts everything else in a different light. That’s what Jesus is trying to accomplish in today’s Gospel.

We, like the people in Jesus’ audience, spent most of our time working to earn money to buy things. And Jesus warns us of a danger lurking below the surface of this necessary human activity: “You cannot give yourselves to God and money. I warn you, then: do not worry about your livelihood, what you are to eat or drink or use for clothing…look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap…yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more important than they?” Jesus invites us to open our eyes to see that in our blindness we often give more importance to things, than to our relationship with God. And here he is talking about food, drink and clothing! Can you imagine what he would say to those who put luxuries before their relationship with God! This is a very easy trap to fall into. The danger is that this can come to become our whole world and we begin to view all of reality as just so many goods. And sad to say, our American society has bought into this consumer mentality.” For instance:

Whenever the main reason we come to Church is to get something out of it, we’ve made religion into a commodity. We all want Mass to be a good experience, but whenever we actually feel shortchanged because the homily is mediocre or the priest has an accent or the music is disappointing, we need to ask ourselves why we came here in the first place. The main reason for coming to Church is to give rather than to get: to give ourselves to the Lord and to give him thanks for his many blessings, which is what the word Eucharist means: Thanksgiving.

Children become a commodity whenever we calculate how may we can afford to acquire and then use artificial means to prevent against excess “inventory” rather than first asking God in prayer to guide our decisions, and then using Natural Family Planning in order to work with the Lord in being wise stewards of the Gift of Life, all the while remaining open to whatever God’s will is for us. But that’s not how it is for most Americans. In American law today, the parents are consumers and the child in the womb is a commodity. The parents decide whether to keep the product or send it back (abortion), especially if quality control (amniocentesis) says there are defects. Some will sue for damages if the doctor doesn’t give them a perfect baby.

Adults in the work force become commodities: valuable so long as we are productive members of society. Our salaries tell us how much we are worth. Did you ever wonder why so many retirees die within a year of retirement? They no longer feel worth anything.

Jesus challenges this consumer mentality. He calls it idolatry. He calls it slavery. He says: “You cannot be the slave of both God and money.” None of us can be the slave of two masters: we will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. Each of us chooses the master of our life. Will we live according to the consumer mentality which promises happiness that it cannot deliver and values us only for what we produce? Or will we live according to the Christian mentality, the way of truth and life, which values us for who we really are—children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus and each other, temples of the Holy Spirit… having God-given intrinsic worth (even those people viewed by others as a burden on society!) from the first moment of conception and all 9 months in the womb, through those unproductive years of childhood and those supposedly unproductive years of old age, all the way to natural death!

Our Lady of Hope parish in Hope, AR on Saturday, February 26, 2011 and at St. Barbara Parish in DeQueen, AR and St. Edward Parish in Texarkana, AR on Sunday, February 27, 2011. 
A truly wonderful homily by Msgr. Charles Pope can be found HERE.
Msgr. Charles Pope is with the Archdiocese of Washington. The originating URL for his Homily is HERE.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February 20, 2011 – Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time


Leviticus 19:1–2, 17–18
The Lord speaks through Moses - note the same message in the Gospel!

Psalm 103:1–4, 8, 10, 12–13
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
1 Corinthians 3:16–23
We are temples of the Holy Spirit at baptism.

Matthew 5:38–48
The Lord speaks through his son and our savior, Jesus Christ - note the repetition of the message in the first reading!  Theses are the last ten verses of the the Sermon on the Mount.
“ . . . . . 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 . . . . ” (Mt 5:45)

Scott Hahn's Reflection of the Readings followed by an amazing article, Militant Faith, by John Kavanaugh (edited by Soutenus) . . . . .
We are called to the holiness of God. That is the extraordinary claim made in both the First Reading and Gospel this Sunday.

Yet how is possible that we can be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect?

Jesus explains that we must be imitators of God as his beloved children (Eph. 5:1–2).

As God does, we must love without limit—with a love that does not distinguish between friend and foe, overcoming evil with good (see Rom. 12:21).

Jesus himself, in his Passion and death, gave us the perfect example of the love that we are called to.
He offered no resistance to the evil—even though he could have commanded twelve legions of angels to fight alongside him. He offered his face to be struck and spit upon. He allowed his garments to be stripped from him. He marched as his enemies compelled him to the Place of the Skull. On the cross he prayed for those who persecuted him (see Matt. 26:53–54, 67; 27:28, 32; Luke 23:34).

In all this he showed himself to be the perfect Son of God. By his grace, and through our imitation of him, he promises that we too can become children of our heavenly Father.

God does not deal with us as we deserve, as we sing in this week’s Psalm. He loves us with a Father’s love. He saves us from ruin. He forgives our transgressions.

He loved us even when we had made ourselves his enemies through our sinfulness. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (see Rom. 5:8).

We have been bought with the price of the blood of God’s only Son (see 1 Cor. 6:20). We belong to Christ now, as St. Paul says in this week’s Epistle. By our baptism, we have been made temples of his Holy Spirit.

And we have been saved to share in his holiness and perfection. So let us glorify him by our lives lived in his service, loving as he loves.

Militant Faith . . . . “Love your enemies.”

The Sermon on the Mount (can be) so baffling, we sometimes ignore it or pretend we never heard it. Those tactics failing, we turn it inside out. The first time I came across such a strategy was after a lecture I gave on “Capital Punishment and Disarmament in the Light of the Gospels.” My assigned task was apparently not very successfully accomplished. From the back of the room came a courageous dissenting voice. “How can you be against war and capital punishment? Even Christ said, ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’”

What can one do? Why even say that the very next sentence of Jesus in Matthew continues: “But what I say to you is: offer no resistance to injury. When a person strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other”?

We’ve had these words since the beginning of our church, and by and large we still act as if Jesus said, “an eye for an eye.” Even if we finally acknowledge that Jesus did solemnly tell us to turn the other cheek, in our more candid moments we admit that we think it’s outrageous.

Sometimes I feel everything in my being recoils from the words of Jesus. I want even more than an eye for an eye. And who has a right to ask me for an extra shirt, much less a coat? I reluctantly give up a minute of service, much less a mile. Go two miles? Love enemies? It’s hard enough to love those close at hand.

When I see my own resistance to the gospels, how can I be upset if my country thinks it is sheer idiocy? Try forgiving the creep down the street, much less Saddam Hussein.

Our resistance to the gospel is all of a piece. To hold myself not accountable is to hold my family, community or nation not accountable. To exempt any of these groups from the truth is to exempt myself.

In The Old Testament without Illusion biblical scholar John L. McKenzie notes that Christians have felt compelled to create and honor a political ethic where Christ is useless. But such a maneuver invites tragedy, because the political is always in some way personal, and the personal, political. When we make decisions as a nation or a church as if the Incarnation has not happened and Jesus has not died, personal imitation sooner or later follows suit.

The way of Jesus stands in contrast to our personal wars as well as our public ones. As McKenzie puts it, “You cannot be a Christian in private and a secularist every place where your life impinges upon the public; or, to steal another phrase, you cannot serve God and Mammon.” McKenzie goes on to say that Christians who think they can serve both God and Mammon support just wars. The same can be said for capital punishment.

It is not easy. The demons of the world and of our hearts seduce us into thinking that the ways of God cannot be followed in this time-bound journey. Even the commands that the Lord gave to Moses seemed so impractical. “Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” They were to have no hatred for brother or sister, to take no revenge, to cherish no grudge against fellow citizens, to love their neighbors as themselves. So the Israelites, like all nations, all peoples, weighed the shrewdness of the world, of self-defense, of retaliation, on a balance with the wisdom of God.

For myself, what got me to speak less confidently about capital punishment and forgiveness of enemies was the terrible murder of a young girl, the daughter of a friend of mine. He was a fellow professor at the university and a deacon in a local parish. I found myself avoiding him, especially after the murderers were caught and put on trial. I knew full well that he was aware of my facile arguments against capital punishment, and I was almost ashamed to have him look at me.

Finally one day we were suddenly on the same elevator; I could not escape. I murmured how difficult it must be to go through the trial, reliving his great loss once again. “Yes,” he said, “but the hardest thing is trying to convince the prosecutors that we want life imprisonment without parole and not the death penalty. He doesn’t understand that we follow Christ in all of this.”

Here was someone, profoundly injured by an unjust aggressor, who really believed and wanted to practice the words of Jesus. He really believed in a God who gives sun and rain to the unjust as well as the just. He really aspired to a love made perfect in the Crucified who asked forgiveness for enemies. He had entered the mystery of which Paul spoke. He knew that all things were his, and he was Christ’s, and Christ was God’s

“Are you not aware that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you: lf anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, and you are that temple.” So also, somehow, is the criminal and the enemy, despite the empty wisdom of the worldly wise.
John Kavanaugh, S. J. of Saint Louis University
A thought for today:
Perhaps there is a “pagan” side of each of us which demands revenge, severity and quid-pro-quo exchanges. The only way to banish the pagan is through God's love and grace. We are called to this kind of holiness.
We are only constructing false security when we plan revenge and war. Our real security lies in Christ - period.

Scott Hahn
John Kavanaugh 
Larry Gillick, S.J., of  Creighton University 
Cartoon - Cartoon Stock


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February 13, 2011 – 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Affair of the Heart

Sir 15:15-20  
(God never asks more of us than we are capable)

Psalm 119:1–2, 4–5, 17–18, 33–34   
(R.Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!)

1 Corinthians 2:6–10   
(What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard . . . . )

Matthew 5:17–37  
(Revealing the deeper meaning and purpose of the Ten Commandments and the moral Law of the Old Testament)

MEMORY VERSE!  Matthew 5:19  
 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.

Jesus tells us in the Gospel this week that he has come not to abolish but to “fulfill” the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets.

 Whenever I hear this, my mind plays a quick re-run of Godspell. I can hear:  "the law and the prophets, the law and the prophets, the law and the prophets!" As off track as that musical was at times - especially depending on the director and ensemble - it helped me in my faith journey as a kid. (Yes, I am THAT old!)

In the Gospel reading Jesus reveals the deeper meaning and purpose of the Ten Commandments and the moral Law of the Old Testament. But his Gospel also transcends the Law. Remember He came not to abolish but to “fulfill”.

He demands a morality far greater than that accomplished by the most pious of Jews, the scribes and Pharisees.

Outward observance of the Law is not enough. It is not enough that we do not murder, commit adultery, divorce, or lie.

The law of the new covenant is a law that God writes on the heart (see Jer. 31:31–34). The heart is the seat of our motivations, the place from which our words and actions proceed (see Matt. 6:21; 15:18–20).

Jesus, this week, calls us to train our hearts, to master our passions and emotions. And Jesus demands the full obedience of our hearts (see Rom. 6:17). He calls us to love God with all our hearts, and to do his will from the heart (see Matt. 22:37; Eph. 6:6)

God never asks more of us than we are capable. That is the message of this week’s First Reading.
~~~> The key to this, I believe, is that we can't and shouldn't attempt to handle anything alone. We need our God. It is prideful to shut Him out. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps? That is an incomplete secular command. We are capable WITH GOD's graces.
It is up to us to choose life over death, to choose the waters of eternal life over the fires of ungodliness and sin.
~~~~> We can only do this with God. Each and every decision we make takes us closer or farther from God. Each and every one.

By his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has shown us that it is possible to keep his commandments. In baptism, he has given us his Spirit that his Law might be fulfilled in us (Rom. 8:4).
The wisdom of the Gospel surpasses all the wisdom of this age that is passing away, St. Paul tells us in the Epistle. The revelation of this wisdom fulfills God’s plan from before all ages.
Let us trust in this wisdom, and live by his Kingdom law.

As we do in this week’s Psalm, let us pray that we grow in being better able to live his Gospel, and to seek the Father with all our heart.

Scott Hahn, Ph.D.
Edited by me/Soutenus (all of my additions to Scott Hahn's commentary are in blue)  
Bolding is also my emphasis. Paragraph formatting and graphics -- also my addition.
I am so grateful to Scott Hahn for these Bible reflections based on the Sunday Readings. Our family uses them to help us prepare for Mass -- that preparation always includes some editing/re-arranging/bolding/notation/graphics to help us get the most out of his commentary. We post here for family and friend sharing & input.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

February 6, 2011 – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

This is a post in progress - it will be completed by Saturday (yep, running a bit late this week) :-)
Listen Here!      Light Breaking Forth
Isaiah 58:7-10
Psalm 112:4-9
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Matthew 5:13-16

Jesus came among us as light to scatter the darkness of a fallen world.
As his disciples, we too are called to be “the light of the world,” he tells us in the Gospel this Sunday (see John 1:4–4, 9; 8:12; 9:5).

All three images that Jesus uses to describe the Church are associated with the identity and vocation of Israel.
Salt of the Earth
City Set on a Mountain
Light of the World

God forever aligned his Kingdom with the Kingdom of David and his sons by a “covenant of salt,” salt being a sign of permanence and purity (see 2 Chron. 13:5, 8; Lev. 2:13; Ezek. 43:24).

CITY on a hill   
Jerusalem was to be a city set on a hill, high above all others, drawing all nations towards the glorious light streaming from her Temple (see Isa. 2:2; 60:1–3).

And Israel was given the mission of being a light to the nations, that God’s salvation would reach to the ends of the earth (see Isa. 42:6; 49:6).

The liturgy shows us this week that the Church, and every Christian, is called to fulfill Israel’s mission.
By our faith and good works we are to make the light of God’s life break forth in the darkness, as we sing in this week’s Psalm.

This week’s readings remind us that our faith can never be a private affair, something we can hide as if under a basket.

We are to pour ourselves out for the afflicted, as Isaiah tells us in the First Reading. Our light must shine as a ray of God’s mercy for all who are poor, hungry, naked, and enslaved.

There must be a transparent quality to our lives. Our friends and family, our neighbors and fellow citizens, should see reflected in us the light of Christ and through us be attracted to the saving truths of the Gospel. 

So let us pray that we, like St. Paul in the Epistle, might proclaim with our whole lives,
“Christ and him crucified.”

Yours in Christ,

Scott Hahn, Ph.D.

Go right to the 6 minutes and 57 second mark (6:57) for "You are the Light of the World."  I so wish there was a saved video of the 70s Broadway version of this song! This movie version is not quite even  adequate . . . .  I have saved it here to remind myself of the Broadway version.