Daily Bible Reflections

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Sat Jun 26, 2010 10:21 am

June 26, 2010


St. Marie Magdalen Fontaine
Saturday of the 12th Week

Lam 2:2, 10-14, 18-19 Save
Ps 74
Mt 8:5-17



The Healing of a Centurion’s Servant

5When [Jesus] entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, 6saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” 7He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” 8The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. 9For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven, 12but the children of the kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” 13And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour [his] servant was healed.
14Jesus entered the house of Peter, and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15He touched her hand, the fever left her, and she rose and waited on him.
16When it was evening, they brought him many who were possessed by demons, and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick, 17to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet: “He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.”

CENTURION

The centurion (Greek kenturion; Latin centurio) was the commanding officer of a “century,” nominally a hundred foot soldiers, in the Roman army. Although the centurions were subordinate to the legionary tribunes, the tribunes often deferred to them since the centurions were the working officers and the backbone of the army, hence also the most experienced and best-informed.
The importance of the centurion in the Roman army is reflected in the Gospel. Wealth and respect which accrue to the office are reflected in his slaves and the soldiers who do his bidding.
The centurion shows faith in Jesus and knows what Jesus’ word can do. As an official, he is certain that his order will be followed by his soldiers. Jesus’ word is even more powerful than his. Thus Jesus need not be bothered by entering his house and risking being made impure (he is a pagan and he knows Jews do not enter the house of pagans). All Jesus has to do is say the word, and the servant lying at home paralyzed will be saved.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Sat Jun 26, 2010 9:53 pm

June 27, 2010


13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21
Ps 16
Gal 5:1, 13-18

Lk 9:51-62



Samaritan Inhospitality

51When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, [Jesus] resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, 52and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, 53but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. 54When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” 55Jesus turned and rebuked them, 56and they journeyed to another village. 57As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” 59And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “[Lord,] let me go first and bury my father.” 60But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” 62[To him] Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Without Looking Back

In the New Testament, Paul’s writing is the most autobiographical. In the proto-Pauline or his undisputed letters, we have a glimpse of the man in flesh and blood, not ­retouched by the idealization of his disciples and admirers. We see an itinerant artisan who has to struggle to get money for food; a missionary trudging along the roads, carrying his limited possessions in a sack; a passenger on a cargo boat eating his meager provisions; a preacher talking to people at a place by the riverside or in tenement houses because he does not have the status to command a place in a public building. He is mocked by the sophisticated Greeks as a ragpicker of ideas and looked upon by the Jews with alarm because he preaches to the Gentiles and stirs up trouble. Added to these difficulties that he shares in his Corin­thian correspondence (2 Cor 11:23-29) is his anxiety for the churches he founded.
Why did Paul subject himself to all this grief? What happened to him that he now considers his illustrious upbringing and his past life as so much “dross”?
Paul traces this to a discovery that goes beyond his previous imaginings: “The supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:8). Luke, in Acts, calls this Paul’s conversion. Paul himself speaks of being “taken over” by Christ who “has loved me and given himself up for me” (Gal 2:20).
Because of this grace, Paul cannot be defeated: “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor 4:8-9).
Paul’s resoluteness in preaching the Gospel is but an echo of his Master’s. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem. This is his response to a conversation with Moses and Elijah on the mountain of the transfiguration, when the two spoke of the exodus that he would accomplish in Jerusalem. In that city of his destiny, Jesus would accomplish his Passover: to suffer, die, and rise again to deliver the people from their slavery to sin and to grant them a new life in God.
Where does Jesus’ “resoluteness” come from? It comes from his total love and dedication to the Father. In John (4:34), to do the will of the Father and to finish his work is Jesus’ “food,” that which sustains his life and guides his activity.
The road to Jerusalem is long and tortuous. The travel is defined by encounters, events, and stops.
The first hindrance is put up by the Samaritans. They refuse to receive Jesus and his disciples into their village because they are seen as a group en route to Jerusalem. James and John want punishment. Jesus, however, is not deterred and continues his journey on another road.
Then follow the encounters with individuals who wish to follow Jesus. Through his replies that appear cruel and in contradiction to works of piety, Jesus announces a principle that applies always and everywhere: prefer nothing to the love of Christ. Nothing can keep one from announcing the reign of God.
If we give absolute priority to Jesus, just as he has put priority on the Father, we cannot pretend to “follow” and “serve” him without renouncing everything, including our past. This is what Paul understands when he proclaims: “I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him” (Phil 3:8-9).

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:56 pm

June 28, 2010


St. Irenaeus, bishop and martyr

Am 2:6-10, 13-16
Ps 50
Mt 8:18-22



The Would-be Followers of Jesus

18When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side. 19A scribe approached and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” 21Another of [his] disciples said to him, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” 22But Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”

BURY THE DEAD

Among the Romans, burial for all persons was the norm because it was thought that to leave a corpse unburied had unpleasant repercussions on the fate of the departed. Against this backdrop, the Roman habit of refusing burial to executed criminals is all the more tragic.
Among the Jews, burial is a sacred duty. Looking after the parent and being present at the funeral are the last obligation of filial love that a child ought to do. Burying those who are not one’s relative is considered a charitable work. Tobit would give bread to the hungry, and if he saw one of his people who had died and been thrown outside the walls of Nineveh, he would bury him (Tob 1:17).
Could Jesus be unmindful of this sacred duty? Could he not concede to a prospective disciple a delay of a few hours so he could first do the last rites due his dead father?
It is hardly conceivable that the compassionate Jesus would not give consideration to someone to perform a sacred obligation. From all indications, the would-be disciple’s father is not dead yet. What the man wishes is for Jesus to permit him to wait first for his father’s death so that he could provide for his funeral and then leave. For Jesus this is too much attachment. One cannot wait until all family connections are satisfied, or one will never be able to follow the call.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Tue Jun 29, 2010 9:49 am

June 29, 2010


Sts. Peter and Paul, apostles

Acts 12:1-10
Ps 34
2 Tm 4:6-8, 17-18

Mt 16:13-19


Peter’s Confession about Jesus

13When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus 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. 18And 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. 19I 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.”

KEYS OF THE KINGDOM

Isaiah 22:22 speaks of the “key of the House of David” by which the people of God are made secure. In Jewish interpretations, the key of David refers to the teachers of the Law who were then exiled in Babylon. They would inculcate the will of God to the people as Moses did in his time.
Jesus alludes to this understanding when, in denouncing the scribes and the Pharisees, he says that they “lock the kingdom of heaven before human beings” (Mt 23:23). These teachers of the Law have the “key” to give entrance into the kingdom because they “sit on the chair of Moses” (Mt 23:3), that is, they have the authority of Moses. But they exercise the power of the key in such a way as to be an obstacle to its entrance. They have “taken away the key of knowledge.” They themselves do not enter and they stop those trying to enter it (Lk 11:52).
Jesus says that the key is now given to his followers, especially to Simon Peter. The power “to bind and to loose” refers to the authority to declare a commandment binding or not binding, and the disciplinary power to “bind” the transgressor. In particular, this refers to the authority to “open heaven” through forgiveness. Jesus alone holds this authority, but this has been given to Peter. But what is said to Peter (v 19) is applied also to all the disciples (Mt 18:18). It is the community which holds this power, but someone in the community, like a single leader, can exercise this power in the performance of the community’s ministry.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:56 am

June 30, 2010


First Martyrs of the Church of Rome
Wednesday of the 13th Week

Am 5:14-15, 21-24
Ps 50
Mt 8:28-34


The Healing of the Gadarene Demoniacs

28When [Jesus] came to the other side, to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. 29They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” 30Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding. 31The demons pleaded with him, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 32And he said to them, “Go then!” They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned. 33The swineherds ran away, and when they came to the town they reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. 34Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.

DEMONIACS


In the Mediterranean world of Jesus, things beyond human control—weather, earthquake, disease, fertility—were believed to be controlled by non-human beings who operated in a kind of cosmic social hierarchy. In the hierarchy of beings, there is God on top, followed by the “sons of God” (archangels), then the lower non-human beings: angels, spirits, and demons. Lower than them are human persons. Demons or unclean spirits have the power to control human behavior. Since they are evil or impure, they are expected to assault people and cause them harm.
A person accused of demon possession is someone who has a deviant behavior. He represents a threat and is therefore excluded from the community. In today’s Gospel, two demoniacs are described as living in the tombs. Since burial areas are seldom visited, they are easily occupied by outcasts like the demoniacs.
Jesus from Nazareth is hardly expected to be more than a carpenter. Since he acts contrary to the expectations of his social status, he is suspected by some. His detractors accuse him of demon possession. Jesus claims that his power is from God. Being Son of God, he belongs to the highest hierarchy of powers and overcomes the power of the demons which possessed the two demoniacs.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:35 pm

July 1, 2010


Blessed Junipero Serra
Thursday of the 13th Week

Am 7:10-17
Ps 19
Mt 9:1-8



The Healing of a Paralytic

1[Jesus] entered a boat, made the crossing, and came into his own town. 2And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” 3At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? 5Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” 7He rose and went home. 8When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings.

AUTHORITY GIVEN TO HUMAN BEINGS

The healing of the paralytic is both a sign and a proof that Jesus has authority to forgive sins. One cannot prove or disprove the power to forgive sins, but by performing an observable and irrefutable miracle (a major case), Jesus shows he likewise has the power to forgive (a minor case).
But what is remarkable here is the reaction of the crowd who glorify God for sharing the power of forgiveness not only with Jesus but with human beings as well! Matthew must be referring to the situation of the community of Christians after the resurrection of Jesus. Reconciliation and forgiveness of sins would be part of Christian life. Christians believe that they have been empowered by Jesus “to bind and to loose on earth” (Mt 18:18). As they are sent to proclaim the good news to all creation, they are given “all power” (Mt 28:18), and part of this power is the forgiveness of sins.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Thu Jul 01, 2010 6:40 pm

July 2, 2010


St. Oliver Plunkett
Friday of the 13th Week

Am 8:4-6, 9-12
Ps 119
Mt 9:9-13



The Call of Matthew

9As Jesus passed on... he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. 10While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. 11The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. 13Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

TAX COLLECTORS AND SINNERS

The Jews in Jesus’ time paid both religious and state taxes. Religious taxes were paid to the priests in Jerusalem for the maintenance of the Temple and its services. State taxes were paid to Rome and the Herodian rulers. Direct taxes were those imposed on land properties and individuals (head taxes). Indirect taxes included tolls, duties, and market taxes of various kinds. Toll collectors sitting in customs posts, like Matthew in the Gospel reading, collected levies on goods entering and leaving a district or passing crossover points like bridges, gates, and ports.
Tax collectors (telonai) were native entrepreneurs who contracted with the Roman administration to collect local taxes. They paid the tax allotment in advance and then organized collection in a contracted district in hopes of making a profit. Such ventures were risky, open to abuse, and not always profitable. Some became rich, like the chief tax collector Zacchaeus (Lk 19:2), but many clearly did not. The tax collectors often mentioned in the gospels were most often employees of the chief tax collector.
Matthew, unlike Zacchaeus, does not seem to be a wealthy man. It is Jesus who invites him at table in “his house” (Jesus’ base) in Capernaum, probably in the complex of Simon Peter’s father. For Jesus to provide a feast, he must be able to marshal sufficient resources to feed a large group. Since there is no privacy in a village life, the Pharisees, like the other villagers, get to know about it and comment on such a dinner.
When Jesus’ honor is challenged, he replies with a proverb about physicians and sick people. Obviously, it is not disease that is spoken here but “sickness” which means “loss of meaning” and which separates a person from God and from the community. “Tax collectors and sinners” need cure, which is reconciliation “brokered” by Jesus, a man of God.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:15 pm

July 3, 2010


St. Thomas, apostle

Eph 2:19-22
Ps 117
Jn 20:24-29

Jn 20:24-29



Thomas

24Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” 28Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

THOMAS, CALLED DIDYMUS

The name “Thomas” is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew word to’am (Aramaic to’ma’), which means “twin.” The Greek-speaking Christians would not readily understand “Thomas,” but would certainly understand its Greek equivalent “Didymus.”
We do not know who the “twin” of Thomas was. And since “Thomas” seems to be a designation, what is the actual name of the apostle? A tradition contained in the Acts of Thomas assigns him a common Judean name “Judas”; he would then be “Judas Thomas.”
Because of his incredulous attitude towards the resurrection of Jesus, as shown in today’s Gospel, he has won the characterization as “doubting Thomas.” And people who express doubts are called “doubting Thomases.”
On the evening of the day of the resurrection, Jesus appears to the fearful disciples and shows them his hands and his side to dispel their unspoken but real doubts and to assure them that he is not a ghost but the self-same Jesus of Nazareth, their Master. For the disciples, “seeing is believing,” and no one asks to touch and verify the wounds. But Thomas, who was not around, wants to probe Jesus’ body to confirm the miraculous. But when confronted the following week, Thomas backs off. What conquers Thomas is Jesus’ direct response to his disbelief, not his examination of Jesus’ body. His confession “My Lord and my God!” conveys his deep shame and reverence at seeing Jesus’ divine glory and the strong personal sense with which he yields to Jesus’ invitation: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Sun Jul 04, 2010 9:09 am

July 4, 2010


14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 66:10-14c
Ps 66
Gal 6:14-18

Lk 10:1-12, 17-20
(or 10:1-9)



The Mission and return of the Seventy[-two]

1The Lord appointed seventy[-two] others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. 2He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. 3Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. 4Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. 5Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ 6If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. 7Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. 8Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, 9cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ 10Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, 11‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. 12I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”
17The seventy[-two] returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” 18Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. 19Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

JESUS IS OUR PEACE


In today’s Gospel, Jesus bids the seventy-two disciples he is sending on a mission to give the greetings of peace to whatever house they enter. The Hebrew shalom (peace) does not only mean absence of war or conflict. It has a wider connotation of “being complete” or “being okay.” Whatever puts the person in the right condition is connected with peace.
In the Bible, whenever people met, they asked, “Is there peace?” If things were going well, the answer would be, “There is peace.” This means, “I am all right” or “I am okay.”
But shalom was also seen as God’s graciousness towards his people Israel, who are special to him because of the berith or covenant. The covenant was the reason and source of well-being and peace, of God’s protection and blessing.
Jesus bids his missionaries to bring shalom to wherever they go. This is not just a simple greeting or wish, but a sharing of God’s gift of shalom: peace, joy, well-being, salvation. What they share is none other than the shalom of Christ, the Messiah and the Son of God, who came to the world and now is telling the people: “The kingdom of God is at hand for you.”
The disciples’ message is so important that those who refuse to listen to them invite judgment on themselves. This is because the messengers are Jesus’ shaliahim, his ambassadors who represent him and who speak in his name. The shaking off of dust of the refusing town is a warning. The Jews would do this upon leaving the Gentile village or town to make sure that nothing unclean would remain on their sandals. They, after all, had nothing to do with the Gentiles. In the same way, those who refuse Jesus’ messengers are considered separated from Jesus, separated from God. There is no shalom in their household.
Peace is the fruit of Jesus’ coming and of his saving acts, of his sacrifice on Calvary. When he was born in Bethlehem, the heavenly hosts sang, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Lk 2:14). When he finished his preaching in Galilee and went to Jerusalem as Messiah-King astride a colt, he was acclaimed by the multitude who blessed heaven, intoning the angelic message like a refrain, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest” (Lk 19:38). Jesus brings true peace through his suffering and death, because through his cross, he unites all. Paul expresses this so forcefully: “For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of two, thus establishing peace” (Eph 2:14-15).

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Mon Jul 05, 2010 8:41 am

July 5, 2010


St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, priest
Monday of the 14th Week

Hos 2:16, 17c-18, 21-22
Ps 145
Mt 9:18-26



The Official’s Daughter and the Woman with a Hemorrhage

18While [Jesus was speaking to the crowd], an official came forward, knelt down before him, and said, “My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19Jesus rose and followed him, and so did his disciples. 20A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. 21She said to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.”
22Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.” And from that hour the woman was cured.
23When Jesus arrived at the official’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion, 24he said, “Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they ridiculed him. 25When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose. 26And news of this spread throughout all that land.

SHE TOUCHED THE TASSEL OF HIS CLOAK

In the book of Numbers (15:38-41), the Israelites are instructed, through Moses, to “put tassels on the corners of their garments, fastening each corner tassel with a violet cord.” This dangling ornament is meant to serve as a reminder of God’s presence, salvation, and commandments.
A woman suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years seeks to touch the tassel of Jesus’ garment, believing this contact will bring her some magical cure. Instead, she is healed not by contact with the tassel but by the word of Jesus, spoken in response to her faith. It is her personal encounter with Jesus that heals; Jesus declares that her faith is the source of the cure.
Still, as the other story suggests, touch is an important element of healing. According to Jewish worship laws, Jesus becomes ritually unclean by allowing himself to be touched by the woman with hemorrhages and by taking the dead girl’s hand to bring her back to life. Thus, the narrative is not just about Jesus healing the sick and raising the dead. It is also a story of Jesus giving and restoring life by doing exactly what he is not supposed to do—touching and letting himself be touched by those whom the Law has declared unclean and untouchable.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Tue Jul 06, 2010 3:00 am

July 6, 2010


St. Maria Goretti, virgin and martyr
Tuesday of the 14th Week

Hos 8:4-7, 11-13
Ps 115
Mt 9:32-38



The Compassion of Jesus


32As [Jesus and his disciples] were going out, a demoniac who could not speak was brought to [Jesus], 33and when the demon was driven out the mute person spoke. The crowds were amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” 34But the Pharisees said, “He drives out demons by the prince of demons.”
35Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. 36At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; 38so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”

LIKE SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD

Jesus goes around towns and villages proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom, casting out demons, and healing people. The needs of the crowds call forth his compassion. He sees them as sheep without a shepherd—helpless, troubled, and abandoned. It is true that the people have their leaders in the priests and elders, Pharisees and Sadducees, teachers of the law and officials of the synagogue. But these have not proven to be shepherds after God’s heart, looking after their own interests instead of truly caring for the people.
Jesus is good shepherd to the people, but he also sees the urgent need for workers. Just like a crop of wheat that must be reaped and brought into the barn, God’s people must be gathered and brought into the kingdom. Jesus points out that the workers for the great harvest are few, and he urges his disciples to do something about it. The disciples’ response begins not with vigorous personal effort but with prayer. They must ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers, apostles and evangelizers, for his harvest.
Jesus then shares his mission with the disciples. He empowers the Twelve to drive out unclean spirits and to bring healing to people. When Jesus’ earthly ministry ends, the apostles take on the role of shepherding the people who are hungry for the good news of salvation. Assisted by deacons, they attend to the people’s needs (Acts 6:1-7).

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Tue Jul 06, 2010 4:10 pm

July 7, 2010


St. Edelburg
Wednesday of the 14th Week

Hos 10:1-3, 7-8, 12
Ps 105
Mt 10:1-7



The Commissioning of the Twelve

1[Jesus] summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. 2The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; 4Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.
5Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. 6Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ ”

THE TWELVE

Social analysis of Jesus’ followers points to two basic groups. The first is the coalition kind. It is an informal, fluid, impermanent network of relations focused on limited goals. The coalition group is the crowd that follows Jesus. They have high regard of him—though their opinions may vary. They are loyal to him, but they may divide their loyalty with other leaders. Crisis may prevent them from further following, as what happened to the disciples who could not accept the idea of Jesus giving his flesh to eat (Jn 6:66).
A more formal, tightly knit, and permanent group is the faction kind, formed around a central person. It is also called ingroup or core group. The twelve disciples whom Jesus summons in the Gospel reading is this kind of group. They are called “apostles” because they are sent on a mission (from the Greek apostello, to send). At other times, they are simply referred to as the Twelve (twelve is a symbolic number, harking back to the twelve tribes of Israel).
Jesus sends out the Twelve to proclaim the same message he had at the outset of his career: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 4:17). He further raises the status of his core group by empowering them to heal and to cast out demons. God alone has the power to heal and to exorcise. They are to be “brokers” of God’s power just like Jesus. Jesus elevates the chosen disciples to a position like his.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:48 pm

July 8, 2010


St. Killian
Thursday of the 14th Week

Hos 11:1-4, 8e-9
Ps 80
Mt 10:7-15



The Mission of the Twelve

[Jesus said to the Twelve,] 7“As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. 9Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; 10no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. 11Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. 12As you enter a house, wish it peace. 13If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you. 14Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. 15Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”

The Kingdom Of Heaven Is At Hand

After exhorting his disciples to beseech the master of the harvest for more laborers, Jesus provides the initial answer to the prayer. From his followers, Jesus chooses a group of twelve to whom he gives the power to expel demons and heal diseases. The twelve are called apostles. An apostle (Greek apostolos, from apostello, “send”) is one who is sent, an official representative charged with a commission. The designation emphasizes the authorization of the sender rather than the content of the commission.
Jesus, in fact, is the apostle of God (Mk 9:37). Just as he has been sent by the Father and given authority to proclaim the kingdom, so now he empowers and sends the twelve to do what he does. Whoever receives them receives Jesus and the Father (Mt 10:40).
The apostles are sent to Israel, especially to its lost sheep—the poor and the disabled, the oppressed and the marginalized. These ‘am ha-’ares (“people of the land”) are special to Jesus and the Father, and they are to receive preferential, though not exclusive, treatment from the apostles. The core of the apostles’ message is the same as Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of his Galilean ministry: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (cf Mt 4:17).

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:26 am

July 9, 2010


St. Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions, martyrs
Friday of the 14th Week

Hos 14:2-10
Ps 51
Mt 10:16-23



Coming Persecutions

[Jesus said to the Twelve,] 16“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. 17But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, 18and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. 19When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. 20For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 22You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. 23When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

SHEEP IN THE MIDST OF WOLVES

The Bible refers to sheep more than 500 times, with specific terms indicating types on the basis of age, sex, and breed; in the Hebrew Scriptures most references are literal, while in the New Testament most are metaphorical.
Domestic sheep are valued for the necessities they provide—milk, meat, hides, and wool. They are favored as sacrificial animals (Lv 1:10; 4:32), so it is not surprising that the crucified Jesus is identified as the Lamb of God in Johannine literature (Jn 1:29; Rv 5:6). Sheep are gentle and docile, largely defenseless and in need of constant supervision. For this reason, the people of God are depicted as a flock under the care of God (e.g. Ps 78:52) or Jesus (Jn 10) or human leaders (Ez 34).
Wolves, on the other hand, are terrifying creatures: they devour, tear, and destroy their prey, especially helpless sheep. Their terror and ferocity provides the context for the revulsion the biblical writers and Jesus have for evil people and institutions that they compare to wolves.
As Jesus sends the Twelve, he describes them as sheep in the midst of wolves. They will be defenseless and vulnerable as they go about their mission. But they are not to be afraid of bearing witness to Jesus who as their shepherd will protect and care for them. God’s Spirit will be the power that will speak through them.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:32 pm

July 10, 2010


St. Amalberga
Saturday of the 14th Week

Is 6:1-8
Ps 93
Mt 10:24-33


Courage under Persecution

[Jesus said to the Twelve,] 24“No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. 25It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household!
26“Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. 27What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. 29Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. 30Even all the hairs of your head are counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 32Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. 33But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

BODY AND SOUL

In the Old Testament, “flesh” and “soul” both designate the human being as a whole. In the New Testament “body” often replaces “flesh.” “Flesh” primarily speaks of man as mortal, dependent on God, subject to sickness and death. “Body” refers more to man’s outside appearance. “Soul” is understood as “life”; it designates man as a living being, subject to the vicissitudes of life.
In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of those who “kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” The saying seems to hint at the Greek distinction between immortal soul and mortal body. But Jesus then talks of both soul and body being destroyed in Gehenna. It is better to see “flesh/body” and “soul/life” as two sides of the human being. The saying is thus interpreted: human beings cannot kill life itself. Only God (no one else, not even the devil) can destroy the body and the life given it. The Jewish rabbis would put it thus: the killing by a king of flesh and blood is not an eternal killing, but the killing performed by the King of all kings is; he kills for this age and the age to come.
Matthew shares the latter Jewish notion—espoused in the books of Daniel, Maccabees, Wisdom—that the end of the body is not the end of life, because God will give a new body which will live in God’s kingdom. Or the body will be cast into hell. Matthew calls men and women to be without fear in this life, because there is only one who deserves to be feared: God.

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