Daily Bible Reflections

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:08 am

July 26, 2010


Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary

Sir 44:1, 10-15
Ps 132
Mt 13:16-17
[or Jer 13:1-11
Dt 32
Mt 13:31-35]


The Privilege of Discipleship

[Jesus said to his disciples:] 16“Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. 17Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

BLESSED ARE YOUR EYES

The beatitude pronounced by Jesus is related to his speaking “in parables.” The parable as used by Jesus is defined by C.H. Dodd as “a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt of its precise application to tease it into active thought.” A parable penetrates one’s heart and mind only as one is prepared to receive it. To those who close their hearts to Jesus, his stories or comparisons remain “riddles,” puzzles. But Jesus’ parable reveals the truth to those who are open to it. And as they act on this truth, more revelation is given to them.
The believers are privileged to see and hear what was not granted to the many prophets and righteous people of old. It is because the one who tells the parable is the One who brings the fullness of God’s salvation which the righteous people—even the whole of humanity—looked forward to from the beginning. They could only look from a distance, like Abraham who looked forward to the day of Jesus. Now he rejoices to see it (Jn 8:56).
The Gospel is chosen for the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary and grandparents of Jesus. They are righteous people who longed for the Savior; in them and in their daughter Mary, the hopes and dreams of centuries are about to meet, because Jesus the Savior is soon to be born from their lineage.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:02 pm

July 27, 2010


St. Pantaleon
Tuesday of the 17th Week

Jer 14:17-22
Ps 79
Mt 13:36-43



The Explanation of the Parable of the Weeds


36Dismissing the crowds, [Jesus] went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, 38the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40Just as weeds are collected and burned [up] with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. 42They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

EXPLANATION OF THE PARABLE OF THE WEEDS

The world is the arena where good and evil interact. Jesus, the divine sower, sows good seeds in the person of those who follow the will of God. But the devil is also at work, through “his children” who oppose Jesus and lead people astray. Because the weeds (the evil ones) are not easily distinguished from the wheat (the good ones), they can confuse and tempt people.
But the world is moving toward a goal determined by God. The time will come when there will be a clear separation of the good and the wicked, and the corresponding reward or punishment will be given. Matthew’s emphasis on the last judgment serves as a warning to those “outside,” people who reject the message of Christ and who do the devil’s works. But the warning also applies to the Christian community, those who do not remain faithful to their call. While the community must go after the sinner and do everything to regain the lost brother or sister, God’s judgment awaits those who are obdurate in their rejection of God’s offer of salvation.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:05 pm

July 28, 2010


Sts. Nazarius and Celsus
Wednesday of the 17th Week

Jer 15:10, 16-21
Ps 59
Mt 13:44-46


Parables of the Kingdom

[Jesus said to his disciples,] 44“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. 46When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”


THE JOY OF DISCOVERY

Because of the constant threat of robbers and marauders, burying valuable objects was a common practice in antiquity. Retrieving them was also common. But a person might forget about the treasure or die without informing the heirs, and so the treasure would remain hidden until someone accidentally found it.
In the parable, the finder probably does not own the field. He has to “sell all he has” to buy the field. Now he has nothing to fall back on. Worse, he dare not dig up because it will raise questions about ownership of the treasure. So, the discovery of the treasure has a potential for disaster for him.
In the same way, the finder of the pearl of great price “sells all that he has” to acquire it. What will he now live on? Ultimately he may have to sell the pearl in order to live.
The parables, however, are not about practicality or even morality. Similar in structure, they have the same message: the great joy of the Kingdom of heaven. The exaggerated features of the stories point to the overwhelming discovery of the Kingdom for which a person will simply give up everything.
The real “actors” which initiate and determine the actions are the treasure and the pearl which represent the Kingdom. The Kingdom is the source of power.
And just as the treasure and the pearl give rise to the action of men, so the call of Jesus induces the disciples to leave boats, homes, and jobs (Mt 4:18-22; 9:9) for the “sake of the kingdom of heaven.”

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:42 am

July 29, 2010


St. Martha

1 Jn 4:7-16
Ps 34
Jn 11:19-27
[or Lk 10:38-42]


Martha’s Faith

19Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22[But] even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” 24Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

DEATH AND LIFE

Among the ancient Hebrews, there was no distinction between “life” as a principle of vitality and life as a living, concrete expression of that vitality. Life was an animated body with its power to function, and its capacity for pleasure. Life itself was the basic good. “Fullness” of life was the experience that a person desired on this earth: length of days, possessions (especially of land), offspring, peace and deliverance from enemies. Life was diminished with the loss of these, and death marked the end of life.
Due to the influence of Greek thought, belief in life after death later grew. When Antiochus IV Epiphanes introduced Hellenism and forced people to renounce their religious practices, Israelite martyrs gave up their lives in the hope of receiving them back from God. By the time of Jesus, most people believe in the other life, in the resurrection from the dead on the last day.
Eternal life (Greek aionios zoe) appears frequently in John. It means that death is not the final word; eternal life awaits people beyond this earthly life. But with Jesus, eternal life begins to be a reality in this life. Jesus has the words of eternal life; one possesses eternal life through faith in him (Jn 20:31). One obtains eternal life by keeping the commandment
of God. One must be ready to lose one’s natural life to preserve one’s soul for eternal life (Jn 12:25).
In today’s Gospel, Jesus assures Martha that a person who believes in him has eternal life. One does not have to wait to pass on to the other life to experience the divine life that Jesus brings. One who believes and grafts his life in Jesus no longer lives in the pattern of this world—but according to the mind of Jesus.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:14 pm

July 30, 2010


St. Peter Chrysologus, bishop and doctor
Friday of the 17th Week

Jer 26:1-9
Ps 69
Mt 13:54-58


The Rejection at Nazareth

54[Jesus] came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? 55Is he not the carpenter’s
son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? 56Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” 57And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” 58And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.

HE CAME TO HIS NATIVE PLACE

When Jesus left his native Nazareth and preached in the towns and villages surrounding the Sea of Galilee, he astounded people with the authority of his teaching and his deeds. His fame spread to all of Syria, and great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed him (Mt 4:24-25).
One day, Jesus returns to his native town of Nazareth. His townsmen ought to be proud of him and to feel honored by his presence. Instead, they oppose and belittle him. They think they know him too well to pass a fair judgment on him. They think that Jesus’ humble origins do not qualify him for the fame and acclaim he is now enjoying. They are convinced that someone of their kind has no capacity to transcend his milieu and rise above mediocrity. Life without faith in a preacher they presume to be familiar with is comfortable and easy.
The reaction of the people of Nazareth is that of people who do not want to be disturbed in their comfort zone. They discredit the prophet of God and declare him a disturber. Then they go along with the status quo and their complacent ways, unmindful of the deep joy and authentic liberation that faith in Christ brings.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:22 pm

July 31, 2010


St. Ignatius of Loyola, priest

Jer 26:11-16, 24
Ps 69
Mt 14:1-12


The Death of John the Baptist

1At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus 2and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.”
3Now Herod had arrested John, bound [him], and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, 4for John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. 6But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod 7so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. 8Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” 9The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, 10and he had John beheaded in the prison. 11His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. 12His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus.

HEROD HAD ARRESTED JOHN

Herod the tetrarch is Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee during the public ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus. While on vacation in Rome, he fell in love with Herodias, the wife of his half-brother Herod Philip. He repudiated his wife, the daughter of the Nabatean king Aretas IV, in order to marry Herodias.
Matthew presents the tetrarch as a weak prisoner of his passions. He succumbs to superstitious beliefs (that John is haunting him), cannot accept criticism of his adulterous union, makes extravagant promises, and orders the execution of a prophet for fear of losing face.
The Jewish historian Josephus narrates that King Aretas, to avenge the honor of his daughter, attacked and defeated the army of Herod. It was only the threat of the Romans that prevented the king from destroying Herod altogether, he being their puppet king. The rumor then spread that Herod was being punished by God because of what he did to John.
John, on the other hand, proves to be a fearless prophet of God. As the prophet Elijah before him, he is a “disturber” to rulers like Herod who flaunt the law of the Lord. His martyr’s death affirms the interests of God and his kingdom.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Sun Aug 01, 2010 7:28 am

August 01, 2010

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Eccl 1:2; 2:21-23
Ps 90
Col 3:1-5, 9-11

Lk 12:13-21


Parable of the Rich Fool

13Someone in the crowd said to [Jesus], “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” 14He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” 15Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
16Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. 17He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ 18And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods 19and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be
merry!” ’ 20But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ 21Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”

Seek the Things of Heaven

The book of ecclesiastes—Qoheleth in Hebrew and referred to as such by Bible scholars—is a veritable source of quotations for songwriters and even politicians. Since People Power II, who has not heard of “A time to heal… and a time to build” (Eccl 3:3)? Just as familiar is the opening line hebel hebelim (“vanity of vanities”) which expresses the outlook of Qoheleth (both as book and as author).
Qoheleth, for all its striking expressions, is a subversive book. The author surprises and upsets because he questions the standard religious mentality of his time: that the good are rewarded and the evil punished. Qoheleth shocks by his pessimism: all is hebel, empty. Human beings are no better than animals; one who is hardworking is no better than a sluggard; acquiring wisdom and knowledge is like chasing after wind.
The wonder of it all is that Qoheleth is Scripture. Qohe­leth’s voice is the voice of God. This means that God is not a God who would brook no challenge. God allows, even invites, us to challenge him, and this we see in the book of Job as well. For Qoheleth and Job, traditional theology is not enough. They challenge the system of religious truths, and call on God to account for it.
Qoheleth’s contribution to religious thought is his honesty to question ready-made ideas and complacent optimism which extol success as the fruit of a well-ordered world. Qohe­leth’s restlessness and pessimism are, in the final analysis, but an expression of his anguished cry for what lasts: the Absolute. He desires for the Absolute: for One who is not “vanity.”
Qoheleth is not “an end-in-itself” book. As it questions traditional wisdom, it offers no alternative. It does not have the “hope” of the fuller revelation of Jesus.
But Qoheleth’s conviction about the fundamentally empty human efforts to create something more than wind effectively prepares us for the Gospel teaching about the folly of wealth.
“One’s life does not consist of possessions,” Jesus emphatically declares in today’s Gospel. And to drive home that message, he tells the parable of a rich man who “has it all,” the means to enjoy his wealth. But he dies the very night he makes his great plans.
The only answer to the inevitability of death is to be “rich in what matters to God.” What does this entail? The gospels do not give specifics, but enunciate a principle: Consider always what will remain after death. We will be stripped of all material goods, even those legitimately acquired. What remains will only be the quality of our life and how we have made use of our goods, be they much or little.
“Take care to guard against all greed,” Jesus warns. Avidity, cupidity, and lawless seeking for material wealth can possess a person. Material possessions can become an end, an “idol,” a rival of God. Alas, like the pagan idols of old, they are hebel, empty and vain.
Living as if there is nothing after death is also vanity, emptiness. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor 15:32) is the height of pagan foolishness. A believer cannot live as if there is no life hereafter, as if there is no resurrection.
By his death and resurrection, Christ reveals to the human being the secret of his true end. Paul understands Christ’s teaching well and declares, “Seek what is above, where Christ is… Think of what is above, not of what is on earth” (Col 3:1-2—Second Reading). Life in Christ is the only wealth worth having, because it is not hebel, not passing, not the stuff of wind.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:10 am

August 02, 2010


St. Eusebius of Vercelli, bishop
St. Peter Julian Eymard, priest
Monday of the 18th Week

Jer 28:1-17
Ps 119
Mt 14:13-21


The Feeding of the Five Thousand

13When Jesus heard of [the death of John the Baptist], he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. 14When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. 15When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16[Jesus] said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” 17But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” 18Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” 19and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. 20They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. 21Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

MEAL IN A DESERTED PLACE

Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand is contrasted to the banquet of Herod the tetrarch (Mt 14:3-12). The banquet in Herod’s palace is characterized by pomp, pleasure, and scheming. It ends with the murder of John the Baptist. Jesus’ meal with the crowd takes place in a “deserted place,” a reminder of the wilderness where God fed the Israelites with the manna. His guests are ordinary folks with their sick.
When people then ate in public, they were separated in two groups: men and young men in one place, and women, girls, and boys in another. The evangelist mentions only the first group: if women and children were counted the number would be astounding.
Matthew mentions five loaves and two fish. John (6:9) specifies barley loaves, and it is plausible that Jesus multiplied barley bread, the ordinary food of peasants. Since the crowd gathered close to Lake Galilee, fish would be available, either broiled or processed.
Scientifically minded, rationalist people who are skeptical about miracles may say that the “miracle” that Jesus performed was his success in persuading the people to share their personal provisions. Seeing Jesus’ care for the crowd, the people suddenly felt generous. However laudable “sharing” may be, this is not the point of Matthew who pictures Jesus as the source of bread, like God who fed the Israelites in the desert. Moreover, in the story the disciples see that the people do not have provisions, and so suggest to Jesus to dismiss the crowd so they can buy food. But Jesus replies that there is no need for them to go away. He himself will feed the people.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 4:36 pm

August 03, 2010


St. Peter of Anagni
Tuesday of the 18th Week

Jer 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22
Ps 102


The Walking on the Water

22[Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. 24Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. 25During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. 27At once [Jesus] spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” 28Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. 30But when he saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32After they got into the boat, the wind died down. 33Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
34After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35When the men of that place recognized him, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought to him all those who were sick 36and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak, and as many as touched it were healed.

DO NOT BE AFRAID

Unlike their seafaring neighbors (the Philistines and the Phoenicians), the Israelites were not seagoing people. They even feared the sea and conceived it as a monster restrained by Yahweh (Jb 38:8-11). The only big body of water in Israel is the Sea of Galilee around which Jesus went as an itinerant preacher. His first and closest disciples were fishermen.
At the Sea of Galilee storms often come suddenly and violently. In the Gospel, the disciples’ boat is being tossed by the waves and strong wind; even if they are sturdy fishermen, they fear for their lives. They become even more terrified when they see Jesus whom they mistake for a “ghost” or water spirit.
Matthew’s intended readers will probably see the boat as a symbol of their community. They are being threatened by trials and persecutions on account of their faith—from both Jews and Gentiles. The incident of the storm shows the doubt of the community, represented especially by Peter, and the power of Jesus who comes to save. Thus the story is a summons to a renewal of faith, a faith that devotes its attention to the power of the Lord, as expressed in the cry, “Lord, save me.”

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Tue Aug 03, 2010 6:01 pm

August 04, 2010


St. John Mary Vianney, priest

Jer 31:1-7
Jer 31
Mt 15:21-28


The Canaanite Woman’s Faith

21Jesus... withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” 23But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” 24He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” 27She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” 28Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.

WOMAN OF GREAT FAITH

When Jesus sent the Twelve on a mission, he told them to go “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt 10:6). They were to avoid pagan territories and Samaritan towns. In today’s Gospel, Jesus enters the region of Tyre and Sidon in Phoenicia inhabited by pagans. Will he contradict himself by ministering to the pagans?
When approached by a native woman, Jesus ignores her. In a society which lives by the code of honor and shame, Jesus reminds her that they are not of equal status: he is an Israelite, she is a woman and a pagan. Matthew has already marked the distance by referring to the woman as “Canaanite” (instead of “Syro-Phoenician”), an Old Testament expression designating the pagan inhabitants of Palestine who were distinct from and hostile to the people of God. Jesus’ initial refusal is even made harsher when he refers to the Gentiles as dogs. He apparently repeats his culture’s stereotype, but calling someone a dog is offensive in any language or culture.
To the amazement of those around, including Jesus, the woman fights back in an “honor game” of challenge and riposte. She is not put off. She says that as a pagan, she may be a dog, but even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the master’s table. She proves to be a good match to Jesus’ wit.
Jesus must have felt happily surprised in having found a match in the pagan woman. He grants her request, admiring her great faith. “Faith” in the Mediterranean culture is understood as loyalty no matter what. The woman is committed to Jesus even before she meets him. She is not put off by his initial aloofness and his subsequent insult. She is committed to be loyal to Jesus no matter how rudely he behaves towards her. In the end, her loyalty and commitment pay off.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:05 am

August 05, 2010


Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major
Thursday of the 18th Week

Jer 31:31-34
Ps 51
Mt 16:13-23


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.” 20Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah. 21From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. 22Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” 23He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

UPON THE ROCK


Palestine is a land of mountains and precipitous crags—rocks are a common sight. When the image of rock (Hebrew sur) is used, it suggests a stronghold from which one can resist attack by enemies. The Old Testament uses the title to describe God and his attributes. Yahweh is the rock of Israel (Is 30:29), the righteous and faithful rock (Dt 32:4).
In the New Testament, Paul applies the title to Christ (1 Cor 10:4). Paul refers to a rock from which water issued, quenching the thirst of the Israelites in the desert (Ex 17:6-7). For Paul the rock is Christ. As Yahweh was the Rock of his people, so Christ is the true Rock that accompanies his people in the journey. He is the true source of living water.
When Jesus tells Simon that he is the rock on which Jesus will build his Church, the image given is one of security, stability, and strength. Jesus is like a wise man who builds his house on rock, so that no amount of buffeting by the wind can make it collapse (see Mt 7:24-25). But Simon becomes petra (Greek for “rock”) through grace, by the fact that he is given a revelation of Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. His being rock depends on this confession. Peter can only be a rock if he depends on Jesus, the true Rock.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:14 pm

August 06, 2010


The Lord’s Transfiguration

Dn 7:9-10, 13-14
Ps 97
2 Pt 1:16-19

Lk 9:28b-36


The Transfiguration

28[Jesus] took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. 29While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. 30And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, 31who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. 32Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying. 34While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. 35Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” 36After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.

METAMORPHOSIS

In Sacred Scriptures, mountains are known to be places of prayer and spiritual retreat. The prophet Elijah, persecuted by Queen Jezebel, goes for safety and retreat to the mountain of God, Horeb (1 Kgs 20:8). Mountains are also powerful symbols of encounter with God. Abraham is tested by God to offer his son Isaac as holocaust on Mount Moriah (Gn 22:1-14), and Moses encounters God in the burning bush in Horeb/Sinai (Ex 3:2-6). Hence, to speak of the mountain is to expect an encounter with the divine. And an encounter with the Lord, a mountaintop experience, strengthens, renews, and prepares the person for the mission God entrusts to him or her.
The Gospel pericope gives a glimpse of such a mountaintop experience. Jesus undergoes a metamorphosis, a change of form. Moses and Elijah, who personify God’s Revelation (the Law and the Prophets), converse with Jesus who fulfills the Law and the Prophets. Thus, Jesus’ identity and mission are revealed to his most intimate disciples.
Peter and his companions are overwhelmed by their experience. Peter wants the “high moment” to last a lifetime and so proposes that tents or booths be put up on the mountain. He misses the point of the experience. It is to strengthen them when they descend to the plain and go up again to Jerusalem where, in his passion, Jesus will appear as one of those from whom people hide their faces. Behind the rejected face is the face of the chosen Son.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:35 pm

August 07, 2010


St. Sixtus II, pope, and Companions, martyrs
St. Cajetan, priest
Saturday of the 18th Week

Hab 1:12—2:4
Ps 9
Mt 17:14-20


The Healing of a Boy with a Demon

14When [Jesus and his disciples] came to the crowd a man approached, knelt down before him, 15and said, “Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire, and often into water. 16I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17Jesus said in reply, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him here to me.” 18Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured. 19Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 20He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

LITTLE FAITH

In the imagery used by Jesus, faith the size of the smallest garden seed (mustard) is enough to move mountains (v 20). Hence “little faith” is powerless because it is practically nothing. It is merely an intellectual assent to something presented; it lacks deep conviction.
The faith that Jesus desires is a complete, trusting faith, the total confidence in God’s power no matter what happens. Peter illustrates what little faith is: he ventures into danger by sharing Jesus’ power to walk on the water, but he loses his focus, yields to his fears, and sinks (Mt 14:22-23).
In the same manner, the disciples who fail as exorcists have ventured to face the dangerous demoniac-lunatic presuming that they share Jesus’ power to exorcise. But they may have lost their focus, gotten distracted by the epileptic seizures, the incredible feats of their opponent, and yielded to their fears. Or they may have used Jesus’ name as a magical tool or instrument, expecting instant results at its mere mechanical utterance.
Little faith must deepen and grow that it may become the faith that trusts totally and commits oneself wholeheartedly.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Sat Aug 07, 2010 10:09 pm

August 08, 2010


19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis 18:6-9
Ps 33
Heb 11:1-2, 8-19
(or 11:1-2, 8-12)


Dependence on God

[Jesus said to his disciples,] 32“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. 34For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
35“Gird your loins and light your lamps 36and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. 37Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. 38And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. 39Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
41Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” 42And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute (the) food allowance at the proper time? 43Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. 44Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. 45But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, 46then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. 47That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; 48and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Faith: Realization of things hoped for… of things not seen


The letter to the hebrews (Second Reading) describes faith as “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” Though not attempting a precise technical or theological definition, the author paints an inspiring portrait of religious faith, drawing upon the people and events of the Old Testament, and gives what the New American Bible considers “the most extensive description of faith provided in the New Testament.”
Faith enables Abraham to leave his ancestral home and journey to a land he knows nothing of, pitch tent in a foreign place, believe that in spite of their old age he and wife Sarah will have “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore” (Heb 11:12), and then later offer their only son Isaac in sacrifice upon God’s instructions—all because Abraham trusts in God and steadfastly believes in God’s promise. Through faith God guarantees the blessings to be hoped for from him, providing evidence in the gift of faith that what God promises will eventually come to pass.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples to seek security not in the realities of this world but in the treasures of God’s kingdom. He exhorts them to be steadfast in their faith, staying ready and prepared even when the fulfillment of that faith is long in coming. Jesus then gives an illustration in servants who are entrusted with the management of the household. No one knows just when the master will return. A wise servant, therefore, will always be vigilant, since the master may return any moment and will expect to find everything in order.
The Gospel illustrates for us the importance of being ready and prepared for the many ways our God visits us in our lives. We are often beset with hardship and failure, pain and anguish, tragedy and disappointment; our dreams, hopes, and plans are frequently thwarted. How do we prepare for such unexpected circumstances? What are we to do in dark moments when God seems to be far away, and we grope for some evidence of God’s presence?
Abraham’s example tells us to continue hoping in God’s love even though we cannot feel it and to keep on waiting in patient trust. Life on earth is a journey in faith and a pilgrimage of hope. For this journey we are given enough light to take the next step. As John Henry Cardinal Newman prayed, “Lead, kindly Light… Lead thou me on! Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene—one step enough for me.”
Abraham believed because he “thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy” (Heb 11:11). Because of God’s fidelity, we trust that the will of God will never lead us where the grace of God cannot keep us.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:45 pm

August 09, 2010


St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), virgin and martyr
Monday of the 19th Week

Ez 1:2-5, 24-28c
Ps 148
Mt 17:22-27


Payment of the Temple Tax

22As [Jesus and his disciples] were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, 23and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were overwhelmed with grief.
24When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” 25“Yes,” he said. When he came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?” 26When he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the subjects are exempt. 27But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you.”

TEMPLE TAX

Ruled by Rome through the procurators and vassal kings, the Jewish people were burdened with four principal kinds of duties: a land tax, a poll tax and a tax on personal property, export and import customs at seaports and city gates, and in Jerusalem a house tax.
Aside from the tribute and taxes due foreign rulers, the people were also taxed individually with a half-shekel payment annually for the temple. This is called the didrachma or double drachma. The background of the temple tax was the half-shekel atonement money required of all males twenty years and above (Ex 30:11-16). In Nehemiah’s time, the Jews paid a third of a shekel to the temple. This was later changed to a half-shekel which was collected annually from every Jew twenty years and above all over the world. After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, Josephus narrates that the Roman emperor Vespasian ordered all Jews to continue the tribute payable annually for the Capitol in Rome (see War VII. vi. 6).
The exchange between Jesus and Peter probably reflects the duties of the Christians in Luke’s time. Jesus—and the believers—are the king’s (God’s) sons and are exempt in principle from paying the tax. By paying even though he does not owe anything, Jesus makes Peter understand that Christians should shoulder their duties as ordinary citizens however unpleasant these might be.

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