Daily Bible Reflections

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Wed Aug 25, 2010 7:09 am

August 25, 2010

St. Louis, king, St. Joseph Calasanz, priest
Wednesday of the 21st Week

2 Thes 3:6-10, 16-18
Ps 128
Mt 23:27-32


Denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees

[Jesus said,] 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. 28Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.
29“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, 30and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ 31Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; 32now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”

HYPOCRITES

The Greek hypocritai (“hypocrites”) refers to persons who “pretend” or “act a part” and was used of theatrical actors in Jesus’ time.
Since Israel had neither a theater nor dramatic traditions and regarded the amphitheater as a pagan institution, it would appear that “hypocrites” would hardly be used for theatric “pretense” or “playing a part.” Rather it would be used with the odor of deceit and malice, as we usually find in the gospels. The singular hypocrites would render the Hebrew hanep which the Jews used for the godless, the lawless, or the deceitful.
The Pharisees are the prototypical hypocrites of the gospels. They are self-righteous and ostentatious, they teach people false religious beliefs, and they try to trap Jesus. They are hypocrites who would correct the defects of others while failing to detect the monstrous and, therefore, more evident failures on their part. Jesus exhorts his listeners, especially those who aim to be teachers and leaders, to examine themselves and to make authentic efforts to correct themselves.
Hypocrisy rears its ugly head when there is discrepancy and contradiction between the inner and the outer person, between hearts and lips, between words and deeds. Jesus teaches that it is imperative that a person have good eyes and heart (for gathering information and making judgments), and good mouth and hands (for speaking of good things and acting on them). Only when the person acts consistently can he truly be authentic. Otherwise, he is only stage-acting. God, who knows what lies in the human heart, cannot be deceived. The fullness of our hearts will flow in our words and actions, which in turn will manifest either our authenticity or our hypocrisy.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:11 pm

August 26, 2010


St. Bregwin
Thursday of the 21st Week

1 Cor 1:1-9
Ps 145
Mt 24:42-51


The Unknown Day and Hour

[Jesus said to his disciples,] 42“Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. 43Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. 44So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
45“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? 46Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. 47Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. 48But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ 49and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, 50the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour 51and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

SERVANT IN CHARGE OF THE HOUSEHOLD

Slavery was common in Jesus’ time, especially in Rome. In Israel, the elites had servants/slaves (Greek douloi) who were employed in agriculture, but most often in domestic service. A slave who shows competence and faithfulness may be assigned as the head servant or slave overseer (Greek oikonomos). Usually, he is a man hardened by farm work and tested by experience. If he has a retentive mind and can manage affairs, he may be chosen for the task, even if he may be illiterate. In the Gospel parable, the faithful and prudent oikonomos has been put in charge of his master’s household.
This is an image of true discipleship. A disciple, most especially if he is a leader of a community of believers, must be prudent and dependable in fulfilling his obligation towards believers. He must exercise his duties “at the proper time” and not at his own convenience. Authority is conferred only for a time and is meant for the good of others; otherwise its abuse will lead to a loss of sense of others, which is tyranny, and loss of sense of self, expressed in excesses and bad company. Matthew here points out a practical concern: the disciple must not bother with the exact timing of the final coming of Christ; rather, he should concentrate on living the life of a faithful and prudent servant. On this he will be judged.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Fri Aug 27, 2010 8:06 am

August 27, 2010


St. Monica

1 Cor 1:17-25
Ps 33
Mt 25:1-13


The Parable of the Ten Virgins

[Jesus said to his disciples,] 1“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, 4but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. 5Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ 10While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. 11Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ 12But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

MARRIAGE IN ISRAEL

In Israel in Jesus’ time, marriage consisted of two steps. The first was the ‘erusin or “betrothal” when previous parental arrangements were legally ratified. However, the girl continued to live at her family home. After a year, she would be formally taken to her husband’s family home with a celebration. This is the actual wedding (nesuin), described in the Gospel.
Marriage at that time was patrilocal; that is, the bride was moved to the groom’s home. The groom, accompanied by his relatives, would go to the bride’s home to fetch her. The “ten virgins” in the parable would be young teenagers, very likely the groom’s sisters and cousins, waiting for the groom and the wedding party to return. Their job was to greet them with lights and to participate in the celebration.
In the parable, the clever teenagers are prepared for their roles when the groom arrives. The dull-witted, however, fail to make adequate plans. The mistake of the dull-witted is not in sleeping while waiting; in fact, all become drowsy and fall asleep. They are simply not clever. They are not sensitive to the whims of the bridegroom and to the intricacies of the wedding celebration. Consequently, they find themselves losing their privileged position as bridesmaids.
In the liturgy, the parable is applied to our waiting for the glorious coming of Christ, the Bridegroom. We are told to be prepared! But being prepared does not mean to be awake all the time. Rather, it is to be clever in our role as people entrusted by the Lord with important responsibilities.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Sat Aug 28, 2010 9:12 am

August 28, 2010


St. Augustine, bishop and doctor

1 Cor 1:26-31
Ps 33

Mt 25:14-30


The Parable of the Talents

[Jesus told his disciples this parable,] 14“It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. 15To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately 16the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. 17Likewise, the one who received two made another two. 18But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money… 20The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’… 24Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; 25so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’ 26His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? 27Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return? 28Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. 29For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ ”

TALENTS

A talent is a unit of value equal to seventy-five pounds (or thirty-four kilos) of precious metal, usually gold or silver. In the pericope, the word “money” (v 18) translates the Greek argurion, silver. But whether the amount handed over is five or two or only one talent, the master’s action indicates great generosity. A talent represents a laborer’s wages for fifteen years!
Matthew underlines the giving that God has done for us: talents may delineate the time, skills, and creative resources given to us by God. In return, what is important is not quantitative results. The rewards handed over to the first and second servants are the same. Regardless of the amount earned, they both are praised as good and faithful servants and are invited to share their master’s joy. Before God our master, what is important is our faithfulness in using the varied talents given to us.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:20 am

August 29, 2010


22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sir 3:17-18, 20, 28-29
Ps 68
Heb 12:18-19, 22-24a
Lk 14:1, 7-14


Conduct of Invited Guests and Hosts

1On a sabbath [Jesus] went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully. 7He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. 8“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, 9and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. 10Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. 11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” 12Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. 13Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 14blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Assuring a Place of Honor in the Heavenly Banquet

In the mediterranean world—the world of Jesus—the wedding is not just the concern of the bride and the groom: it is even more a matter of family and clan who often arrange the marriage for the mutual benefit of both parties. In the banquet—be it that of the wedding or of another special event—people adhere to a strict sense of social gradation. Those invited belong to a closed circle of people, ranging from the house-group (“brothers”), to the lineage sector (“relatives”), and the village sector (“friends and wealthy neighbors”).
In his “table symposium” Jesus speaks of the first-century dinner party of the elite world where convivial fellowship and hospitality are highly utilitarian investments designed to return a net gain in status, honor, and influence. The host invites those whom he thinks will invite him in return. Accepting a dinner invitation normally obligates the guest to return the favor. Through these mutual invitations the special standing of the elite is maintained.
This practice of looking for and maintaining honor under the rule of reciprocity is reflected—and censured—in today’s Gospel. Jesus speaks of how guests choose places of honor at table; of a list of guests drawn up according to bonds of friendship, family ties, or economic status; of the practice of reciprocating in kind. Jesus then urges his elite audience (a leading Pharisee and his guests) to reject the conventional Mediterranean custom and to enact a new ethos of the Kingdom. People should seek the benefit of God’s favor rather than that achieved by following social norms. And God does not act in the way a gracious Mediterranean host does.
In truth, Jesus’ criticism of the social convention is not to be understood as a general prohibition of inviting friends and relatives. Jesus himself is a guest at the wedding at Cana (Jn 2:1-12); he and his mother are probably relatives of the bride or the groom. In the parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin (Lk 15:3-7, 8-10), the villagers who have found their lost property invite “friends and neighbors” to celebrate with them. There are legitimate reasons for inviting kinsfolk and neighbors for celebration. What is to be avoided is selfishness, which excludes the less fortunate people and the expectation of the reward that comes with reciprocity.
Jesus urges his audience to extend their hospitality to new groups: the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. These are the people who are on the fringes of or outside the village community. By Jewish law, they are also considered unclean. Jesus’ host, who is a Pharisee, and the latter’s guests, who may also be Pharisees, consider themselves “separated” from these people. The challenge of Jesus is therefore more acute: they must go beyond not only the lines of kinship and close alliance, but also the lines of purity which are important to them.
Ultimately, the reason behind this change of ethos is the host of the eternal banquet: God. The kingdom of heaven is the only banquet that counts. To sit at that banquet is the greatest honor one can ever achieve. To miss out on that banquet is the greatest tragedy. The people at the margins of society who are treated as unclean have a powerful patron: God. To include them in a table fellowship here on earth is to assure oneself of a place of honor in heaven, at the “resurrection of the righteous.”

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:16 am

August 30, 2010


St. Pammachius
Monday of the 22nd Week

1 Cor 2:1-5
Ps 119
Lk 4:16-30

Lk 4:16-30


The Rejection at Nazareth

16[Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read 17and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: 18“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,/ because he has anointed me/ to bring glad tidings to the poor./ He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives/ and recovery of sight to the blind,/ to let the oppressed go free,/ 19and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
20Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. 21He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” 22And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” 23He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’ ” 24And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. 25Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. 26It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. 27Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. 29They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. 30But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

A YEAR ACCEPTABLE TO THE LORD

Placing Jesus’ return to Nazareth at the beginning of his Galilean ministry, Luke makes it a program as well as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ future ministry. Jesus brings glad tidings, but his rejection by his townspeople hints at the greater rejection of him by Israel.
The scroll of the prophet Isaiah handed to Jesus describes the deliverance of Israel (the inhabitants of Judah) as a jubilee year (Is 61:1-2; Lv 25). It is a moment of grace when debts are cancelled, slaves are freed, and properties returned to their original owners. The jubilee year, however, fell short of realizing its objectives. The Israelites continued to hope for the coming of the Messiah as the days of fulfillment. Luke says that with Jesus, that time has come. As Jesus finishes reading, he declares: “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:31 pm

August 31, 2010


St. Raymond Nonnatus
Tuesday of the 22nd Week

1 Cor 2:10b-16
Ps 145
Lk 4:31-37


The Cure of a Demoniac

31Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee. He taught them on the sabbath, 32and they were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with authority. 33In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out in a loud voice, 34“Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 35Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down in front of them and came out of him without doing him any harm. 36They were all amazed and said to one another, “What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” 37And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.

HE COMMANDS THE UNCLEAN SPIRITS

The power that Jesus shows in driving out the unclean demons is not so much an apologetic proof of his mission or divinity as a manifestation that the dominion of God is now being established over the “dominion of Belial,” freeing human beings from the subjection of the devil.
Ancient peoples believed that things beyond human control—earthquakes, diseases, fertility—were due to non-human persons, not to natural causes. They believed in demons who were considered superior to human beings and caused them harm. To drive out demons is an action a man cannot do by himself; an outside agent has to be involved. It could be God who is more powerful than demons, or other angelic or demonic forces. Jesus’ detractors claim that he drives out evil spirits not by the authority of God but by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons.
Jesus’ power over demons is essentially a function of his place in the hierarchy of powers. He is higher than the demons. The demon claims to know who Jesus is—that he is the Holy One of God. This is not a confession but an attempt to gain power over Jesus through knowledge of his name. In the world of magic widespread at the time, to know the identity of one’s opponent is to have power over him. The demon, however, fails to control Jesus and is ordered to submission. Ironically, the demon’s failed attempt to “know” Jesus reveals the great divide between him and his conqueror. Jesus is “holy,” in contrast with the demon which is “unclean.” The unclean one seeks to destroy the human person; the “Holy One of God” comes to heal and to save.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:03 pm

September 1, 2010


St. Giles
Wednesday of the 22nd Week

1 Cor 3:1-9
Ps 33
Lk 4:38-44


The Cure of Simon’s Mother-in-Law

38After he left the synagogue, [Jesus] entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. 39He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them.
40At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them. 41And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.” But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Messiah.
42At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them. 43But he said to them, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” 44And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

HE REBUKED THE FEVER

Entering Simon’s house after rebuking the demon to come out of the possessed man (Lk 4:35), Jesus responds to the request of the household of Simon to heal his mother-in-law. Jesus does so by rebuking the fever. The healing is thus presented as an act of exorcism. This is because in the culture of the time, the disease is traced to an agent who victimizes the human being. Here, it is the demon called Fever. Verses 40-41 also suggest that the people with various diseases are tormented by demons, so that when Jesus heals them, the demons come out of them. Luke assimilates the technique of healing to that of exorcism.
The rebuke of the demonic Fever provides a further illustration of the power of Jesus’ word. This word had the authority to command the unclean spirits (Lk 4:36). Now, Jesus’ word heals and delivers the sick from their oppression, thought to be caused by demons.
In the healing, Luke accords the household a strategic role. Whereas Mark assigns the request on the woman’s behalf to the disciples (Mk 1:30), Luke says that the role belongs to the members of Simon’s household. Probably, Luke is teaching his Christian community that they must pray for the healing and salvation of the sick and sinners among them (Acts 8:15; see also Jas 5:14-15).

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:44 am

September 2, 2010


St. Ingrid of Sweden
Thursday of the 22nd Week

1 Cor 3:18-23
Ps 24
Lk 5:1-11


The Call of Simon the Fisherman

1While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. 2He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. 3Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” 5Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” 6When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. 7They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. 8When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” 9For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, 10and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.

DEPART FROM ME, LORD, FOR I AM A SINFUL MAN

Luke does not follow his Marcan source in narrating the call of Simon and the first disciples while they catch fish in the Sea of Galilee (cf Mk 1:16-20). Instead, the disciples follow Jesus after they witness the miraculous catch of fish. And Simon is the focus of the story. Jesus sees two boats, but he gets into the one belonging to Simon. It is also Simon that Jesus addresses, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” It is for Simon that Jesus performs the miraculous catch. Simon is deeply impressed and addresses Jesus in words that recall those of a prophet of old: “I am a man of unclean lips, living among people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Is 6:5). Simon correctly associates Jesus with the divine realm, and accepts his own unworthiness to be in the Lord’s presence. He is only too aware of divine calling—one feels singled out, one feels deeply impressed by God’s working in one’s life, yet one also becomes deeply conscious of one’s unworthiness and littleness.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Fri Sep 03, 2010 8:31 am

September 3, 2010


St. Gregory the Great, pope and doctor

1 Cor 4:1-5
Ps 37
Lk 5:33-39


The Question about Fasting

33[The scribes and Pharisees] said to [Jesus], “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink.” 34Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? 35But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” 36And he also told them a parable. “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. 37Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. 38Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. 39[And] no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’ ”

BRIDEGROOM

The Bible abounds in images of marriage, and although pictures of weddings are relatively sparse, the wedding has become a metaphor for the relationship between God and his people Israel. God is pictured as a husband, and the salvation he brings to Israel is portrayed like a wedding. Isaiah foresees the restoration of Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile in terms of a wedding: “For the Lord delights in you, and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you. And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you” (Is 62:5).
Jesus is repeatedly called a bridegroom. John the Baptist, the “witness” of Jesus, calls himself the friend of the groom (Jn 3:22-30). In the Gospel reading, Jesus explains his disciples’ lack of fasting because he likens his earthly ministry to a wedding feast. And he compares his disciples to celebrating wedding guests. To fast at a wedding is a supreme insult to the principals and their families. The disciples of John the Baptist and the disciples of the Pharisees do not celebrate because they do not recognize the bridegroom. But those who acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah see his presence in terms of a messianic banquet.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Sat Sep 04, 2010 9:06 am

September 4, 2010


St. Rose of Viterbo
Saturday of the 22nd Week

1 Cor 4:6b-15
Ps 145
Lk 6:1-5


Debates about the Sabbath


1While [Jesus] was going through a field of grain on a sabbath, his disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. 2Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” 3Jesus said to them in reply, “Have you not read what David did when he and those [who were] with him were hungry? 4[How] he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering, which only the priests could lawfully eat, ate of it, and shared it with his companions.” 5Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

SABBATH

The sabbath is connected with the Hebrew root word SBT which means to rest or to cease. At the original sabbath, after “God was finished with the work he had been doing” in creation, “he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken” (Gn 2:2). The observance of the sabbath later became one of the Ten Commandments, in memory of God’s rest (Ex 20:8-11). The motif of God’s and Israel’s ceasing from work is related to being “refreshed.” Thus, the sabbath has become “a delight” (Is 58:13).
The sabbath is also linked with the motif of remembrance and commemoration. Two things the Israelites are commanded to remember: God’s resting from the work of creation (Ex 20:1) and Israel’s deliverance from the slavery of Egypt (Dt 5:15).
Thirdly, the sabbath is surrounded by an aura of holiness, which is basically a setting apart for God. This day is to be kept “holy” because God “blessed the sabbath day and made it holy” (Ex 20:11). In Israel, the sabbath is the occasion of “holy convocation” (Lv 23:3).
Faithful to his people’s belief and tradition, Jesus respects the sabbath. But he asserts that it has to yield to the satisfaction of human needs. Elsewhere he says, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath” (Mk 2:27). For Jesus, the law of the sabbath and all other laws should serve a human being’s full development and should make life more pleasant, a human being more “refreshed.”

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:34 am

September 5, 2010


23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis 9:13-18b
Ps 90
Phlm 9-10, 12-17

Lk 14:25-33


Sayings on Discipleship

25Great crowds were traveling with [Jesus], and he turned and addressed them, 26“If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? 29Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him 30and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ 31Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? 32But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. 33In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

Choosing To Center on Christ

Whoops! Hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters? Carry the cross? Renounce all possessions? Was Jesus serious when he spoke those words? What did Jesus mean by all his statements about discipleship in this Gospel passage? Why was he making such harsh demands from his followers?
Requirements are something we live with. They are conditions we have to fulfill. Students need to pass their final examinations in order to be promoted to the next grade level. Graduates have to pass the board examinations in order to be licensed professionals. There are requirements for the President of the country just as there are requirements for the lowliest employee of a company.
Hate father and mother. Carry the cross. Renounce all your possessions. These are the requirements that Jesus asks of those who want to follow him. Discipleship is a serious matter. This is highlighted by the severity of the requirements that Jesus demands. Discipleship is not like a game that we play, a game that we stop when we are tired or bored of it.
When Jesus talks about hating mother and father, he means not just an emotional aversion to or a sentimental dislike of some people. One writer aptly remarks, “What Jesus is saying is that following him must have first priority over everything—including our strongest relationships. Hate is used in a relative sense rather than an absolute sense. Jesus is saying that we must never let our love for family or friend be higher than our love for God.”
Discipleship is not a teka, teka, an expression of indecision. It is rather a deliberate choice in favor of Jesus. Rightly, dedication and devotion defines discipleship. The Christian disciple is one who decides to put Jesus at the very center of one’s life.
That is, however, easier said than done. Recall the story of Peter. At the Last Supper, did he not declare that he was ready to lay down his life for Jesus? But we know what happened after that. He denied Jesus three times.
Would Christ still have my primary allegiance when cheating would result in huge profits for me? Would I still stand up for the values of Christ when that would result in extreme inconvenience on my part? What concretely does putting Christ at the center of my life mean? That, at least, deserves careful and conscientious reflection.
Discipleship requires consideration of the personal cost of putting Christ at the top of my priorities. That is what the two parables highlight. In both parables, the primary issue is not whether one builds a tower or not, or whether one goes to war or not. The main point is that one should be prepared from the very beginning with all the available resources at one’s disposal to carry through until the completion of the plan or project. There is no—whoops!—turning back in the midstream. The disciple is one who has counted the cost and still commits to Jesus all the way. There is no middle ground for the disciple of Jesus. There are no half-measures. There is no place for the fence-sitters. One is either with Jesus or against him. Discipleship is not for the fainthearted but for the brave of heart. It is not for the lethargic and indifferent but for the resolute and committed.
A bulldog is a peculiar animal. It is said that its nose is tilted upward so that it would not suffocate because it simply would not let go when its heavy jaw locks onto something. That would be a good image to apply to the Christian disciple—somebody who clings and clutches on to Jesus and simply would not let go.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Mon Sep 06, 2010 8:32 am

September 6, 2010


St. Cagnoald
Monday of the 23rd Week

1 Cor 5:1-8
Ps 5
Lk 6:6-11


Debates about the Sabbath

6On another sabbath [Jesus] went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. 7The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. 8But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.” And he rose and stood there. 9Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” 10Looking around at them all, he then said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so and his hand was restored. 11But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

DO GOOD ON THE SABBATH

Sabbath is a sacred day for the Israelites, a day of abstention from all labor. In the initial stages, especially among the primitive peoples, the sabbath might have been thought as a day during which physical labor was taboo or unlucky, under the control of the gods. But in Israel, the cessation from labor would be explained by the tradition that God rested on the seventh day from his work of creation, sanctified it, and bade Israel also to rest (Gn 1:1—2:3). At the period of consolidation that followed the Babylonian exile, sabbath observance was strictly imposed and extreme penalties were prescribed for its violation. Prior to the Maccabean wars, pious Jews would not bear arms on the sabbath, even in self-defense (1 Mc 2:32-36). Mattathias, the father of the Maccabees, however, made a rule that the Jews should defend themselves actively even on the sabbath.
The rabbis in Jesus’ time taught that only in extreme need—like when life is in danger—would the priority of the sabbath be disturbed. Clearly, the man with the withered right hand in the Gospel reading is not in grave danger. The scribes and the Pharisees can then say that he can always come back to Jesus at any other day. But for Jesus, the sabbath is the day on which God’s goodness is to be noted, and there is no better way for him to display that goodness than to deliver the man from his oppression. Healing belongs to the sphere of good deeds that must be allowed on the sabbath. Not to heal in time of need is acting in bad faith, which must be condemned.

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Tue Sep 07, 2010 8:40 am

September 7, 2010


St. Clodoaldus
Tuesday of the 23rd Week

1 Cor 6:1-11
Ps 149
Lk 6:12-19


The Mission of the Twelve

12[Jesus] departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. 13When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named apostles: 14Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, 16and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
17And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground. A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon 18came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured. 19Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all.

HE CHOSE TWELVE

By choosing the Twelve (apostles), Jesus does not only share his authority and his mission but also prepares an “administrative structure” that will make possible the continuity of the “movement” he has started. “Twelve” alludes to the twelve tribes of Israel that constitute the people of God. In the choice of the Twelve we have the inauguration of the new Israel.
Before the choice, Jesus spends the night in prayer to God. In the future, prayer will always be important for the community of believers. They pray while they await the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14), when they choose a successor for Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:24), and when they send off Barnabas and Saul to a missionary journey (Acts 13:3).
The Twelve are a closer circle of disciples. As Jesus prepares for his “Sermon on the Plain,” Luke provides us with a “sitting arrangement” of the audience. Closest to him are the Twelve, followed by a great crowd of his disciples. The third group is composed of people coming from the different regions of Palestine and even of Phoenicia. The faithful companions of Jesus will be the pillars of the post-Easter Christian community, while the “great crowds” anticipate the expansion of the Church (Acts 6:1).
The Twelve are an important group who, because of their close association with Jesus, provide the continuity between the historical Jesus and the early Christians. As the original witnesses, they guarantee the fidelity of the community’s beliefs and practices to the teachings of Jesus (Lk 1:1-4).

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Re: Daily Bible Reflections

Postby evolution8 » Wed Sep 08, 2010 4:35 pm

September 8, 2010


Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mi 5:1-4a [or Rom 8:28-30]
Ps 13
Mt 1:1-16, 18-23


Joseph, Legal Father of Jesus


…16Jacob [became] the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.
18Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. 19Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. 20Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. 21She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,/ and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”

OF HER WAS BORN JESUS WHO IS CALLED THE MESSIAH

The genealogy of Jesus according to Matthew uses the standard formula “the father of…” to indicate the significance of the person mentioned. However, this is not used when referring to Joseph. Instead, he is identified as “the husband of Mary.” The verse continues: “Of her was born Jesus…” The unique role of Mary can be deduced from this. It is through Mary that Jesus the Messiah is born to us, without the active involvement of the human father. It is through Mary that the power of the Spirit worked (Mt 1:18). Mary is the virgin who gives birth to the Messiah, “our high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens” (Heb 7:26). The Greek parthenos (Is 7:14) is correctly translated as “virgin” (Mt 1:23). In the Hebrew original, the word is almah, literally a young woman of marriageable age, but the Septuagint renders it with the Greek parthenos. Moreover, almah is used in the Old Testament to describe the state of virginity.

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