March 14, 2015

March 14

March 14, 2015:  Saturday, Third Week of Lent

  • 'Clouds' (and implied sun) tie:  The Lord's coming is as certain as the dawn.  Your piety is like a morning cloud (1st reading)
  • Blue shirt:  Wash me from my guilt (psalm)
  • 'Girl with heart' pin:  You won't spurn a contrite, humbled heart (psalm)
  • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  The tax collector wouldn't even raise his eyes to heaven... (gospel); "See/Ver" theme of Religious Education Congress
  • 'Kneeling person' tie bar:  ...and prayed, "Be merciful to me" (gospel)
  • 'St. Bede' button:  our delegation at Congress
  • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season
Guest dresser with "Christian geek" T-shirt:
"Prayer:  The Original Wireless Connection"

(just bought one for $9)
Listen

    Pope Francis
    Homily announcing Year of Mercy:  The Sacrament of Reconciliation allows us to approach the Father and be certain of his pardon.  He extends mercy to all who turn to him.  The transformation of heart leading us to confess our sins is God's gift.  His tenderness allows us to approach the priest with the certainty of welcome in God's name.  We feel God’s strength restoring life and the enthusiasm of faith.
    Let us feel the compassionate gaze of Jesus, as when he saw the sinful woman in the Pharisee's house.  She lovingly humbled herself once Jesus' merciful love attracted her.  Her cry of repentance and joy washed his feet, and her hair dried them with gratitude; her kisses expressed her affection; and the ointment attested how precious he was to her.  Her loving gestures express her desire for the certainty of being forgiven.  Love and forgiveness were simultaneous:  God forgave her much because she loved much, and she adored Jesus because she felt his mercy.  She was reborn in love.  She opened her heart, showed repentance for her sins, and appealed to God for forgiveness.  The protagonist was the love that goes beyond justice.
    But the Pharisee didn't find the path of love; standing on formality, he couldn't receive salvation.  He invited Jesus to dinner but didn't really welcome him; he erred in invoking only justice.  His judgment on the woman distanced him; he stopped at the surface instead of looking to the heart.  Jesus pushes us never to stop at the surface, especially when dealing with people; we're called to focus on the heart and see the generosity everyone is capable of.  No one can be excluded from God's mercy; the Church is the house that welcomes all with open doors, so those touched by grace may find forgiveness. The greater the sin, so much greater must be the love we express.
    The journey to mercy begins with conversion.  I'm calling a Jubilee centered on God's mercy, a Holy Year of Mercy to live in the light of the Lord's words, “Be merciful, as your Father is merciful.”  It'll begin on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will end on the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and living face of the Father’s mercy.  May it be a new stage in the Church's journey and mission to bring the Gospel of mercy to everyone.  May we find in it the joy to rediscover and make fruitful God's mercy, with which we're all called to give consolation to everyone.  May the Mother of Mercy watch over our journey.
    More about the Jubilee of Mercy:  Pope Francis announced the Jubilee when he opened the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative to promote the opening of churches to invite people to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  The theme is “God rich in mercy.”  The Jubilee's opening will be on the 50th anniversary of the closing of Vatican II; it impels us to continue the work begun then.  The Sunday readings for Ordinary Time will be from Luke, “the evangelist of mercy,”  “narrator of Christ's meekness” (Dante).  In the Hebrew tradition, the Jubilee Year was to restore equality among all children of Israel and was a reminder to the rich that their slaves would become their equals and be able to reclaim their rights.  “Justice consisted in the protection of the weak.”  Catholic Holy Years began in 1300.
    The Church has given the Jubilee a more spiritual significance:  general pardon, indulgence open to all, and the possibility to renew one’s relationship with God and neighbor:  a chance to deepen faith and live with renewed commitment to Christian witness.
    Today Pope Francis focuses attention upon the merciful God who invites us all to return to him.  The encounter with God inspires mercy.  The opening of the Holy Door symbolizes we're offered an extraordinary path to salvation.  The motto of Pope Francis is miserando atque eligendo” ("with eyes of mercy"), taken from a a homily of St. Bede on the call of Matthew: “Jesus sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy, says to him, ‘follow me.’"
    Right after his election, Pope Francis said:  “Mercy changes everything.  It's the best thing we can feel; it changes the world, making it less cold and more just...."  More recently:  “There's so much need for mercy, and it's important the lay faithful live it and bring it to different environments.  Go forth!  We're living in the age of mercy.”  “How greatly I desire that where the Church is becomes an island of mercy in the sea of indifference!”
    To UCIIM (Italian Catholic teacher union):  It's a pity teachers are badly paid.  Teaching is a great responsibility, like being spiritual parents.  A school can only be the positive reference point young people need if teachers can give meaning to the school, study, and culture.  Computers can teach content, but  it takes a good teacher to teach how to love and how to understand values and customs to create harmony in society.  Teachers must build a relationship with each student, who must feel welcomed and loved.
    Read
    • Hos 6:1-6  “Come, let us return to the Lord; he will heal and revive us to live with him.  Let us strive to know the Lord; he's surely coming!”  What can I do with you?  Your piety is like dew that passes away.  I desire love, not sacrifice; knowledge of God, not burnt offerings.
    • Ps 51:3-4, 18-21ab  "It is mercy I desire, and not sacrifice."  Have mercy on me.  My sacrifice is a contrite spirit; you won't spurn a humbled heart.  Rebuild Jerusalem's walls....
    • Lk 18:9-14  Parable to those convinced of their righteousness who despised others:  “Two went to pray.  The Pharisee spoke to himself, ‘God, I thank you I'm not like this tax collector or the rest.  I fast and tithe...’  The tax collector, beating his breast, prayed, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner.’  Only the latter went home justified; everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
    Roamin' Catholic report for Friday's "General" Congress Mass
    Hats off to the music ministry (with cantor, piano, guitar, soprano sax, pan flute, drums, and a few supporting voices) including the outstanding choice of music:


    Sorry; no time to mention the fine prelude about hands, the tasteful movement during the entrance procession and responsorial psalm, powerful proclamation of the readings (except for misplaced emphasis on "No more our god" vs. "no more, 'Our god'"), Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez's tender homily...
    Reflect
      • Creighton:  How am I at offering mercy and forgiveness to others for their sins against me or mine?
      • One Bread One Body:  "Praying to God or self?"  The Pharisee "prayed to himself," talking about himself, not God.  When we rely on self, we can't forgive others or see God as our loving Father.  May we rely instead on Christ...
        The Pharisee and the Tax Collector/ Long
      • Passionist:  Today’s gospel is like a condensed Prodigal Son parable, with the self-righteousness of one, the repentant humility of the other, and the Father's love.  The self-righteous point out their performance and decry their neighbors' infidelity.  God manifests loving wisdom:  “The latter went home justified, not the former; those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted”; similarly, the Prodigal Son parable echoes this generous mercy with the father cutting off his son’s apology and declaring a feast.  From the first reading, the fidelity God desires is our love.  We can deceive ourselves, numbering our successes compared with others', but God looks at the heart and longs to bathe it in mercy.
      • DailyScripture.net:  Our prayers mean nothing to God if they're not from a heart of love for God and neighbor.  "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."  Despising one's neighbor closes the door to God's heart.  The disdainful assume they're qualified to judge.  The story offended the Pharisees who regarded tax collectors as unworthy of God's favor.  The parable contrasts the proud, self-absorbed Pharisee who tried to justify himself and despised the "less worthy," and the tax collector who humbled himself and begged for mercy, whom God heard and exalted.  Pride leads to self-deception and spiritual blindness, but humility helps us to see ourselves as God sees us and to seek help and mercy.