January 4, 2016

Mother Seton

January 4, 2016:  St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious

  • 'Law scroll' pin:  "Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them" (1st reading)
  • 'Girl with heart' pin:  Love one another as he commanded (1st reading)
  • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  We know he remains in us from the Spirit (1st reading)
  • 'Olympics' pin:  "I'll give you all the nations..." (psalm)
  • White shirt:  "The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light" (gospel)
  • Christmas pin, 'clocks' suspenders:  Christmas season continues all week
  • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  World Day of Peace message
  • 'Streamers' tie, 'clocks' suspenders:  Happy new year!  (back to work)
Listen
From Handel's Messiah
Pope Francis
World Day of Peace message:  Overcome indifference and win peacecontinued from yesterday
From indifference to mercy: the conversion of hearts:  Last year I evoked the brotherhood of Cain and Abel to draw attention to how it was betrayed.  They were equal in dignity and created in God's image, but their relationship was destroyed.  Cain killed Abel out of envy.  Cain’s refusal to acknowledge Abel as brother became the first rupture in family relations of fraternity, solidarity, and respect.
God intervened to recall our responsibility towards our fellows, as he also did when Adam and Eve ruptured their relationship with him, their Creator.  Cain said he wasn't his brother’s keeper; he was indifferent to him despite their common origin.  This was the first display of indifference between brothers.  But God isn't indifferent.  Abel’s blood had value to him, and he asked Cain to give an account of it.  God shows himself as involved in our destiny.  He later told Moses, “I have seen the affliction of my people and have heard their cry; I've come to deliver them and bring them to a land flowing with milk and honey.”  God sees, hears, knows, comes, and delivers. God doesn't remain indifferent; he's attentive and acts.

In the same way, God came down in Jesus, showing this solidarity with us, becoming “the first-born among many brethren.”  He didn't just teach; he was concerned for their welfare, especially when he saw them hungry or without work.  He was also concerned for fish, birds, plants, trees, all things great and small; he embraced all creation.  But he also touched people’s lives; he spoke to them, helped them, showed kindness, felt strong emotions, and worked to end suffering, sorrow, misery, and death.  He taught us to be merciful.  He condemned those who don't help the needy, teaching his listeners to stop and alleviate pain and suffering.  Indifference often seeks excuses:  observing rituals, looking to all that needs to be done, hiding behind hostility or prejudice.  Mercy, God's heart, must also be his children's heart, beating strongly wherever human dignity is in play.  Jesus tells us God will judge us by our love for others, so it's not surprising Paul tells Rome Christians to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep and he encourages the Corinthians to take up a collection for the suffering members of the Church.  "If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his someone in need, yet refuses help, how does God’s love abide in him?"

The Church must live and testify to mercy, transmitting it in her words and gestures to touch all people and inspire them to find the road to the Father.  Our first truth is the love of Christ.  We're servants of this forgiving, giving love and mediate it to everyone.  Wherever the Church is present, the Father's mercy must be evident.  Wherever there are Christians, there should be an oasis of mercy.  We're called to make compassion, love, mercy, and solidarity our way of life and guide our relationships by it.  This requires conversion of our hearts:  God's grace turning our hearts of stone to hearts of flesh open to others.  Solidarity, more than vague compassion or shallow distress at people's misfortunes, is “determination to commit oneself to the common good, the good of all and of each individual, because we're responsible for them,” because compassion flows from fraternity.  It's the attitude that best corresponds to an awareness of today's scourges.... [to be continued]
Read

  • 1 Jn 3:22-4:6  Believe in the name of Jesus Christ and love one another.  Test spirits to see whether they belong to God; only spirits that acknowledge Jesus Christ come in the flesh do.  You belong to God; the one in you is greater than the one in the world.
  • Ps 2:7bc-8, 10-12a  "I will give you all the nations for an inheritance."  Serve the Lord with fear; rejoice with trembling.
  • Mt 4:12-17, 23-25  Jesus began to preach:  “Repent; the Kingdom of heaven is at hand,” going around Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel, and curing the sick brought to him.  His fame spread; great crowds followed him.
Reflect

  • Fr. Chris Bazyouros homily podcast:  Empty yourself as Jesus did; recognize the value of the weak in a world that worships the strong.  (Read more about the L'Arche communities he refers to here.)
  • Creighton:  It's appropriate we celebrate the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (first native-born US citizen to be canonized) during this Jubilee of Mercy because she's a powerful witness to Mercy, especially the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  She was a New York socialite, devoted wife, mother of five, widow, grieving parent, dedicated volunteer, educator, social minister, and catechist.   She established the first US Catholic school, founded the first American congregation of Sisters (which has since divided into six branches with more than 5,000 members).  Mother Seton’s followers have  established hundreds of schools, service centers and hospitals.  We believe in the "communion of saints," that we're united with those who've gone before us in faith.  Pray that we may enjoy the graces testified to by Mother Seton and invest ourselves in works of mercy as she did.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "The down payment":  We celebrate not only Emmanuel ("God with us") but also God within us.  "We know he remains in us from the Spirit he gave us," "the first payment," "the pledge of our inheritance, the first payment against the redemption of a people God made his own..."  By the Spirit's power, the Church continues Christ's ministry of healing.  When we walk by faith, not sight, we walk and believe by the light of the Spirit....
    Prayer of Mother Seton
  • Passionist:  "Epiphany, the manifestation, continued":  Jesus' whole life is a “manifestation” of God’s power, mercy, and love.  Jesus preaches, teaches and calls for repentance; he cures diseases, expels demons, loves, and gives us new life.  Great crowds followed him, looking for more “manifestations” in miracles and teachings.  We've received manifestation of Jesus in our day.  We have our sicknesses, lack of direction, selfishness, violence, and lack of respect.  Jesus continues to speak to us and challenge us with great human examples such as Mother Seton.  Can we say yes to Jesus, change our heart, and follow him today?  God, help us say yes in word and deed....
  • DailyScripture.net:  "From darkness and death to light and life":  John the Baptist’s enemies tried to silence him, but the good news can't be silenced.  Isaiah foretold the good news would reach Jews and Gentiles.  Jesus began the proclamation of the Gospel to fulfill God's promise to send a Redeemer.  The "good news" brings peace, hope, truth, promise, immortality, and salvation.  The Gospel is the power and the wisdom of God:  power to transform our lives, wisdom to show us how to live as God's children. The Lord makes it possible for us to receive and act on his word.  The Gospel demands a response of faith and obedience.  Faith is a gift from God.  Through the Spirit we can know God and his truth.  To believe Jesus is Lord and Savior is to accept God's revelation of his Son as the Word of God and the Redeemer....