February 12, 2016

Feb. 12

February 12, 2016:  Friday after Ash Wednesday

  • 'Skeleton' tie pin:  Clothe the naked (1st reading)
  • 'Angel with trumpet' pin:  "Lift up your voice like a trumpet blast" (1st reading)
  • 'Wheat' pin:  Share your bread with the hungry (1st reading)
  • 'Lights' tie:  When you fast like God wants, your light shall break forth (1st reading)
  • 'Phone' tie bar:  You'll call and the Lord will answer (1st reading)
  • 'Girl with heart' pin:  You won't spurn a contrite heart (psalm)
  • Blue shirt:  Wash me from my guilt (psalm)
  • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season
Listen
For 1st reading
For the psalm:  see Wednesday
For the season 
Joint Declaration of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill
Catholics and Orthodox share the spiritual Tradition of the first millennium of Christianity but are pained that for almost 1,000 years we've been deprived of a common Eucharist, divided by wounds and differences because of human weakness and sin.  We hope our meeting may help reestablish unity.  Pray for the unity of all Christ's disciples.  We must learn to give witness together.  Our conscience and pastoral responsibility compel us to respond together to contemporary challenges.
We turn to persecuted Christians.  In the Middle East and North Africa, families, villages, and cities are being exterminated and churches ravaged.  We call upon the international community to prevent further expulsion of Christians.  We express compassion for the suffering of all victims of war, chaos, and violence.  We urge the international community to seek an end to violence, provide humanitarian aid, and foster a return to peace, enabling refugees to return home and wounds to be healed.  We ask all involved in the conflicts to negotiate and take coordinated action.  Pray for protection of creation from destruction.  We must rediscover the Gospel values uniting us.  The martyrs, united by shared suffering, are a pledge of Christian unity.
Interreligious dialogue is indispensable.  Differences in understanding must not impede living in harmony.  Religious leaders must teach their faithful to respect other religious traditions.  Attempts to justify criminal acts with religious slogans are unacceptable.
We thank God for the renewal of Christian faith in Russia and Eastern Europe.  Orthodox and Catholics often work side by side and give witness to Gospel values.  But we're concerned about the countries where religious freedom is restricted or references to God and his truth are being excised.  Christians are being discriminated against, marginated, and their rights curtailed.  Europe must remain faithful to its Christian roots.  We call upon all European Christians to unite in shared witness.
Many face extreme need and poverty while the material wealth of humanity increases.  Millions of migrants and refugees knock on the doors of wealthy nations.  Consumerism is depleting our planet's resources.  Growing inequality in the distribution of material goods increases the feeling of  injustice.  Christians are called to defend justice, respect peoples’ traditions, and show solidarity towards the suffering.  “God chose the foolish, lowly, and despised....”
We're concerned about the crisis in the family.  Orthodox and Catholics share the same conception of family and are called to witness that it's a path of holiness, testifying to spouses' faithfulness, openness to procreation and rearing of children, solidarity between generations, and respect for the weakest.  The family is based on marriage, free and faithful love between a man and a woman, a school of love and faithfulness.  We regret that other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level, while the biblical concept of fatherhood and motherhood is being banished from public conscience.
We call on all to respect life; millions are denied the right to be born.  Euthanasia leads the elderly and the disabled to feel they're a burden.  We're concerned about reproduction technology; manipulation of human life attacks human existence.  Christian moral principles, based on respect for the dignity of the individual, are immutable.
Young Christians, use your God-given abilities to love God and neighbor.  Don't be afraid to go against the current.  Be the light of the world so people may see your deeds and glorify your Father.
We're united not only by Tradition but also by the mission to preach the Gospel, which entails respect for all Christians.  May we learn to live together in peace, love, and harmony.  We hope our meeting will help reconcile Greek Catholics and Orthodox.  “Uniatism” isn't the way to unity, but the communities that have emerged have the right to exist.  Orthodox and Greek Catholics need reconciliation and acceptable forms of coexistence.  We invite all involved in the conflict in Ukraine to work towards peace.  We hope the schism between their Orthodox faithful may be overcome, that their Orthodox Christians may live in peace, and that Catholic communities contribute to it.
We're called to work together to proclaim the Good News and testify to human dignity and freedom.  The world awaits compelling Christian witness.  The future depends on our capacity to witness.  Faith transfigures human life:  “Once you were ‘no people’ but now you're God’s people; you ‘had not received mercy’ but now you have.”
Read

  • Is 58:1-9a  On your fast day you quarrel and carry out your own pursuits, but the fast I want is releasing those bound unjustly, freeing the oppressed, sharing your bread, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, and caring for your own.  Then you'll have light, healing, and vindication, and God will answer you.
  • Ps 51:3-6ab, 18-19  "A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn."  Have mercy on me.
  • Mt 9:14-15  John's disciples / Jesus:  “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but not your disciples?” / “Wedding guests can't mourn while the groom is among them, but when he's taken away, they'll fast.
Reflect

  • Creighton:  "Fasting makes sense, but at a wedding?"  In Jesus' time, many Jews fasted authentically, but others fasted to earn justification.  It turned into a formalism prophets denounced.  When Jesus was asked why his disciples didn't fast while the John's disciples and Pharisees did, he told a parable likening himself to a bridegroom separated from his bride.  They were living in a time of joy, so fasting would be incongruous.  How could they fast during the wedding feast?  But the feast will be aborted; the disciples will suffer the loss of their Lord.  Our fasting expresses our longing for the Lord's return.  “God is calling us to a new life in the Spirit which, without removing cross carrying and suffering, is still meant to be mainly life in a community of faith characterized by hope and joy” (Dennis Hamm, SJ).  Poteet poem
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Danger!  Explosives!"  Jesus said his disciples would have to wait till after his ascension before they fasted.  They had to receive the Spirit first, because Jesus' kind of fasting is so explosive that it would be destructive unless encased in a life in the Spirit.  After Jesus himself fasted 40 days, he exploded in the power of the Spirit.  The explosion after the Antioch church fasted was the Church's first missionary outreach.  All missionary outreaches are reverberations of that initial fasting-ignited explosion.  Fasting is explosive; the Lord can use it to move mountains of sin, implode strongholds of evil, and propel God's people for generations.  But fasting not in the context of life in the Spirit, as Isaiah says, provokes people to blow up against one another....
  • Passionist:  "The Bridegroom":  The bridegroom stands for the Messiah.  God desires the closest possible relationship with us.  Jesus Christ brings us into an intimate relationship with God.  The Church is the bride of Christ.  Our faith enables us to enter the closest possible association with Christ.   A true mark of discipleship is a deep loving bond with Christ.  Living in a close personal relationship with Christ has traditionally been called contemplative life.  We tend to appreciate only high achievers, but the greatest stretch of the heart is intimacy with God.
  • DailyScripture.net:  "Fasting for the kingdom of God":  Hunger for God and fasting for his kingdom go hand in hand.  To be in God's presence is pure delight, but there's a time for fasting and humbling oneself in preparation for the King's return. There's a time for rejoicing in his presence and and a time for seeking him with humility, fasting, and mourning for sin.  Fasting can be done to get free of a habit, addiction, or vice, to share in the suffering of those without, or to grow in our hunger for God.  "Don't make fasting consist only in abstinence from meat.  True fasting is to refrain from vice.  Shred your unjust contracts. Pardon your neighbors. Forgive them their trespasses" (St. Basil).  "Come, Lord; work upon us, set us on fire and clasp us close, be fragrant to us, draw us to your loveliness, let us love, let us run to you" (Augustine).