March 14, 2016

March 14

March 14, 2016:  Monday, 5th week, Lent

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Pope Francis homily
As we face "dark valleys" of our time, the only answer is to trust in God.  Even when you don't understand, like a child's illness, put yourself in the Lord's hands; he never abandons you.  As Susanna chose to trust in God rather than succumb to the elders' wish, even when we find ourselves in a “valley of darkness,” we need not fear evil.
The Lord always walks with us, loves us, and won't abandon us.  When we look at the many dark valleys, people dying of hunger, war, children with disabilities, and things we create ourselves, we ask, "Where are you, Lord?  Are you walking with me?"  This was Susanna’s sentiment, and it's ours.  Look at the four slain sisters, serving with love, murdered in hatred!  When you see doors closed to refugees left out in the cold, you ask, "Where are You?"
How can I entrust myself to God when I see these things, or when they happen to me?  There's an answer, but it can't be explained.  Why does a child suffer?  It's a mystery to me.  When Jesus suffered in the Garden, he trusted in the Father and knew all would not end with the cross.  His last words were, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."  To trust God who walks with me, with his people, with the Church, is an act of faith.  To entrust myself.  I can't explain it, but I put myself in Your hands.  If you entrust yourself to the Lord our Shepherd, you'll lack nothing.  Even in the darkest valley, you'll know the suffering is only for the moment and the Lord is with you.  Lord, teach me to place myself in your hands, to trust Your guidance, even in bad times, in dark moments, in the moment of death.  Think about your life, your problems, and place yourself into the Lord's hands.
A beautiful prayer:  "Without understanding, I place myself in Your hands."

Papal preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's 4th Lenten sermon, concluded from yesterday
Married and consecrated people in the Church
Even if we're not married, we need to understand marriage to help those who are, and to be helped by it ourselves!  Paul says of marriage and virginity, “Each has his own spiritual gift from God”:  married people theirs, those “single for the Lord” theirs.  Each is “a particular manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  The gift of celibacy and virginity is also for married people's advantage, and the gift of marriage is also for consecrated people's advantage; something individual (“a particular manifestation”) is for all (“the common good”).  Consecrated people and married people can edify one another.  Consecrated people remind spouses of the primacy of God and what's eternal  Married people teach consecrated people generosity, self-forgetfulness, service to life, and “humaneness” from engaging the realities of life.  May the Holy Spirit, the giver of charisms, help us all to put into practice Peter's exhortation, “As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace... in order that in everything God may be glorified through Christ.  To him belong glory and dominion forever!”
    Mastic tree
    Oak tree
  • Dn 13:1-19, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62  Two wicked elders lusted for Susanna, hurried to her when she was alone bathing, and threatened to testify against her if she didn't lie with them.  She shrieked, people rushed in and heard and believed the accusation, condemned her, she cried to God, and God stirred Daniel:  “Don't condemn her without examination or evidence.  Return to court; they testified falsely.”  All returned.  “Separate the two.”  He asked each what tree she was under, their answers differed, the assembly put them to death, sparing Susanna's innocent blood.
  • Ps 23:1-6  "Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side."  The Lord is my shepherd; he gives me repose, guides me, gives me courage...  Only goodness and kindness follow me, and I'll dwell with the Lord.
  • Jn 8:12-20  Jesus/ Pharisees:  “I am the light of the world.  If you follow me, you'll have the light of life.” / “Your testimony can't be verified.” / “It can; I know where I came from and where I'm going, but you don't.  You judge by appearances, but I don't judge.  The Father sent me.  Your law states that the testimony of two men can be verified, and my Father and I both testify.”  /  “Where's your father?” / If you knew me, you'd know my Father too.”  No one arrested him, because his hour hadn't come yet.
Reflect
    • Creighton:  In the first reading, people think of the law differently:  Susanna and Daniel God’s law as most important, but the two elders abuse human law to support their power and don't hold themselves accountable to God’s law.  Though in this story Susanna is spared, unfortunately others aren't.  But God’s law is that of the Good Shepherd, who walks with and protects us.  God’s law illuminates (“I am the light....”).  God’s law is truth.  He doesn't judge; he sees and loves:  "Love is his name, love is his law:  hear his command, all who are his.  'Love one another, as I loved you.'  Love, only love, is his law" (Warner, Love is his word).
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Oh, Susanna!"  We need more Susannas in our culture of death, refusing to compromise, living by the Spirit, defeating temptation, living with hope, trusting the Lord.  We need more Daniels too, stirred up by the Spirit to speak out.  They'll be branded as intolerant, prudish, narrow-minded fanatics, but God will give them hope to keep speaking out even when they don't see results.  May we cry out in the wasteland of the culture of death....
    • Passionist:  I usually see the positive and best in things, but today with inhumane forces at work, it's a blessing to be reminded that the innocent will be vindicated and that darkness won't overcome those who walk closely with Jesus....
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness":  The Pharisees were upset with Jesus' teaching and healing on the Sabbath. They plotted to charge, arrest, try, silence, and kill him for his claim to be Messiah.  They accused him of blasphemy because he claimed authority equal with God's.  Jesus proclaims he's "light of the world" around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Festival of Lights; he must have made a striking impression on the Jews who gathered for the occasion.  He says he's the true light no one can extinguish, not only for Israel but for all.  Many scribes and Pharisees were shocked when they heard this.  In John Jesus makes seven "I am" statements:  "...the Bread of Life," "the light of the world," "the Gate," "the Good Shepherd," "the Resurrection," "the Way, the Truth, and the Life," and  "the Vine"; he also emphatically stated, "Before Abraham was, I am."  When Moses asked God's name, he responded, "I am who am."  The Pharisees heard "I am the light" as a claim only God could make.  'Light' in Scripture was associated with God:  "The Lord is my light"; "the Lord will be your everlasting light"; "the Lord will be a light to me."  The scribes and Pharisees demanded Jesus produce witnesses; what he gave didn't satisfy them because they'd decided to eliminate him since he didn't agree with them. Jesus' authority was from his Father.  The light Jesus gives is of God's revelation:  his beauty, truth, wisdom, and power, exposing the darkness of sin, bringing healing, pardon, and restoration, freeing us from guilt and effects of sin,  May God's light shine into our inmost being and remove bad attitudes and hurtful desires.  Sin clouds our vision and leads us down the wrong path; God's light shows us the way to peace, joy, and happiness, producing life and fruitfulness in us, enabling us to walk freely and confidently, warming us to the truth of God's love, and opening our vision to God's kingdom.
    Dress legend
    • 'Plant' pin:  Joakim had a garden (1st reading)
    • 'Scales of justice' pin:  "You judge my appearance" (gospel); Two new wicked judges... (1st reading); 
    • 'Eyeball' pin:  ...wouldn't allow their eyes to look to heaven instead of Susanna (1st reading)
    • 'Girl with heart' pin:  Susanna trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly (1st reading)
    • 'Tree' pin:  Wicked elders' testimonies differed about kind of tree (1st reading)
    • 'Headless skeleton' tie pin:  "Your fine lie has cost you your head" (1st reading)
    • 'Angel' pin:  Angel of God shall receive your sentence (1st reading)
    • 'Sword' tie pin:  Angel of God waits with a sword (1st reading) 
    • 'Blood drop' pin:  Innocent blood was spared (1st reading)
    • 'Sheep' tie bar:  The Lord is my shepherd (psalm)
    • Blue and green in shirt:  verdant pastures, restful waters (psalm)
    • 'Lights' tie:  "I am the light of the world." (gospel) 
    • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season
    • Waze app on phone (in holster; lower right):  He guides me in right paths (psalm)