February 21, 2018

Feb. 21

February 21, 2018:  Wednesday, 1st week, Lent

See 16 connections with today?
Legend below
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Vatican retreat:  Jesus' thirst, the woman's tears
“After this, aware everything was now finished,... Jesus said, ‘I thirst.’”  Other occurrences in John help us understand his words:  when he's thirsty and asks the Samaritan woman for a drink; when he says “whoever believes in me will never thirst,” and when he says during the Feast of Booths:  “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink.”  Today he still says, "I thirst."
Mother Teresa felt Jesus' thirst calling her to give her life in service to the thirst of the poor and rejected.  The Holy Spirit is given to us to satiate our thirst.  We're called to live every situation with joy and hope because the Spirit, God’s strength and breath, is in us.
The women in the Gospel express themselves with gestures.  Their faith seeks comfort through touch, not abstraction.  They accompanied the Lord differently from their male counterparts.  They ‘were with’ Jesus as the Twelve were, making his destiny their own.  They were serving Jesus.  Their reaction is evangelical.  They don't ask Jesus questions like the disciples ask (“Will only a few be saved?”, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”...); they make concrete declarations like, “Blessed the womb that carried you and the breasts you sucked.”
With women, there's a ripple of reality that intervenes to shape faith.  It doesn't remain a prisoner to mechanically lived reason, doctrine, or ritual.  In touch with daily life, they give perfume to the faith.  The women in Luke’s Gospel—the Naim widow, the “sinner,” the Jerusalem women, also cry.  St. Gregory Nanzianzen describes these tears as a baptism.  The woman washing Jesus’ feet with her tears was a litmus test for what the Pharisee refused to give.  Jesus wants to praise this unheard-of hospitality, thirst expressed in tears, that we must learn.  (Fr. José Tolentino Mendonça)
Read
  • Jon 3:1-10  Lord to Jonah:  “Set out for Nineveh, and prophesy.”  He began his journey, announcing, “40 days and Nineveh shall be destroyed”; they believed and proclaimed a fast.  The king rose, covered himself with sackcloth, sat in ashes, and proclaimed a fast: “Repent; God may relent and save us.”  God saw; he repented and didn't carry out the evil he'd threatened.
  • Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19  "A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn."  Have mercy on me.  Create a clean heart for me.
  • Lk 11:29-32  “No sign will be given this evil generation but Jonah; the Son of Man will be a sign like Jonah.  At the judgment, the queen of the south who came to hear Solomon's wisdom will condemn this generation; at the judgment, repentant Nineveh will condemn this generation.  Something greater than Solomon and Jonah is here.”
Reflect
  • Creighton:  Signs seem to give us greater certainty and allay insecurity.  But Jesus insists that the real sign is his own person; looking for other signs won't get us anywhere.  We should look for God in all things, listen to the Spirit, and focus on the Lord.  But some do encounter true signs of God's work:  the prophetic sign of Jonah moved the Ninevites to repentance, and Jonah himself repented when he emerged from the giant fish.  Our rock of faith is Jesus, but signs can be links to our faith.  Jesus uses the Jonah story to suggest his own resurrection; he says the sign will be his death and resurrection and wonders whether the stubborn will yield even then.  God’s hand, while sometimes showing itself in extraordinary signs, is more evident in the steady manifestations and movement of the Spirit.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "> Jonah":  Jonah was a reluctant, begrudging prophet; he didn't want to obey the Lord, but also didn't want to be in a fish's belly.  But the Ninevites repented with abandon, and the queen of the south came from the farthest corner of the world to listen to Solomon's wisdom.  Christianity is for the zealous, not the lukewarm or half-hearted.  May we change our lifestyle for Jesus, with radical love, freedom, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.
  • (Not this "sign of Jonah" :-)
  • Passionist:  We all seek signs to reassure, direct, and convince us. We seek signs that give us ‘feedback,’ that tell us that what we're doing is working, what we're trying to convey is being heard and understood.  We also give signs that we're thinking of someone, that they mean a lot to us, that we're supporting them.  The crowds in today's gospel wanted reassurance to justify faith in Jesus.  But what Jesus offered, and offers, is a relationship that does not lend itself to proof, a gift requiring our assent but backed by God's promise of faithfulness. Jesus also modeled human response to God.  May we look to Jesus, especially his passion, death, and resurrection, for our 'sign' of God's love and faithfulness, and of what it means to enter into relationship with God and give ourselves to him.
  • DailyScripture.net:  "The sign of Jonah for an evil generation":  When the religious leaders demanded a sign from Jesus, he gave them a warning to avert spiritual disaster.  Jews characteristically demanded "signs" from God's messengers to authenticate their claims.  When they pressed him for proof of his claims, he basically says he himself is God's sign and that they need no further evidence.  The Ninevites recognized Jonah's prophecy as God's warning and repented, and the Queen of Sheba recognized God's wisdom in Solomon, but the leaders weren't satisfied with the signs before them:  they rejected John the Baptist and now Jesus.  Simeon had prophesied Jesus was destined for the falling and rising of many and would be a sign opposed so that the thoughts of many would be revealed.  Jesus confirmed his message with miracles in preparation for the sign of his resurrection.  James says that wisdom from above is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.  May we be single-minded in desiring God's pleasure..
Dress legend
  • 'Whale' tie pin:  Jonah in the "big fish" (pre-1st reading)
  • 'Boundless mercy" button:  "Have mercy on me.." (psalm)
  • 'Heart' pin:  Create a clean heart in me (psalm)
  • 'Dove' pin:  Don't take your Holy Spirit away (psalm)
  • 'Fire' pin:  You're not pleased with burnt offerings (psalm); God withheld his blazing wrath (1st reading)
  • 'Signs' tie:  No 'sign' will be given but the sign of Jonah (gospel)
  • 'Owl' tie pin:  The queen came to hear Solomon's wisdom (gospel)
  • 'Crown' tie bar, 'beast' and 'cow' pins, 'sheep' tie bar:  Nineveh king:  “Neither man, beast, cattle, nor sheep shall taste anything” (1st reading); the queen of the south (gospel)
  • Ash-colored suspenders:  King of Nineveh sat in ashes (1st reading)
  • 'Phone' tie bar:  'Call' loudly to God (1st reading)
  • Purple shirt:  Lenten season