March 23, 2015

March 23

March 23, 2015:  Monday, Fifth Week of Lent

See 10 links to today's readings and celebration?
(Legend below)

Pope Francis Angelus
In the gospel a group of Jewish Greeks told Philip they want to see Jesus.  Many others were curious to get to know and learn about him.  Many among us also want to see Jesus and are looking for his life-giving message.  Offer them the Gospel, the crucifix, and your witness:  in the Gospel we meet and hear Jesus; through the crucifix we have the sign of his love for us; in being witnesses to Christianity we express our faith in simple gestures of charity.
East and West:  Before the Mystery of the Holy Spirit, Lenten sermon of papal preacher Fr. Cantalamessa (concluded; continued from yesterday)

The Spirit of truth and the Spirit of charity:  Renewed attention to Scriptures permits us to verify the complementarity of Eastern and Western pnuematologies from another point of view.  In the New Testament, John emphasizes the “Spirit of truth,” and Paul emphasizes the “Spirit of charity.”  In John the “Spirit of truth” is the Paraclete, and all who worship the Father should worship him “in Spirit and truth”; he leads “to all truth” and “teaches you about everything.”  For Paul, the Spirit “pours love” into our hearts, and the Spirit's fruit is “love, joy, and peace”; love constitutes “the law of the Spirit”; love is the “more excellent way” because it's the greatest gift of the Spirit.

As with doctrine about Christ, different emphases about the Spirit are maintained in tradition; the East reflects John's perspective more and the West Paul's.  Orthodox pneumatology has placed more emphasis on the Spirit as light; Latin pneumatology has placed more on the Spirit as love.  The diversity is clearest in Basil’s On the Holy Spirit the Spirit is “intelligible light” but love plays no role, while in St. Augustine’s On the Trinity, the Spirit is love but light plays no role.

Light, with its phenomena of  transfiguration of the person, is the most consistent element of the mysticism of the Spirit in the East:  “Come, true light!” begins a prayer to the Spirit by St. Symeon the New Theologian.  The “Tabor light,” a large part of Eastern spirituality and iconography, is linked to the Spirit.  The Orthodox Divine Office says that at Pentecost, “Thanks to the Spirit, the world received a baptism of light.”

Augustine reflects that one might feel sad or excluded because he doesn't have all charisms, but if you love, what you have isn't small.  If you love unity, everything someone else has is yours!  Banish envy and all that's mine will be yours!  Envy separates; love unites. Only the eye sees, but it sees for the hand, foot, and all other members; and the hand acts not only for itself but for the eye.  Charity is the “more excellent way” because  it makes me love the body of Christ, the community I live in, and because of unity, all charisms are mine.  Charity multiples the charisms, so the gifts of one belong to all.  It makes Christ, not ourselves, the center, so we want not “to live for oneself but for the Lord.”  Applied to the relationship between East and West, the principle points to looking at the charism each has that's different from the other not as error or threat but as treasure for all.  Applied to our daily relationships, the principle helps us overcome feelings of frustration, rivalry, and jealousy and bear the fruit of the Spirit.  “Blessed that servant who doesn't pride himself [and rejoice] in the good the Lord says and works through him more than the good he says and works through another” (Francis of Assisi).  May the Spirit help us walk on this demanding path that leads to love, joy, and peace.

  • 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 8:1-11  The scribes and Pharisees brought Jesus a woman caught in adultery:  Moses commanded us to stone such women.  What do you say?”  Jesus wrote on the ground with his finger, but when they persisted, he said, “Let the one without sin be the first to throw a stone” and kept writing; they went away.  Once he was alone with her:  Has no one condemned you?” / “No one.” / “Neither do I.  Go, and sin no more.”
    • Creighton:  Today's 2 stories of women accused of adultery invite us to consider God's mercy for those the innocent and vulnerable.  Both are also about how religious leaders corrupted the social system to protect the innocent.  The elders were not only licentious; they were so jealous and unjust as to stop at nothing to destroy innocent Susanna; flaunting God's compassion and truth, they acted as gods by trying to determine who will live.  In the gospel, the woman was the pawn of religious leaders trying to trap a rival rabbi teaching love and mercy.  The leaders don't worship God; those who honor and love God must be loving and honest because God is and God cares.  To be just requires compassionate mercy; to be merciful we must act justly. 
      Christ and the adulterous woman/ Van Lint
    • One Bread One Body:  Susanna chose to remain faithful, even though she'd lose life, reputation, marriage, and family. God saved her life and reputation, saved her family from disgrace, stopped the elders' ongoing sexual abuse and subversion of justice, and transformed a perverted society by stirring Daniel.  May the Spirit stir us up and transform our culture of death into one of life and love.
    • Passionist:  I threw stones at myself till I realized Jesus is a real person who died for me and who loves me despite my failings.  I now hear him tell me, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”
    •  When accusations are brought against you, how do you respond and where do you turn for help? Susanna turned to the Lord. / The word for "writing" used in the Gospel (Jesus writing on the sand...) literally means "to write down a record against someone."  Was he writing down a list of the accusers' sins? The scribes wanted to condemn the woman, but Jesus forgave and restored her.
    Dress legend
    • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  The wicked elders wouldn't allow their eyes to look to heaven (1st reading)
    • 'Tree' pin:  wicked elders' testimonies differed re tree identity (1st reading) 
    • 'Kneeling person' tie bar:  Susanna's prayer (1st reading)
    • 'Blood drop' pin:  Innocent blood was spared (1st reading)
    • 'Sheep' tie bar:  The Lord is my Shepherd (psalm)
    • 'Cups' tie:  My cup runneth over (psalm)
    • 'Stone' tie pin:  "Let him without sin cast the first stone" (gospel)
    • 'Girl with heart' pin:  Jesus' merciful love; woman caught in adultery (gospel)

    • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

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