May 26, 2015

Philip Neri

May 26, 2015:  St. Philip Neri, Priest

  • 'Hand' tie pin:  Appear not before the Lord empty-handed (1st reading)
  • 'Happy faces' tie:  "With each contribution show a cheerful countenance, and pay your tithes in a spirit of joy." (1st reading)
  • 'Abacus' tie pin:  "The Lord will repay you sevenfold" (psalm); "If you give up house, family, or land for Jesus' sake, you'll receive a hundredfold" (gospel)
  • Green in shirt (and socks):  Ordinary Time (season)

A Christian can't have heaven and earth; don't be attached to things:  In responding to Peter, Jesus doesn't speak of riches but promises the Kingdom, but with persecution, with the cross.  A Christian attached to things gives the impression of one who wants to have both heaven and earth.  When James and John’s mother asked Jesus to secure place at his side for her children, she took the worldly interest in following Jesus.  But at Pentecost the disciples' hearts were cleansed, and they understood everything.  The gratuitousness of following Jesus is the answer to the gratuitousness of love and salvation he gives us.  Wanting to be with Jesus and the world, with poverty and riches, is halfway Christianity; it's the spirit of worldliness.
Riches, vanity, and pride take us away from Jesus:  These Christians are "limping on two legs" [about translation] because they don't know what they want.  Remember Jesus says "the first shall be last and the last first," meaning the greatest one must be the servant, the smallest.  Following Jesus is serving as he did.  If the Lord gives you the chance to be first, act like the last one:  serve.  If the Lord gives you the ability to have possessions, act in service to others.  Riches are dangerous because they make you vain, you think you're important, and you lose your head and yourself.
A worldly Christian is a counter-witness:  The Lord wants us to strip ourselves of worldly things.  It took Jesus a long time to get this across to his disciples.  Ask him to teach you this science of service, of humility, of being the last, of service.  It's sad to see a Christian who wants to follow Jesus and worldliness; it distances others from Jesus.  If we leave everything to follow Jesus, Jesus will reward us with resemblance to him:  Big 'recompense', to be like Jesus!
  • Sir 35:1-12  To keep the law is a great offering:  works of charity, almsgiving, refraining from evil, avoiding injustice.  The just one’s offering enriches the altar, rises as a sweet odor before God, is pleasing, and won't be forgotten.  Give to the Most High as he's given to you, generously, cheerfully.  The Lord will give back to you sevenfold....
  • Ps 50:5-8, 14, 23  "To the upright I will show the saving power of God."  Glorify God:  offer praise as your sacrifice, and fulfill your vows.  "I'll show salvation to those who go the right way."
  • Mk 10:28-31  “All who have given up house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or lands for my sake and the Gospel's will receive a hundred times more:  houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, lands, with persecutions, and eternal life.  Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
    • Creighton:  We spend time and money accumulating and maintaining “stuff” and build attachments to it.  Does my time and effort go there or in service of the gospel?  May I recognize my gifts and respond with gratitude.
    • One Bread One Body:  "The sacrifice":  The Lord revealed to the Jews that sacrifice entailed more than material things, revealing the sacrifices of obedience, charity, and justice.  Jesus revealed that sacrifices involved even more:  persecution and self-sacrifice.  We're called to sacrifice time, preferences, money, and possessions.   The Lord wants us to learn how to share his sufferings by being formed into the pattern of His death.
    • Passionist:  The readings are centered on giving things up to God: keeping the law by doing justice, charity, and giving alms. “Give as God has given to you....”
      St. Philip Neri/ Guercino
      “My God, I love you not so I may gain a greater place in heaven, nor because those who don't love you will burn in hell.  No, my Jesus, while on the tree, you encompassed me in your arms, enduring nails and lance....” (St. Francis Xavier)  He knew Jesus loved him personally and gave himself up for love of him, and he simply had to love back.  We can gaze at Jesus crucified and ponder how he did this for us.  As we gaze, we don’t have to worry about our sins; he'll take care of them:  he'll make them known to us, and we'll deal with them, and the root of our sin, as he wants us to.  Gazing upon the generosity of God’s love will lead us to be generous ourselves.
      •  When we lose our lives for Christ, we gain treasure and an everlasting inheritance. Do I give freely and generously out of love?  After a rich young man went away sad, Peter asked what he and others who accept Jesus would receive, and Jesus told him they'd receive a hundredfold now and later, plus persecution.  Should we be surprised if we're opposed for promoting justice?
      St. Philip Neri
      • Pope Francis (for 500th anniversary):  St. Philip Neri was a renowned pastor and confessor who had special care for poor children, founding for them a school and a college.  Thanks to his apostolate, commitment to salvation of souls returned to be a Church priority; the Church recovered its understanding that pastors have to be with their people to guide and support their faith.  He's a luminous model of the Church's mission.  The Congregation of the Oratory is the first example of secular priests living a communal life....

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