July 11, 2015


July 11, 2015:  St. Benedict, Abbot

  • 'Clock' tie bar:  Joseph lived 110 years (1st reading)
  • 'Girl with heart' pin:  May your hearts be glad; rejoice, hearts that seek the Lord  (psalm)
  • 'Classroom' tie:  No disciple is above his teacher (gospel)
  • 'Penny' button:  Aren't two sparrows sold for a small coin?  (gospel)
  • White shirt for St. Benedict memorial

Pope Francis
At World Meeting of Popular Movements, Bolivia:  There are global problems no state can resolve itself:  farm workers lack land, families homes, laborers rights.  Persons' dignity isn't respected, wars are fought, violence is at our door, and natural resources are under threat.  Exclusion and injustice are all over.  Exclusion joins them all.  Profit is king, even if social exclusion and destruction of nature come with it.  We want real change; the globalization of hope must replace the globalization of exclusion and indifference!  We need positive, redemptive change, and time is running out.  Each of us can do a lot, and the future of humanity is largely in our hands, through carrying out creative alternatives, through ensuring the three “L’s” (labor, lodging, land), and through participation in processes of change at all levels!
You sow change.  Structural change not accompanied by conversion ends up in bureaucratization, corruption, and failure.  Change is a process, where the drive to sow and water replaces ambition for power and immediate results.  Your work is inspired by love; you show it in opposing injustice.  When we look at the suffering, endangered, poor, persecuted, exploited, and victims of violence, the sorrow moves us deeply, makes us attentive to others, and moves us to act.  You work on little things, standing up to a system that excludes, debases, and kills.  You promote activities to reaffirm the right to the three “L’s.”  It enables you to love people.  Commitment is born of love of people who fill our hearts.  Your work also aims to resolve the root problems of poverty, inequality and exclusion.  You're sowing change, constructing an alternative to globalization that excludes.  Be creative and never stop being rooted in realities; when you build on real needs and experience, you're on the right path.  The Church must engage in this process to proclaim the Gospel.  Mary is a sign of hope.
Put the economy at peoples' service....  Unite people on the path of peace and justice....  Defend Mother Earth....  The future doesn't lie in the hands of just leaders and the elite but of peoples and their ability to organize; they can foster change with humility and conviction.  No family without lodging, no rural worker without land, no laborer without rights, no people without sovereignty, no one without dignity, no child without childhood, no youth without a future, no elderly person without a venerable old age!  Keep up your struggle, and take care of Mother Earth....
To Paraguayan government authorities:  You've known such suffering from war, fratricide, lack of freedom, and contempt for human rights but have persevered and worked to build a prosperous, peaceful nation.  People who forget the past have no future; memory, based on justice and rejecting hatred and revenge, allows the past to inspire the building of a future of serene coexistence and makes us realize the tragedy of war.  Build peace, peace that's felt in daily life, peace everyone contributes to by avoiding arrogance, hurtful words, contemptuousness and by working to foster understanding, dialogue, and cooperation.
Strengthen democratic structures so they can respond to your legitimate aspirations; don't be satisfied with a purely formal democracy (Aparecida Document, 74).  Reaffirm that dialogue is the best way to promote the common good, in a culture of encounter, respect, and acknowledgment of legitimate differences and of others' opinions.  Convictions should blend advantageously with love of country and people; love must be the incentive to increased transparency and combat of corruption.
Give priority to the poor and needy.  Ensure schooling for children, homes for families, dignified employment for workers, and land for farmers and campesinos, an end to violence, corruption, and drug trafficking.  Economic development that doesn't account for the weak and underprivileged isn't authentic.  Measure progress by the integral dignity of the human person, especially the vulnerable and helpless.  The Church is committed to the effort to build a just and inclusive society where all can live in peace and harmony. We're all called to build a better world (Evangelii Gaudium, 183); our faith urges us on.  Christ opens to us the path of mercy that, founded on justice, goes beyond it to inspire works of charity, so no one will stay on the fringe.
To Bolivia clergy and religious:  Two things about the Bartimaeus story jump out:  the beggar's cry, and the disciples' reactions.  When faced with the man's suffering, they reacted three ways:  passing by, telling him to be quiet, and telling him to get up.
Passing by, maybe without even hearing:  indifference, avoiding others' problems, seeing suffering and injustice as natural. It's the response of a blind, closed heart that can't be touched or change, of one without roots in others' lives.  It's “the spirituality of zapping”:  on the move, but with nothing to show for it.  Some people keep up with news but never connect with others or get involved.  But “how can you love the God you don't see if you don't love others you do see?”  Listen to people the way you listen to God.  Passing by without hearing the pain or sinking roots is like listening to God's word without letting it take root and bear fruit.
Telling him to be quiet:  Leave us alone!  They hear, acknowledge, and make contact with his cry but just scold.  Some leaders just hurl reproaches; it's isolated consciousness, thinking Jesus is only for those who deserve him, the 'worthy' or 'better'; making your identity a badge of superiority and separating yourself from others, with closed hearts hearing but not listening, thinking, “I'm not like them,” cutting yourself off from people's cries and reasons for rejoicing.  No; laugh with those who laugh and weep with those who weep.
Telling him to take heart and get up, reflecting how Jesus responded, taking his cry as an invitation to respond a new way.  Jesus stopped, asked what was happening, and got involved.  He didn’t try to show he was different or decide whether the beggar was worthy; he just asked, looked, sought to share his lot, included him, and restored his dignity.  He identified with his problems and showed the transforming power of mercy.  There's no compassion without stopping, hearing, and solidarity; it's not about zapping or about silencing pain, but love, grounded in freedom and desire for others' good, not fear of drawing near people's pain.  This is discipleship, what the Spirit does with and in us.  Jesus saw us on the road wallowing in pain and misery, stopped, drew near, asked what he could do, told us to get up, and we experienced this merciful, transforming love enabling us to see.  We're witnesses not to an ideology but to Jesus' healing, merciful love and his working in lives.
The Master's pedagogy leads us to pass from zapping to saying, “Take heart; get up. The Master is calling,” not so we can be special but because we're grateful witnesses to the mercy that changed us.  We're not alone; we help each other by example and prayer, surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.  The Lord wants to use us to make his light reach every corner; may we press on.
  • Gn 49:29-32; 50:15-26a  Jacob to sons:  “Bury me with my ancestors Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah.”  Joseph’s brothers, afraid, thought, “What if Joseph has a grudge against us and plans payback now for the wrong we did!”  Brothers / Joseph:  “Your father told us, ‘Say to Joseph, Jacob begs you to forgive your brothers' wrongdoing.’  So please forgive us.  Let us be your slaves!”  Joseph broke into tears.  Have no fear.  Can I take God's place?  You meant harm, but God meant it for good, so many could survive.  I'll provide for you.”  Joseph lived 110 years.  To brothers: “I'm about to die.  God will lead you to the land he promised.  When God thus takes care of you, bring my bones up with you from here.”
You're worth more than a flock of these
(animate, but it won't fly)
  • Ps 105:1-4, 6-7  "Be glad you lowly ones; may your hearts be glad!"  Sing the Lord's praise; proclaim his wondrous deeds.  Look to him and serve him.
  • Mt 10:24-33  “No disciple is above his teacher.  Don't fear.  Nothing is concealed that won't be revealed, nor secret that won't be known.  What I tell you in the darkness, speak in light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.  Don't fear those who kill the body but can't kill the soul; fear the one who can destroy them both.  Two sparrows are sold for a small coin, but not one falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.  Don't fear; you're worth more than many sparrows.  Everyone who acknowledges me I'll acknowledge before my Father, but whoever denies me I'll deny before him.”
St. Benedict
  • Universalis:  St. Benedict, hermit, abbot, survived monks' poisoning attempts, founded communities of monks and nuns.  His Rule is adopted by many communities and has nuggets for us too.  See Catholic Encyclopedia.

    • Creighton:  "Dealing with evil":  Evil is at work:  racism, neglect of the earth, violence, human trafficking, corporate irresponsibility, terrorism....; all fall under St, Ignatius's "standards of Satan": greed, ambition, and pride.  Ignatius presents them beside three counteracting virtues:  spiritual poverty, readiness to suffer insults and humiliation for the sake of the Kingdom, and humility, “Standards of Christ.”  Jesus gives a “call to arms” for combat against evil:  Don't be afraid.  Two sparrows are sold for a small coin, but not one falls without God's knowledge:  Think of the shield of Faith, death's defeat from the Cross, spiritual poverty.  "Don't fear those who can kill body but not soul":  Think of martyrs, of Christ confronting the Pharisees.  "What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light":  Think of Christ shining with, in, and through you, revealing truth, justice, and evil for what they are.  "All will be revealed":  Think of the Lord’s destruction of evil.  We're worth more than a flock of sparrows; the Father knows and cares about us.  The enemy will attack us, but the One we serve is stronger....
      Prince of Peace [Benedictine] Abbey
      Oceanside, CA
    • One Bread One Body:  "There's a place for us":  Joseph is a "type" of Jesus, an Old Testament figure whose life foreshadows Jesus.  Like Jesus, he forgave, reassured, and provided for those who turned their backs on him.  We too can be like the Lord in his character and ministry by showing his love, mercy, forgiveness, care, and provision.  Many have no idea of how much God loves them and wants to forgive and have intimate fellowship with them.  As ambassadors for Christ, we represent him; may he shine through us....
    • Passionist:  Despair looks like the experience of Joseph, thrown into a cistern by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, thrown into prison, lonely.  But he never stopped trusting God.  Amazingly, he later became Pharaoh’s Vizier, instrumental in saving lives, including his brothers'.  After their father died, the brothers feared retribution, but Joseph saw through his suffering at their hands to God's guiding hand and continued to trust God.  What does despair look like for us?  Shattered dreams, a broken heart, grief, illness?  May we see God's hand guiding us and say with Joseph that God means it for good?  Can we believe that we are “worth more than many sparrows?”  What does hope look like?  It looks like our trust in God’s providential love.
    • DailyScripture.net:  Fear can lead us to panic and flight to faith and action.  Fear of God is the antidote to fear of death; it's reverence for the One who made and sustains us, and it leads to spiritual maturity, wisdom, and right judgment and frees us from pride, cowardice, and deception. / Jesus told his disciples they'd meet the same opposition he did when they proclaim the Kingdom; it's both warning and privilege.  We must bear, not evade, our cross.....

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