February 29, 2016

Feb. 29

February 29, 2016:  Monday, 3rd week, Lent

  • 'Crown' tie bar:  Kings of Aram and Israel (1st reading)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  “I thought Elisha would move his hand and cure the leprosy" (1st reading)
  • Silver and gold-colored accessories:  Naaman set out with silver and gold... (1st reading)
  • Blue shirt:  Naaman washed in the Jordan (1st reading)
  • 'Letters' tie:  ...the king's letter,... (1st reading)
  • 'Horse' tie pin:  ...and his horses (1st reading)
  • 'Deer' tie pin:  As the deer longs... (psalm)
  • 'Car' tie pin:  Synagogue folk 'drove' Jesus out of town (gospel)
  • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season
For the psalm

Leper Naaman the Syrian asked Elisha to heal him but couldn't appreciate the simple way the healing would be accomplished.  The inhabitants of Nazareth felt disdain at Jesus' words; it wasn't how they thought salvation should be.
Jesus felt the contempt of the law doctors who sought salvation in a multitude of precepts, but the people didn't have faith in them, or in the Sadducees who sought salvation in compromises with the Empire.  One group sought salvation from clerical parties, the other from political, but the people believed Jesus, not them.  Why this contempt?  Because we think salvation should come from something great; only the powerful, those with strength, money, or power, can save us.  They felt contempt because they couldn't understand salvation only comes from small things.  When Jesus proposed the way of salvation, he spoke of little things.  In the Beatitudes and about the final judgment, Jesus says, “Come with me because you've done these simple things.  You didn't seek salvation or hope in power, political parties, or negotiations; you just did these things.  So many look down on this!  Read the Beatitudes and Mt 25, and think and see whether there's something I look down on, something that disturbs my peace.  Contempt is a luxury only the vain and the proud allow themselves.  "Blessed are those who are not scandalized in me," who don't look down on these things, who don't feel contempt.  Seek grace to understand the only path of salvation is ‘the folly of the Cross,’ that is, the Son of God ‘emptying himself,’ making himself small, represented here in the cleansing in the Jordan, or in the small village of Nazareth.  Today's key word:  disdain
Papal preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's 2nd Lenten sermon
A God who speaks
God speaks; idols don't.  God's speech, unlike ours, is for the heart:  “I'll put my law within them; I'll write it on their hearts.”  God's mouth is the prophet, his breath the Holy Spirit, though in some cases (Jesus' baptism and transfiguration), there was also an external voice.  But we receive a message that can be translated into words; God’s speaking is so vivid that prophets recall where and when a word came (Is 6:1; Ez 1:1; Hg 1:1).  God’s word is so concrete, it “falls” on Israel as a stone.  Its concreteness is also expressed by the symbol of bread eaten with delight (Jer 15:16; Ez 3:1-3).
No voice can reach us as deeply as God's word, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and discerning the heart's thoughts.”  God’s speech is like powerful thunder, or a gentle whisper; it knows the tonalities of our speech.  But with the coming of Christ, God now speaks with a human voice audible to human ears.  What was heard was the word of God because the speaker is Christ, Son of God, in whom God no longer speaks through an intermediary but in a person.  No longer “thus says the Lord” but “I say to you....”
God’s speech, mediated and direct, was put into writing, so now we now have “Scripture.”  Augustine defines a sacrament as “a visible word”; we can define the word as “a heard sacrament.”  Every sacrament has a visible sign and an invisible reality, grace.  The words we read in the Bible is a physical sign like water in baptism or bread in the Eucharist, but once faith and the Spirit enter in, we enter into contact through these signs with God's living truth and will, and we hear the voice of Christ.  “The body of Christ is just as truly present in the [Eucharist] as the truth of Christ is in his gospel preaching.  In the Eucharist, the species we see are signs, but what is enclosed in them is the body of Christ; in Scripture the words we hear are signs, but the thoughts they carry are the truth of the Son of God.” (Bossuet)
The Word of God at times works beyond our comprehension, almost by itself—ex opere operato, just as we say about sacraments.  There are books more edifying than some biblical books, but none operate like them.  At the height of Augustine's battle for chastity, he read, “Conduct yourself becomingly as in the day, not in reveling, drunkenness, debauchery, licentiousness, quarreling, or jealousy.” He writes, “No further wished I to read, nor was there need to.  Instantly, in truth, at the end of this sentence, as if before a peaceful light streaming into my heart, the shadows of doubt fled" (Confessions) (to be continued)
    • 2 Kgs 5:1-15ab  Leper Naaman set out with gifts and Aram's king's letter to Israel's king to be cured.  Elisha heard; Naaman went to him who asked him to wash in the Jordan, then left angry, but Naaman's servants urged him to wash, and he became clean.  To Elisha:  “Now I know there's no God except in Israel.”
    • Ps 42:2-3; 43:3-4  "Athirst is my soul for the living God.  When shall I go and behold the face of God?" I long for you as the deer for water.  Your light and fidelity shall lead me to your dwelling place; I'll enter and thank you.
    • Lk 4:24-30  Jesus:  "No prophet is accepted in his own place:  Elijah was sent to a widow outside Israel, and Elisha cleansed Syrian Naaman, not Israel's lepers."  In fury they led him to a hill to hurl him down, but he escaped.
      • Creighton:  Jesus infuriates a crowd that had spoken highly of him” and was amazed at his gracious words?  It's easy to betray smug condescension toward Jesus’ townspeople, but ask yourself how US congregations would react if we substituted 'America' for 'Israel' in the gospel.  It's hard to overcome prejudice; note the fundamental insider/outsider tension in Scripture.  Remember our outsiders are often God's insiders....
      • One Bread, One Body:  "The voice of reason":  Naaman's humble servants pleaded and reasoned with him.  Where was the voice of reason to calm the crowd in the Nazareth synagogue?  The disciples and Peter corrected the Sanhedrin. A crowd in Ephesus wanted to kill Paul, but the town clerk reasoned with them and dissuaded them.  An angry crowd planned to kill innocent Susanna because of false testimony , but Daniel reasoned with and calmed the crowd and freed her.  In each case, the voice of reason belonged to a member of the crowd.  Some people like Pharaoh are so stubborn that reason won't persuade them.  Tell people what God commands....
      • Passionist:  Do I hear the Word of God as always comforting or do I sometimes find it upsetting?  If I'm completely at ease in my version of Christianity, I’m probably worshiping a false god.  A prophet may not be accepted in his home town....
      • DailyScripture.net:  "Jesus' power to heal and cleanse":  Jesus praised individuals who put their faith in God, including outsiders (non-Jews and pagans)  such as Naaman.  Ephrem the Syrian tells us that Naaman's miraculous healing prefigures the healing Jesus granted to all through baptism and renewal in the Spirit.  The Lord wants to renew our faith and baptism.  Jesus confronted his townspeople with their indifference and unbelief, rebuking them and complimenting Gentiles who showed more faith.  His praise for "outsiders" offended his people because they were blind to God's plan to redeem all nations.  We all need God's grace and mercy....

      February 28, 2016

      3rd Sun. of Lent

      February 28, 2016:  Third Sunday of Lent

      See 12 connections with today?
      Legend below
      For the psalm
      Pope Francis Angelus
      We can be tempted to discharge responsibility for tragic events on victims, or even God.  But the Gospel invites us to reflect on our idea of ​​God:  “Do we believe God is that way, or is it our projection, a god made in our image?
      Jesus asks us to draw from painful events the warning, "if you don't repent, you'll perish.”  Jesus calls us to change our heart and life, abandoning compromises with evil and by being less hypocritical.  Unfortunately, each of us looks like a tree that's been sterile for years.  Fortunately, Jesus is like the peasant who gets an extension for the barren fig tree.  Take advantage of  this year of grace to repent.

      • Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15  Moses, tending and leading Jethro's flock, came to the mountain of God.  An angel appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush.  Moses, surprised:  “I must go see why the bush isn't burned.”  God / Moses:  “Come no nearer!  You're standing on holy ground.  I am the God of your fathers,”  Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God.  “I've witnessed my people's affliction and heard their cry, so I know what they're suffering.  So I've come to rescue them and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land.” / “But when I tell them, ‘God sent me to you,’ if they ask your name, what shall I tell them?” / “I am who am.  Say, I AM, the Lord sent me to you.  Thus am I to be remembered.”
      • Ps 103: 1-4, 6-8, 11  "The Lord is kind and merciful."  Bless the Lord, who pardons, heals, redeems, crowns you with compassion, secures justice, makes his ways and deeds known...
      • 1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12  Our ancestors passed through the sea and were baptized into Moses.  They drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, the Christ.  Yet God was not pleased with most of them.  All that happened so we might not desire evil things, as they did.  Don't grumble.  If you think you're standing secure, take care not to fall.
      • Lk 13:1-9  People told Jesus about Galileans whose blood Pilate mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.  Jesus:  “Do you think they were greater sinners because they suffered that way?  No!  But if you don't repent, you'll perish like them!  Do you think the people killed when the Siloam tower fell on them were more guilty than  others in Jerusalem?  No!  But if you don't repent, you'll perish like them!  A person with a fig tree who looked for fruit but found none told the gardener to cut it down.  The gardener replied, 'Leave it this year, and I'll cultivate around it and fertilize it; if it doesn't bear fruit later, you can cut it down’”
        • Creighton:  My richest encounters with God come when I open myself up and explore uncomfortable feelings.  From today’s Gospel (re Galileans):  "If you don't repent, you'll perish!"  Jesus describes the process of repentance with the gardener/fig tree parable.  'Cultivate':  to grow or raise something under conditions you can control.  But we're not expected to control everything....
        • One Bread, One Body:  "Dying for some fruit":  If we don't bear fruit, we'll be cut down and thrown into the fire.  We can bear fruit by living in Jesus the Vine and dying to self.  Bearing the fruit of evangelization is not primarily a matter of instruction or persuasion but of dying and living.  In today's First Scrutiny, catechumens are dying to self.  Let's join them in death so we can join them in new life.  Through our Lenten mortification (almsgiving, prayer, fasting), may we die to self and prepare for life and fruitfulness.
        • Passionist:  The parable of the fig tree reminds us of how God’s mercy extends to all creation.  Mercy is bestowed on a fig tree that hasn’t blossomed in years and on Moses and the Israelites.  God’s mercy extends to all of us just as it did to the Galileans and the 18 the tower killed.  We're called to show that mercy to others.  How we have experienced the gift of mercy?  What in me still needs to be freed from the bondage of sin?  We're called to forgive those who have wronged us and ask forgiveness from those we've wronged.  This leads us to growth in love and understanding of what it means to love like Jesus.
        • DailyScripture.net:  "Unless you repent, you'll perish":  The Israelites suffered greatly under the Egyptians over 400 years.  Throughout their exile and suffering, God was faithful, made them strong and numerous, listened to their plea, and raised up Moses for them.  God made his presence and will known to Moses through a burning bush, a sign of God's power to save his people.  The fire demonstrates his purifying love that burns away sin and refashions us in his holiness.  As gold is tested through fire, God purifies and fills his people with the fire of his love.  Jesus warned the people to turn from sin before it was too late.  The real danger Jesus points out is that unexpected disaster or death doesn't give us time to repent.  Jesus warns us to take responsibility for our actions and choices and put sin to death before it can destroy heart, mind, soul, and body.  Now is the time to get right with God.  Tolerating sin results in bad fruit, discipline, spiritual disease, death and destruction.  The Lord gives us grace and the present time to turn from sin.
        • Universalis:  St. Oswald, Benedictine monk, bishop, revived monastic life, celebrated liturgy well, loved the poor.
        Dress legend
        • 'Sheep' tie bar:  Moses was tending Jethro's flock (1st reading)
        • 'Angel' pin:  An angel appeared to Moses... (1st reading)
        • Orange t-shirt (look hard):  ... in fire flaming out of a bush (1st reading)
        • Sandals (not shown), 'precious feet' pin:  Remove the sandals from your feet (1st reading)
        • 'Honey' tie:  I came to rescue my people and lead them into a land flowing with milk and honey. (1st reading)
        • 'Crown' tie bar:  The Lord crowns you with kindness and compassion (psalm)
        • Blue shirt:  Our ancestors passed through the sea (psalm)
        • 'Silverware' tie bar:  Our ancestors all ate the same spiritual food... (2nd reading)
        • 'Rock' tie pin:  ...and drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was the Christ (2nd reading)
        • 'Tree,' 'fruit' pins:  Bush (1st reading); fig tree parable (gospel)
        • Purple St. Bede button:  Lenten season

        February 27, 2016

        Feb. 27

        February 27, 2016:  Saturday, 2nd week, Lent

        See 10 connections with today?
        Legend below

        Pope Francis
        At Cor Unum conference:  Benedict XVI's Deus Caritas Est, about charity, retraces Church history, a story of God's love carried to the world, the fulcrum of the history of the Church and each of us.  Charity includes loving attentiveness towards the other, considering the other as “one with yourself” and desires to share friendship with God.  St. Thérèse said charity is the heart of the Church.  Charity is the first and greatest commandment.
        The Jubilee Year is an opportunity to return to the heart of our life and witness: “God is love.”  He can't be closed in on himself because he's communion, charity is his essence, and charity by nature is communicated.  God associates us with his life of love, and even if we turn away, he goes out to meet us.  This going out, culminating in the Incarnation, is his mercy, how he expresses himself to us sinners; he looks at us and cares for us.  “Jesus’ program is ‘a heart that sees’ where love is needed and acts accordingly.”  Charity and mercy are closely related; they're God’s way of being and acting.
        Our expressions of love reflect God who pours out his love on us.  We're called to witness to his love.  We should look to God's love as a compass before embarking on any activity:  from it we learn how to see our brothers and sisters and the world.  "Where there's love, there's the ability to see."  Only by “remaining in his love” can we understand and love others.
        This charity needs to be reflected in the life of the Church.  Our charitable organizations provide poor people with a dignified life, important because concrete love can make everyone feel loved by the Father and destined for eternal life.  Thanks to all who commit to this challenging mission.  We can all experience the grace of the Jubilee by putting the works of mercy into practice, conjugating “to love” according to Jesus.  We can contribute concretely to the Church's mission to communicate God's love.
        • Ps 103:1-4, 9-12  "The Lord is kind and merciful."  Bless the Lord, who pardons, heals, redeems, crowns, doesn't remain angry or requite our crimes; he's put our transgressions far from us.
        • Lk 15:1-3, 11-32  A man gave his younger son his inheritance; the son left, squandered it, found himself in need, got work tending swine, and returned home to be treated as hired hand.  His father ran to him and prepared a feast for his lost son come back to life.  His brother, faithful all along, became angry...
          • Creighton:  The "prodigal son" grievously offended his father, but the father awaited his return, forgave him,  and threw him a feast.  The father is "prodigal" in his mercy.  The father stands for God the Father, the son for the repentant sinner, the brother for those stuck in judgment.  The compassionate, forgiving Father waits for us to return and is joyful when we do....
          • One Bread, One Body:  "God's heart for the lost":  We rejoice over a sinner's repentance because it's so important to Jesus, who so wants sinners to return that he died to make it possible.  "One who brings a sinner back from his way will save his soul and cancel a multitude of sins."  To lead someone to repentance we must repent ourselves, intercede, and profess the truth in love, and lead them back to Jesus....
          • Passionist:  "God never tires of loving and forgiving":  Sometimes we prefer a stingy God, at least for other people!  Call it the “elder son syndrome” when we get resentful that God extends mercy to all!  Why should we find fault when God is generous or merciful?  God lavishes us with bounteous gifts, with unconditional love.  The father "wasted" his love on a son not mature enough to respond in an adult, loving way.
          • DailyScripture.net:  "Father, I have sinned against heaven and you":  God does not abandon us, even if we turn our backs on him; he keeps calling us back.  Jesus contrasts the father's merciful love with the elder son's harsh reaction to his brother and the party.  The son realized his father had given him love which he hadn't returned; he repented and decided to confess to his father.  The robe, ring, and banquet he received symbolize the new life of those who return to God.  The parable (the longest in the gospels) contrasts mercy and unforgiveness:  the father, who had been wronged, forgave, but the elder son, who had not been wronged, didn't; his resentment led to his isolation and estrangement.  God doesn't lose hope or give up when we stray....
          Dress legend
          • 'Sheep' tie bar:  "Shepherd your flock" (1st reading)
          • 'Crown' tie bar:  The Lord crowns you with kindness and compassion (psalm)
          • 'Abacus' tie pin:  The Father 'divided' the property between his two sons (gospel)
          • 'Pigs' suspenders:  Prodigal son tended the pigs (gospel)
          • 'Musical notes' tie:  Elder son heard sound of music (gospel)
          • 'Cow' pin (still cracked; see here):  Dad killed the fattened calf to celebrate (gospel)
          • Sandals (not shown):  "Put sandals on his feet" (gospel)
          • 'Clock' tie bar:  "I've served you all these years, but you never gave me a feast" (gospel)
          • Purple shirt and button:  Lenten season

          February 26, 2016

          Feb. 26

          February 26, 2016:  Friday, 2nd week, Lent

          How many connections with today can you find?
          Legend below

          RECongress.org includes live stream today
          • Gn 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a  Joseph's brothers plotted to kill him, but Reuben convinced them just to throw him into the cistern.  Then they sold him to the Ishmaelites.
          • Ps 105:16-21  "Remember the marvels the Lord has done."  The Lord sent Joseph, sold as a slave, weighed down and bound till God's word proved him and the king made him master of his house.
          • Mt 21:33-43, 45-46  “A landowner leased a vineyard and went on a journey.  When he sent servants to obtain his produce, the tenants beat or killed them.  Finally, he sent his son, but they killed him too.  What will he do when he returns?” / “Kill the tenants and lease to others.” / “As the stone the builders rejected became the cornerstone, the Kingdom will be taken away from you and given to others to produce fruit.”
            • Creighton:  Today's readings present four stories of rejected ones becoming savior.  Joseph rejected by his brothers, Jesus rejected by the leaders, Is 5:1-12 (vineyard the Lord rejected; Isaiah explains as the people of Israel, led by self-indulgent leaders forgetful of God’s ownership; Jesus applies religious and imperial power-holders), and Ps 118:22 ("The stone the builders rejected became the cornerstone..."; likely originally about the future thriving of Israel, Jesus applied it to the authorities who reject him:  they kill him, but he rises and becomes the foundation of the New Temple, the Church).
            • One Bread, One Body:  "Advanced stages of evil":  In today's readings we see advanced stages of evil:  Jacob's deceptions haunt him when his sons deceive him about Joseph, and Jesus describes rebellion against God's will that will get Jesus killed.  Advanced evil is in our midst too, but the Lord's grace surpasses it; God's power exceeds the evil one's.  If we obey God, we can overcome the stronghold of evil....
            • Passionist:  Today's harsh stories portray humanity with jealous brothers and greedy tenants.  The apparent kindness of Reuben, who wants to throw Joseph into a pit (and save him later), and Judah (who suggests selling Joseph) are sad indictments; saying no to the jealousy wasn't an option.  And who was thinking through the likely outcome of hurting and killing the owner's servants and son?  No one was willing to say no.  If something in life smells rotten, it probably is.  We know when something's not right.  Joseph’s brothers knew killing or selling Joseph was rotten, and some tenants knew they were doing wrong.  May we sharpen our sense of smell so when confronted with a wrong, we'll have the courage to say no.
            • DailyScripture.net:  "The stone the builders rejected":  Joseph's brothers rejected him, but the betrayal resulted in redemption and reconciliation.  Joseph prefigures Jesus, betrayed by one of his own, crucified for our redemption; Jesus reconciled us with a just and merciful God.  Jesus' story about an absentee landlord and his evil tenants would have made sense to his audience:  Galilee had many vineyards, and many owners leased them out.  Jesus' story offended the scribes and Pharisees because of its prophetic message and warning.  They understood the Lord's vineyard as Israel and the story as about God's dealing with a stubborn, rebellious people.  The parable speaks of God's generosity, trust, patience, and justice.  Jesus foretold both his death on the cross and his triumph; he knew he'd be rejected, killed, and glorified.  The Lord blesses us with his kingdom and promises we'll bear fruit if we abide in him.  He entrusts his gifts to us, gives us work to do in his vineyard, and promises our labor won't be in vain if we persevere.  We can expect trials and persecution but will triumph in the end.
            Dress legend
            • 'Blood drop' pin:  “What's to be gained by killing our brother and concealing his blood?" (1st reading) 
            • Multicolored suspenders:  Joseph's coat (1st reading)
            • Silver-colored 'ruler' tie bar:  Joseph fetched 20 pieces of silver (1st reading); the 'ruler' of the peoples set Joseph free (psalm)
            • 'Chain links' tie bar:  Joseph was bound by chains (psalm)
            • Tie with grapes:  Parable of the vineyard (gospel)
            • 'Stone' tie pin:  Tenants stoned one of the owner's servants; the stone the builder rejected became the cornerstone. (gospel)
            • 'Eyeball' pin:  It's wonderful in our eyes (psalm)
            • "Prayer, the original wireless connection" t-shirt:  bought at Congress last year
              • Purple in suspenders:  Lenten season

              February 25, 2016

              Feb. 25

              February 25, 2016:  Thursday, 2nd week, Lent

              • 'Tree' pin:  Those who trust the Lord are like trees...  (1st reading, psalm)
              • 'Fruit' pin:  ...that bear fruit (1st reading, psalm)
              • 'Leaf' pin:  Their leaves stay green (1st reading)
              • 'Girl with heart' pin:  God tests the heart (1st reading)
              • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  The Lord watches the way of the just (psalm)
              • 'Penny pincher' button:  Rich man (gospel)
              • 'Dogs' tie:  Dogs licked Lazarus's sores (gospel)
              • 'Angel' pin:  When Lazarus died, angels carried him to Abraham's bosom (gospel)
              • Purple in shirt and suspenders:  rich man's garb (gospel), Lent (season)




              Pope Francis homily
              Jesus tells of the well-dressed rich man who dined sumptuously but didn't recognize poor Lazarus.  Am I a Christian in name only, on the path of lies, or a Christian on the path of life, of action?  The man knew the commandments and went to the synagogue but was closed in his own world of banquets, clothes, vanity, and friends.  Closed in a vanity bubble; he didn't see others or recognize what happened beyond his world.  He didn’t think of people's needs, of accompanying the sick; he thought only of himself, his wealth, his good life. 
              The poor man is the Lord, who knocks at the door of our heart.  The rich man appeared religious but didn't know the “peripheries” on his doorstep.  He took the way of falsehood; he trusted in himself and his things, not God.  He couldn't receive his inheritance, or live, because he was closed in.  He'd lost his name; it says only he was a rich man.  When your name is an adjective, you've lost substance and strength. Careerism names people with adjectives, not names.  But didn't God, a Father, have mercy on this man?  Didn't he knock on his heart?  Yes; he was at the door, in Lazarus.  Lazarus, with his needs, sorrows, and illnesses, was the Lord knocking, so the man would open his heart and mercy would enter.  But he was closed and didn't see.
              What path are we traveling on?  The road of life, or lies?  How is my heart closed?  Is my joy in doing, or speaking?  In going out of myself to meet and help others?  Works of mercy?  Or is my joy in having everything organized, closed in on myself?’  Ask the Lord for grace to see Lazarus knocking at our door, and grace to go out of ourselves with generosity, with mercy, so God's mercy can enter our hearts.
              Worship in Spirit and Truth:  A spiritual revisitation of Sacrosanctum Concilium Papal preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's 1st Lenten sermon, concluded from yesterday
              Intercessory Prayer
              Intercession is essential to liturgical prayer.  The Church intercedes for itself and the world, for the just and sinners, for the living and dead.  The Spirit wants to animate and strengthen this prayer.  “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; we don't know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us....  according to the will of God.”  The Spirit intercedes for us and teaches us to intercede for others, to unite ourselves, by faith, to the risen Christ who intercedes for the world.  Jesus offers us a sublime example of intercession:  "I am praying... for those you gave me.... Keep them in your name....  Keep them from the evil one. . . . Sanctify them in the truth....  I also pray for those who believe in me through their word."
              God would reward the Suffering Servant because “he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for transgressors.”  This prophecy found fulfillment in Jesus who interceded for those who crucified him.
              The efficacy of intercessory prayer depends on the degree of unity with the attitude of Christ.  Invoking the help of Mary and the saints helps.  Intercessors also multiply when they pray for one another.  "If you pray for yourself, you'll be the only one and will obtain less grace than one who intercedes for others.  If each person prays for everyone, then each is praying for the others.  If you pray for everyone, everyone will pray for you” (Ambrose).
              Intercession is the most unselfish prayer; it reflects divine gratuitousness and is in accord with God's will.”  God is like a father who has the duty to punish but who looks for extenuating circumstances to avoid doing it and is happy when the brothers of the guilty restrain him.  When no brotherly arms are raised, God laments “there was no one; he wondered that there was none to intervene.”  “I sought one to stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.”  The Bible highlights the power of the prayer of a person God has put at the head of his people:  God would have destroyed his people because of the golden calf “had not Moses stood before him....”
              When you sense God is angry with people, take the people's side like Moses did!  God wanted this so he could “abandon the plan of destroying his people.”  But when we're before the people, we need to side with God.  When Moses returned to the people, he expressed his anger.  Only the person who has defended people before God has the right and courage to raise his voice against them in defense of God.
              The text best reflecting the place of the Spirit and the trinitarian orientation in the liturgy:  “Through him, with him, and in him in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen.”
                Fruit-bearing tree (animate)
              • Jer 17:5-10  The one who trusts in people, whose heart turns from God, is like a barren bush.  The one who trusts in the Lord is like a tree beside the waters, bearing fruit despite heat or drought.  God alone tests hearts and rewards everyone according to their deeds.
              • Ps 1:1-4, 6  "Blessed are they who hope in the Lord," those who delight in and meditate on God's law; they're like trees yielding fruit.  But the wicked are like chaff...
              • Lk 16:19-31  Poor Lazarus lay at a rich man's door.  Both died; angels carried Lazarus to Abraham, but the rich man was tormented.  Rich man  / Abraham:  "Take pity; send Lazarus!" / "There's a chasm between us." / "Then send him to my father's house to spare my brothers." / "Let them heed Moses and the prophets." / "But they'd change if one came from the dead." / "Not if they don't heed the law and prophets."

              • Creighton:  Today's parable would have been very much credible in Amos' time.  He condemns Zion's selfish inhabitants, the rich and powerful ignoring the weak, while the people face collapse.  The situation remained in Jesus' time.  We recognize similar situations today, at international, national, and local levels.  The rich man was aware of the beggar's needs but doesn't see the light till he dies.  Do I have a me-first attitude?
              • One Bread, One Body:  "Fasting and listening":  If the rich man's living brothers wouldn't listen to Moses or the prophets, they wouldn't listen to someone who rose from the dead; this can prefigure response to the risen Jesus.  Fasting fosters solidarity with the poor and unites us with the Lord.  When we fast, we empty ourselves to be filled with God.  People separate from the poor are in danger of separation from the Lord....

                Притча о Лазаре (The parable of Lazarus)
              • Passionist:  "Wealth, poverty, and freedom":  Jesus wants us to be free.  Freedom is the key to the question of poverty and wealth.  If we're attached to things, we can lose our freedom.  Destitution can also be a problem, making it hard to have time and mind to worship and be concerned for others.  How free are we?  Are we satisfied with moderation?  What do we pray for?  How generous do we help others?  May we move beyond selfish motivation to reaching out to the needy....
              • DailyScripture.net:  "Lazarus was carried to Abraham's bosom":  Whoever relies on God won't be disappointed or be in need; God will not only be their consolation, hope, and joy.  Jesus' parable makes a similar point.  Lazarus was not only poor, sick, and unable to fend for himself.  Dogs symbolized contempt; enduring their torment added to the poor man's sufferings.  The rich man treated the beggar with contempt and indifference till he died and found their fortunes reversed.  Those who cling to what they have lose it, while those who share receive more than they give.  'Lazarus' ('God is my help') didn't lose hope in God; he kept his eyes on heavenly treasure.  But the rich man didn't see beyond his possessions to others' needs or God.  He served wealth, not God, and became a beggar himself.
                • St. Ethelbert, king, convert
                • Bl. Maria Adeodata Pisani, religious