February 21, 2016

2nd Sun. of Lent

February 21, 2016:  Second Sunday of Lent

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Pope Francis
Angelus re Mexico visit:  My journey to Mexico was an experience of transfiguration, where “the Lord showed his glory through the body of his Church, his holy People.  The focus of my pilgrimage was the visit to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I reflected on the love and compassion the Virgin has for those who come to her with their sorrows.  They come to pray at the place where the Virgen Morenita showed herself to Juan Diego, starting the evangelization of the continent.  The Lord gave Mexico the heritage to guard the riches of diversity and manifest the harmony of the common faith.  I went to Mexico to confirm their faith and to be confirmed by them from their testimony of lived life-changing faith.
Post-Angelus re death penalty:  All people of good will are called to work for the abolition of the death penalty and to improve prison conditions, out of respect for prisoners' human dignity.  Government leaders, listen to your conscience and join the international consensus for the abolition of the death penalty.  Catholic leaders, don't carry out any death sentences during the Year of Mercy.
Growing opposition to the death penalty is a sign of hope.  Modern society can fighting crime without definitively taking from criminals the possibility of redemption. Capital punishment belongs in the context of a system of justice that conforms to the dignity of the human person and God's design for society.  "Thou shalt not kill" has absolute value, and concerns both the innocent and the guilty.  Even criminals have the inviolable right to life, the gift of God.
In flight after Mexico visit: 
Q: A US presidential candidate says you're a man of politics or even even a pawn in the Mexican government's hands to favor an immigration policy.  He would build a wall along the Mexico-US border and deport illegal immigrants.  What do you think? 
 Thank God he says I'm a politician; human beings are political animals!  A person who thinks only of building walls and not bridges is not Christian....
Q: The encounter with Russian patriarch Kirill and the signing of the Joint Declaration was acclaimed as a historic step.  But Greek Catholics in Ukraine feel betrayed, speaking of a document supporting Russian policy.  
A:  The document is open to discussion.  Ukraine is in a time of war, of suffering.  Ukrainian Catholic archbishop Shevchuk said many faithful feel Rome betrayed them.  It's understandable that a people in that situation feels that way.  The document says the war is to stop and the conflict to be managed through agreements.  I've expressed my hope that the Minsk Accords go ahead, and that what the hand wrote the elbow won't cancel out.  We always say, "Seek peace."
Q: Italian parliament is discussing the law on civil unions...
A:  I told the Italian bishops they're on their own with the Italian government.  The Pope is for everybody and can't get involved in a country's internal politics.  What I think is what the Church thinks and has often said.
Q: There's great concern about the Zika virus.  Some have proposed abortion, or avoiding pregnancy.  Can the Church consider the concept of 'the lesser of two evils' regarding pregnancy avoidance?
A:  Abortion isn't the lesser of two evils; it's a crime, an absolute evil.  On avoiding pregnancy, we speak in terms of a conflict between the 5th and 6th commandments.  In a difficult situation in Africa, Paul VI permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape.  Don't confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion.  Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil.  In certain cases, it's clear.  I urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against  this disease.
Q: How can a Church that claims to be merciful forgive a murderer more easily than one who's divorced and remarried? 
A: The post-Synod document  reviews what the Synod said on conflicts, wounded families, and pastoral care of wounded families. We're concerned about that, and marriage preparation, which the Church hasn't  valued enough.  There was a habit, casamiento de apuro, marriage in haste because of unplanned pregnancy, to protect the family's honor.  The spouses were not free; often the marriage is null.  I forbade my priests to celebrate it.  Let the baby come; let them continue as fiancés, and when they feel they can continue the rest of their lives, they could go ahead.  Another interesting chapter is the education of children, the victims of family problems.  At the meeting with families in Tuxtla, a couple in second union was integrated in the Church's pastoral ministry.  We must integrate wounded families and remarried couples in the life of the Church and not forget the children in the middle....
Q: Can they receive Communion?
A: Integrating doesn't mean receiving communion.  All doors are open, but we can't say they can from here on.  It would also be an injury to marriage, to the couple, because it wouldn't allow them to proceed on the integration path.  The Tuxtla couple was happy:  "We do not receive Eucharistic communion, but we receive communion when we visit hospitals, in service, and so forth." 
Q: The media has referred to the intense correspondence John Paul II and Ana Teresa Tymieniecka.  Can a Pope have an intimate relationship with a woman?
A: A man who doesn't know how to have a friendship with a woman is missing something.  Friendship with a woman is not a sin.  The Pope is a man; he needs women's input.  The Pope also has a heart that can have a healthy, holy friendship with a woman.  There are saint-friends:  Francis and Clare, Teresa and John of the Cross. Women are still not well considered; we haven't understood the good they can do for the life of priests and of the church in the sense of counsel, help, and friendship.
Q: Italy's parliament is considering a law about same-sex unions.  What position must a Catholic parliamentarian take?
 Every Catholic parliamentarian must vote according their well-formed conscience.  With regard to persons of the same sex, it's in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Q: When are you going to Argentina?  China?
A: I'd love to go to China!  Mexico is a population with great wealth, a culture that goes back millennia.  They have great faith.  They've suffered religious persecution.  There are martyrs, and I'll now canonize two of them.  You can't easily explain them.  A nation that still has this vitality can be explained only by Guadalupe.  Study the facts about Guadalupe.
  • Gn 15:5-12, 17-18  Lord / Abram:  “Your descendants shall be as numerous as the stars.”  Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as righteousness.  “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur to give you this land.” / “How will I know?” / “Bring me a heifer, a she-goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a pigeon.” / He did.  Birds swooped down on the carcasses, but he stayed.  A trance fell upon him.  A fire pot and torch passed between the pieces.  The Lord made a covenant with Abram:  “To your descendants I give this land.”
  • Ps 27:1, 7-9, 13-14  "The Lord is my light and my salvation."  Whom should I fear?  Hear my call; have pity on me.  I seek you.  I believe I'll see the Lord's bounty.  Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted.
  • Phil 3:17—4:1  Imitate me.  Many conduct themselves as enemies of the cross, headed for destruction; their God is their belly, and their minds are occupied with earthly things.  But we're citizens of heaven and await a Savior who will change our body to conform with his.  So stand firm in the Lord.
  • Lk 9:28b-36  Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up to pray.  His face changed, his clothing became dazzling white, and Moses and Elijah were conversing with him.  Peter and his companions woke up and saw his glory and the men.  Peter told Jesus, “Master, it's good we're here; let's make three tents....”  A cloud cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened.  A voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son; listen to him.”  Then Jesus was alone....
    • Creighton:  I need comfort, an assurance of the Lord's love for me.  Nothing is more comforting than being known and loved as we are.  I need to remember how much he loves me.  The Transfiguration a moment of comfort Jesus offered his disciples to prepare them for what was ahead.  "He revealed his glory in the presence of chosen witnesses... that the scandal of the Cross might be removed from his disciples' hearts and that he might show how in the Body of the Church is to be fulfilled what shone forth first in its Head" (Transfiguration Preface).  "After he had told the disciples of his coming Death,... he manifested to them his glory, to show, even by the testimony of the law and the prophets, that the Passion leads to the... Resurrection" (today's Preface).  If I'm renewed in a sense of Jesus' love for me, I'll be more renewed than by anything I might do on my own.  Renewed, I'll be freer to love, forgive, reach out in mercy, and accompany and comfort others.
      Преображение (Transfiguration)/ Ivanov
    • One Bread, One Body:  "An in-tents experience" [groan]:  God accompanied the Israelites during their years in the desert, dwelling in the Meeting Tent.  When it was time to go on, the Lord rose in a cloud over the Meeting Tent.  When the cloud moved, the people packed up the tent and followed the cloud; when it stopped, they pitched the tent, and God descended to dwell in it in their midst.  God's presence on Mount Horeb prefigures his presence on Transfiguration Mountain, and the cloud in the Meeting Tent prefigures God's presence at the Transfiguration.  The Old Covenant, represented by Moses (lawgiver) and Elijah (prophet), joins the New (Jesus).  Peter wanted to erect tents, but he didn't need them to enter God's Presence; he was already standing in it inside the new transfigured Meeting Tent and cloud. Standing with feet on earth and heads in God's Presence, the apostles were no longer set upon the things of the world (2nd reading).  At Mass we're like the apostles on the mountain....
    • Passionist:  "Righteousness of faith":  Faith is God's gift that makes Jesus visible to us as he was transfigured before the apostles; it's the torch by which we see Christ in the world.  Without it we can't embrace the living Christ.   Faith is our eyes and hands by which we encounter Christ.  The erosion of faith has wreaked unimaginable damage.  If faith made Abraham righteous, it's no wonder that its forfeiture causes so much heartbreak and disaster.
      New banners at our parish
      (1 of 2)
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Jesus transfigured in glory":  Faith enables us to see what the eye can't.  Through faith Abraham recognized God and his call.  Abraham is the father of faith because he hoped in God's promises.  Faith gives us a taste of God's glory.  When the disciples saw Jesus transfigured. Jesus' face changed and his clothing became dazzling white.  When Moses met with God on Sinai his skin shone because he had been talking with God.  The Israelites couldn't look at Moses' face because of its brightness.  Jesus appeared in glory with lawgiver Moses and great prophet Elijah in the presence of his beloved apostles Peter, James, and John.  Jesus went up knowing the cross awaited him.  The Father glorified Jesus because he obeyed.  The cloud fulfilled the Jews' dream that when the Messiah came, the cloud of God's presence would fill the temple.  Jesus wants to share this glory with us.  He shows us the way:  follow him.  Jesus went to Calvary so Paradise would be restored to us; he embraced the cross to obtain the crown of glory, a crown that awaits us if we follow him.
    "When he is transfigured, his face shines as the sun that he may be manifested to the children of light who have put off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light... and walk honestly as in the day.  Being manifest, he will shine unto them... as the sun of righteousness" (Origen)
    Peter, James, and John didn't discover the transfigured Jesus till they awoke.  How much do we miss of God's glory and action because we're asleep spiritually?  Mental lethargy, an "unexamined life," a life of ease, prejudice, or sorrow can keep us asleep till we get past it.  We, like Peter, James, and John, are called to be witnesses of Jesus' glory.
    Dress legend
    On the other side
    • 'Star' tie pin:  “Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars.” (1st reading)
    • 'Bird' tie pin:  Birds of prey swooped down... (1st reading)
    • 'Scroll' pin:  The Lord made a covenant with Abram (1st reading); our citizenship is in heaven (2nd reading)
    • 'Phone' tie bar:  "Lord, answer my call" (psalm)
    • 'Girl with heart' pin:  My heart speaks of you; be stouthearted (psalm)
    • 'Clock' tie bar:  Wait for the Lord with courage (psalm); we await a Savior (2nd reading)
    • 'Cross' pin:  Many conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ (2nd reading)
    • 'Crown' tie bar:  My brothers and sisters, my joy and my crown, stand firm (2nd reading)
    • Tie with clouds:  A cloud came and cast a shadow over them (gospel)
    • White shirt (and socks):  Jesus' clothes became dazzling white (gospel)
    • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

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