February 23, 2016

Feb. 23

February 23, 2016:  Tuesday, 2nd week, Lent

  • Tie with red and snowmen:  Though your sins be like scarlet/crimson, they may become white as snow (1st reading)
  • 'Sword' tie pin:  If you refuse and resist, the sword shall consume you (1st reading)
  • 'Scales of justice' pin:  make justice your aim (1st reading)
  • Blue shirt:  wash yourselves clean! (1st reading)
  • White tie pin:  your sins may become white (1st reading)
  • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

Pope Francis homily
The Lord teaches us the way of doing.  How often do we find people, ourselves included, who say they're Catholic but don't act accordingly, like parents who don't talk with, play with, or listen to their children, or people who don't visit their parents in a nursing home?
The way of saying and not doing is a deception.  Isaiah's words indicate what pleases God:  “Cease to do evil; do good; relieve the oppressed; do right by the orphan; plead for the widow.”  It also shows God's mercy:  “Come, let's talk it over:  though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”
To be a Christian means to do:  to do God's will.  On our last day, the Lord will ask what we did.  God will call us to account for what we've done to the hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, strangers.  Mere talk leads to vanity, the empty pretense of being Christian.  Lord, teach us the way of doing, and help us to go down that way.
Worship in Spirit and Truth:  A spiritual revisitation of Sacrosanctum Concilium Papal preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's 1st Lenten sermon, continued from yesterday

The place of the Holy Spirit in the liturgy
Sacrosanctum concilium arose from a felt need for a renewal of Catholic liturgy.  It has had much fruit and has been beneficial for the Church.  Less felt then was the need to look at “the spirit of the liturgy,” which I'd call “the liturgy of the Spirit.”  Sacrosanctum concilium devoted only a brief initial text to it:
"Christ associates the Church with himself in this great work wherein God is glorified and people sanctified.  The Church is his Bride who calls to her Lord and through him offers worship to the Father, so the liturgy is rightly considered an exercise of the priestly office of Christ.  In it, our sanctification is signified by signs perceptible to the senses and effected in a way corresponding with each sign; the public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, Head and members.  So every liturgical celebration, because it's an action of Christ the priest and his Body the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others."
Today we see a lacuna in the subjects in the liturgy mentioned.  It only highlights two:  Christ and the Church, not the Holy Spirit.  In the rest of the constitution, the Holy Spirit is never directly spoken about but is only obliquely mentioned here and there.
Revelation indicates for us the order and the complete number of the liturgical actors when it summarizes Christian worship: “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’”  Jesus had already expressed the nature and innovation in worship the New Covenant would establish in his dialogue with the Samaritan woman:  “True worshippers will worship... in spirit and truth.”  In John's vocabulary, “spirit and truth” can mean either the “Spirit of truth” (the Holy Spirit) or the spirit of Christ who is truth.  It's a matter of going from human to divine, not external to internal.
We can learn of Christian liturgy by looking at how Jesus exercised his priesthood.  A priest offers prayers and sacrifices to God.  The Spirit placed the cry “Abba!” in the incarnate Word:  “He rejoiced in the Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth....’”  The offering of his body on the cross occurs “through the eternal Spirit.”
“The way to divine knowledge ascends from Spirit through the Son to the Father; [conversely] goodness, holiness, and dignity reach from the Father through the Son to the Spirit” (Basil); i.e. on the level of coming forth of creatures from God, everything comes from the Father, goes through the Son, and reaches us through the Spirit, and in the return of creatures to God, everything begins with the Spirit, goes through the Son, and ends with the Father.  “Just as divine gifts descend to us from the Father, through the Son and Spirit, or in the Spirit,... so through the Spirit to the Son, and through the Son to the Father human gifts ascend” (Isaac of Stella).
It's a question of safeguarding the liturgy's trinitarian dynamic.  Silence about the Spirit dilutes its trinitarian character.  "Wrought in us by the Spirit, this reciprocity [in prayer] opens us, through and in Christ, to contemplation of the Father.  Learning this Trinitarian shape of prayer and living it, in the liturgy... and in personal experience, is the secret of vital Christianity..." (John Paul II, Novo millennio ineuente) (continued tomorrow)
  • Is 1:10, 16-20  Wash yourselves clean!  Cease doing evil; learn to do good.  Make justice your aim.  Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white.  If you obey, you'll eat well...
  • Ps 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21, 23  "To the upright I will show the saving power of God."  Why recite my statutes when you hate discipline?  I'll correct you.  Offer praise as your sacrifice and do right.
  • Mt 23:1-12  Do what the Scribes and Pharisees tell you, not what they do; they don't practice what they preach.  Don't be called ‘Rabbi’ or ‘Master’ or call people ‘Father’; God is the only Father.  Serve; humble yourself and be exalted.
    • Creighton:  The 1st reading is an offer of reconciliation and a threat of chastisement.  Sandwiched between the first verse and the rest of the reading was a criticism of the leaders similar to the one in the Gospel.  Symbolic actions without a change of heart don't bring us closer to God.  The psalm condemns religious hypocrisy; the omitted verses include another offer of reconciliation (and threat).  No change of heart, no salvation.  In the gospel Jesus criticizes the Pharisees' hypocrisy and presents the model of the servant leader.  What matters is what's in the heart.  Bring order to your inner being, then let your actions flow from there. It's the theme of the Year of Mercy and of Lent.  Identify what brings you closer to God and your true self, and examine the impediments, the junk we've collected along the way.  Lord, forgive me for my bad choices, help me remake my heart, and guide me.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Be reconciled to God":  The Pharisees and Sadducees had hearts for their own honor.  Jesus wept over them and chastised them for the pride that misled them.  God's plan is to touch the sinners' hearts with love.  May we humble ourselves before the Lord....
    • Passionist:  Jesus advised the people to listen to the scribes and Pharisees and do and observe what they tell you, but not to follow their example, for they don't practice what they preach.  They pointed out to people what they were doing wrong but didn't help them.  If Jesus lifted our burden of sin and freed our burden of fear, we should lift people up and help them carry their burdens, not impose them.  May we live by Jesus' example and be a servant to all.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "If you humble yourself, you'll be exalted":  We want others to see us at our best, but God sees us as we are, always in need of his mercy, help, and guidance.  Isaiah warned Sodom and Gomorrah to submit to God's teaching.  Jesus warned the scribes and Pharisees to teach and serve their people with humility and sincerity.  In their misguided zeal for religion, they sought recognition and honor for themselves rather than God and made the practice of faith a burden rather than a joy for those they were supposed to serve.  Respect for God inclines us to humble ourselves and to submit to him.  God can't teach us unless we listen and obey.  Scripture often warns about the danger of pride.
    "You have one teacher, and you are all brothers... Those who minister God's word don't put themselves forward to be called teacher; they know that when they perform well, it's Christ within them.  He should only call himself servant:  'Whoever is greater among you, let him be the servant of all'" (Origen).
      Humility frees us from preoccupation with ourselves, vs. low self-esteem which focuses attention on ourselves.  Humility is truth in self-understanding and action, seeing ourselves as God sees us; it's the foundation of the other virtues because it enables us to see and judge correctly.  Humility helps us to be teachable and to give ourselves to something bigger, to love and serve for others' sake, not our own.

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