February 24, 2016

Feb. 24

February 24, 2016:  Wednesday, 2nd week, Lent

  • 'Hand' tie pin:  Into your hands I commend my spirit; in your hands is my destiny (psalm); the Son will be handed over... (gospel)
  • 'Crucifix' pin:  ...to be crucified (gospel)
  • 'Cups' tie:  "Can you drink from my cup?” (gospel)
  • 'Ruler' tie bar:  "The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them" (gospel)
  • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season
Scripture shows that wealth and power serve the common good if used in accordance with the demands of justice, charity, and mercy.  Used selfishly and arrogantly, they become a source of corruption and death, as in the Naboth story.  (St. Ambrose's slim book on Naboth is pertinent and helpful Lenten reading. It's a story of the powerful who exploit the poor, who exploit people for their own gain.  It's the story of human trafficking, of slave labor, of poor people who work for a pittance "under the table" to enrich the powerful, of corrupt politicians.  It's about current events.)  We show our greatness not by domineering but by humbly serving one another.  Just as the Lord sent Elijah to call Ahab to repentance, he sent his Son to show the power of his mercy.  Jesus is King, whose saving power is shown in the cross.  Ask him to draw near to sinners, show his mercy, and redeem situations of injustice through his grace and forgiveness.
Worship in Spirit and Truth:  A spiritual revisitation of Sacrosanctum Concilium Papal preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's 1st Lenten sermon, continued from yesterday
Worship “in the Spirit”
The Spirit doesn't authorize arbitrary forms or modifications of the liturgy but renews and gives life to all expressions of the liturgy.  The Spirit doesn't do new things; he makes things new!  “The Spirit gives life” applies to the liturgy.
Paul exhorted us to pray “in the Spirit,” letting Jesus continue to exercise his priestly office in his body, the Church, extending to the body of the prayer of the Head.  "Christ prays for and in us and is prayed to by us.  He prays for us as our priest; he prays in us as our Head; and he is prayed to by us as our God.  Let us recognize him in our words and recognize his words in us" (Augustine).
Liturgy appears as a “work of God”; it has God as its object and subject.  God is prayed to by us and prays in us.  Our cry “Abbà!” from the Spirit in us demonstrates that the one who prays in us is Jesus, Son of God.  The Spirit on his own can't address God as “Abbà, Papa,” because he's not “begotten” from the Father but rather “proceeds” from him; he can because he's the Spirit of Christ who prays in us.
When prayer becomes a struggle, we discover the Spirit's great importance for our prayer.  The Spirit becomes the strength of our “weak” prayer, the light of our lifeless prayer; he becomes the soul of our prayer.  He “waters what is dry” (Veni Sancte Spiritus).  It happens by faith.  It's enough for me to say, “Father, you've given me the Spirit of Jesus; in one Spirit with Jesus, I pray this psalm, celebrate Mass, or am silent in your presence.  I want to give you the glory and joy that Jesus would have given you if he were still on earth praying to you.”  The Spirit gives life to worship, the only sentiment we can foster toward God alone.  It distinguishes latria (homage owed to God) from dulia (reverence for saints) and hyperdulia (veneration of Mary).
Christian worship is also trinitarian.  It is trinitarian both in how it's carried out (to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit”) and in its goal (“to the Father, to the Son, and to the Spirit”).  For Card. Pierre de Bérulle, Christ is the perfect worshipper of the Father, to whom we need to unite ourselves to worship God with infinite value:  “From eternity there was an adorable God but not an infinite worshipper....  Jesus, you are now that worshipper, that man, that servant infinite in power, quality, and dignity, and who satisfies that duty and renders that homage.”  Vatican II didn't give enough attention to the Spirit's role.  Bérulle describes the “royal court” that follows and accompanies the Word:  Mary, John the Baptist, the apostles, the saints.  What's missing is the recognition of the Spirit's unique role.
Basil reminds us that returning to God begins with the Spirit, goes through the Son, and ends with the Father.  We need to recognize the Spirit's essential role in our coming forth from and returning to God.  The gulf between us and Jesus is filled by the Spirit; without him the liturgy is only remembrance; with him it's also presence.  God showed Moses a cleft in the rock where he could hide himself to contemplate God’s glory without perishing. What's our cleft, where we can take refuge to adore God?  “It's in the Spirit!  Jesus said, ‘True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth’” (Basil).  What perspective, beauty, power, and attraction this confers on Christian worship!  In the vortex of this world, who doesn't feel the need to hide in that cleft to adore God like Moses did? (concluded tomorrow)
Can you drink from the chalice?

  • Jer 18:18-20  “Let's plot against Jeremiah, noting his words to destroy him by his own tongue.”  Heed me, Lord, and listen to my adversaries.  Must good be repaid with evil?  Remember I spoke to you on their behalf to deflect your wrath.
  • Ps 31:5-6, 14-16  "Save me, O Lord, in your kindness."  You'll free me from their snare.  Into your hands I commend my spirit.  They're plotting to take my life, but I trust in you.
  • Mt 20:17-28  Jesus to the Twelve, “The Son of Man will be condemned to death, mocked, scourged, crucified, and raised.”  Mother of Zebedee's sons:  “Command that my sons will sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”  Jesus / James and John:  “Can you drink the chalice I'm going to drink?” / “We can.” / “You will, but sitting at my side is for those my Father prepared for it.”  Jesus, when the others got indignant:  “Don't be like rulers who make their authority felt.  Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant.  The Son of Man came to serve and to give his life as ransom for many.”
    • Creighton:  Jeremiah was to be caught up in betrayal by those whose case he pled.  Jesus reminds the disciples that betrayal, death, and resurrection are ahead.  But even then, human jealousy arose.  Betrayal hurts even more when the betrayers are part of our group, or people we've helped.  Pray over those feelings of loss of confidence in, and resentment toward our betrayers.  Jesus confronts the jealousy among his followers by teaching them they must see themselves in the others' shoes, body, and existence.  Pray over the times we've felt jealous....  The psalm reminds us our freedom from jealousy and betrayal lies in the Lord; the Lord's path will lead us to peace.  May I turn my frustrations with betrayals to charity to the betrayer, and my jealousy into desire for the others to experience God's love.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Drop the subject":  Like James and John, many of us aren't interested in the cross, more concerned about what we want than what the Lord wants.  Yet Jesus insists we get our minds off ourselves and on the cross.  If we're going to communicate with Jesus, we'll have to let Jesus be Lord of our conversation.  Jesus refuses to drop the subject of the cross, but we can drop the subject of ourselves....
    • Passionist:  Jeremiah's desire to change minds and hearts to benefit all is met with evil plots.  He pleads that God not be wrathful toward the plotters.  Jesus encounters the humanity of Mrs. Zebedee and her sons:  ambition, misunderstanding of Jesus, jealousy.  May we be attentive to who Jesus is for us and what he asks of us....
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Can you drink Christ's cup?"  When your goals and ambitions are at odds with God's, whose prevails?  Jeremiah spoke on God's behalf but met opposition and threats for it.  Jesus also met opposition from those who opposed his authority to speak and act in God's name.  After Jesus had prophesied his death on the cross, the James and John's mother asked for special status for them.  We too want to get ahead and be served first.  Jesus responds saying the only way to advance in God's kingdom is through obedience.  Jesus surrendered his will to the Father's.  The other disciples were resentful about what James and John had done.  Jesus called the twelve together and said power and position are for service.  Authority, without love oriented toward others' good of others, becomes self-serving.  Jesus reverses the world's values and thinking:  to be great, serve; to be first, be a slave.  In the ancient world, servants were compelled to serve their masters; they had no choice.  Jesus' model of servanthood is based on personal choice and freedom:  choice to put others first, freedom to serve them with compassion.  Again, Jesus is the example....  "Can I drink Jesus' cup" of sacrificial service?  What kind of cup does the Lord have in mind for me:  martyrdom?  daily sacrifices of Christian life? 

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