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

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