March 17, 2016


March 17, 2016:  Thursday, 5th week, Lent / St. Patrick

  • 'Scroll' pin:  God's covenant with Abraham (1st reading, psalm)
  • 'Olympics' pin:  I'm making you father of a host of nations (1st reading)
  • 'Crown' tie bar:  Kings shall stem from you (1st reading)
  • 'Stone' tie pin:  They picked up stones to throw at him (gospel)
  • 'Shamrocks' tie, green beads, and green shirt for St. Patrick
  • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

For St. Patrick
For today's readings
Pope Francis homily
Abraham had temptations along the path of hope but believed and obeyed the Lord and so set out on the journey to the promised land.  A “thread of hope” joins the story of salvation, a “font of joy.”  The Church speaks to us of the joy of hope.  We pray to remain in the hope of the Church, because it never fails.  Abraham believed against all hope.  When there's no human hope, hope carries us forward and gives joy and peace.
This “joy of Abraham” grows throughout history; sometimes we see it, sometimes not.  Elizabeth rejoiced at Mary's visit; it's the joy of God's presence, and where there's joy, there's peace.  Hope never disappoints, not even in times of slavery.
The “thread of hope” begins with Abraham, who spoke with God, and ends with Jesus.  Hope flows under the water of life; it bears us up so we don’t drown in difficulties and lose the desire to find God.  The God who called Abraham and made him leave his land without knowing where he was going, is the God who goes to the Cross to fulfill the promise he made, and the God who ensured the promise would become a reality.  What unites that first moment to this one is the thread of hope.  Hope unites my Christian life to our Christian life, from one moment to another, to go forward.  Hope gives us peace in dark moments.  Hope is always there:  silent, humble, but strong.
    'Shamrock' word cloud using Celtic Hand font
  • Gn 17:3-9  God to Abram:  “I am making you the father of nations.  Kings shall stem from you.  I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants forever, to be your God.  I will give you the whole land of Canaan.  You must keep my covenant throughout the ages.”
  • Ps 105:4-9  "The Lord remembers his covenant for ever."  Look to and serve the Lord, our God.  You, his servants, his chosen, recall his wondrous deeds!
  • Jn 8:51-59  Jesus / Jews:  “Whoever keeps my word won't see death.” / “You're possessed.  Abraham and the prophets died; are you greater?” / “God my Father glorifies me.  I know him and keep his word.” / “You've seen Abraham?” / “Before Abraham, I AM.” / They picked up stones to throw at him, but he left.
    St. Patrick
    • Pope Francis:  We commemorate St. Patrick, apostle of Ireland.  His spiritual stamina stirs you, dear young people, to be consistent with your faith; his trust in Christ the Savior sustains you, dear sick and infirm people, in times of difficulty; and his missionary dedication reminds you, dear newlyweds, of the importance of the Christian education of your children. 
    • Universalis:  Patrick, missionary bishop, Ireland patron saint, remembered for simplicity and pastoral care, humble trust in God, and fearless preaching to those who enslaved him in youth; see also Catholic Encyclopedia.

      • Creighton:  Would I have believed Jesus if I'd been there when he responded, “Before Abraham came to be, I AM”?  Or would I have picked up a stone to throw at him?  We can still choose to pick up stones to throw at him, or believe him....
      • One Bread, One Body:  "The Word's word":  Jesus's words are "living and effective" and "spirit and life"; if we keep them, we'll "never see death."  Read, pray, share, love, live, and obey God's word, and "pray that it may make progress and others hail it."
        God's covenant with Abraham, referencing Gn 17:1;
        God and Abraham link today's readings
      • Passionist:  A promise is a reaching out from one person to another; the Latin means 'sending forth.'   Promises are at the heart of families (e.g. marriage vows), nation-building (e.g. pledge of allegiance), and economic stability (e.g. that currency will have value).  God took the initiative in making promises to us, as we hear in the 1st reading in his promise to Abraham.  In today's gospel Jesus tells the Jews that he IS before Abraham.  He fulfills the promise God made to Abraham.  God's promise unfolds and assumes various forms.  Lent is a time to refine our sensitivity to and awareness of it working itself out in our lives.  The Jews didn't  recognize the Abrahamic promise in the man before them.  We too can fail to identify Jesus in the ways he comes to us:  sacraments, scripture, people....   May our eyes be opened and cleansed so we may see....
      •  "Before Abraham was, I am":  Jesus made a claim only God can make:  "if you keep my word, you'll never see death."  "He saw another death from which he came to free us:  the second death, eternal death, the death of hell, the death of the damned, which is shared with the devil and his angels!  This is the real death; the other kind of death is only a passage" (Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John 43.10-11).  God offered Abraham an "everlasting covenant."  Jesus came to fulfill it so we could know and be united with God.  Jesus challenged the Israelites to accept his word as the revelation of God; his claim challenged their belief and understanding.  Jesus claimed unique knowledge of and obedience to God the Father.  In Jesus we see what God wants us to know and be.  Jesus identified himself as "I AM," timeless, as only God is.  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."  The eternal God became a man for our sake, for our salvation; he made it possible for us to share his immortality.

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