May 19, 2016

May 19

May 19, 2016:  Thursday, 7th week, Ordinary Time


  • Light of the world, from Godspell/ Schwartz ("If that salt has lost its flavor, it ain't got much in its favor"); more, with another version (gospel)
Pope Francis homily
The 1st reading warns the rich who accumulate wealth by exploiting people. Riches in themselves are good, but they're relative, not absolute goods.  Followers of the prosperity gospel—God shows you you're just by giving you riches—are mistaken. The problem is attachment to wealth, because “You can't serve both God and riches.”  Riches become chains that take away your freedom to follow Jesus.  “The wages you withheld are crying aloud; and the harvesters' cries have reached the Lord's ears.”
Rich people who exploit others take advantage of people's work, making them slaves.  It happens all over.  “I'll make you a contract, from September to June.” Without pension, without health care.  In July and August you have to eat air....  Those who do that are bloodsuckers; they live by spilling the blood of those they enslave.
Rich people, he said, grow fat on their riches, but they've fattened their hearts for the day of slaughter.  The blood you sucked and lived on is a cry to the Lord for justice.  Exploiting people is slavery.  It's in our cities; traffickers treat working people without justice.
Yesterday we meditated on the rich glutton and Lazarus; the rich man was in his own world, not seeing the starving man outside his door.  But this is worse:  he left the man to die of hunger, but these people starve workers and profit from it!  Living on people's blood is a mortal sin; it takes a great deal of penance, of restitution, to be converted from it.  No one can take their riches with them.
Consider today's trafficking:  not just those who deal in prostitutes and child labor, but what might be called “civilized”:  profiting from treating workers unfairly.  May the Lord make us understand the simplicity that Jesus speaks to us:  a glass of water in Christ's name is more important than riches accumulated through exploiting people.

  • Jas 5:1-6  You rich, wail over your impending miseries.  The wages you withheld are crying out; the cries  have reached the Lord.  You've murdered the righteous one.
  • Ps 49:14-20  "Blessed are the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!"  Fear not when one grows rich; when he dies, he'll take none of it.  God will redeem me.
  • Mk 9:41-50  Anyone who gives you water because you belong to me won't lose his reward.  If your hand, foot, or eye causes you to sin, cut it off; better to live without it than be thrown into the fire.  Keep salt in yourselves and you'll have peace with each other.
      St. Dunstan
    • One Bread, One Body:  "How much hell?"  Years ago, preachers and others talked about hell, but now many deny or de-emphasize it.  How much "hell" should we give people, i.e., how often should we seriously mention hell?  Perhaps as often as Jesus does:  he spoke of his Father, the Kingdom, and the cross more but did speak of "Gehenna's unquenchable fire" in today's gospel, and elsewhere of Hades/the netherworld where people are tortured in flames, and of eternal punishment in the fiery furnace.  May we fix our eyes on Jesus, not hell or anything else, but still be conscious of hell....
    • Passionist:  We all face sin and temptation, but we're not alone.  God has overcome sin and death!  Life comes at a cost to our sinful selves. Living a faithful and committed Christian life isn't easy.  How we want to live, and be remembered, is pretty much up to us:  we can decide whether to live a virtuous life; we're not prisoners of our environment.  We can aspire to a life of virtue and good deeds.  Our kind and merciful God gives us the grace and faith community to help us deny ourselves and take up our cross.
    •  "If your hand or eye causes you to sin":   God's love purifies us and compels us to express kindness and charity towards others created in God's image.  The charity we show our neighbors in need expresses our gratitude to God.  Jesus never refused to give to anyone in need who asked for his help; we're called to be kind and generous like him.  "God never asks his servants to do the impossible.  His love and goodness are richly available, poured out like water upon all.  God furnishes to each person the ability to do something good.  No one seeking salvation will lack this ability, given by the one who said, 'whoever gives you a cup of water because you bear Christ's name, will not lose his reward'" (Gregory of Nyssa, On the Christian Mode of Life 8.1).  Jesus set before his disciples the supreme goal of God and his will for us.  We must be ready to part with anything that causes us to sin.  Jesus warns his disciples not to give offense or bad example that might lead others to sin.  The Jews held that it was unforgivable to teach another to sin; it could set a sin train in motion.
    The Last Supper/ Da Vinci
    (Note salt shaker)
    Salt was useful in hot climates before electricity and refrigeration; it flavored and preserved.  Salt was used as a symbol of fellowship and sharing of a meal.  "To betray the salt" meant to betray one's master or friends.  Da Vinci in his painting of the Last Supper depicts Judas in the act of tipping over the salt shaker, thus symbolically indentifying himself as the betrayer of his Master the Lord Jesus.  Jesus used the image of salt to describe how his disciples are to live.  As salt purifies, preserves, and flavors, so we  must be salt in the world to purify, preserve, and  bring the flavor of God's kingdom of justice, peace, joy, and mercy.  Re "salted with fire" and "salt becoming saltless":  salt was often put in ovens to intensify the heat.  When it burned off and was no longer useful, it was thrown onto the footpath where it would get trodden upon.  Jesus likely contrasted useful salt with salt that lost its ability to preserve to encourage his disciples to bring the flavor of Christ's love, holiness, and justice to the world.  We are to be "the aroma of Christ to God among those being saved and among those perishing, a fragrance from death to death, or from life to life."  The Lord Jesus wants his love and justice to permeate our thoughts, speech, and actions....
    Dress legend
    • Gold- and silver-colored accessories:  "Your gold and silver are corroded" (1st reading)
    • Orange suspenders:  "It'll devour you like fire" (1st reading); Gehenna, the unquenchable fire (gospel); unofficial Pentecost octave
    • 'Coin' button:  "The wages you withheld are crying out to God" (1st reading)
    • 'Scales of justice' pin:  Your injustice cries out to God (1st reading)
    • 'Girl with heart' pin:  "You've fattened your hearts" (1st reading)
    • 'Gun' pin:  'You've murdered the righteous one" (1st reading)
    • 'Sheep' tie bar:  "Like sheep they're herded into the nether world" (psalm)
    • 'Stone' tie pin:  It would be better if a millstone were put around the neck of one who causes others to sin (gospel)
    • 'One eye' pin:  "Better to enter the Kingdom with one eye than with two to be thrown into Gehenna" (gospel)
    • 'Hands' tie:  If your hand causes you to sin... (gospel)
    • 'Two feet' pin:  "Better to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna" (gospel)
    • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  Keep salt... and you'll have peace (gospel)
    • Blue and green in shirt:  Blue: whoever gives you water will be rewarded (gospel); green:  Ordinary Time season

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