September 5, 2016

Teresa of Kolkata/Labor Day

September 5, 2016:  St. Teresa of Kolkata / Labor Day

  • 'Lamb' tie bar, crucifix:  Our Paschal Lamb has been sacrificed (1st reading)

  • 'Blood drop' pin:  The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty (psalm)

  • 'Hand' tie pin:  "Stretch out your hand" (gospel)

  • 'Eyeball' pin:  The scribes and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely (gospel)

  • White shirt:  St. Mother Teresa

For 1st reading
Caritas Christi urget nos (the love of Christ compels us) sums up the flame of love that compelled St. Teresa of Calcutta and compel us to follow her example.  Mother Teresa defined herself as "a little pencil in God’s hands."  She was a clear mirror of God's love and an admirable example of service to our neighbor, especially the poorest, most derelict, and most abandoned.  She constantly fought for the unborn, recognizing that the worst form of poverty is "to feel unloved, unwanted, scorned."  This brought her to identify unborn children whose existence is threatened as the “poorest of the poor.”   Each depends, more than anyone else, on the mother's love and care and on society's protection.
"Love, to be true, has to hurt.  It hurt Jesus to love us" (Mother Teresa's Nobel Prize acceptance speech).  These words are like a door through which we enter into the abyss that surrounded her life.  She posted "I thirst" in every Missionaries of Charity house.  "I thirst" for fresh, clean water, for souls to console and redeem to make beautiful in God's eyes, for God, for his presence of life and light.  This thirst burned in Mother Teresa.  (Homily at Cardinal Pietro Parolin's Mass of Thanksgiving today)  

    Withered hand (animate)
  • 1 Cor 5:1-8  It's reported there's immorality among you.  The one who committed the incest should be expelled.  I've already pronounced judgment on him, in Jesus' name: deliver him to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so his spirit may be saved.  Your boasting is inappropriate.  A little yeast leavens all the dough!  Clear out the old yeast, so you may become fresh dough.  Our Paschal Lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed, so celebrate the feast not with the old yeast of malice and wickedness but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
  • Ps 5:5-7, 12  "Lead me in your justice, Lord."  Let all who take refuge in you exult.  Protect them...
  • Lk 6:6-11  On a sabbath where Jesus was teaching there was a man with a withered hand.  The scribes and the Pharisees watched Jesus to find a reason to accuse him.  “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than evil, to save life rather than destroy it?”  His hand was restored, and they discussed what they might do to Jesus.
    • Creighton:  Jesus provides a teaching moment for the Pharisees:  help others!  Doing the greater good trumps the Sabbath rule.  Lord, help me to choose the greater good....
    Re Labor Day:  Through our labor, creation grows.  In rest we take delight in the world; our Sabbath echoes God's Yes.  Labor is necessary; we need to meet needs and sustain the community.  Work is a vocation in which our dignity should be recognized; through it we develop talents and know the pride of creation.  Good jobs help build up families.  To participate in the larger community through work releases us from isolation and despair at our insignificance; each worker contributes to the good of all.  "People have the capacity to improve their lot, further their moral growth, and develop their spiritual endowments.  Work should be the setting for rich personal growth, where many aspects of life enter into play:  creativity, planning, developing our talents, living our values, relating to others, glorifying God" (Laudato Si 127).
    Today we honor the work of many hands.  We remember workers' steadfastness and lives cut short by hard labor; we remember the enslaved and those denied basic rights.  But it's not enough to honor the past.  For some households, two wages don't go far enough.  The futures of the many children of the working poor are precarious.  The work of justice begins here.  Prosper the work of our hands.
      "St. Mother Teresa"
    • Passionist:  “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than evil, to save life rather than destroy it?”  Jesus reminds the scribes and Pharisees, and us, that the spirit of the Law is important.  The healing shows the Law must be tempered with mercy; this is the lesson of this Jubilee of Mercy.  “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”  Paul chides the Corinthians for their pride in the sin of one member.  He recommends they deliver him to Satan for the destruction of his flesh!  Paul uses 'flesh' to mean something beyond his body.  Maybe he's using it here for the earthly side of self, the part of us get entangled with desires that keep us from deeper communion with God.  Maybe Paul wants this ‘flesh’ destroyed.  If a community flaunts their sin, turn them loose; maybe they need to hit bottom to come to their senses and be "saved on the day of the Lord."  May I find strength to release the parts of myself that keep me from building up my community.
    •  "Is it lawful to save life or to destroy it?"  The scribes and Pharisees wanted to catch Jesus breaking the Sabbath so they could accuse him of breaking God's law; they were filled with contempt for Jesus because they, ensnared in their legalism, put their own ideas above God's.  Jesus points to God's intention for the Sabbath:  to do good and save life.  Ambrose re healing of the man with a withered hand:  "'Stretch forth your hand' is the universal remedy.  You who think you have a healthy hand, beware lest it be withered by greed or sacrilege.  Hold it out to the poor person, to help your neighbor, to protect a widow, to snatch from harm one subjected to unjust insult.  Hold it out to God for your sins.  The hand is stretched forth, then healed.  Jeroboam's hand withered when he sacrificed to idols; then it stretched out when he entreated God."  We celebrate Sunday as the Lord's Day to commemorate God's work of redemption in Christ and the new creation accomplished through Christ's death and resurrection.  If God "rested and was refreshed," we too ought to "rest" and let others, especially the poor, "be refreshed."  Sabbath rest honors God for all he's done for us, but it doesn't exempt us from loving our neighbor.  If we love the Lord, that love will overflow to love of neighbor.  "The charity of truth seeks holy leisure; the necessity of charity accepts just work" (Augustine).  We can make Sunday holy by avoiding unnecessary work and activities that hinder worship; we can also perform works of mercy.  And we ought to seek appropriate relaxation of mind and body.  The Lord's Day refreshes and strengthens us in love of God and neighbor....

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