February 17, 2017

Feb. 16

February 16, 2017:  Thursday, 6th week, Ordinary Time

  • 'Abacus' tie pin:  "Be fertile and multiply" (1st reading)
  • 'Creature,' 'plant' pins:  "I give you all creatures as I did the plants" (1st reading)
  • 'Blood drop' pin:  Don't eat flesh with its lifeblood still in it; don't shed blood (1st reading)
  • '?' tie pin:  "Who do people say I am?  Who do you say I am?" (gospel)
  • 'Crucifix' pin:  The Son of Man must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and rise (gospel)
  • Green shirt:  Ordinary Time season
Today's* 1st reading speaks of a dove, a rainbow, and the Covenant.  The dove, which returns with an olive branch, is a sign that God wanted all to live in peace after the flood.  The dove and rainbow are fragile.  The rainbow is beautiful after a storm, but then a cloud comes and it disappears; and doves are easily killed by seagulls.
The Covenant God makes is strong, but we accept it in weakness.  God makes peace with us, but it's not easy to care for peace: it's a daily task, because within each of us is the seed of original sin that leads to war.  When speaking of the Covenant humanity, there's reference to blood.  We are our brothers’ keeper, and when blood is spilt, there's sin.  Today blood is being spilt; the world is at war.  Many are dying, even innocents, because the great and powerful want a larger slice of the earth, more power, or more money from arms trafficking.  The Lord will demand an accounting, even from us, of the blood of those suffering war.
What do I do so more blood isn't spilt?  Pray for and work towards peace!  War begins in the heart, at home, in the family, among friends, then spreads.  What do I do when I feel something entering my heart that wants to destroy peace?  War begins in here and finishes out there.  We see news about how the seed of war grows into a tree as a bomb falls on a hospital or school and kills children.  War begins in here, in me.  So how do I care for peace in my heart, in my family?  Care for peace:  make it with your hands every day; then we'll be able to spread it.
The blood of Christ makes peace, but not the blood I make with my brother or that arms traffickers or the powerful make.  Lord, give me the grace to say war is finished in my heart, my family, my neighborhood, my workplace, our world; then the dove, rainbow, and Covenant will be strengthened.  *Thursday's homily on Wednesday's 1st reading
  • Gn 9:1-13  God blessed Noah and his sons:  "Be fertile and multiply.  I deliver plants, animals, birds, and fishes into your power.  I'll demand an accounting for human life.  You've been made in God's image.  I establish my covenant with you and your descendants.  Never again shall a flood devastate the earth."
  • Ps 102:16-21, 29, 22-23  "The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory."  All shall revere you.  You heard the prayer of the destitute, looked down to hear prisoners groaning, release the doomed.
  • Mk 8:27-33  Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?” then “But who do you say I am?”  Peter replied, “The Christ.”  Jesus then taught that the Son of Man must suffer, be rejected and killed, and rise.  Peter rebuked him, and he rebuked Peter:  “Get behind me; you're thinking not as God but as a human being.”
    • Creighton:  Think about Peter’s perspective in the gospel:  Jesus healed your mother-in-law. You left your career to follow him. Your religious community has ostracized you, and since John the Baptist's beheading you’ve been a political fugitive. Now Jesus is leading you into foreign territory, and you had the courage and foresight to call Jesus “the Anointed,” God's chosen one. Now he says he'll suffer and die, and he calls you Satan.  Peter can be a stumbling block, but his confession underlies the Christian vision of Jesus the Christ, who will rise from the dead....
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Fruit stand":  The first recorded words to people are "Be fertile and multiply....  Fill the earth."  Later:  "He who lives in me and I in him will produce abundantly."  "My Father has been glorified in your bearing much fruit..."  "I chose you to go forth and bear enduring fruit."  We must be like God and bear fruit, lest we be burnt."  Bear the fruit of evangelization and of holiness....
    • Passionist:  When clouds threaten more rain, a rainbow is a sign that the storm is over and life can resume.  It reminds us of God's greatness and our fragility.  Today's readings remind us God keeps looking for ways to prod us to acknowledge his saving power.  God takes the first step and shows us what life is about:  The 1st reading describes the God's post-flood covenant with Noah.  We see God as good, life-giving, long-suffering, revising original plans for us, never giving up on us, even when we give up on him.  In the gospel Jesus who has preached, healed, expelled unclean spirits, and fed the hungry, but hasn't heard his disciples declare who he is, asks them, “Who do you say I am?”  Our faith is a realization that we're in a personal relationship with God.  It gets tested when we experience life's storms, when cares threaten to drown us, and when we think ourselves irredeemable.  Then God sends us a rainbow that tells us God is good, life-giving, forgiving. and merciful.  “Who do you say that I am?”
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Who do you say Jesus is?"  Many recognized Jesus as a man of God, a great prophet, but Peter professed that he was the "Christ of God," "Son of the living God"; only God could have revealed that.  Jesus knew his disciples didn't yet fully understand his mission and how he'd accomplish it.  "There were things yet unfulfilled that must also be included in their preaching:  the passion, the cross, the death in the flesh, the resurrection,... He destroyed death and destruction, robbed hell, overthrew the enemy, took away sin, opened heaven to earth dwellers, and united earth to heaven; these proved him to be God.  So he commanded them to guard the mystery until the whole plan would arrive at a conclusion" (Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 49, paraphrased).  Jesus won life and freedom for us through humiliation, suffering, and death. To share his victory, we must take up our cross and follow him. The Holy Spirit gives us power to live the gospel, even when my will 'crosses' God's?

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