March 22, 2017

March 22

March 22, 2017:  Wednesday, 3rd week, Lent

  • 'Scroll' pin:  The law (1st reading, gospel)
  • 'Owl' tie pin:  Observe the law; give evidence of your wisdom (1st reading)
  • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  Don't forget what your eyes have seen (1st reading)
  • 'Children in classroom' tie:  Teach your children (1st reading); teach the commandments (gospel)
  • 'Letter' tie bar:  Not the smallest letter or part of a letter will pass from the law (gospel)
  • Wool blazer (not shown):  He spreads snow like wool (psalm)
  • Ash-colored suspenders:  He strews frost like ashes (psalm)
  • Purple shirt:  Lenten season
Pope Francis Audience
Today we reflect on steadfastness and encouragement.  Paul says both are contained in the message of Scripture, and that ours is a God of steadfastness and encouragement.  We Christians are called to spread hope by supporting and encouraging one another, especially those in danger of faltering.  But we do so with strength provided by the Lord, our unfailing source of hope.  May we always live in harmony with one another, in accord with Christ.


Yodh (from gospel; see below)
  • Dt 4:1, 5-9  Moses:  “Observe these statutes, live, and take the land God is giving you.  All will say, ‘This nation is a wise and intelligent people, close to the Lord.’  Don't forget what you've seen; teach your children.”
  • Ps 147:12-13, 15-16, 19-20  "Praise the Lord, Jerusalem."  He's strengthened your gates, blessed your children, proclaimed his word and statutes to you like no other.
  • Mt 5:17-19  “I came not to abolish the law and prophets but to fulfill them.  Whoever breaks the least commandment will be called least in the Kingdom, but whoever obeys and teaches the commandments will be called great.”
        • Creighton:  The gospel, also from five weeks ago, continues the themes of keeping the commandments.  Jesus came to fulfill the law and prophets. Those who break the commandments, or cause others to, are called least in the kingdom of heaven; those who follow them will be called greatest.  He tells us not to allow our senses or actions lead us to sin, and to let our yes mean yes and no no.  The law is summed up in "Love your neighbor as yourself."
          Tetragrammaton (YHWH)
          starting with Yodh
          (remember Hebrew is right-to-left)
        • One Bread, One Body:  "Careful obedience":  Because of their disobedience, the Israelites wandered for forty years.  Jesus expected his disciples to obey even the smallest part of the law.  They were to obey the spirit of the law and so usher in Christ's kingdom.  We'll be able to claim the victory the Lord promised us when our obedience is complete, careful, and in the Spirit....
        • Passionist:  We Americans often experience law as rigid measures, primarily "don'ts," with penalties and no exceptions.  Laws create order in a large society.  But Scriptural understanding of law is different.  God’s law is the source of life and love; it's God’s invitation to remember his love for us.  The Israelites found the blessings of that love in their growth as a people and then as a nation; they saw his love in the freedom given in the Exodus, and as they were about to enter the Promised Land.  Now they're asked to live that love among themselves.  Living God's law means living according to God's mind and heart, with loving generosity for the vulnerable, weak, voiceless, sick, and poor; thus the necessity to take care of widows, orphans, and strangers.  Do we understand Jesus' message as an invitation to live the fullness of the gospel law?  Are we remembering the love of Jesus poured upon us and his continuing nourishment?   Am I living his mind and heart in my family, neighborhood, parish, workplace, country, world?  What's my attitude toward the vulnerable, e.g. the disabled, the chronically ill, the elderly poor, the working poor, those lacking adequate health care, the undocumented...?  Do I reflect Jesus' loving mind and heart to them?
        •  "Whoever relaxes one of the commandments":  Jesus' loved and meditated on God's law.  For the Israelites, 'law' could refer to the ten commandments, the Pentateuch, God's whole teaching to his people, or oral or scribal law.  Jesus condemned scribal law because the scribes added more to it than God intended, overburdening people.  But Jesus said God's commandments and way of life must be fulfilled.  Jesus taught reverence for God's law:  respect for God, the Lord's Day, parents, life, property, people's good name, self, and neighbor.  Reverence for God's commandments teaches us the way of love.  Through the Holy Spirit the Lord transforms us, giving us the grace to love, forgive, think, and act as he does....
        • Letter of the day:  Consider Yodh (Yud), the "smallest letter" of the Hebrew alphabet, with its top spur, "the smallest part of a letter" (Mt 5:18).  God gave Yodh the honor of being the first letter of the Divine Name.  God changed Ya'akov/Jacob's name to Yisrael, keeping only the Yodh.  God chose Israel because they're the smallest.  Not the smallest letter or even its spur will disappear from the Word.  God won't forget the poor.  God uses the small to demonstrate his power; we'll find fulfillment in Jesus.
          • St. Nicholas Owen, SJ, carpenter, built priest hiding places, martyr.  “Nobody can be said to have done more good of all those who labored in the English vineyard.  He saved the lives of hundreds.”

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