March 30, 2017

March 30

March 30, 2017:  Thursday, 4th week, Lent

  • 'Golden calf' tie pin:  'Molten calf' idos (1st reading, psalm)
  • 'Hands' tie:  God led Israel with a strong hand (1st reading)
  • 'Fire' pin:  "Let my wrath blaze up and consume this stiff-necked people" / "Let your wrath die down" (1st reading)
  • 'Mountain' tie pin:  "Why should they say, 'With evil intent he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains" (1st reading)
  • 'Star' tie pin:  "Remember you swore, 'I'll make your descendants as numerous as the stars.'" (1st reading)

  • 'Street lamp' tie bar:  John the Baptist was a shining lamp testifying to me (gospel)
  • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

Pope Francis
Homily:  The Israelites were God’s dream; he dreamed of them because he loved them.  But they betrayed his dreams, so God began to be disappointed, asking Moses to come down.  The people didn't have the patience to wait for God for even 40 days; they'd made a golden calf and forgot God who saved them.  Baruch expressed it, "You've forgotten the One who reared you.”  To forget God who made us, reared us, and accompanies us, is God's disappointment.  Jesus spoke in parables about the man who built a vineyard that failed because the workers wanted to take it for themselves.  Our heart is always restless!  We're not satisfied with God, with faithful love, and so are tempted to infidelity.  God sees they don't know how to wait and so go astray to seek another god, and he rebukes them.
God's disappointment is his people's infidelity, and we're God’s people.  We know our heart; we must daily take up the path so as not to slide towards idols, fantasies, worldliness, and infidelity.  Ask, "Lord, are you disappointed in me?"  God has a tender heart; remember how Jesus wept over Jerusalem.  Is God weeping for me?  Have I distanced myself from him?  What idols do I have that enslave me?  God weeps for me.  Reflect on the disappointment of God, who created us for love, when we look for love and well-being elsewhere, distancing ourselves from the God who reared us.  Ask every day, "Lord, you have so many dreams for me,  I've gone away from you, but tell me where and how to return…"   He ever awaits us, like the prodigal son's father....
To Dublin World Meeting of Families organizers:   The meeting will take place next August 21-26 on the theme, “The Gospel of the Family:  joy for the world.”   I want families to deepen their reflection and sharing of Amoris Laetitia.  The Gospel continues to be a joy for the world, and the family continues to be good news for today’s world!  God's love is his yes to all creation; yes to the union between man and woman, in openness and service to life; yes to a humanity that's often wounded, mistreated, and dominated by a lack of love.  So the family therefore, is the 'yes' of God as Love.  Only starting from love can a family manifest, spread, and regenerate God’s love in the world.  Without love, we can't live as God's children, couples, parents, or brothers and sisters.
Ask, do we in our family live based on love, for love, in love?  Do I give myself, forgive, not lose patience, anticipate the other, respect?  How much better family life would be if we always lived by “please”, “thank you” and “I’m sorry.”  Every day we experience fragility and weakness; so we all need humility that forms the desire to form ourselves, to teach and learn, to help and be helped, to accompany, discern and integrate everyone of good will.  I dream of an outbound Church, close to people's wounds, a merciful Church that proclaims God as Love, Mercy.  This mercy renews us in love; and we know how Christian families are a place of mercy and witnesses of mercy. Your meeting can offer concrete signs of this.  You have the task of translating the teaching of Amoris Laetitia.
Thanks to the Archdiocese of Dublin and the Irish nation for your generous welcome and commitment; may the Lord reward you.  May the Holy Family guide, accompany and bless you and all families involved in the preparation of the meeting.

  • Ex 32:7-14  Lord/Moses:  “Go to your people; they've become depraved, worshiping a molten calf as God.  Let my wrath blaze up and consume them.” / “Why blaze up against your own people?  The Egyptians will say, ‘He brought them out to kill them’? Remember the covenant with your servants, and relent.  So the Lord relented.
  • Ps 106:19-23  "Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people."  Our fathers adored a molten image, forgetting God and his wonders.  The Lord spoke of exterminating them, but Moses turned back his wrath.
  • Jn 5:31-47  Jesus:  Another testifies on my behalf, and his testimony is true.  John testified to the truth, and you rejoiced in his light, but the works the Father gave me are even greater testimony that he sent me.  He too has testified, but you've neither heard nor seen him because you don't believe.  Even the Scriptures testify, but you don't want to come to me for life.  I came in my Father's name, but you don't accept me. Moses will accuse you; if you'd believed him, you'd have believed me.
    • Creighton:  Today's readings challenge us to confront our tendencies to unbelief and how belonging to a group can affect us.   We're wired for community; we desire to belong.  But that good desire can confuse us when the group strays; we need a shepherd to rescue us.  In the 1st reading, Moses is that shepherd.  We can look with wonder at our predecessors' willingness to embrace an idol so clearly unworthy of worship and unable to deliver the good they desire, but we can identify with their bad decisions and the resulting plight.  All such journeys begin with a single step.  Maybe they became distracted or bored, or got carried away, but they wound up “depraved.”   The gospel reminds us that even religious folk have problems with unbelief.  Jesus’ discourse in today's gospel reminds them that they're not as far above their predecessors as they may think.  They can't, or won't, see all the evidence.  With hindsight we see what the Israelites and Jewish religious leaders missed, but our own paradigms can keep us from recognizing our own flaws; the desire for belonging can keep us from truth.  Our faith depends on reconciliation which brings us into a community.  Truth is the basis for a community of love and belonging.  Jesus embodies that truth.  May we not accept inferior substitutes which may seem to comfort us but won't give what we need.  May we recognize the distractions that keep us from following Jesus and from real community.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "The words of eternal life":   "These [things] have been recorded to help you believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through this faith you may have life in his name."  "Faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of God."  May we "humbly welcome the word that has taken root in you, with its power to save you."
    • Passionist:  Sunday’s we read about Jesus curing the man born blind.  Today we read about Jesus confronting people who are spiritually blind, apparently caught up in arrogance, pride, fear of change, and fear of losing power, and so unable to see the one the Father has sent.  We too can be blind:
      • So busy or absorbed that we miss the goodness of physical creation around us. 
      • So angry, prejudiced, and unforgiving that we miss people's sacredness.  “Next to the Blessed Sacrament, your neighbor is the most sacred object present to your senses” (C. S. Lewis).
      • So caught up in self-doubt and self-pity that I don't see my own beauty.  “God created [me] in his own image...”
    If we don't see the goodness of creation, the sacredness of people, and our own beauty of ourselves, we're blind to our all-good, sacred, and beautiful God.  May we fast from busyness, anger, prejudice, unforgiveness, self-doubt, and self-pity and see God here and now in our midst.
      •  "The Father's witness to Jesus":   Jesus' opponents didn't believe the Father sent him or accept his authority to speak and act in God's name.  He answers their demand for evidence with evidence of witnesses:  John the Baptist, Jesus' signs and miracles, God the Father, and the Scriptures.  But in their pride, desire for people's praise, and preoccupation with their position as interpreters of the law, his opponents became blind to God, hardened, unable to understand God's word of God, deaf to God's voice.  God reveals himself to the humble, those who trust in God alone, eager to listen to God's word, learn, and obey.  Through the Holy Spirit God opens us up to hearing his voice and receiving the love and knowledge of God.  "As Christians, our task is to make daily progress toward God.  Our pilgrimage on earth is a school where God is the only teacher, and it demands good students, not truants.  In this school we learn something every day:  from commandments, from examples, from sacraments; they're remedies for our wounds and materials for study" (Augustine).
      • Don't take this seriously:  God is disappointed in you, an irreverent "Cliff's Notes" version of the whole Bible (sans Deuterocanonical books)

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