April 5, 2017

April 5

April 5, 2017:  Wednesday, 5th week, Lent

  • "Golden calf" tie pin:  Statue the three young men won't worship (1st reading)
  • 'Hands' pin:  Who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?  (1st reading)
  • White shirt:  King Nebuchadnezzar's white-hot furnace (1st reading)
  • 'Angel with trumpet' pin:  Worship the statue when you hear the trumpet...; God sent his angel to deliver the youths (1st reading)
  • "I ♥ my dad" tie, for gospel
  • Purple suspenders:  Lenten season

For 1st reading
For canticle
Pope Francis
General audience:   In 1 Peter the Apostle encourages us to rejoice in Christ’s resurrection and sanctify him in our hearts.  Because we've received the gift of new life in Christ, Peter urges us to “account for the hope” in us, to show forth that hope by imitating Jesus’ loving concern for others' needs and by forgiving those who offend us.  Peter tells us “it's better to suffer for doing good,” for in this way we imitate the Lord’s redemptive suffering and bear witness to God’s love, revealed on the cross and sealed in the resurrection.  That love is the basis of all our hope.  May our lives radiate Christ our hope, who dwells in us and acts through us to bring mercy and peace to our world.

Pray for youth:  That young people may respond generously to their own vocation and mobilize for the great causes of the world

Tuesday homily:  Jesus told the Pharisees “You'll die in your sins” because their hearts were closed.  The serpent in the 1st reading is the symbol of the devil, father of lies, who caused humanity to sin.  The bronze serpent was the sign of sin and its power, and it was a prophecy of the Cross. 
The Cross is the memory of God who was made sin for love.  Taking our filth upon himself, he was lifted so that all wounded by sin would be able to see him.  Salvation comes only from the Cross, from God made flesh.  Ideas, goodwill, and the desire to be good don't save; only Christ crucified, who like the bronze serpent could take all the poison of sin and heal us.
What is the Cross for you?  For some, it's a badge of belonging; they wear it to show they're Christians.  But those who don't look to the Cross with faith won't receive salvation.  The Church proposes a dialogue with the Mystery of the Cross, with God who became sin for our sake.  Each of us can say he became sin for love of me.  Look to this God, and think about how you wear the Cross and how aware you are when making the sign of the cross.
  • Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95  King Nebuchadnezzar:  “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, serve my god, and worship the statue I made, or you'll be cast into the furnace; and who can deliver you?” / “We won't serve your god or worship your statue.”  Nebuchadnezzar, livid, had the furnace heated seven times more and had the youths bound and cast into the furnace....  “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver them.”
  • Dn 3:52-56  "Glory and praise for ever!"  Blessed are you, Lord, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
  • Jn 8:31-42  Jesus:  “If you remain in my word, you'll be my disciples, know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  Everyone who sins is a slave, but if the Son frees you, you'll be free.  If you were Abraham’s children, you'd be doing his works, but you're trying to kill me.  If God were your Father, you'd love me, for I came from God and tell you what I've seen in the Father's presence.”
    The four men in the fiery furnace
    (15th century)
  • Creighton:  John attacks "the Jews"; though they and Jesus' disciples all venerate the Scriptures and their common religious heritage, they differ in their estimation of Jesus.  Today’s gospel reflects the struggle between the Jews who had become disciples of Jesus and those who didn't follow him.  How do I receive people and things challenging to my religious traditions and beliefs?  We love the new when it affirms the old and comfortable. Jesus calls us to relate with a personal God.  If our religion keeps his person and mission old and predictable, it's faithless and lifeless....
  • One Bread, One Body:  In Jesus' time, most people were born into slavery.  When Jesus promised freedom, some claimed they were already free because they were God's and Abraham's children, but Jesus questioned whether Abraham was their father because they didn't act like Abraham.  Jesus accused them of being children of the devil, slaves slaves because they were children of a slave and enslaver.  Baptism freed us, but we can still choose to live like slaves.  May we live free....
  • Passionist:  Brown distinguishes three levels of believers in John:  wholehearted believers willing to die for their convictions who hundreds into the faith, those who refuse to believe, and people who claim to believe but don't act like believers, as in today's gospel when Jesus is addressing people who ostensibly believe in him but accuse and judge him.  John doesn’t give up on them; he tries to move them from initial belief to more substantial faith.
In the 1st reading, King Nebuchadnezzar faces off with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  God protects the youths who refuse to serve or worship idols. and the angel sent to protect them also cools the king's wrath.  At the end Nebuchadnezzar praises God.  When you're about to get in trouble, do you call on God’s angel?
  • DailyScripture.net:  "The truth will make you free":  Only Jesus can truly free us and reconcile us with God.  The religious authorities rejected Jesus's offer of freedom, forgiveness, and new life because, blinded by their ideas about the Messiah, they rejected Jesus' claim to speak and act in his Father's name. Jesus met them with courage and determination to do his Father's will, embracing the cross to save Jews and Gentiles alike.  Jesus shows us the way to the kingdom of God:  faith in and obedience to God.  'Disciple' means one who learns from and listens to the Teacher; 'obedience' means to listen and be subordinate to the one with the authority.  Faith, God's gift, is a personal relationship of trust and obedience to God.  God first seeks us out and draws us to himself; we need to respond with an open and receptive heart. "I believe, to understand, and I understand, the better to believe" (Augustine, Sermon 43:7,9).
In the 1st reading we see faith put to the test:  when the king commanded Daniel's companions to submit to idols, they replied, "We won't serve your gods or worship the image"; they decided it was better to obey God than to give into their threats and so accepted the punishment.  God walked with them in the furnace and kept them safe.
The scribes and Pharisees questioned Jesus' claim to forgive sins and to set people free; they refused to accept the Father gave him authority.  Jesus tells them they're under the influence of the "father of lies."  He explains he speaks of two senses of "fatherhood":  physical, and a self-chosen one resulting from being led and formed and from living the example of one we follow.  Slavery to sin is rooted in the father of lies, the devilSatan, the ruler of this world; Jesus offers freedom from his power, reconciliation with God, and adoption as God's children.  Lord, free me to please you and love and serve others....

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