March 4, 2020

March 4

March 4, 2020:  Wednesday, 1st week, Lent

See 16 connections with today?
Legend below

  • Jonah song ("fish bait") (1st reading-inspired)
Papal retreat corner:  Vocation as a turning point (Day 2 PM):  God calls each of us individually.  Vocation is a decisive encounter where God speaks to us.  Since it marks a turning point in our lives, we should frequently return to that moment and recall the Lord's voice.  God is always at work to orient us to a higher dimension of living, more useful self-giving and service.  God calls in the midst of our lives, even in moments of fatigue.  

Vocation is revelation, not self-determination:  When Moses encountered the burning bush, he wasn't even aware he was approaching a holy place.  His ignorance is essential to understanding the prophetic dimension of vocation.  It's always a revelation of God, never self-awareness or self-determination.  When God called him by name, Moses gave his personal response, “Here I am,” and opened himself to a journey of awareness and obedience.

Resisting grace (Day 3 AM):  Pharaoh resisted God’s call through Moses to free the Israelites.  Pharaoh’s question, “Who is the Lord?,” shows power as a force to destroy opposition.  But God promoted a radical change in perspective when he advanced rights of foreigners, the oppressed, and the exploited.  Opposing God’s desire to put the last in first place is resisting grace and opposing the Spirit.  Arrogance drives us to refuse to obey God and his prophets.  Even without riches or power, it takes the form of pride in the name of the right of self-determination, personal choice, and free will.

  • Jon 3:1-10  Lord to Jonah:  “Set out for Nineveh, and prophesy.”  He began his journey, announcing, “40 days and Nineveh shall be destroyed”; they believed and proclaimed a fast.  The king rose, covered himself with sackcloth, sat in ashes, and proclaimed a fast: “Repent; God may relent and save us.”  God saw; he repented and didn't carry out the evil he'd threatened.
  • Ps 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19  "A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn."  Have mercy on me.  Create a clean heart for me.
  • Lk 11:29-32  “No sign will be given this evil generation but Jonah; the Son of Man will be a sign like Jonah.  At the judgment, the queen of the south who came to hear Solomon's wisdom will condemn this generation; at the judgment, repentant Nineveh will condemn this generation.  Something greater than Solomon and Jonah is here.”
    • Creighton:  Why does Jesus accuse the people of being an evil generation looking for a sign?  Before today’s reading, the people accuse Jesus of performing his miracles through the power of Beelzebul. Jesus, criticizing their distrust and disbelief, tells them the only sign they'll get is the sign of Jonah (his own death and resurrection).  We acknowledge the sign of God’s love in Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection, but how receptive are we to its manifestation in our lives?  What's our interior disposition in the midst of turmoil?  Do we recognize God working through us and others, performing little miracles today?  May our interior disposition of hope, faith, and love grow.
      (Not this "sign of Jonah" :-)
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Great expectations":  "Now is the acceptable time!  Now is the day of salvation!" The Lord wants us to have great expectations for Lent.  He uses life's joys and tragedies to sensitize us to his plans for us.  He wants us to expect the glory of Easter, risen life forever with him on earth and in heaven. The Lord graces us to expect more than we ask or imagine."  The 1st reading raises our expectations:  120,000 citizens of the violent city of Nineveh converted in one day at Jonah's word; for God all things are possible."  Don't ever think the Lord, who rose from the dead, can't do something.
    • Passionist:  "God loves and cares":  In today's readings people are needy:  the crowds want a sign of Jesus’ power, and Nineveh is caught up in evil ways.  God responds to our needs:  When Jonah preached the need to repent, the king called for city-wide penance, and it happened!  Jesus was sent to preach, heal, give himself, and change hearts.  In today’s Gospel, he chides the people who continue to seek signs, rather than acknowledge his words, wisdom, and witness; he challenges them to go beyond physical expressions of power to powerful transformations of the heart.  Our Lenten observances are means of experiencing God’s care and transforming love.  Our world needs God’s love to change hearts besieged with mistrust, anger, fear, lust, and impatience, as was the case in Nineveh and in Jesus’ time.  God calls us to a more intimate communication (prayer), a deeper sensitivity to our gifts and needs (fasting), and greater outreach to those in need (sacrifice).  May this Lent help us experience God’s love and care.
    •  "The sign of Jonah for an evil generation":  When the religious leaders demanded a sign from Jesus, he gave them a warning to avert spiritual disaster.  Jews characteristically demanded "signs" from God's messengers to authenticate their claims.  When they pressed him for proof of his claims, he basically says he himself is God's sign and that they need no further evidence.  The Ninevites recognized Jonah's prophecy as God's warning and repented, and the Queen of Sheba recognized God's wisdom in Solomon, but the leaders weren't satisfied with the signs before them:  they rejected John the Baptist and now Jesus.  Simeon had prophesied Jesus was destined for the falling and rising of many and would be a sign opposed so that the thoughts of many would be revealed.  Jesus confirmed his message with miracles in preparation for the sign of his resurrection.  James says that wisdom from above is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.  May we be single-minded in desiring God's pleasure..
    • Today's saint, from Universalis:  Casimir, generous to the poor, zealous in faith, devoted to Eucharist and Mary, ruled Poland justly; see also Wikipedia.
    Querida Amazonia capsule:   Social and spiritual inculturation

    Given the poverty and neglect so many inhabitants experience, inculturation has to be social, resolutely defending human rights, so it'll be the face of Christ, who wished to be identified with the weak and the poor.  The gospel profoundly connects evangelization and human advancement.  This entails commitment to justice kingdom through work for advancement of the “discarded.”  We must train pastoral workers in Church social doctrine.

    Inculturation of the Gospel must better integrate the social and the spiritual, so that the poor can find in the Church a spirituality that responds to their yearnings.  This means neither an individualistic religiosity nor ignoring the spiritual dimension.  We're called to connect those things at a deeper level, and so reveal the beauty of the Gospel, which dignifies persons and peoples and fulfills every heart and all life. [3/4 IV:75-76]

    Dress legend
    • 'Whale' tie pin:  Jonah in the "big fish" (pre-1st reading)
    • 'Walker' tie pin:  Jonah's walk through Nineveh (1st reading)
    • 'Phone' tie bar:  'Call' loudly to God (1st reading)
    • 'Helm' tie pin:  'Turn' from your evil way... (1st reading)
    • 'Hand' tie pin:  ...and the violence you have in 'hand' (1st reading)
    • Ash-colored suspenders:  King of Nineveh sat in ashes (1st reading)
    • 'Crown' tie bar, 'beast' and 'cow' pins, 'sheep' tie bar:  Nineveh king:  “Neither man, beast, cattle, nor sheep shall taste anything” (1st reading); the queen of the south will condemn this generation (gospel)
      • 'Boundless mercy" button:  "Have mercy on me in Your great compassion" (psalm)
      • 'Heart' clip:  Create a clean heart in me; You won't spurn a contrite, humble heart (psalm)
      • 'Dove' pin:  Don't take your Holy Spirit away (psalm)
        • 'Signs' tie:  No 'sign' will be given but the sign of Jonah (gospel)
        • 'Owl' tie pin:  The queen came to hear Solomon's wisdom (gospel)
          • Purple shirt:  Lenten season

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