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April 7, 2014

Monday in the 5th Week of LentSusanna  old men

Saint for the day: St. John Baptist de La Salle (1651-1719)

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Daniel 13:1 … 62

Psalm 23

John 8:1-11


We’re fortunate in these last days of Lent that the Church obviously wants us to more easily “get the message” by choosing specific scripture Pointing fingersreadings that compliment each other. We’re not just going along sequentially as we do in other “ordinary times.” So nobody can say, “I don’t see the connections between the scriptures for today’s liturgy.” For me, the phrase that comes to me right off the bat: “Judge not lest you be judged.”
(Matthew 7:1) It reminds us that whenever we “point” at someone to accuse them most of our fingers are pointing back at ourselves. There’s a little verse that reminds us what false accusations do: “Oh what terrible webs we weave when at first we begin to deceive.”

The “Susanna Story” is classic and could be seen as a reversal of the “Paradise Lost” event of Adam and Eve. But it’s also got connections with the “Agony in the Garden” that we’ll be hearing next week. This is interesting, and if you let your mind wander you’ll come up with lots more scriptures set in “gardens.”  The Responsorial Psalm – 23 – is familiar to most of us and we might have to be careful to read it slowly so we don’t just spit out the words and miss the deeper meaning of phrases like, “In verdant pastures (another ‘garden theme’) he gives me repose.” If you take each verse and mull over it you’ll find it to be an almost perfect outline for living the Christian Life.

I find it interesting that in both of these scripture readings for today’s liturgy, it’s the “old men” who present themselves as “righteous” but, inJesus writes in dirt reality, have let evil creep in and overtake their good judgment. In this Holy Gospel, Jesus bends down and begins writing in the dirt with his finger. The gospel doesn’t tell us what He was writing and perhaps it was enough of an image that the S & P’s got the message – taking them back to the creation story of Adam being formed out of the “dirt of the earth. Some say Jesus was writing their own sins and shortcomings. Whatever it was, it didn’t catch them up short and they continued asking him what He would do in similar circumstances. Jesus’ reply, though, did get their attention: “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And, one by one they went away. But the Gospel doesn’t end there and Jesus tells the women, “… Neither do I condemn you - ...

Dropping stonesand here’s the most important line – Go, and from now on do not sin any more.” In the two Holy Scriptures that we heard today: Susanna from the Old Testament Book of Daniel and the women caught in the very act of adultery the bottom line would have to be: don’t judge anyone – falsely or honestly – without first looking at your own life. And, secondly, whatever your circumstances are “… go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” Amen!   

As we move closer to Holy Week and our celebration of the Paschal Triduum let us look closely at our own lives to see how, perhaps, we have been judgmental to others and, also, where we need to move away from those things that keep us from knowing and experiencing the fullness of God’s love and forgiveness.

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April 6, 2014

5th Sunday of LentLazarus come out
Saint for the day: St. Crescentia Hoess 

Scripture Readings for today's liturgy:

Ezekiel 37:12-14

Psalm 130

Romans 8:8-11

John 11:1-45

A note: some churches might follow the option of covering the cross and statues as we make our way towards Holy Week. Click on the following “link” to read the history and evolution of this practice: Covering Holy Images in church

S  Ps mumbleToday, on the 5th Sunday of Lent, we begin the short season of “Passiontide” (see the reference to this in the previous “link” above) and our Scriptures are clearly focused on a “resurrection theme” and “forgiveness.”   The first Scripture reading from Ezechiel tells us, “Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves… and put my spirit in you that you might live.” (Ezekiel 37:13) Then we pray that we’ll be able to make it through another long Gospel!  Just like last week, we’ll be watching another drama unfold in a variety of ways and in multiple, overlapping scenes. St. John uses this technique to draw us into the drama to make a point about life, forgiveness and life everlasting. But it’s also the clincher that pushes the S & P’s to find ways to “get rid of Jesus” and even, maybe Lazarus, too.

Jesus says to his disciples, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” (John 11:11)  Just think about this phrase that hasopen y eyes lord multiple levels of understanding?   When we “wake up” we open our eyes and begin to see the world around us.  This is an important part of this story and something that I have pondered for a long time. Lazarus comes back to life when Jesus awakens him. John makes a big point to let us know that Lazarus has been dead and buried for four days. He also tells us that Jesus didn’t run right away to get there fast but dilly-dallied in order for the people to come to a deeper understanding of the meaning of “resurrection.” I think that it tells us that we need to be more focused on doing good for the people right around us – here and now - rather than worrying about what Heaven looks like. Besides, we simply don’t have words that could come anywhere close to describing Heaven. As long as our feet are planted on earth we need to make the best of this situation as we can. Most of us won’t get a second chance like Lazarus. The other point that we need to address is the obvious fact that Lazarus must have died again since there’s no record of him living forever. So, there’s obviously something more that we need to grasp from this story.

Purple AltarIt might be telling us that our goal in life isn’t to live forever but, rather, to be brought into the Kingdom of God. In the mean time, we need to come to a deeper understanding of how we follow Jesus in this life in order to be with him in eternity. The phrase that comes to my mind: “When did we see you hungry and feed you; or … I think you know the rest since this is what it means to follow Jesus: “When you did it for one of these – the least – you did it for me.” Amen.

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April 5, 2014

Saturday in the 4th Week of LentStrength to his people

Saint for the day:

Dominican - St Vincent Ferrer (1350?-1419)

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Jeremiah 11:18-20

Psalm 7

John 7:40-53

                     “O Lord, my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and rescue me.” (Psalm 7:2)

Today Dominicans will celebrate the feast of one of their greats, St. Vincent Ferrer. If you want to know what the Church was going through Vincent ferrerin his time, click on the “link” above. To begin with, there were three Popes! And one of them - who ordained Vincent to the Priesthood - was later publically chastised by Vincent causing him to flee for his life! How does the saying go? “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In many ways Jesus was confronted by this same tendency and the Gospels that we hear in these last days of Lent show us that those who have power as a control will never win out in the end. There’sScribes Power another way to look at this and I’ve mentioned it here, before: “Blowing out another’s candle doesn’t make my candle any brighter.”   Jesus came into this world as a light in the darkness to share that light with all people. He used his light to draw people out of darkness into the light of his healing love. The S & P’s had no room for that light and had made their lives complicated by multiplying and drawing out the minute aspects of the law. Rather than drawing people in, they created a world of fear: fear of taking too many steps on the Sabbath; fear of reaching out to help someone in need; fear of missing one jot or title of the law. They could never understand the words of Jesus like, “Perfect love casts out all fear.” (1st John 4:18)

Jesus forgivesWhen all of our energy is consumed by fear of breaking the law there is no room for positive love to enter in. When a person spends all of their time defending and protecting their harsh stand on life … there is no room for even the possibility of love entering in. If we ask Jesus how much love he has for us He stretches out his arms this wide … and that’s how he was nailed to the Cross. In a short time, we will enter in to our most Holy Week of our Church liturgies. As we go through these last days of Lent let us try to focus on that one point: “No greater love has a man that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Let us pray that we might be able to receive all the love and forgiveness that God offers us in these Holy Days. Let us pray that we will be able to let go of all the things that we feel we have to hold on to in order to stretch out our arms widely to receive Jesus into our embrace. Amen!

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April 4, 2014

Friday in the 4th Week of Lentlight from light

Saint for the day: St. Isidore of Seville (560? - 636) 

Wisdom 2:1, 12-22

Psalm 34

John 7:1 … 30

 “In the beginning was the Word and the Word with God and the Word was God and became flesh and dwelt among us.” (The Prologue to St. John’s Gospel 1:1ff)

pentecostIf any of you are of my era in the “pre-Vatican II” days you will remember that we heard this Gospel at the end of every Mass. I think there was a wisdom in this practice which kept us aware of the living nature of “The Church” and the fact that the Gospels were put together by the early followers of Christ working from the reality of the Resurrection and Ascension – along with the Feast of Pentecost – backwards. There wasn’t anyone taking notes at Bethlehem when Jesus was born and the early Church had to grapple with the way they tied it all together.  That was then. This is now. And we’re still trying to put it all together and make the presence of God in our lives a reality. At first glance, today’s scripture reading from the Book of Wisdom could have been seen as “Gospel” since there are so many similarities between that scripture and the Holy Gospels. It’s yet another reminder that the Holy Scriptures that we hear in our Liturgies are intended to be heard in what we might call first person narrative in that they are ever real and relevant to us here and now. Listen to how this scripture from Wisdom begins: “The wicked said among themselves …’Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings …’” (Wisdom 2:12)

It makes me think of Old Testament Joseph who was thought of as a dreamer by his jealous brothers.   Can you see how our salvation history allcollared coats  fits together? It’s almost like one eternal moment of salvation. A history that we are all still experiencing. Perhaps our task in Lent is to be honest with ourselves and see that indeed “there is nothing new under the sun,” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and we are all moving through this ever-present moment of salvation.   The ending words of today’s Holy Gospel, “So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his Paschal Candlehour had not yet come.” (John 7:30)   We’re blessed in this holy time of Lent in that we are presented with powerful scriptures that evoke strong images. What we each have to do is see ourselves as the character “everyman” in a drama that we are, both in, and watching.   Soon we will be entering Holy Week and we will all sing “Hosannas” and wave our palm branches as we enter in to this most Holy Week of our Liturgical year. But the tables will quickly turn and we will hear the solemn reading of the Passion and then, at the death of Jesus we will be like everyone throughout history, and turn and walk away from the hill of Calvary … hopefully coming back to search the empty tomb.  My prayer today: ”That we might all enter in and let the sacred drama of the coming weeks touch deeply our hearts and souls so that we might always walk with those lighted candles from the Easter Vigil into the light of a new day. Amen!

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The General Curia

The church and convent of Santa Sabina on the Aventine hill in Rome have been home to the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) since the 13th century. At that time the church and associated buildings formed part of the holdings of the Savelli family. A Savelli Pope, Honorius III, approved the Order in 1216. Read more...

Province of St. Joseph

The Dominican friars of the Province of St. Joseph were founded in 1806 by Edward Dominic Fenwick, O.P., an American who had joined the English Province of the Order as a young man during its exile in Belgium. Fenwick eventually returned to the United States with the dream of establishing the Order in his native land. Read more...

 

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The Third Order of Saint Dominic consists of men and women, singles and couples living a Christian life with a Dominican spirituality in a secular world. Read more...

 

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