Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time: Martin Luther King Jr Day

Maur and Placid, Disciples of Benedict 
Readings of the day: RB 2:33-40
Mass: 1 Samuel 15:16-23; Resp. Psalm 50; Mark 2:18-22

The word of God is living and effective,
to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Listening poses challenges. United with Samuel, we can say, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ Doing what God asks of us, in full rather than in part, poses other challenges. If and when we say with the psalmist, ‘Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will’, will we be united with Saul or might there be another way?

What right have you to recite my statutes, or take my covenant on your lips?
For you hate discipline and cast my words behind you.

Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me;
to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time: World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
World Day of Migrants and Refugees
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Readings of the day: RB 2:30-32
Mass: 1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19; Resp. Psalm 40; 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20; John 1:35-42

Glorify God in your body

John standing. Two disciples too.
He watched
JESUS walk by
The two heard
They followed
HE turned
HE saw
What are you looking for?
Where are you staying?
Come you will see
They went
They saw
They stayed
Andrew heard
He followed
He found Simon
He brought him
JESUS looked
HE said.

The body is for the Lord
The Lord is for the body

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Saturday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

Saint Hilary of Poitiers, Bishop and Doctor (d. 367)
Blessed Virgin Mary

Readings of the day: RB 2:23-29
Mass: 1 Samuel 9:1-4, 17-19; 10:1a; Resp. Psalm 21; Mark 2:13-17

Follow me.

While studying in Rome, one of my favorite walkabouts included the area of Via della Scrofa. Things were happening there, not unlike most places in the eternal city, yet I used to stop now and again at San Luigi dei Francesi to look at Caravaggio paintings. Caravaggio is one of my favorite artists; an artist whose work I seek out.

Not unrelated, I include here part of an interview with Pope Francis, conducted by A. Spadaro, SJ, published in America magazine, September 30, 2013. What follows are the Holy Father’s comments about not knowing Rome very well.

‘I know St. Mary Major, St. Peter’s...but when I had to come to Rome, I always stayed in [the neighborhood of] Via della Scrofa. From there I often visited the Church of St. Louis of France, and I went there to contemplate the painting of “The Calling of St. Matthew” by Caravaggio.’
‘That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew.’ Here the pope becomes determined, as if he had finally found the image he was looking for: ‘It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, “No, not me! No, this money is mine.” Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff.’ Then the pope whispers in Latin: ‘I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance.’
I reflect now on whether I think Jesus is pointing at me, or am I so full of myself and ‘well’ to think that Jesus is pointing at others, namely, all the sinners and sick people.

Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Friday of the First Week of Ordinary Time Aelred of Rievaulx, Cistercian monk, Abbot of Rievaulx (d. 1167)

Readings of the day: RB 2:16-22
Mass: 1 Samuel 8: 4-7, 10-22a; Resp. Psalm 89; Mark 2:1-12
Aelred of Rievaulx, Cistercian Abbot, writer and historian
The encounter with God and our brothers and sisters cannot wait just because we are slow or lazy. We are called to do that encounter today!
(Pope Francis, Tweet, January 12, 2018)

Some days the Pope’s tweets are priceless. Relating his words to today’s Gospel, the four men who carried the paralytic and broke through the roof of the house were anything but slow and lazy. It may be their encounter with the brothers and sisters gathered was not so pleasant: ‘Hey, what do you think you are doing?’ Can’t you see this room is full? We were here before you!’ Still, the men went for it. They were determined. They were going to encounter Jesus no matter what. The paralytic followed suit; he was neither slow nor lazy. Not wasting time after being healed, he rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. What faith. What courage. What witness. 


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thursday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 2:11-15
Mass: 1 Samuel 4:1-11; Resp. Psalm 44; Mark 1:40-45

Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and
cured every disease among the people.

We are busy this week listening to accounts of Jesus healing people and driving demons.  By this point we should be convinced that Jesus has preferential option for the sick, lame, possessed, suffering and outcast. We are a wounded people. Pope Francis rightly calls the Church a field hospital. So many are in need of healing—old wounds that won’t heal, trauma, abuse, neglect, broken relationships, rejection, disappointments, unrealized expectations. Put simply, we are limping along. There are days when we want to throw up our hands and cry: “Dear Lord, why me’? ‘Look what “they” have done to me’! The beauty of the situation in which we find ourselves is that Jesus prefers men and women and children like us. He looks at us; touches us; helps us up; repairs us. Put another way, he will bring us out of most any pit. Like the leper in today’s Gospel, we need to take charge and get ourselves to the hospital. The leper goes, kneels down, and begs Jesus: ‘If you wish, you can make me clean.’ Jesus has pity on us. May we welcome His love, mercy, compassion, and healing presence in our midst.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wednesday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 2: 1-10, ‘Gifts Needed by an Abbess’
Mass: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20; Resp. Psalm 40; Mark 1:29-39

My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord.
I know them, and they follow me.

So, you’ve got a fever. Some friends have taken initiative and go in search of Jesus. It doesn’t take them long. They find him and immediately tell him about your condition. Jesus makes haste. When Jesus gets to you, he approaches, grasps your hand, and helps you up. What are you going to do?

Now look at the stir. Friends start bringing to Jesus all the ill or those possessed by demons. The whole town is gathered at the door! Jesus goes right to work curing the diseased and driving out demons. Sorry demons, no words from you today. Jesus isn’t permitting it.

Next day, very early, Jesus goes off to a deserted place to pray, not without friends in hot pursuit. When they find Jesus, they shout: ‘Everybody is looking for you!’ Jesus rises and calmly says: ‘Let’s go. I’ve preaching to do.’ Jesus heads for the synagogues where he gets busy with preaching and driving out demons. All in a day’s work.

With you, O Lord, is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light.
(Communion Antiphon, Mass)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Tuesday of the First Week of Ordinary Time: National Migration Week (Jan. 7-13, 2018)

(NB. When the Baptism of the Lord occurs on Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time, the readings assigned to Monday may be joined to those of Tuesday so that the opening of each book will be read. Readings for Monday and Tuesday are included here.)

Readings of the day: RB 1:6-13
Mass: 1 Samuel 1:1-8; 1 Samuel 1:9-10; Resp. Psalm (1 Sm 2); Mark 1:14-20; Mark 1:21-28
Old Woman in Prayer, known as ‘Prayer Without End’,
by Nicolaes Maes (1634-1693)

My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.

When I hear the story of Hannah I remember with a smile Sister Timothy McHatten, OP (1931-2008), lover of the Word, brilliant Scripture scholar, small in stature, large in heart, beloved teacher of many. It was in the class, ‘Women in the Bible,’ where I wrote a paper on Hannah as presented in the First Book of Samuel. My first attempt at the project was rather pitiful and Sister Timothy made it clear that she would not accept such poor effort. That said, I would not have it any other way. Sister Timothy called her students to be their best selves and produce work that matched their capabilities. Sister Timothy worked with me, carefully reading more than one draft, and coaching me in the fine art of writing a proper exegetical paper.

Encounter with Sister Timothy extended beyond the classroom. In the Jubilee Year 2000 I went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a lively group of women and men from the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon. Sister Timothy was one of the dynamic duo that led us during that trip, the other being our chaplain, a monk of Mount Angel Abbey, himself full of vim and vigor, an excellent tour guide. Sister Timothy, in true fashion, was fully present while remaining behind the scenes so to speak. In other words, she was humble. She had already furnished us with appropriate biblical readings to match each day’s excursions and visits. I still have my collection of postcards from that memorable pilgrimage and bring them out at various times during the liturgical year. Written on the back of each card is the scriptural passage Sister Timothy supplied for us.

Sister Timothy was a remarkable woman. Anytime I showed up at her office door, it was always open. Even with her head down immersed in another book, she looked up and welcomed me, offering me a chair and a listening ear. I always found her answers and direction not only well-informed, but full of common sense. Sister Timothy also instilled in me a love of the Word. When I later taught ‘Introduction to the Bible’, at Mount Angel Seminary (where Sister Timothy taught from 1989-2008), I said on Day 1: ‘If nothing else, I hope you fall in love with the Word during this class.’ Successful or not in my undertaking, I pray I was at least able to share with the students my own love of the Word. Sister Timothy also helped me to make a place in my heart for dear Hannah. When I think of Hannah, I think of one of my favorite paintings, Old Woman in Prayer, known as ‘Prayer Without End’, by Nicolaes Maes (1634-1693). A picture postcard of it is here on my desk. Hannah’s love of God and ceaseless prayer inspires me. Hannah persevered pouring out her troubles to the Lord. The Lord remembered Hannah. The Lord remembers us too when we pour out our troubles, sorrows, and miseries. The living and true God will come to our aid. Thank you, Hannah. Thank you, Sister Timothy. Rest in peace.

Receive the word of God, not as word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God.