Monthly Archives: August 2017

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A – September 3, 2017

Offer life if you don’t want to lose it

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles
commenting on today’s Gospel reading:
https://youtu.be/8LqT0iU4LFg

 

Introduction

 

In the days of trouble” (Ps 77:3) we call upon the Lord because we are convinced that “he gives life and breath and everything else to everyone” (Acts 17:25). We appeal to the saints, visit shrines, kiss relics, make novena …. always to have life.

 

The crowds were seeking Jesus, “they tried to dissuade him from leaving” (Lk 4:42). They touched him “because of the power that went out from him and healed them all” (Lk 6:19). They approach him for life. “I have come—he said—that they may have life, life in all its fullness” (Jn 10:10).

 

Yet in his proposal, there is something of a paradox, indeed, absurd. To achieve the life it is necessary to lose it, “I lay down my life to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down freely” (Jn 10:17-18). He justifies his choice of comparing himself to the seed: “Unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 12:24).

 

It really takes a lot of faith to be convinced that, in order to have life, you have to “give it up to death” (Rev 12:11). Strange, disconcerting logic! God assures Abraham a posterity as numerous as the stars in the sky … and asks him to sacrifice his son Isaac, who should make the promise a reality. A test like this may well be faced only by one who firmly believes, like Abraham.

 

Jesus promises to introduce the disciple into life. “The one who follows me will have the light of life … will never see death … will never experience death” (Jn 8:12,51-52) … and goes toward the cross; he plunges into the waters of death.

 

But “he will re-emerge” on Easter Day. Blessed are those who have the courage to follow him: he will give them to eat of the “tree of life” (Rev 2:7). They will be with him forever (1 Thes 4:17) and they shall see God as he is (1 Jn 3:2).

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

 

Continue reading

Advertisements
Categories: Cycle A | Leave a comment

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A – August 27, 2017

A discovery that changes your name

and your life

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles
commenting on today’s Gospel reading:
https://youtu.be/NFYrdDxV5KY

 

Introduction

 

A picture of Christ ‘wanted’: long hair, untrimmed beard, a friend of the marginalized, herald of a revolutionary message, frowned upon by the powers that be, circulated at the end of the 60s. It was the Jesus of the protesters. It made its appearance alongside the mystic who was attracted by the religious devotions and spiritual intimism.

 

The triumphant Jesus had also his time, between banners and flags: He was the “conqueror of kingdoms” and the protector of the rulers of this world.

 

The Jesus of religion is the most rustproof. He guarantees justice, awards the good, protects the pious and punishes the wicked. Sometimes someone puts him down to the role of a bogeyman or bugbear for the children who misbehave. He is still the useful guarantor of moral behavior deemed positive.

 

Jesus is a character that everyone seems to want to yank to have him on one’s side.

 

There’s also the Jesus that we carry within us since the years of our childhood. He is presented to us by sometimes more willing than prepared catechists. A Jesus that may never have convinced us to the end. At some point of our life, he did not have much more to say to us.

 

After two thousand years, he never ceases to provoke and question every person and, as he did one day near Caesarea Philippi. He urges us with a puzzling question: “Who do you say I am?”

 

In front of so many circulating images of him, it is difficult to select the authentic one.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:
I do not venerate a character from the past nor his doctrine, we believe in Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

Continue reading

Categories: Cycle A | Leave a comment

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A – August 20, 2017

The “Dogs” turned into

“Lamb” by Faith

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles
commenting on today’s Gospel reading:
https://youtu.be/f-NAafos_Nk

 

Introduction

 

To the south of the city of Jerusalem the “potter’s field” is referred to even today. The land was bought with silver coins returned by Judas to the priests of the temple (Mt 27:3-10). It was the same place where the kings of Israel had made some horrible wickedness, leading to sacrificing their children to Baal. Towards the end of the seventh century B.C., the pious King Josiah had desecrated it (2 Kgs 23:10). Since then, to be buried there was considered the height of ignominy. With the money of betrayal, the high priests bought that field to convert it into a cemetery to bury strangers (Mt 27:7). For the impure and unclean Gentiles it could not but be a reserved cursed place (Jer 19:11) and also being dead they had to be kept separated from the sons of Abraham.

 

The impetus for the discrimination and the tendency to erect barriers between good and evil, pure and impure, saints and sinners are deeply rooted in the human heart. They re-emerge in the most varied forms: fear of confrontation, inability to manage an open, serene and respectful dialogue with those who have different opinions. Sometimes these impulses are camouflaged behind the complaint of real dangers, syncretism, irenicism, loss of identity, the renunciation of one’s values.

 

How can one who consider the other “distant” speak of ecumenism? Who can be so presumptuous as to consider himself “near”? All of us are “far away” from Christ and are walking towards the perfection of the Father who is in heaven (Mt 5:48). Only one who is aware of being “impure,” who cannot boast of merits before God, is in the right disposition to accept the salvation. “The publicans and the prostitutes are ahead of you on the way to the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus assured. Not having any merit of which to boast, they rely spontaneously on the Lord and arrived ahead of one who considers himself pure (Mt 21:31).

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:
We are ashamed to have them as fellow travelers. Then the surprise: they had entered into the kingdom of God before us.”

 

Continue reading

Categories: Cycle A | Leave a comment

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – August 15

The Lord of life has done

great things for us

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles
commenting on today’s Gospel reading:
https://youtu.be/Zla_pbdDbJ4

 

Introduction

 

Mary is remembered for the last time in the New Testament at the beginning of the book of Acts: in prayer, surrounded by the apostles and the first Christian community (Acts 1:14). Then this sweet and reserved woman leaves the scene, silent and discreet as she entered. Then we don’t know anything about her. Where she spent the last years of her life and how she left this earth were not mentioned in the canonical texts. Many versions of a single theme—the Dormition of the Virgin Mary—spread among Christians from the VI century onwards.

 

These apocryphal texts handed down a series of news about the last days of Mary and on her death. These are folk tales, largely fictional, whose original nucleus, however, dates back to the second century and composed in the ambient of the mother church of Jerusalem. It also contains some reliable information.

 

After Easter, Mary, in all probability, lived in Jerusalem, on Mount Zion, perhaps in the same house where her son had celebrated the Last Supper with his apostles. Her time to leave this world came—and here the legendary aspect of the apocryphal stories begins—a heavenly messenger appeared and announced her coming exit. From the most remote lands, the apostles, miraculously transported on clouds, came to her bedside, conversed with her tenderly, staying next to her until the time when Jesus, with a host of angels, came to take her soul.

 

They accompanied her body in a procession to the brook of Kidron, and there laid her in a tomb cut into the rock. This is probably a historical detail. Since the first century, in fact, her tomb, near the grotto of Gethsemane, has been continuously venerated. In the fourth century, it was isolated from the others and enclosed in a church.

 

Three days after her burial—and here the legendary news resume—Jesus appears again to also take her body that the apostles had continued to watch. He gave orders to the angels to bring her on the clouds and the apostles to accompany her. The clouds made their way to the east, at the archway of paradise and, arrived in the kingdom of light. Among the songs of the angels and the most delicious scents, they took her down beside the tree of life.

 

These fictional details have evidently no historical value, however, they bear witness, through images and symbols, of the incipient devotion of the Christian people for the mother of the Lord.

 

The believers’ reflection on the fate of Mary after death continued to grow over the centuries. It led to the belief in her assumption and, on 1 November 1950, to the papal definition: “The Immaculate Conception Mother of God ever Virgin, finished the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

 

What does this dogma mean? Is it perhaps that Mary’s body did not suffer corruption or that only she and Jesus would be in heaven in flesh and blood, while the others would be dead in the heaven only with their souls, awaiting reunification with their bodies?

 

This naive and gross view of the ascension of Jesus and the Assumption of Mary—besides being a legacy of Greek dualistic philosophy and that contradicts the Bible that considers man an inseparable unit—is positively excluded by Paul. Writing to the Corinthians, he clarifies that it is not the material body that is resurrected, but “a spiritual body” (1 Cor 15:44).

 

The text of the papal definition does not speak of “assumed into heaven”—as if there had been a shift in space or an “abduction” of her body from the grave to the dwelling of God—but it says: “assumed into heavenly glory.”

 

The “heavenly glory” is not a place, but a new condition. Mary did not go to another place, bringing with her the fragile remains that are destined to return to dust. She has not abandoned the community of disciples who continue to walk as pilgrims in this world. She has changed the way to be with them, as her Son did on Easter day.

 

Mary—the “handmaid of the Lord”—is presented today to all believers not as a privileged one, but as the most excellent model, as the sign of destiny that awaits every person who believes “that the Lord’s word would come true” (Lk 1:45).

 

The forces of life and death confront each other in a dramatic duel in the world. Pain, disease, infirmities of old age are the skirmishes that announce the final assault of the fearsome dragon. Eventually, the fight becomes one-sided and death always grabs its prey. Does God, “lover of life,” impassively assist this defeat of the creatures in whose face his image is imprinted? The answer to this question is given to us today in Mary. In her, we are invited to contemplate the triumph of the God of life.

 

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:
O God, lover of life, you do not abandon anyone in the tomb.”

 

Continue reading

Categories: Cycle A | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.