Monthly Archives: June 2018

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B – July 1, 2018

Rescued From Death by the God of Life

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles

commenting on today’s Gospel reading:

 

 

Introduction

 

Despite the suffering it entails, humans desperately love life. Ulysses in Hades tries to comfort Achilles who replies: “Do not embellish me at death, O Odysseus! I would prefer, as a laborer, to serve on earth another man rather than rule over the dead.” The Egyptians viewed death differently. For them death was “everlasting life” in a wonderful kingdom, located to the west, lit by the sun god, from dawn until dusk, when it gets dark for us.

 

Among all ancient peoples the conviction of the existence of an afterlife prevailed and among the Greeks, immortality of the soul. Inexplicably, this did not happen with the Jews since they were born as a people in Egypt. They let more than a thousand years passed before they began to believe in a life beyond death.

 

They proclaimed, yes, the Lord “the God of life” (Num 27:16), but always in earthly perspective. “In you is the source of life,” sang the psalmist, but for life he meant “health and blessing” (Sir 34:17), a fertile land, abundant crops, numerous descendants, and finally, to die “at a good old age” (Gen 35:29), as the ripe sheaves that are withdrawn from the field (Job 5:26). In the Hebrew Bible the word “immortality” does not even appear.

 

The slowness of Israel in reaching an explicit affirmation of eternal life is precious and enlightening. It makes us understand that, before believing in the resurrection and a future world, it is necessary to value and passionately love life in this world as God appreciates and loves it.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:

“From the Lord I have learned to love life, every expression of life.”

 

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Birth of St. John the Baptist – June 24, 2018

A Courageous Witness of the Light

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles

commenting on today’s Gospel reading:

 

Introduction

 

The cult of the Virgin Mary began to rise and develop in Jerusalem in the V century. A century earlier, in the IV century, the cult of John the Baptist was so widespread as to be considered universal. 

 

The people paid tribute with an extraordinary veneration to this saint. He is the most represented in the art of all ages; there is no altarpiece, no group of saints in which he does not appear. He is covered with the characteristic camel’s hide, the belt around his waist and holding a stick that ends in the shape of a cross.

 

He is the patron of countless dioceses; shrines and churches are dedicated to him, beginning with the “mother of all” churches, St. John Lateran, founded by Constantine. The name John—translated in every language—is the most common name in the world. Many cities and countries were named after him (128 in Italy, 213 in France).

 

The Baptist is also loved by the Muslims. They named the famous Umayyad Mosque of Damascus, a symbol of interfaith dialogue, after him. How do we explain this sympathy?

 

The Baptist is not renowned as a miracle worker—this is, in general, a prerogative, which makes the saints popular. Whoever wants to obtain graces does not appeal to him, but to more powerful intercessors. So there are other reasons for such devotion.

 

The first reason is certainly Jesus’ praise of him: “When you went out to the desert, what did you expect to see? A reed swept by the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? People who wear fine clothes live in palaces. What did you really go out to see? A prophet? Yes, indeed, and even more than a prophet. I tell you this: no one greater than John the Baptist has come forward from among the sons of women” (Mt 11:7-11).

 

Then, the simple people admired his austerity of life and his courage not to bend his head in front of the powerful. He defended the truth and justice with his life.

 

Finally, it should be said that it was mainly the monks who popularized his figure. Since the beginning of the fourth century, they populated the Judean desert where the Baptist had spent his life. They considered him one of them, a model of ascetic life and for this, they spread the cult. 

 

The choice of his feast day—celebrated, since the time of St. Augustine, on the 24th of June—is linked to the summer solstice, the day when the sun reaching its zenith begins to set along the horizon. To believers, the decline of sunlight recalled the availability of the Baptist to disappear, to give the place to one who was greater than him. After recognizing in Jesus the expected messiah, he confided to his disciples: “My joy is now full. It is necessary that he increases but that I decrease” (Jn 3:29-30).

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:

Great are those who know how to step aside after fulfilling their mission.”

 

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11th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B – June 17, 2018

Upon awakening we look at the ripe ears

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles

commenting on today’s Gospel reading:

 

Introduction

 

We have the impression of witnessing a rapid decline of Christian values. We see man trying to get rid of the idea of God, placing himself as the ultimate point of reference, as the measure of all things. He makes himself the arbiter of good and bad, absolutizes the realities of this world, and retains the faith as almost an obsolete aspect of life. This is secularism, a phenomenon that has remote historical roots, but has reached its heyday in our time. How so?

 

In the search for causes, there are those who attribute responsibility to the increasingly fearful priests. They avoid to recall those truths which, in the past, when the churches were full of worshipers, were the recurring themes of catechesis: the judgment of God, eternal condemnation, the devil, the punishments.

 

The truth is otherwise: today we are paying for the consequences of evangelization and catechesis which—without wanting to apportion the blame to willing preachers and catechists of the past—was unrelated to the word of God.

 

The future is in our hands. The church has regained consciousness of the treasure that the Master gave: the Word, seed is waiting to be spread throughout the world in abundance, so that faith may again flourish on new bases and on a sure foundation.

 

Who today, with difficulty, is spreading around the world this precious seed, will not see the ripe ears, but at least the stem, yes, he can ask the Lord to be able to see it.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:

“Just a grain of wheat that disappears into the earth brings forth much fruit.”

 

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10th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B – June 10, 2018

Why Exorcism?

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles

commenting on today’s Gospel reading:

 

Introduction

 

Since ancient times, the belief that evil was caused by malignant spirits led people to guard against their evil influences by resorting to magical practices, formulas, and the recitation of prayers, performing ritual acts such as destruction of statues, aspersion, spraying; everything to force the demons to leave. Exorcism, along with divination, was the essence of the Assyrian Babylonian religion. It was also practiced in Israel, where the disciples of the Pharisees successfully cast out demons (Mt 12:27). The Exorcism often bordered on magic. To increase its efficiency, invocation of names likely to contain divine power was added. Someone used the name of Jesus, sometimes getting good results (Mk 9:38), some other times causing the angry and aggressive reaction of the possessed (Acts 19:11-17).

 

Jesus heals the sick, and adapting to the current mentality, he resorts to exorcism, but he never performs magical gestures or esoteric rites. He does not pronounce incantations as the healers of his time did. He triumphs over evil only by the power of his word and asking them to have faith.

 

Exorcism should be practiced in the church in the same spirit. The belief that God would allow malicious spirits to take possession of either of his children is incompatible with belief in God who is Father. But there is no doubt that the “snake” spreading the poison of death is present in every human being from the moment of conception (Ps 51:7).

 

An exorcism is performed in the rite of baptism. It is the celebration of the victory already won by Christ on the spirit of evil. It is also the caress of the church to her child who now is going to struggle for life against the evil one. The fraternal community tells him: in this fight you’ll never be alone, we will all be at your side.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:

“I’m not alone in the fight against evil, Christ and the community of brothers are with me.”

 

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