READINGS for 2006-02-05
LET THE SPIRIT TEACH
I have no right to boast just because I preach the Gospel. After all, I am under orders to do so. And how terrible it would be for me if I did not preach the Gospel. ?1 Corinthians 9:16 I had just got home from work when I received a call. Our coordinator wanted me to teach Catechism the next morning because all the officers would attend the diocesan meeting. I kept silent and the coordinator sensed I was tired, and she apologized. Nevertheless, I reluctantly agreed to her request and hung up the phone. The following morning, I was irritated for I didn?t know what to teach the children. I brought a white board and markers as my teaching aid. My eyebrows and nose crinkled, my lips pouted and I was dragging my feet to the church. I prayed within, ?Lord, forgive me, I am feeling lousy and cranky. I offer to you the teaching I am about to give. Please accept it, this is my gift.? I believed the Holy Spirit taught me what to say that morning. The children and I had fun telling stories that are in the Bible. We exchanged knowledge and laughter. Most important of all, we experienced Jesus in our midst. Rosann J.
Lord, send me your Spirit so I may share you with others.
St. Agatha, virgin and martyr, pray for us.
Job laments the hardships of his life but he does not ever lose faith in God. Terrible things have happened to him but he refuses to blame the Lord for any of them. He stands as an example of righteous suffering that today?s world needs to heed. Instead of seeking to inflict revenge ?tit for tat,? let us choose to break the cycles of violence and revenge that we encounter through righteous and forgiving living.
1 Is not man?s life on earth a drudgery? Are not his days those of a hireling? 2 He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for his wages. 3 So I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been told off for me. 4 If in bed I say, ?When shall I arise?? then the night drags on; I am filled with restlessness until the dawn. 6 my days are swifter than a weaver?s shuttle; they come to an end without hope. 7 Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.
P S A L M
Psalm 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
R: Praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.
1 Praise the LORD, for he is good; sing praise to our God, for he is gracious; it is fitting to praise him. 2 The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem; the dispersed of Israel he gathers. (R) 3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. 4 He tells the number of the stars; he calls each by name. (R) 5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power to his wisdom there is no limit. 6 The LORD sustains the lowly; the wicked he casts to the ground. (R)
1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23
St. Paul understands his call to be a missionary as an obligation of the Gospel to which he freely gives his assent. That is, it is a call he has received and responded to in love. The true missionary is a missionary of God?s love, not a missionary out of duty or obligation. It is the former that has the greatest power and will attract more people to the Kingdom of God.
16 If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it! 17 If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. 19 Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. 23 All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.
G O S P E L
At one level, Jesus lives a very ordinary life. He does the sorts of things that everyone else has to do. But He is also a man on a mission and He uses every opportunity at His disposal to fulfill this call. He makes a courtesy call to the mother-in-law of Peter but takes the opportunity to heal her of her illnesses. He prays like the person next to him, but finds throngs of people seeking him out to the extent that He has to be constantly on the move.
29 On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. 30 Simon?s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. 31 He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. 32 When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. 33 The whole town was gathered at the door. 34 He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. 35 Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and those who were with him pursued him 37 and on finding him said, ?Everyone is looking for you.? 38 He told them, ?Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.? 39 So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
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GETTING TO KNOW THE SAINTS
Brigid lived in the era when traditional Irish religion was giving way to the formal institution of Christianity. The lives and legends of Holy Brigid reflect that uneasy ebb and flow. It has been noted that in ancient times Brigid, was, in fact, the name of the Celtic sun goddess. This has given rise to the suggestion that in St. Brigid, a nun and abbess of the fifth century, we find the repository of primeval religious memories and traditions. In any case, it seems that with the cult of St. Brigid (called ?The Mary of the Gael?)
As best as can be discerned through the mists of legend, it is believed that Brigid was born into slavery and was later converted to Christianity by St. Patrick sometime in her childhood. She was granted her freedom when it proved impossible to curb her enthusiasm for giving alms; it seems she would otherwise have impoverished her master through such unauthorized largesse.
The themes of generosity and compassion are the feature of miracles without number. Brigid?s only desire was ?to satisfy the poor, to expel every hardship, to spare every miserable man.? (That there remained any miserable souls in Ireland is hard to believe, given the extent of her recorded miracles.) Many of her marvels have a particularly maternal character, reflecting her propensity to nourish and give succor. Thus, ?She supplied beer out of her one barrel to 18 churches, which sufficed from Maundy Thursday to the end of the paschal time. Once a leprous woman was asking for milk, there being none at hand she gave her cold water, but the water was turned into milk, and when she had drunk it the woman was healed.?
Brigid became a nun and ultimately abbess of Kildare, which was a double monastery, consisting of both men and women.Through her fame as a spiritual teacher, the Abbey of Kildare became a center for pilgrims. So great was the authority of Brigid, it seems, that she even induced a bishop to join her community and to share her leadership. According to legend ? which the church, for obvious reasons, has strenuously resisted ? the bishop came to ordain Brigid as a fellow bishop.
Some chroniclers cite this in a matter-of-fact way (it is, after all, scarcely less credible than many of the reports of Brigid?s career). Others report the story while trying in some way to mitigate the scandal. It is suggested, for instance, that the bishop was so ?intoxicated with the grace of God? that he didn?t know what he was doing. Whatever the historical facts, the persistence of such a tale says a good deal about Brigid?s status in the Irish conscience, and perhaps the effort to rectify the exclusion of such an extraordinary woman from the ranks of apostolic authority.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE GOSPEL
When I reflect upon the life of St. Paul, I am sometimes torn between envisaging him as a humble man and a somewhat arrogant one! I think the difficulty arises from interpreting his forthrightness and commitment to the truth as arrogance whereas it is not really this at all. Paul is utterly convinced of the truth of the Gospel that he proclaims and he wants to leave his readers in no doubt regarding his conviction. He speaks in such strong terms and uses powerful images that there is little room left to doubt what Paul really believes!
In the second reading today, Paul almost boasts of his commitment to the work of the Kingdom. Yet, really he is just emphasizing the importance he attaches to being as effective a witness as possible to the Good News of salvation. Paul is willing to ?live that which he proclaims.? He cannot be accused of saying one thing and doing another. The conviction that is in his heart from his own personal experience of the power of God at work in his life rings true with every line that we read. We could not ask for a more convincing ambassador in the cause of the Gospel!
The life and commitment of Paul should be an inspiration to us all. It is not that we have to slavishly imitate him. However, I believe that it is important for us to try to imitate the zeal with which he goes about the business of bearing witness to the Gospel. If all of us were half as committed as Paul to doing all that is humanly possible to proclaim the Gospel to the world, I think that we would accomplish the task of bringing the Good News to the ends of the earth within a couple of generations. After all, Paul managed to cover an enormous amount of territory with few means of transportation; how much easier is it for us with cars, trains and planes at our disposal?
The effectiveness of the Church?s witness to the Gospel in her life is dependent upon each of us taking up the call to evangelize and responding to it in a generous manner. It is important that we do not take this call lightly. It is our moral duty to pass on the Good News we have received to those who have not yet heard it. Fr. Steve T.
Holy Spirit, inspire within me a deep commitment to evangelization so that in all I do and say I examine the potential for sharing my faith with others. Open up for me opportunities to proclaim the Good News to the world.
St. Agatha, virgin and martyr, pray for us.
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