READINGS for 2007-08-17
FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE…
“Man must not separate then what God has joined together... Let him who can accept this teaching do so.” – Matthew 19:6,12
My husband, Ed, our son Paolo, and I have careers in media. So one of the things we must do to keep abreast of the trends in our field is to watch movies.
One Sunday, we watched Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Then when we got home we watched Must Love Dogs on DVD.
Pride and Prejudice is set in 17th century England, a period when women didn’t have careers, so, for their economic well-being, they must get married to financially stable men.
Must Love Dogs is set in present-day America. It revolves around a divorced woman whose family also wants to marry her off so she would forget her divorce misery. They find more than enough prospects through the wonders of the Internet.
How things have changed since the time of Jane Austen! And how much more different life is now compared to the time of Jesus. Today, the Sacrament of Marriage faces really tough tests as the technology revolution has changed the way we live.
But as the Gospel today challenges us, let those who can accept God’s teaching on the sanctity of marriage do so. Cynthia S.
How do you regard marriage?
Lord, guide married couples and guard their marriage against the evil forces against this holy sacrament.
God makes it clear that the Promised Land is truly a gift to the Israelites. In no way can they say that they have earned it or deserved it! This merely demonstrates the love that God has for His people. There is no attempt in the text to try and understand how such generosity impinges upon the original inhabitants of the land. This is not the point of the text. The reality is that the Israelites gain possession of the Land of Canaan and here is the reason and means by which it was brought about.
1 Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, summoning their elders, their leaders, their judges and their officers. When they stood in ranks before God, 2 Joshua addressed all the people “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel ‘ In times past your fathers, down to Terah, father of Abraham and Nahor, dwelt beyond the River and served other gods. 3 But I brought your father Abraham from the region beyond the River and led him through the entire land of Canaan. I made his descendants numerous, and gave him Isaac. 4 To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I assigned the mountain region of Seir in which to settle, while Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. 5 Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and smote Egypt with the prodigies which I wrought in her midst. 6 Afterward I led you out of Egypt, and when you reached the sea, the Egyptians pursued your fathers to the Red Sea with chariots and horsemen. 7 Because they cried out to the LORD, he put darkness between your people and the Egyptians, upon whom he brought the sea so that it engulfed them. After you witnessed what I did to Egypt, and dwelt a long time in the desert, 8 I brought you into the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I delivered them into your power. You took possession of their land, and I destroyed them [the two kings of the Amorites] before you. 9 Then Balak, son of Zippor, king of Moab, prepared to war against Israel. He summoned Balaam, son of Beor, to curse you; 10 but I would not listen to Balaam. On the contrary, he had to bless you, and I saved you from him. 11 Once you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho, the men of Jericho fought against you, but I delivered them also into your power. 12 And I sent the hornets ahead of you which drove them [the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites] out of your way; it was not your sword or your bow. 13 I gave you a land which you had not tilled and cities which you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.”
P S A L M
Psalm 136:1-3, 16-18, 21-22, 24
R: His mercy endures forever.
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever; 2 give thanks to the God of gods, for his mercy endures forever; 3 give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his mercy endures forever. (R) 16 Who led his people through the wilderness, for his mercy endures forever; 17 who smote great kings, for his mercy endures forever; 18 and slew powerful kings, for his mercy endures forever. (R) 21 And made their land a heritage, for his mercy endures forever; 22 the heritage of Israel his servant, for his mercy endures forever; 24 and freed us from our foes, for his mercy endures forever. (R)
G O S P E L
Jesus makes an appeal to “as it was in the beginning” when trying to explain the nature of marriage. This means that we need to look at the pre-Original Sin existence of the human person in order to understand the original intention of God for human sexuality. It is here that we will discover the pristine environment where sin has not yet made its presence felt in the form of lust and unholy desire.
3 Some Pharisees approached him, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” 4 He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” 7 They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss [her]?” 8 He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” 10 [His] disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 He answered, “Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom that is granted. 12 Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”
think: Do you believe in the sanctity of marriage?
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Jeremiah 46-48
GETTING TO KNOW THE SAINTS
Saint John Mary Vianney
John Mary Vianney, the Cur of Ars, was born in 1786 at Lyons, France. In his youth, John tended his father s sheep while teaching children Catechism. At 18, he told his father his desire to enter priesthood. His father worried so much since the young man had been a great help; thus, it was only two years later when he was finally given permission.
John learned about his religion through Father Balley. The priest was patient in teaching him but still, John had problems in learning Latin. At first, he was discouraged. So as a form of sacrifice, the young man walked 60 miles to the shrine of Saint John Francis Regis while praying for help. After the pilgrimage, the saint even had more troubles with his studies. But this time, he was not discouraged.
John was finally able to enter the seminary. His studies grew more and more difficult. And no matter how much effort he exerted, John still encountered difficulties. The final examination was in the form of an oral exam. He had to face a group of teachers and needed to answer their questions. John was so nervous that he broke down in the middle of the exam. John was such a holy man and full of common sense. He knew the answers to the questions but could not deliver them in the complicated style of Latin. John Vianney was ordained a priest anyway.
The new priest understood his vocation well and his goodness flourished that he was sent to a little parish called Ars. Father Vianney prayed so hard for his people. He fasted and did penance for them. He stopped them from drinking too much, from saying foul words, from working all day Sunday and from not attending Mass. Not long after, one tavern closed after another. Business slowed down. As a result, people started to hear Mass on Sundays.
God gave John Vianney the power to read minds and know the future. He converted many sinners and aided people in making the right decisions. He devoted 12 to 16 hours daily in hearing confessions.
Despite his desire to stay in a monastery, John served his remaining 42 years at Ars. The priest died at the age of 73 in 1859. He was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925.
WHAT IS THE MIND OF GOD ON THIS MATTER
Sometimes we can approach a situation and look at it from every aspect except the one that matters most. This most often occurs when we are considering issues of morality. The first place we look for answers is in our feelings, which are notoriously unreliable when it comes to indicating the truth; next we look to all the various so-called experts on our subject, the psychologists, sociologists and so on; then we might try the politicians, the philosophers and anyone else who thinks they should be considered an authority; finally we might look to God and the Scriptures and see what they might have to say to us.
This is all the wrong way around! Jesus tells us that we should start with what God intended for the human person when it comes to questions of morality. His use of the phrase ‘in the beginning’ reminds us that there is an original authority and intention in the creation of human life and we ignore it to our own peril. Unfortunately it seems that today’s society is quite willing to embrace the possibility of peril in its blind search for pleasure and the easy way out of a difficult situation. It is difficult to believe that modern society is interested in truth in the absolute sense of the word as it is always bypassing this quest in the name of relevance and political correctness!
The first challenge we face today is not to rid the world of suffering but to understand why we suffer so that we can address the root causes. This will never be possible unless we are willing to address the truth of what it means to be a human person, created in the image and likeness of God. It is here that the careful study of the first three chapters of Genesis is of absolute necessity. Without this all our study and speculation will be founded upon shifting sands so to speak – different opinions and feelings that have very little to do with the fundamental nature of the human person.
Are we ready to embrace this difficult path ahead and be willing to accept its conclusions? I doubt it at the moment as we seem to be more concerned about levels of pleasure and comfortability than truth! Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: What is the basis of the moral decisions I make in my life? How do I decide what is right and what is wrong? Where do I look for authority in moral matters?
Father, You have made me in Your image and likeness. Help me to embrace this as the truth and to look to Your will ‘in the beginning’ to discover the true reality of who I am meant to be.
St. Clare of Montefalco, abbess, pray for us.
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