Readings & Reflections: Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time & St. Giles Mary of St. Joseph, February 13,2018
When Jesus warns his disciples against the leaven of the Pharisees, they take his words literally. God “willed to give us birth by the word of truth.” We “understand and comprehend” that Word as we pay attention to the way it takes flesh in our lives, changing things and making the impossible possible.
Heavenly Father, We are mere human beings who struggle in faith, hope and love. We need to grow in our understanding of and, more importantly, in our intimate relationship and union with Christ. Lord enable us to open ourselves to the vastness of your love for us in Jesus. Give us the faith that remains constant as we journey back to our true home with You.
Dear Jesus, Help us understand who and what You are for us and to rejoice with You who conquered even death for us. Be with us as we walk with You in the situations and events of our lives. Help us to understand not just with our minds but with our hearts: that You are indeed the Lord of our lives. We humbly pray in your Name. Amen.
Blessed is he who perseveres in temptation,
for when he has been proven he will receive the crown of life
that he promised to those who love him.
No one experiencing temptation should say,
“I am being tempted by God”;
for God is not subject to temptation to evil,
and he himself tempts no one.
Rather, each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his desire.
Then desire conceives and brings forth sin,
and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters:
all good giving and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.
He willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
The word of the Lord.
Ps 94: 12-13a, 14-15, 18-19
R. (12a) Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.
Blessed the man whom you instruct, O LORD,
whom by your law you teach,
Giving him rest from evil days.
R. Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.
For the LORD will not cast off his people,
nor abandon his inheritance;
But judgment shall again be with justice,
and all the upright of heart shall follow it.
R. Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.
When I say, “My foot is slipping,”
your mercy, O LORD, sustains me;
When cares abound within me,
your comfort gladdens my soul.
R. Blessed the man you instruct, O Lord.
The disciples had forgotten to bring bread,
and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out,
guard against the leaven of the Pharisees
and the leaven of Herod.”
They concluded among themselves that
it was because they had no bread.
When he became aware of this he said to them,
“Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread?
Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember,
when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?”
They answered him, “Twelve.”
“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand,
how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”
They answered him, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection 1 – Watch out
The wide range of foolish things which we human beings can account for never ceases to astonish me. We destroy our bodies with controlled substances even though we know better. We choose to conform to what is wrong and what is of the world knowingly that they will draw us farther away from our God. We destroy our marital unions even our familial and friendly relations by continuing to focus on ourselves and utter disregard for the good of others. We only want to satisfy our lustful pride and seek pleasure for its own sake.
There is also the downright evil side of us, the lying, cheating, stealing and killing, the willingness to commit slander against people who do not belong to our inner circle and who seem to be at odds with us, the willingness to pursue power, fame and fortune at the expense of others, the willingness to turn our backs on the poor and the suffering.
All in all, between nonsense and downright evil, we all seem to fit into what we can call man’s wickedness, which made God regret that He made man on the earth and His heart be grieved by it. “When the Lord saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil, he regretted that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was grieved.” Genesis 6:5-6
Our Lord sends His message that even though we have been sinful in our ways there’s something more to us than all that. Remember, after God formed Adam’s body from clay, the story says that he breathed into Adam’s nostrils HIS OWN BREATH, meaning there is more to us than wickedness. There is something special in us. God’s own life is in us. God’s holiness is upon us. We were made for a special purpose and our Lord God will never allow any impediment to stop it. We have a faithful God Whose only concern is bring the godly and holy Character of His Son Jesus Christ to emerge in our lives. God has not only breathed his own breath into us and but He has taught us His ways so that our evil days may come to rest.
So when Jesus instructed His disciples, “Keep your eyes open! Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod,”He was not referring to them having forgotten to bring bread on the boat but a frustrated realization on the part of Jesus that His disciples never really understood who He was.
“Do you still not understand?”
We always believed that Jesus’ disciples were so close to Him and that they really comprehended Jesus’ in every way. But their actions and responses did not show any signs of being connected deeply with Jesus. They obviously had a long way to go!
We too may have a long way to go in letting Jesus into our lives and into our hearts. We are not far from the disciples who never really understood Jesus at that time, much more commit to Him.
Amidst temptation and weakness of our flesh and despite the goodness God poured on us, we may all give way to temptation and sin. The leaven Jesus was talking about in today’s gospel may penetrate our hearts and puff us up in arrogance. This is the reason Jesus wants all men to be on guard against the teachings and the skepticism of the Pharisees. He warns every man of every generation about the hypocrisy of His enemies which can likewise bring evil and sin into our hearts.
Jesus is once more repeating to all of us the very words he spoke to His disciples: “Do you still not understand?” Jesus is reminding us to live His life and follow Him. He wants to let us know that even with our sinful nature, our Heavenly Father loves us and that He will still provide for all our needs. He accepts us for who we are and not for who He wants us to be…He has forgiven us! “You, LORD, will not forsake your people, nor abandon your very own.” Psalm 94:14 The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Today, Jesus encourages us to transcend the world and its small concerns and worries and focus on Him, if we are to be victorious in His Name. To share in His resurrection, we too need to share in His cross!
Ask God for spiritual direction amidst the forces of the world that draw us away from Him.
Heavenly Father, bless your people with peace and allow us to stand in awe of your goodness as we place our hope in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Reflection 2 – Trusting God’s power
Have you ever worked with someone who liked power too much? Or have you ever had a boss who liked to put people in their place? The Jews and early Christians were subject to such authoritarian leadership under Roman Rule. Likewise, much power was given to the Jewish religious leaders for spiritual development, which some exercised by enforcing compliance to the many complex rules of the faith.
Strict direction may be warranted at times to keep civility among a distressed population. The Romans were constantly stopping riots protesting their occupation. But too often it became bullying for its own sake and oppressing those with just cause for complaint. As for the Pharisees, Jesus of Nazareth was not the first one to lead the Israelites away from Temple loyally. Sometimes the shift was to a more genuine commitment to the Lord. Other times, the people were led into idolatry and sin.
Both the Romans and the Pharisees were known for demanding high prices for their services and rendering little mercy to offenders. Perhaps this is what Jesus was pondering when he spoke to his disciples in the boat, saying, “guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” Jesus was training his disciples to be spiritual leaders and warning them against the temptation to abuse power. Jesus rebukes the disciples for their fearful reaction and reminds them of God’s tremendous power and kindness. As an example, he asks them how many baskets were left over. He implies that when doing God’s work the outcome is perfect gift. With God there are no hidden conditions or excessive costs, unlike the common practices of the Pharisees and Herod.
James (Jas 1:12-18) brings the gospel notion of pure gift into perspective by charging us to not allow ourselves to get distracted by temptations, but to follow Gods light and goodness. In him there is no shadow or malice. In him we can trust. (Source: Jeffrey Trytko, Weekday Homily Helps. Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, February 16, 2010).
Reflection 3 – Wipe it out before it multiplies
Antibiotics are the miracle of modern medicine. There are people in this church today who would not be here if it weren’t for this stupendous medication. Antibiotics actually change the DNA structure of infectious bacteria. When a bacterial infection threatens us, the antibiotics “neuter” the genes, denying the bacteria the chance to multiply. The bacteria eventually die out, and our system is restored to health.
Getting to the root of the things that threaten our health is what the readings are about today. A somewhat naïve God in the first reading (Gen 6:5-8; 7:1-5) is hoping to wipe out the lamentable “evil” in the human heart by starting from scratch. He picks the favored Noah to be the good seed that would change the reckless course of evil that was multiplying in the first attempt at creation. It’s certainly one way to tackle the problem.
In the Gospel (Mk 8:14-21), Jesus takes the opportunity of a loaf of bread to remind the disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees. He confounds the disciples with examples of the kind of leaven he himself was able to produce and multiply. In the process, Jesus showed the disciples that the leaven of the Pharisees needs to be counteracted. It’s subversive and it can grow, but so can the tremendous deeds of the kingdom of God. The leaven of the Pharisees was mistrust and a spreading resentment over what Jesus was doing in his ministry. Those subversive bacteria can grow and multiply. We see it in our own parish with short, pointed negative comments to other parishioners. Negative attitudes can overturn a parish like a bad flu season.
We have to change the DNA as soon as we encounter it. We need to nip the leaven in the bud before it multiplies. We need to multiply trust in our God and trust in one another. As vigilant as we are with bacteria in these days of soaps and sprays and lotions meant to keep bacteria from spreading, we need to be just as alert to Jesus’ warning that the leaven of distrust and doubt needs to be eradicated before it can spread and work its ugly and insidious consequences. (Source: John Petrikovic, OFM, Cap, Weekday Homily Helps. Ohio: St. Anthony Messenger Press, February 17, 2009).
Reflection 4 – Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod
Do you allow anxiety or fear to keep you from trusting in God’s provision for your life? The apostles worried because they forgot to bring bread for their journey. And that was right after Jesus miraculously fed a group of five thousand people (Mark 6:41-44, Matthew 14:17-21), and then on another occasion four thousand people (Mark 8:1-10, Matthew 15:34-38)! How easy it is to forget what God has already done for us and to doubt what he promises to do for us in the future as well. Scripture tells us that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). Ask the Lord Jesus to fill your heart with his love and to increase your faith in his provident care for you.
Beware the “leaven” which corrupts mind, body, and soul
Jesus cautioned the disciples to beware of bread that corrupts, such as the “leaven of the Pharisees.” When leaven ferments a lump of wet dough, it transforms the dough and changes it into life-enriching bread when heated. Left-over dough which had been leavened (but not baked) would rot and become putrefied. For the Jew leaven was a sign or symbol of evil influence. It signified anything which rots and corrupts, not just physically but spiritually and morally as well.
Jesus warned his disciples to avoid the way of the Pharisees and Sadducees who sought their own counsels rather than the mind of God. They were blinded by their own arrogance and were unable to recognize the truth and wisdom which Jesus spoke in the name of his Father in heaven. What kind of leaven (spiritual, moral, intellectual) do you allow to influence your way of thinking and living? Jesus sharply contrasts the bread and leaven which produces life, especially the abundant life which God offers through Jesus, the true bread of heaven, with the bread and leaven which rots and corrupts mind, body, and soul.
Let God’s word nourish and strengthen you in faith, hope, and love
As the disciples continued to worry about their lack of physical bread for the journey, Jesus reminded them of his miraculous provision of bread in the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand. He then upbraided them for their lack of trust in God. Aren’t we like the apostles? We too easily get preoccupied with the problems, needs, and worries of the present moment, and we forget the most important reality of all – God’s abiding presence with us!
When the people of Israel wandered in the desert homeless and helpless for forty years, God was with them every step of the way. And he provided for them shelter, food, water, and provision, as long as they trusted in him. Each day he gave them just what they needed. Jesus teaches us to trust in God’s abiding presence with us and in his promise to provide us what we need each and every day to live as his sons and daughters. Do you pray with joyful confidence, “Father, give us this day our daily bread”?
“Lord Jesus, you alone are the true bread of life which sustains us each and every day. Give me joy and strength to serve you always and help me to turn away from the leaven of sin and worldliness which brings corruption and death.” – Read the source: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/2018/feb13.htm
Reflection 5 – What don’t you understand?
“Do you still not understand?” Jesus asks in today’s Gospel reading. Whenever we sin, or whenever we respond to life in unhealthy ways, it’s because we really don’t understand what Jesus taught with his words and with his life — and why he taught it. Thus Jesus said on the cross, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They didn’t understand!
When we sin, it’s usually because we don’t understand the goodness of God’s commandments or the underlying love in the teachings of the Church.
We sabotage our lives with bad decisions or addictions, setting ourselves up for failure, chasing away the friends that God has given us, etc., because we don’t understand the damage that we’re doing to ourselves.
We don’t want to love everyone unconditionally, because we don’t understand how God loves us. We run from suffering and we reject those who cause us difficulties, because we don’t realize the value of embracing our crosses.
We live in non-sacramental marriages, because we don’t understand what’s missing. Or we live in a valid divorce without an annulment, because we don’t know the healing and freedom we experience in the process.
We’re disinterested in ministry, because we don’t understand what it’s like to be God’s partner. We go home from Mass unchanged, because we don’t really understand what’s happening in the Eucharist.
We reject Church teachings that we don’t like, because we don’t understand what the Church is really teaching. But if we research them with a humble heart, we discover just how good and loving they really are. They are based on scriptures and on love!
Understanding is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s one of the fruits of reading the Word of God. It’s the blessing that comes from listening when we pray. It’s a harvest yielded from retreats, spiritual seminars, and parish missions. It’s a grace shared in good conversation with Christian friends. But true understanding is not achieved unless it’s heard in the heart. For that, we have to act upon the truth.
We see the truth and we forget it.
We hear the truth and we remember it.
We DO the truth and finally we understand it.
Are you willing to really understand? – Read the source: http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2018-02-13
Reflection 6 – What flood are you trying to survive?
When I read the story of Noah’s cruise (Genesis 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10), I like to think that if I had lived in those days I would have been one of those holy folks who made it onto the ark. However, there have been times when I’ve caused my own floods by turning away from God’s guidance while he was trying to lead me to the safety of an ark.
We all have our self-inflicted floods. We drown in pride or fear. We turn away from the ark that God is offering by using problem-solving methods that are not of God. We make choices based on how we feel instead of paying attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying in our spirit. We try to build easy lives in smooth valleys and assume that this home will never be deluged by too much rainfall.
God never ceases trying to guide us. He reaches out to us in scriptures, in our prayer time, in the homilies we hear, in the words of his people around us, and so on. But when we choose to do things in contrary ways, we create the clouds that rain on our nice valleys, and if we keep adding to the storm, it overwhelms us with a flood of problems.
Then we try to survive the storm by swimming, but we grow weary and start to sink in the stink of the ever-deepening waters of evil. We cry out for help, but if we only want to protect our precious plot of land in the valley, we’re not interested in the ark that would float us away from what has been familiar and comfortable and “ours” — and then we get angry at God as if it’s his fault that we’re drowning!
Whether it’s by our own fault or by external circumstances that we cannot control, Jesus says to us through today’s Gospel reading: “Do you still not understand?” He is the ark that the Father has provided. He is the Lord who will bless us with peace, whose voice calls out to us over the vast waters, as it says in the responsorial Psalm.
As we gulp for air, scared that the flood is overwhelming us, he asks: “Don’t you remember what I have done for you in the past?”
How has he rescued you before? He will do it again! What miracles did he use to meet your needs? He will do it again! How did he turn suffering and hardships into blessings? He will do it again!
Jesus is the ark that saves us. When we turn to him, regretting that we have not allowed him to lead us away from our comfort zone in the valley, sorry that we did not follow his example nor accept his advice — ZAP! Our remorse immediately plops us safely into the ark. We might still have a storm to ride out, but now we are safe. We are protected by his love and merciful forgiveness.
In today’s demoralizing world, environmental damage, wars and terrorist attacks, rampant immorality, anti-Christian agendas — and in your own personal crises: More than ever, keep your eyes on Jesus! – Read the source: http://gnm.org/good-news-reflections/?useDrDate=2017-02-14
Reflection 7 – St. Giles Mary of St. Joseph (1729-1812 A.D.)
In the same year that a power-hungry Napoleon Bonaparte led his army into Russia, Giles Mary of St. Joseph ended a life of humble service to his Franciscan community and to the citizens of Naples.
Francesco was born in Taranto to very poor parents. His father’s death left the 18-year-old Francesco to care for the family. Having secured their future, he entered the Friars Minor at Galatone in 1754. For 53 years he served at St. Paschal’s Hospice in Naples in various roles, such as cook, porter or most often as official beggar for that community.
“Love God, love God” was his characteristic phrase as he gathered food for the friars and shared some of his bounty with the poor—all the while consoling the troubled and urging everyone to repent. The charity which he reflected on the streets of Naples was born in prayer and nurtured in the common life of the friars. The people whom Giles met on his begging rounds nicknamed him the “Consoler of Naples.” He was canonized in 1996.
People often become arrogant and power hungry when they try to live a lie, for example, when they forget their own sinfulness and ignore the gifts God has given to other people. Giles had a healthy sense of his own sinfulness—not paralyzing but not superficial either. He invited men and women to recognize their own gifts and to live out their dignity as people made in God’s divine image. Knowing someone like Giles can help us on our own spiritual journey.
In his homily at the canonization of Giles, Pope John Paul II said that the spiritual journey of Giles reflected “the humility of the Incarnation and the gratuitousness of the Eucharist” (L’Osservatore Romano 1996, volume 23, number 1).
Read the source: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1290
SAINT OF THE DAY
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God’s invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.
EGIDIO MARIA OF SAINT JOSEPH
|BORN||16 November 1729
Taranto, Apulia, Kingdom of Naples
|DIED||7 February 1812 (aged 82)
Naples, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
|VENERATED IN||Roman Catholic Church|
|BEATIFIED||5 February 1888, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Kingdom of Italy by Pope Leo XIII|
|CANONIZED||2 June 1996, Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II|
Saint Egidio Maria of Saint Joseph (16 November 1729 – 7 February 1812) – born Francesco Postillo – was an Italianprofessed religious from the Order of Friars Minor. Postillo became a Franciscan brother rather than as an ordained priest due to his lack of a proper education and so dedicated himself to the care of the poor and ill in southern Italian cities such as Taranto and Naples where he earned the moniker of the “Consoler of Naples”.
Pope Pius IX titled him as Venerable in 1868 and he was later beatified under Pope Leo XIII in 1888 before he was canonized under Pope John Paul II in 1996. His liturgical feast is celebrated on an annual basis on the date of his death.
Francesco Postillo was born in Taranto on 16 November 1729 to Cataldo Postillo and Grazia Procaccio; three siblings later followed him. He was baptized as Francesco Domenico Antonio Pasquale Postillo.
His father died in 1747 and this forced Postillo to seek work to provide for his widowed mother and siblings. For a brief period of time he worked as a rope maker. The lack of a personal education meant that he was unable to become a priest and served instead as a professed religious in the Order of Friars Minor in Naples. He applied to enter the order on 27 February 1754 and made his solemn profession of vows on 28 February 1755 at the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Galatone. He assumed the religious name of “Egidio of the Mother of God” but he later altered this instead to “Egidio Maria of Saint Joseph”.Postillo served as a porter and gatekeeper to his convent and worked as a cook at the convent in Squinzanowhile also working with lepers; he often travelled outside the confines of his convent to beg for alms and to aid those who were shunned and isolated. Postillo spent almost a week at a convent in Capuso near Bari in 1759 when he was assigned to the convent of San Pasquale in Chiaia near Naples.
The process for sainthood commenced in Naples in an informative process that Cardinal Filippo Giudice Caracciolo opened and later closed in 1843. Pope Pius IX named him as Venerable on 24 February 1868 after confirming that Postillo had lived a model life of heroic virtue and Pope Leo XIII later beatified the late religious on 5 February 1888 after the confirmation of two miracles attributed to his intercession. On 29 June 1919 the Archbishop of Taranto Orazio Mazzella named him as the patron of Taranto.
The third miracle – and the one that led to Postillo’s canonization – was investigated and received validation from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 2 October 1992 which led to a medical board approving it on 27 January 1994; theologians did likewise on 13 May 1994 as did the C.C.S. on 18 October 1994. Pope John Paul II approved the healing to be a miracle – the 1937 cure of Mrs. Angela Mignogna – on 15 December 1994 and canonized Postillo as a saint on 2 June 1996.