Vi e Ben Noto is one of Pope Leo’s encyclicals on the Rosary it’s focus is on the Rosary and Public Life, it is addressed to the Bishops of Italy. Like many other of Leo’s rosary encyclicals it is a gentle reminder from His Holiness to pray the Rosary during the month of October. Sure it is addressed to those in Italy but just like other it seems like it could have been written a fortnight ago. ” We find . . . much to sadden Our souls. Faith and Christian morals, the precious inheritance bequeathed by Our ancestors, and in all past times the glory of Our country and of Italy’s great ones, are being attacked artfully and in covert ways, or even openly, with cynicism that is revolting, by a handful of men who seek to rob others of that faith and morality they have themselves lost.” This can be said of many places around the world today where so many of us care more about what’s happening in the world but not to the world. It’s complex but are we a Christian more than on Sunday, do we take what we hear and synthesize it. As Pope Leo states to his fellow bishops “Let it be your work, venerable brethren, to revive this Christian feeling among your people, an interest in the Catholic cause, a confidence in Our Lady’s help, and a spirit of prayer.” Let us all take some time this week and pray the rosary or some other form of prayer this week.
This week the readings come from Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4; Psalm 95; Paul’s second letter to Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14; and Luke’s Gospel 17:5-10.
Faith is the common factor throughout all the readings. Beginning with Habakkuk telling us that the Lord say that the just one because of their faith will live. Even though there are woes in the world violence and hatred those that have faith will be safe. This was an important message that is still debated today “Why do bad things happen to good people?” We all call to the Lord for help and often time our prayers are unanswered but we need to keep the faith. This idea is continued in the Gospel where we have a Mustard seed come up again. The Mustard seed is one of my favorite images in the Gospels as it is the small seed that can grow into a great size. This is especially true with each of our faith lives sure we all have doubts about our faith, like those Habakkuk is talking to we cry out the woes of the world and hope that the Lord will do something but all to often it doesn’t happen the way we want it to. This is Jesus echoing the keep the faith idea. Now the second half of the Gospel is just as interesting we are asked who among us would tell a servant who was coming in after tending the field/sheep to come sit at the table with them but would rather ask the servant to serve them and let them eat later. We should respond to what we are commanded to do with “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” It’s like the Alexander Pope quote “Act well your part for there all honor lies” we do what is expected of ourselves and good will come from it.
This wee the readings come from Wisdom 18:6-9; Psalm 33; the Letter to the Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-12 or 19; and Luke’s Gospel 12:32-48.
The theme this week is how Faith gives us hope. We hear about Abraham who after the Lord told him to leave Ur and his homeland with his family did so without asking why for he had faith that the Lord would provide for him. This idea is hinted at in Wisdom where we hear about the Passover and Exodus is an idea that has been known for the ages of Jewish History, Abraham, Issac, Jacob and the like all knew to have faith and hope. We continue this idea in Luke with the parable of the Faithful Servant. This is the one where the servant awaits the Master to return from a Wedding but the servant doesn’t know when this will happen. We need to be like the servant who is ready for their master to return rather then the one who beats others and drink up the wine. It’s like if we knew when a robber would come and break into the house we’d be ready, but we never know when this is going to happen so it’s best to be safe. As the motto of scouting says “Be Prepared”. We need to be ready for anything to happen and have faith that things will end up positively. I hope that we can keep all those in Rio for the Olympics (athletes, coaches, and fans) as well as everyone who is traveling in our prayers this next couple of weeks that they all are kept safe.
This week the readings come from Genesis 18:20-32, Psalm 138,Paul’s letter to the Colossians 2:12-14, and Luke’s Gospel 11:1-13.
We hear several times in these reading about being persistent. In Genesis we hear of Abraham who pleads with the Lord to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if there are but fifty innocent people in the city and works his way down to ten. The Lord then says if he can find ten innocent people he will spare the cities. Haggling with the Lord to save the lives of many, this is something lost in the prayers of many of us as we tend to see it as a one way conversation. This idea continues in the Gospel where the friend goes asking for bread at midnight and if the one in bed doesn’t get up at first it is only due to the persistence of the friend knocking on the door. So to is it with the Lord all we have to do is knock and it will be open, ask and we shall receive, seek and we will find. We need to be persistent in our prayers, as we hear Paul tell us we need to pray without ceasing. Sort of like the Jesus Prayer in the Orthodox Church where it’s a simple mantra “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” and the mantra becomes a part of your life. Prayer needs to become a part of our lives more than the hour on Sunday at Mass.
We are back with the mysteries of the Rosary. Mary, Joseph and Jesus went down to Jerusalem to the temple for Passover when Jesus was about twelve or so and on there way back to Nazareth Jesus couldn’t be found, both Mary and Joseph though he was with the other parent or with some of their relatives so about three days later they discovered he wasn’t there. So they went back and found Jesus sitting with the teachers in the temple listening and asking questions. All were impressed with his understanding of what the teachers in the temple were talking about. When Mary and Joseph show up anxious from looking for Jesus, Jesus responds to them that where else would he have been, “in my Father’s house” or “about my Father’s business” or “in the things of my Father”. We should all remember this and at times when we feel lost we can always find Jesus in these places. All to often we can lose Jesus in our lives and not have space for him but we can always find him again.
This week the readings come from the prophet Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1; Psalm 63; Paul’s letter to the Galatians 3:26-29; and Luke’s Gospel 9:18-24.
The main thing to realize from the readings this week is the active role that we all need to take in our faith lives. As Jesus points out in the Gospel we need to take up our crosses and follow him. To the apostles he asks “Who do people say I am?” How would we answer this question if posed to us. Do we suffer with the Messiah or would we rather forget about it and only remember the happy part. We all live in between peaks of joy and valleys of despair. When we are in despair we remember the peaks of joy and try to get back there, so to could be said with faith. We tend to focus on Easter and being an ‘easter people’ for so much time that we can forget about the tragic events that lead to it. Sure we remember the whole Passion at each and every celebration of the Eucharist, but all to often we hear about the good thing people overcoming struggles, helping those in need. We should struggle with our crosses because if we don’t it seems meaningless Jesus carried the weight of the world on his way to die and what minor problems do we have compared to that.
Chapter six offers some Pastoral Perspective, as we can tell Pope Francis goes through some perspective on the family from that of bishops using the final reports from the synod. It emphasizes that families need to be evangelized and go out and evangelize as well. Sure the training of religious is lacking in understanding the complexities of families face today but training could be better and there is a wealth of knowledge in the oriental tradition (Coptic, Marionite, Ruthenian, Melkite) where there are married clergy. Pope Francis turn to divorce and calls it a evil and hopes that by focusing on the family the Church can prevent the spread of the evil of our times.
The focus of chapter seven is about the education of children. It starts off by saying that parents shouldn’t be that concerned where their children are and how they are doing at all times but rather who they are with. As Pope Francis puts it “obsession is not education.” It goes on talking about how parents are the first teachers of their children. Surprisingly, there is a section focusing on sexual education it needs to be more encompassing then just the biological with an emphasis on ‘safe sex’ it need to be a education for love or mutual self-giving.
Chapter eight is the most talked about section of this exhortation. It begins echoing what Pope Francis said “Let us not forget that the Church’s task is often like that of a field hospital.” This section covers some controversial subjects and the word guiding, discerning and integrating are key. It is best summarized by a paragraph where the faithful in complicated situation should talk with pastors or other lay people “They may not always encounter in them a confirmation of their own ideas or desires, but they will surely receive some light to help them better understand their situation and discover a path to personal growth. I also encourage the Church’s pastors to listen to them with sensitivity and serenity, with a sincere desire to understand their plight and their point of view, in order to help them live better lives and to recognize their proper place in the Church.” (312)
Chapter Nine turns back to marriage and the family. Here we talk about gifts of love small but real gestures that not only lead us closer to each other but also closer to our Father in heaven for as Pope Benedict XVI said blinding ourselves of the world and those around us blinds us to God as well. The final paragraph is necessary reading material for all families “no family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love.” This is our never-ending vocation. Pope Francis then concludes with a prayer to the Holy Family.
The fruit of this mystery is Faith.
This ties in nicely with the readings this past Sunday, where we heard about Thomas and how he needed to see the nail marks in his hands and put his hands in the side of Jesus, so he would know it was truly Jesus. I read some other commentaries/reflections on the readings and it notes that the other apostles needed to see the hand and side of Jesus before they believed that it was truly the Christ resurrected, so they all needed proof that it was Jesus. So we are truly blessed since we cannot see but still believe. Pope Francis’s encyclical Lumen fidei the conclusion of Benedict XVI’s encyclicals on the theological virtues (Faith, Hope, Love) is a the most recent church document about faith. In general terms our faith is based on love, we have utmost faith in something we love. Let us grow closer to the Lord during this season of Easter and come to love our heavenly family.
This week the readings come from Acts 5:12-16; Psalm 118; Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; and John’s Gospel 20:19-31.
In case you missed it this is the Second Sunday in Easter or more commonly known as Divine Mercy Sunday, your church might be praying the Chaplet today at 3pm, they are go and pray it. Today the readings focus on Faith with the story of Doubting Thomas in the Gospel. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have still believed.” This gospel reading is the only one across all three years of the cycle. If you look at the Divine Mercy image you understand it right away, as in the image Jesus is blessing us with his left hand pointing toward his chest with red and pale (white) rays coming from his heart. Just like at the Crucifixion blood and water flow from Jesus, below the image is usually the phrase “Jesus, I Trust in You.” We need to put our trust in Jesus, we don’t get to be like Thomas and ask to see his hand and feet and side to prove that it is actually Jesus but we will know it is him through love.
“Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know Me, I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy.”
Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.
We go from praying for all the faithful to all those who don’t believe. This novena covers all people and we aren’t praying that they convert outright but that they have some understanding of the Divine Mercy that the Lord provides and that they are kept in the heart of Christ just like the faithful. It is just like in Genesis when Abraham pleaded with the Lord for the sake of Sodom, where Abraham haggles with the Lord from finding fifty righteous people in all of Sodom to that of only ten righteous people. The Lord answers that for the sake of the ten I will not destroy it. There are many people who are righteous living in the world and although they do no know God, the Lord cares about these people as much as the faithful.