Monthly Archives: May 2021

READINGS for the 9th Week of Ordinary Time: May 31-June 5

     

MAY 31 Mon The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Feast

Zep 3:14-18a or Rom 12:9-16/Lk 1:39-56 

JUNE 1 Tue Saint Justin, Martyr (Ninth Week in Ordinary Time)

Memorial Tb 2:9-14/Mk 12:13-17

2 Wed Weekday [Saints Marcellinus and Peter, Martyrs]

Tb 3:1-11a, 16-17a/Mk 12:18-27 

3 Thu Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs Memorial

Tb 6:10-11; 7:1bcde, 9-17; 8:4-9a/Mk 12:28-34

4 Fri Weekday Tb 11:5-17/Mk 12:35-37 

5 Sat Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr Memorial Tb 12:1, 5-15, 20/Mk 12:38-44 

6 SUN THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST (Corpus Christi) Solemnity

Ex 24:3-8/Heb 9:11-15/Mk 14:12-16, 22-26 

A feast of Mary occurs every month in the calendar. This month it’s the Visitation (May 31), placed between the Feast of the Annunciation (March 15) and the Birth of John the Baptist (June 24) Mary brings good news to her older cousin Elizabeth, who will give birth to John. Mary always brings the Good News of her Son to us too.Three years ago, we dedicated our Mary Garden.

The memorials in the calendar signify important saints for remembrance. Charles Lwanga and Companions, June 3rd, recall the spread of the gospel to Japan;  Boniface, June 5th, recalls the gospel reaching the Germanic peoples. The Martyr Justin, June 1st, is remembered for introducing the gospel to the philosophers of the Roman world. 

The Book of Tobit is our first reading most of the week. Listen as this good man wrestles with the challenge of exile, blindness and the fears that come from personal loss. In the distance, rescue waits. Great story.

Morning and Evening Prayers: http://www.praydaybyday.org. Week 1

By What Authority?

“By what authority?”
Response to Mark 11:27-33 in a tercet
Saturday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

They returned once more to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple area, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders approached him and said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I shall ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin? Answer me. ”They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”—they feared the crowd, for they all thought John really was a prophet. So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.” Then Jesus said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Mark 11:27-33

Learning by Doing

Our selections in our liturgy from the Book of Sirach end today with an old man’s reflections on growing in faith from his childhood. Far from the drudgery of rote learning, Sirach saw it take place in prayer and celebrating the Jewish feasts, bringing him wisdom and joy:

“When I was young and innocent, I sought wisdom openly in my prayer. I prayed for her before the temple and I will seek her until the end…My heart delighted in her, my feet kept to the level path because I was familiar with her.”

The journey of faith begins from childhood. Fortunate are those who, like Sirach, get to know faith from the beginning of their lives and never cease to be instructed in her “secrets”. They will keep to the right path.

Sirach, “Ecclesiasticus”, was a staple source for the catechesis of the early Christian church. You can see why. The learning Sirach describes is not knowing short questions and answers and then you got it. Catechesis, as you see in Sirach, is a introduction to the mystery of God, which begins from childhood and carries on until the end.  It’s not a lesson in human behavior. It’s a prayerful search into what was, what is and what ever shall be. It goes far beyond the human world.

It’s learning by doing, and blessed are those who meet with this kind of “great instruction”. 

“Saint” Sirach pray for us and may we follow your example.

Saints Over Celebrities

In today’s readings in our liturgy from the Book of Sirach, the kindly Jewish father and grandfather offers advice on what people to follow, who are examples showing us how to live? He picks saints over celebrities. Some are remembered by society, some are not. 

For 6 chapters (44-50) Sirach cites names celebrated in Jewish history, from Adam to Nehemiah “who rebuilt our ruined walls.” They gave themselves to building up the people of Israel; they’re not just people in the news. They helped others and their nation achieve something. For Sirach they’re Israel’s litany of saints. He tells those who come after him to follow them.

Good advice for us too. In a society today obsessed with celebrities we need to study and follow the saints. Our church calendar offers a selection of them on certain days of the year, some recognized the world over, like Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the apostles, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Theresa of Avila. They teach us how to live and are examples to follow.

There are saints and blessed men and women from our own countries who guide us too. Here in America, we have saints like St. Elizabeth Seton, St. Elizabeth Cabrini, St. John Neumann, Dorothy Day, the North American martyrs, to name of few.

What’s more, the saints to follow may not be formally recognized, the Book of Sirach notes. They’re saints we know and live with. Like Sirach, Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et exultate” calls attention to ordinary holiness in our world found in “the saints next door”:  “Their lives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failings they kept moving forward and proved pleasing to the Lord.” (3) 

Ordinary men and women we’ve known, the “saints next door”,  guide and support us through life. God’s wisdom and grace is given through them. They’re there and they’re never mentioned in the media.

Pray and Believe

“Pray and believe”
Mark 11:24 in a couplet
Friday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.

Mark 11:24

Sirach, a Teacher of Children

This week we’re reading selections in the lectionary from the Book of Sirach. The Book of Sirach, written in the early 2nd century BC,  is a compilation of a Jewish father’s or grandfather’s advice to his son or grandson. Formerly, it was called the Book of Ecclesiasticus, because it was used extensively by the church to teach catechumens and young people about right living and morality. 

It’s more than a book of do’s and dont’s, of memorized commandments or little gems of human wisdom. It puts human life and creation itself in the context of God’s plan. 

You can see that in today’s reading:

“How beautiful are all his works!

even to the spark and fleeting vision!

The universe lives and abides forever;

to meet each need, each creature is preserved.

All of them differ, one from another,

yet none of them has he made in vain,

For each in turn, as it comes, is good;

can one ever see enough of their splendor?” (Sirach 42:20-25)

The simplest, smallest thing that passes quickly away, like a spark or fleeting vision, is beautiful–like the small pollinators at work now in our garden or the spring fireflies in our night sky, Each thing has its place in the universe, Sirach says.  “All of them differ, one from another, yet none of them has God made in vain.” 

Sirach sees creation as Pope Francis does in Laudato si’. “For each in turn, as it comes, is good; can one ever see enough of their splendor?” Creation is given to us, not to be exploited or judged by our needs, but to reveal God’s glory. We live in a world of mutuality and interconnectedness, where the smallest have a place. 

That way of looking at creation is also the way to look at humanity, Sirach tells his son and grandson. Be humble and don’t miss those who live humbly, the poor, the widow, the suffering, the sick. Be honest and truthful and generous and kind. See God in humanity, especially where God seems in disguise.

Does Sirach, an old catechetical work, offer a framework for catechesis today, which may be too humanly oriented in its approach? I think it does.

Blind Bartimaeus

“Blind Bartimaeus”
Mark 10:46-52 “in a snailshell”
Thursday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

They came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, he is calling you.” He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

Mark 10:46-52

Ordinary Time

For the next 6 months we’re living in what our liturgical calendar calls “Ordinary Time,” which follows the Feast of Pentecost. It’s the time of the Holy Spirit. We’re not orphans. As Jesus promised the Holy Spirit will teach us all things and lead us on our way. The lenten and easter seasons, recalling the  death and resurrection of Jesus, are over. The seasons of Advent and Christmas are months away.

We’re living in the time of the church, when the Holy Spirit dwelling within forms us to be “children of God,” who cry out to God, “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8,14-17) We’re a holy people, saints of God.

Saints? But aren’t saints perfect? Far from perfect, we’re rather like that field of weeds and wheat God’s word falls on, sometimes heard, sometimes not. Yet God sows grace in us, calling us to be holy as God is holy.

The universal call to holiness is one of the most important teachings of the Second Vatican Council, and it’s one of Pope Francis’ favorite topics which, in his letter on Christian holiness, “Gaudete et Exultate,” he explores in his homey concrete style.

Don’t miss “the saints next door,” he says.  “These witnesses may include our own mothers, grandmothers or other loved ones (cf. 2 Tim 1:5). Their lives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failings they kept moving forward and proved pleasing to the Lord.”

“I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church militant. Very often it’s a holiness found in our next-door neighbors, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them “the middle class of holiness”. (7]

“Each in his or her own way,” we’re called to holiness, the Vatican Council says. Each of us has to discern God’s call, to find our own path, to discover the gifts God gives. We don’t have to follow someone else’s path or have someone else’s gifts. To be holy means to grow with the gifts we have from God.

Ordinary time begins today with a feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, mother of saints. Faithful hearer of the Spirit, she knows the meaning of daily patience. To use a term from Pope Francis, she’s Mary “next door.” She’s with us day by day. She’s at home with the day by day saints. She’s Mother of the Church.

Prayer

O God, Father of mercies,
your Only Begotten Son, as he hung upon the Cross,
chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, his Mother,
to be our Mother also.
Grant, we pray, that with her loving help
your Church may be more fruitful day by day
and by the holiness of her children,
draw to her embrace all the families of the earth..
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.