Monthly Archives: September 2021

Lambs Among Wolves

“Lambs Among Wolves”
Luke 10:1-12 “in a snailshell”
Thursday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

After this the Lord appointed seventy[-two] others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.

Luke 10:1-12

Seventy or seventy-two? The New American Bible (Revised Edition) brackets off the [-two] in its text with this explanation:

Seventy[-two]: important representatives of the Alexandrian and Caesarean text types read “seventy,” while other important Alexandrian texts and Western readings have “seventy-two.”

Both readings come from authoritative manuscripts. Commentators find significance in the number seventy for three reasons:

1. The spirit of prophecy was given to seventy elders to assist Moses in his work.

Then the Lord said to Moses: Assemble for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be elders and authorities among the people, and bring them to the tent of meeting. When they are in place beside you, I will come down and speak with you there. I will also take some of the spirit that is on you and will confer it on them, that they may share the burden of the people with you. You will then not have to bear it by yourself.

Numbers 11:16-17

2. The number seventy evokes the Sanhedrin, consisting of seventy or seventy-one elders or councilors, the highest authoritative assembly in Jerusalem. Historians distinguish between a political and a religious Sanhedrin, but the tradition of a supreme magistrate of seventy originated in the Mosaic period.

3. Seventy had mystical significance as representing the number of the nations (Genesis 10; 46:27; Exodus 1:5; see the NABRE footnote to Genesis 10:1).

Seventy and seventy-two may have equal authoritative weight in the manuscripts for another reason: the rabbinic tradition debated whether Eldad and Medad were among the seventy elders called by Moses, or two additional men upon whom the spirit of prophecy fell. 

So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. Gathering seventy elders of the people, he had them stand around the tent. The Lord then came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses, he bestowed it on the seventy elders; and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied but did not continue.

Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad, had remained in the camp, yet the spirit came to rest on them also. They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent; and so they prophesied in the camp. So, when a young man ran and reported to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp,” Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses’ aide, said, “My lord, Moses, stop them.” But Moses answered him, “Are you jealous for my sake? If only all the people of the Lord were prophets! If only the Lord would bestow his spirit on them!”

Numbers 11:24-29

According to the 13th century French rabbi and Bible commentator, Hizkuni/Chizkuni (Hezekiah ben Manoah), Eldad and Medad were not part of the original seventy, but received the spirit in the camp for mysterious reasons known only to God. The text leaves room for speculation because verse 24 states that Moses gathered seventy elders around the tent. Yet verse 26 states that Eldad and Medad were “on the list” or “enrolled in the list,” which leaves a logical gap.

Another French rabbi, Rashbam (Samuel ben Meir, 1085-1158), on the contrary, believed that Eldad and Medad were numbered among the seventy, but did not join the others at the tent of meeting out of humility. God’s spirit nevertheless pursued them to fulfill the divine plan.

Dr. Rabbi David Frankel, a contemporary biblical commentator, offers the interesting perspective that Eldad and Medad were holy rebels among the seventy, who nonetheless received the spirit of prophecy despite having disobeyed Moses’ command to go to the tent of meeting. For Dr. Rabbi Frankel, this episode manifests the divine freedom to diffuse its spirit beyond the confines of institutionalized religion. See his essay, Eldad and Medad Prophesied in the Camp.1

Missing data and manuscript variations leave room for scholarly speculation, but symbols draw details and divergences into one holistic vision.

The mission of the seventy[-two] and the mission of the Twelve reinforce each other. Both numbers are symbolic, recalling the seventy elders of Moses and the twelve tribes of Israel— the union and communion of all nations in the Body of Christ.


1 Dr. Rabbi David Frankel’s intuition of a need for personal freedom within religious communities stimulates further reflection in light of the revelation of the Trinity. Pluralism is usually seen as a threat to institutions, but divine diversity in the perichoresis of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit always respects the dignity of persons and draws them together in love. For God is Love (1 John 4:8). The simultaneity of personal plurality and oneness within the Body of Christ will always be a labor of love in this earthly pilgrimage. Blessed diversity bears the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Related posts: 

Two by Two
Neither Gold Nor Silver
Penniless Preachers
The Spirit Blows Where It Wills

Saint Jerome

jerome

St. Jerome, whose feast is September 30, was a scripture scholar who made the Bible better understood by western Christians through his translations from the Greek and Hebrew. “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ,” he said.

He was born in 340 in Stridon, a small town on the eastern Adriatic coast, and received an early education in Rome where he was baptized in 360 by Pope Liberius.

Brilliant and eager for knowledge,  Jerome traveled extensively. In Antioch in Syria he had a dream in which he saw himself rebuked by Christ for wasting his time on worldly knowledge. Moved by the dream, Jerome withdrew into the Syrian desert. There he said he was beset by temptations and “threw himself at the feet of Jesus, watering them with prayers and acts of penance.” The picture above portrays him praying to be delivered from temptation.

For penance Jerome threw himself into the study of scripture. He began studying Hebrew under a Jewish teacher, which later helped him translate and comment on the Bible. We usually think of penance as giving up things; Jerome reminds us it can also be taking on things.

Ordained a priest, Jerome arrived in Constantinople about 380 where he studied the scriptures under St. Gregory of Nazianzen. Two years later, he returned to Rome and was given the monumental task of translating the bible from Greek into Latin by Pope Damasus. His translation, called the Vulgate, along with his learned commentaries and sermons, sparked a flowering of spirituality in the western church. Jerome won a devoted following, especially among Rome’s prominent Christian women eager to understand the bible.

Jerome had a biting tongue and was quick to find enemies. Some in Rome resented his caustic criticism and abrasive style. Because of their opposition, he left Rome in 385 for the Holy Land where he established a community at Bethlehem near the cave where Christ was born to continue studying the scriptures. Besides Jewish scholars, he utilized the great Christian library nearby at Caesarea Maritima.  Friends from Rome joined him, among them the noblewoman Paula and her daughter Eustochia, who founded a monastic community of women in Bethlehem.

St. Catharine Church, Bethlehem

St. Catharine Church, Bethlehem. Remains of Jerome’s Monastery are under the church

Besides scripture studies, Jerome continued to engage in controversies going on in the church, sometimes harshly.

In 410 Alaric and his warriors sacked Rome.  Jerome, shocked by the invasion, provided shelter for Roman Christians fleeing to the safety of the Holy Land. “I have put aside my studies to help them,” he wrote. “Now we must translate the words of scripture into deeds, and instead of speaking holy words we must do them.”

He died in Bethlehem in 420. His remains were taken to the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. A doctor and teacher of the church, he recognized in himsel need for God’s mercy. Jerome is an example that saints are not perfect.

Here are excerpts from his writings:

“Lord, show me your mercy and gladden my heart.
I am like the man going to Jericho, wounded by robbers.
Good Samaritan, come help me.
I am like a sheep gone astray.
Good Shepherd, come seek me and bring me home safe.
May I dwell in your house all my days and praise you forever.”

“I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: Search the Scriptures, and Seek and you shall find. Christ will not say to me what he said to the Jews: You erred, not knowing the Scriptures and not knowing the power of God. For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.
 
Therefore, I will imitate the head of a household who brings out of his storehouse things both new and old, and says to his spouse in the Song of Songs: I have kept for you things new and old, my beloved. In this way permit me to explain Isaiah, showing that he was not only a prophet, but an evangelist and an apostle as well. For he says about himself and the other evangelists: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news, of those who announce peace.And God speaks to him as if he were an apostle: Whom shall I send, who will go to my people? And he answers: Here I am; send me.”

Let us glorify Christ In whatever sufferings are ours in this life.

O God, you yourself are both our crown and our shield: May we always follow only you and never depart from you!

Do not put your trust in your sword, or in your own strength; but rather, put your trust in the Lord!

Every day Christ stands at the door to our hearts, longing to enter. Let us open wide our hearts to him, then, that he might come in, and dwell with us always.

God can only speak peace to his people when they hope in him with all their hearts.

God protects us as a Father, and as a hen guarding her chicks, lest a hawk snatch them away.

The shield with which God protects us is spherical, for it keeps us safe on all sides.

All Creation serves God as God ordains: all in Heaven obeys, all on earth obeys, but it is only unhappy man who alone who disobeys.

Every day Christ is crucified in us, for we are crucified to the world. And so Christ is crucified in us.

Happy are those in whose hearts Christ rises from the dead daily. And he will rise in us every day, if we who are sinners will but repent.

Happy the soul in whom God is always enthroned!

Let us never trust in ourselves, but rather, let us always trust In the mercy of the Lord.

Greater by far are the wounds Inflicted by the tongue than those by the sword.

When we give to the poor, let us give thanks to Christ. More than the poor man gives thanks to us, for the poor unknowingly do us a great service. Almsgiving atones for sins.

Quotations selected by Brent Cruz, Confraternity of the Passion.

Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

“Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels”
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

This tercet was written with the Hebrew pronunciations of the archangels’ names. Each name ends with the Hebrew el, which means “God.”

Mi-ka-el means “Who is like God?”
Ga-bri-el means “The Strength of God” or “The Power of God.”
Ra-fa-el means “God heals” or “God’s Remedy.”

From a homily on the Gospels by Saint Gregory the Great, pope 

You should be aware that the word “angel” denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels. And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages.

Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform. In that holy city, where perfect knowledge flows from the vision of almighty God, those who have no names may easily be known. But personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they came among us. Thus, Michael means “Who is like God”; Gabriel is “The Strength of God”; and Raphael is “God’s Remedy.”

Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power. So also our ancient foe desired in his pride to be like God, saying: “I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High.” He will be allowed to remain in power until the end of the world when he will be destroyed in the final punishment. Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: “A battle was fought with Michael the archangel.”

So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle. Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy.

Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels

Michael

St.Michael, Lucca, Italy

We celebrate the feast of three archangels today, September 29th. St. Gregory the Great says of the angels: “There are many spirits in heaven, but only the spirits who deliver a message are called angels.” Archangels like Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, “are those who proclaim messages of supreme importance…

“And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages.”

Their names, Gregory says, tell the service they perform. “Thus, Michael means “Who is like God”; Gabriel is “The Strength of God”; and Raphael is “God’s Remedy.

“Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power…

“So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle.

“Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy.”

St. Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists, dedicated his first foundation on Monte Argentario in Italy to St. Michael and he said the archangel preserved his community from harm. Paul was a Lombard. Historians say the Lombards believed the Saracens were stopped from invading Lombardy in the 6th century by Michael, which fostered devotion to the archangel afterwards.

In a world so convinced that human power is the only power, it’s comforting to have another level of power to look towards.

“St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle…”

Journey Through a Samaritan Village

“Journey Through a Samaritan Village”
Luke 9:51-56 and 2 Kings 1:9-12 “in a snailshell” 
Tuesday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

Luke 9:51-56

Then the king sent a captain with his company of fifty men after Elijah. The prophet was seated on a hilltop when he found him. He said, “Man of God, the king commands you, ‘Come down.’” Elijah answered the captain, “Well, if I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men. The king sent another captain with his company of fifty men after Elijah. He shouted up and said, “Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down immediately!’” Elijah answered them, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And divine fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men.

2 Kings 1:9-12

With rumors circulating that Elijah had arisen again in Jesus of Nazareth, James and John naturally lunged with the fiery spirit of the Tishbite in the face of Samaritan contempt. 

Jesus was a prophet of an entirely different order, however. While rebuking authorities who were leading his sheep to destruction, he also refrained from the use of violence toward those who rejected him. Jesus’ actions surely appeared unfathomable and unpredictable to his disciples. The Son of Man who is the Son of God could not be put into a box.

The New American Bible (Revised Edition) footnote to Luke 9:51-56 offers this insight:

In this episode Jesus disassociates himself from the attitude expressed by his disciples that those who reject him are to be punished severely. The story alludes to 2 Kgs 1:10, 12 where the prophet Elijah takes the course of action Jesus rejects, and Jesus thereby rejects the identification of himself with Elijah.

Note: In an earlier post, emphasis was placed on Jesus’ attitude to foreigners. However, the point of contrast between Jesus and Elijah mainly concerns the use of violence. Elijah also transcended ethnic boundaries by healing Naaman the Syrian.

Wisdom from the Restoration Period

Assyrian captives bound for exile c.600 b.c.

Our lectionary readings from the Old Testament last week and this week are about the Restoration Period in Jewish history, the time when the Jews returned to Jerusalem and Judea from exile around 520 B.C. Our readings are from the Prophets Zechariah and Baruch and from the Book of Nehemiah this week. 

In the restoration period not all the Jews returned from exile in Babylon. Some waited to see how it worked out; others decided to stay in Babylon for good.

Those who did return found it hard building a temple and restoring Judaism. Jerusalem and Judea were now under Persian control. The Jewish monarchy was gone.  Foreigners had moved into the city and were resisting attempts at restoration. Some Jews who stayed on were not interested in restoration either. Facing this, the returnees had to wonder about the promises made by prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah.

In our reading today, the Prophet Zechariah reaffirms God’s promise – all nations will come to Jerusalem and its temple:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: There shall yet come peoples, the inhabitants of many cities; and the inhabitants of one city shall approach those of another, and say, ‘Come! let us go to implore the favor of the LORD’;and, ‘I too will go to seek the LORD.’

Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to implore the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men of every nationality, speaking different tongues, shall take hold, yes, take hold of every Jew by the edge of his garment and say,“Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” (Zech 8:20-23)

God’s plans are greater than you think, Zechariah says, but he gives no indication when this will happen, and so the Jews certainly wondered if this were true. 

The Prophet Baruch whom we read on Friday and Saturday this week compares the Jews in exile questioning the prophets to the Jews in the desert questioning Moses. But exile, like the desert, is a time of God’s mercy, Baruch says. Wisdom comes in time of exile.  Exile, like the desert, is a place where God helps you grow.

“ In the land of their exile they shall have a change of heart; they shall know that I, the LORD, am their God. I will give them a heart and ears that listen and they shall praise me in the land of their exile, and shall remember my name. Then they shall turn back from their stiff-necked stubbornness… And I will bring them back to the land I promised on oath to their ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and they shall rule it. I will make them increase; they shall not be few.” (Baruch 2:30-35)

Last week the Passionists concluded a symposium in Rome on “The Wisdom of the Cross”, part of the 300th anniversary celebration of their community’s foundation. Some speakers at that symposium suggested the wisdom of the cross is a wisdom for today, when our world and our church wonder whether there’s a future at all. 

 “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe, who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word.When he had accomplished purification from sins, he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, as far superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” (Hebrews 1: 1-4)

The mystery of the Cross is a revelation in Jesus Christ that keeps us aware of God’s plan for our world and for us.  It’s our desert and exile when we keep it in mind. It’s where God changes our heart, gives us ears to listen and draws us to hope for the promised land. It’s a mystery we should share. 

The Spirit Blows Where It Wills

“The Spirit blows where it wills”
A reflection on Luke 9:49-50, Mark 9:38-40, Numbers 11:25-29
Monday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

Luke 9:49-50

This reading coincides with those from the previous day, Sunday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time:

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.”

Mark 9:38-40

The Lord then came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses, he bestowed it on the seventy elders; and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied but did not continue.

Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad, had remained in the camp, yet the spirit came to rest on them also. They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent; and so they prophesied in the camp. So, when a young man ran and reported to Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp,” Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses’ aide, said, “My lord, Moses, stop them.” But Moses answered him, “Are you jealous for my sake? If only all the people of the Lord were prophets! If only the Lord would bestow his spirit on them!”

Numbers 11:25-29

Moses and Jesus were less interested in forming an elite cadre of prophets and disciples than in diffusing the divine goodness everywhere. The infinite Spirit of God cannot be limited or restricted.

The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes…

John 3:8

St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660)

The opening Mass prayer for St. Vincent’s feast day describes succinctly what made him a great saint:

O God, for the relief of the poor

and the formation of the clergy

you endowed the priest St.Vincent De Paul

with apostolic virtues.

grant, that afire with the same spirit

we may love what he loved

and put into practice what he taught.

God gave Vincent de Paul grace to reach out to the poor and form the clergy. Both the poor and the clergy in France needed the grace of God.

Once Vincent as a young priest, met a Protestant whom he invited to convert to Catholicism. The Protestant said:

“You told me, Monsieur, that the Church of Rome is led by the Holy Spirit, but I find that hard to believe because, on the one hand, we see Catholics in the countryside abandoned to pastors who are ignorant and given over to vice, with so little instruction in their duties that most of them hardly know what the Christian religion is. On the other, we see towns filled with priests and monks who are doing nothing; there are perhaps ten thousand of them in Paris, yet they leave the poor country people in this appalling state of ignorance in which they are lost. And you want to convince me that all this is being guided by the Holy Spirit! I’ll never believe it.”

That’s a picture of the French church in Vincent’s time. One reason for its sad condition was that the French crown appointed bishops and they, in turn, appointed men from important French families who supported them. Political considerations largely influenced church appointments.

As a result, the priesthood in France was badly off, priests had little education, some could hardly read or write. For financial support, they looked for benefices, usually found in the larger cities among rich families, where they could say Mass and celebrate the sacraments. As a young priest, Vincent himself was chaplain for a wealthy family in Paris.

The decision to become a priest was mostly a family’s decision, which might designate one of its sons as its “offering” to God. The priesthood became a way  to get a son some education and some social standing. Vincent’s own family, who were peasants, were influenced by motives like these. For many the priesthood was a job and not a call.

What Vincent did was to appeal to priests, religious, and even bishops, to begin to look at their roles spiritually. They were called by God to a vocation, not a job or career,  They had a  sacred mission to follow Jesus Christ. Vincent, in fact, called the community he founded the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians), because they were to go to those neglected. He encouraged, not only priests, but communities of women to care for the poor, without living the usual cloistered life of that time. Vincent’s network embraced laypeople too, who worked for those Jesus called “the least.”

Through the efforts of this saint communities of Daughters of Charity,  Societies of St. Vincent de Paul, are found throughout the world today.

The following reading for Vincent’s feast captures his powerful message:

Although in his passion he almost lost the appearance of a man and was considered a fool by the Gentiles and a stumbling block by the Jews, Jesus showed them that his mission was to preach to the poor: He sent me to preach the good news to the poor. We also ought to have this same spirit and imitate Christ’s actions, that is, we must take care of the poor, console them, help them, support their cause.Even though the poor are often rough and unrefined, we must not judge them from external appearances nor from the mental gifts they seem to have received. On the contrary, if you consider the poor in the light of faith, then you will observe that they are taking the place of the Son of God who chose to be poor.

Since Christ willed to be born poor, he chose for himself disciples who were poor. He made himself the servant of the poor and shared their poverty. He went so far as to say that he would consider every deed which either helps or harms the poor as done for or against himself. Since God surely loves the poor, he also loves those who love the poor. For when one person holds another dear, he also includes in his affection anyone who loves or serves the one he loves. That is why we hope that God will love us for the sake of the poor. So when we visit the poor and needy, we try to understand the poor and weak. We sympathise with them so fully that we can echo Paul’s words: I have become all things to all men. Therefore, we must try to be stirred by our neighbours’ worries and distress. We must beg God to pour into our hearts sentiments of pity and compassion and to fill them again and again with these dispositions.

It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to God as your prayer. Do not become upset or feel guilty because you interrupted your prayer to serve the poor. God is not neglected if you leave him for such service. One of God’s works is merely interrupted so that another can be carried out. So when you leave prayer to serve some poor person, remember that this very service is performed for God. Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity. Since she is a noble mistress, we must do whatever she commands. With renewed devotion, then, we must serve the poor, especially outcasts and beggars. They have been given to us as our masters and patrons.”

More on St. Vincent de Paul

SEPTEMBER 27-OCTOBER 3: READINGS AND FEASTS

SEPTEMBER 27 Mon Saint Vincent de Paul, Priest Memorial Zec 8:1-8/Lk 9:46-50 

28 Tue Weekday [Saint Wenceslaus, Martyr; Saint Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, Martyrs]

Zec 8:20-23/Lk 9:51-56 

29 Wed Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels Feast

Dn 7:9-10, 13-14 or Rv 12:7-12a/Jn 1:47-51 

30 Thu Saint Jerome, Priest, Doctor of the Church Memorial Neh 8:1-4a, 5-6, 7b-12/Lk 10:1-12 

OCTOBER 1 Fri Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin, Doctor of the Church Memorial

Bar 1:15-22/Lk 10:13-16 

2 Sat The Holy Guardian Angels Memorial Bar 4:5-12, 27-29 /Mt 18:1-5, 10 

3 SUN TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Gn 2:18-24/Heb 2:9-11/Mk 10:2-16 or 10:2-12 

We hear this week from Zechariah, like Haggai, a prophetic voice in the Restoration Period. He (scholars say there are two writing under the name)  urges the temple be rebuilt and promises Jerusalem will regain its place, in fact all nations will come to make it a greater kingdom,  but it will not be soon. Joining Zechariah are Nehemiah and Baruch, also prophets who spoke during the Restoration Period.

Important saints this week: Vincent de Paul, Jerome, Therese of the Child. Jesus.   Saint Lawrence Ruiz,  an important saint for the Philippines, was among 15 others martyred in Japan September 28, 1637.

Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are celebrated September 29 and Guardian Angels October 2. 

The gospel readings Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are from Luke 9-10. As usual, on feasts like those for the angels, the readings from the gospels that reference them are read. 

Morning and Evening Prayer, Week 2, here.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

We Are Our Neighbors’ Keepers

“We Are Our Neighbors’ Keepers”
Mark 9:42-48 in a couplet
Sunday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Mark 9:42-48

By the use of hyperbole, hearers are shaken out of complacency concerning their actions and influence on others. The dominant images for sin in Scripture are an arrow or stone “missing the mark” or a “wandering” from the right path.

The Hebrew word for sin, chatta’ah, is derived from the verb chata, “to miss the mark, target or way.”

The Greek word for sin, hamartanó, means “to miss the mark.” 

Over and over again in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Israelites are commanded by God to “walk in his ways” (Deuteronomy 8:6). To stray from the path is to choose death rather than life (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

Those who cause others to stumble (skandalizó) put snares in the path of the vulnerable and cause them “to fall into a trap” (Mark 9:42). 

Sin cripples self and others. Love leads neighbors to life and shalom.