Busy Tuesday for me. Bible study this morning, and to see my eye doctor this afternoon at Barnes Hospital. It is another overcast day, and the mood is even overcast in the household this morning. I hope things improve, or I am going to go nuts.
Do you know people that say one thing, and then do the opposite? My reflection today is exactly on the subject.
Quote or Joke of the Day:
When a blind man carries a lame man, both go forward. — Swedish proverb
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens (hard to carry) and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ (NAB Mt 23:1-7)
This gospel reading is a criticism by Jesus of the scribes and the Pharisees. While there was probably a deep opposition between Jesus and the Pharisees, this reading reflects an opposition that probably started well before that of Jesus’ ministry. These verses must be seen as an expression of the bitter conflict between the Pharisees view of Judaism, and the church [from Matthew’s view] at the time when this gospel was written.
“Have taken their seat . . . Moses.” It is not clear whether this is a metaphor for Mosaic teaching authority, or actually referring to a chair on which the “priest or Rabbi” sat as he taught and governed. There were seats such as this, in synagogues of later periods, than the time of this gospel.
“Do and observe . . . they tell you.” Jesus, in a sense, aborgated the Mosaic Law, and warns his disciples against the teaching of the Pharisees. In His teaching, Jesus denounces the Pharisees as blind guides in respect to their teaching on oaths. The law to observe all things whatsoever, that the scribes and Pharisees tell you, cannot be taken as an understanding of the proper way to conduct Jesus’ Church on earth.
Jesus’ ministry was marked by conformity to the Mosaic Law, with additional pointers to a new “church” that would exist after His death and resurrection on Easter Sunday. The crowds and the disciples were encouraged not to follow the example of the Jewish leaders, whose deeds do not conform to their teaching.
“Tie up heavy burdens.” This verse is similar to Ben Sirach’s invitation to learn wisdom and submit to her [the Church’s] yoke.
“Phylacteries.” Mosaic Law required that during prayer, small boxes containing parchments on which verses of scripture were written, were to be worn on the left forearm and the forehead. If you watch people at the remains of the temple wall in Jerusalem on TV programs, you will notice these small black boxes on their foreheads, and strapped (with long pieces of leather) around their left forearm, as they pray facing the wall. “Tassels” are the “fringe” that Mosaic Law prescribes be worn on the corners of one’s garment as a reminder to keep the commandments. The widening of phylacteries and the lengthening of tassels were for the purpose of making these evidences of piety more noticeable and pronounced.
“Rabbi” means “my great one or teacher”. It is a title of respect for teachers and leaders. Jesus was called “Rabbi” many times in the bible. At age fifteen, He was found teaching in the temple. Some of His ministry involved being in or around the temple. It is obvious Jesus loved His faith, and was not afraid to express His concerns about the way the church leaders were abusing their positions for personal gain. He did not quit out of frustration, but instead brought the church into union with God, and gave all that believes in Him the possibility of eternity salvation in heaven.
“Lord, help me to do as you say, and not as I want. Your wisdom and love for me is far greater than my wants in life. I love you as a baby clings to their parents. Please allow me to cling to you. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: Blessed Agnes of Prague 1205-1282
On the eve of the feast of the holy virgin and martyr Agnes, in the year 1205, a daughter was born to the king of Bohemia, Primislaus Ottokar I. She also received the name Agnes in baptism. Her mother, who was an aunt of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, rejoiced when she noticed an admirable seriousness in her infant. At times she saw how the child folded its little hands in the form of a cross, and then, as if absorbed in deep devotion, would lie quite still.
According to the custom of the time, the king’s daughter was betrothed at the age of three years to the son of the duke of Silesia, and hence was sent to the Silesain convent at Trebnitz, where St. Hedwig was superior at that time, to be educated there. Her betrothed died after three years, and she was then taken to the convent at Doxan in Bohemia, where the seeds of sanctity which had been sown by St. Hedwig budded forth in marvelous bloom. The child appeared to be destined for the heavenly Spouse rather than for an earthly one; but earthly monarchs renewed their suit for her hand.
Emperor Frederick II desired to secure her as the bride of his son and successor to the throne, Henry, and Agnes, who was now a mature young woman, was sent to the court of the German emperor. But when the union with Henry came to naught as the result of the prayers of the virgin, King Henry III of England sought her hand in marriage, and finally, even Emperor Frederick II himself, whose consort had meanwhile died. All the opposition raised by Agnes, who desired to belong entirely to the Divine Bridegroom, seemed in vain. Then she begged Pope Gregory IX to intervene, and as a result she obtained her freedom. The emperor declared himself satisfied since Agnes chose not a human being but the God of heaven in preference to him.
Now, however, Agnes strove to embrace the religious state in order to achieve her union with the Divine Bridegroom. The fame of Poor Clare convents had reached Bohemia, and Agnes resolved, with the assistance of her brother, who had meanwhile ascended the royal throne, to establish a convent of Poor Clares in the capital city of Prague. Pope Gregory cheerfully gave his consent, and, at his command, St. Clare sent five sisters from the convent of St. Damian in Assisi, to Prague. Agnes and seven other young women of the highest ranks of society entered the new convent together with these sisters.
Within a short time Agnes distinguished herself among them as a model of virtue; in fervor at prayer, in obedience, in religious discipline, in self-denial, and in humility. The command of the pope to accept the position of abbess was a great trial for her humility; however, she obtained permission not to carry the title, but rather to be known as the “senior sister.” Holy zeal, similar to that of her holy mother St. Clare, characterized her vigilance regarding the observance of holy poverty; she declined the royal gifts sent to her by her brother, and would not tolerate that any sister possess anything of a personal nature. God blessed her with the gift of miracles; she recalled to life the deceased daughter of her brother.
Enriched with heavenly merits, she departed from this life in the odor of sanctity, to enter into eternal union with her Divine Bridegroom, on March 6, 1282, having served Him for forty years in the religious state. Devotion to her, which has existed since time immemorial, received apostolic sanction from Pope Pius IX, and her feast, which has long been celebrated in Prague on March 2nd, has been extended to the entire Franciscan Order.
from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm.,
© 1959 Franciscan Herald Press
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #2:
The Secular Franciscan Order holds a special place in this family circle. It is an organic union of all Catholic fraternities scattered throughout the world and open to every group of the faithful. In these fraternities the brothers and sisters, led by the Spirit, strive for perfect charity in their own secular state. By their profession they pledge themselves to live the gospel in the manner of Saint Francis by means of this rule approved by the Church.