“Jesus FLASHES – His True Reality and Divinity!” – Matthew 11:25-30†


 

Fourteenth Sunday
in Ordinary Time

 

 

Today’s Content:

 

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • Quote of the Day
  • Today’s Gospel Reading
  • Reflection on Today’s Gospel
  • New Translation of the Mass
  • A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
  • Franciscan Formation Reflection
  • Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

 

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions

July 2011

General Intention: That Christians may contribute to alleviating the material and spiritual suffering of AIDS patients, especially in the poorest countries.

Missionary Intention: For the religious who work in mission territories, that they may be witnesses of the joy of the Gospel and living signs of the love of Christ.

 

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Today in Catholic History:

    

†   683 – Pope St Leo II dies, ending his reign of two years (681-683)
†   1250 – Louis IX of France (a Secular Franciscan) is captured by   Baibars’ Mamluk army at the Battle of Fariskur while he is in Egypt conducting the Seventh Crusade; he later has to ransom himself.
†   1849 – The French entered Rome in order to restore Pope Pius IX to power. This would prove to be a major obstacle to Italian unification.
†   1907 – Pope St Pius X issued a decree forbiding modernization of theology

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com &/OR
“Today in Catholic History”
http://www.historyorb.com)

 

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Quote of the Day:

 

Hi Lord,

 

It’s me…. things are getting bad here,
gas prices are too high, no jobs,
food and heating cost too high.

I know some have taken you out of our schools,
the US Government, & even Christmas.
But Lord I’m asking you to come back
and re-bless America, we really need you.

Thanks Lord, I Love You!

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus praying, praising and thanking God His Father, who has revealed Himself to the lowly.

 

(NAB Matthew 11:25-30)  25 At that time Jesus said in reply, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.  26 Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.  27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father.  No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.  28 “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves.  30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

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Is it possible to gain knowledge of God’s intellect, concern, awareness, and spirit?  What does Jesus’ prayer to His heavenly Father, in today’s Gospel reading, tell us about the relationship, unity, and “oneness” of God the Father and God the Son – – and about ourselves in that relationship and “oneness”?

For me, it discloses to us that God is both Father and Master of ALL creation on earth AND in heaven.  He is both the great “Creator” and supreme “Source” of all that He has made.  God is the source of everything.  God is the awe-inspiring, uplifting, and magnificent source of all, while, at the same time showing and dispensing love, trust, hope, and care for all His “children”.  God is the original of all families on earth and in heaven:

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” (Ephesians 3:14-15).

 

Today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel comes after a dialogue in which Jesus rebukes people who have witnessed His “mighty deeds” – His “miracles” – – yet still lacked a belief in Him as the true “Messiah”.  Today’s Gospel explains the reason for this non-belief, and reveals what is necessary for a true and proper faith life.  This particular reading can be used to augment our personal understanding of being a faithful disciple follower of Jesus Christ.

Today, Jesus first prays in recognition and gratitude to God the Father who has made Himself known to Jesus’ disciples through Jesus Christ.  He then praises God the Father who has made Himself known to the “childlike” over the “wise and learned”.  As in other readings from Matthew’s Gospel, a strong difference is made here between the non-believing Scribes and Pharisees, who are the “wise and learned”, and Jesus’ faithful disciples which includes the marginalized, the tax collectors, and the other sinners with whom He kept company.

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This particular Gospel reading, with some slight changes, is nearly identical with Luke’s version:

“At that very moment he rejoiced (in) the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.  Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father.  No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.’”  (Luke 10:21-22)

Both Matthew’s and Luke’s readings introduces an uplifting comment into a dialogue so dominated by a premise of skepticism, incredulity, and non-belief.

The “wise” and the “learned” of Jewish society – – the Scribes and Pharisees – – have rejected Jesus’ teachings, preaching’s, and miracles, along with the profound significance of His actions and words.  In a polarized first-century society, made up of Jewish and Gentile peoples living in the same region, the “childlike” accepted Jesus’ actions and words without any misconceptions or prejudices.

In reality, a true “acceptance” depends upon God the Father’s “revelation”.  This “revelation” is freely granted to any and every one of us who are open to receive His grace and gift, and refused to be as the arrogant wise and learned one’s who don’t believe in Him, His divinity, and His power.  

Jesus Christ can truly speak of all God’s “mysteries” because He is “God the Son” of, and from, “God the Father”.  There is a true, full, and perfect mutuality and reciprocity of knowledge between Jesus (God the Son), and God the Father.  What had been handed over to Jesus Christ is revealed only to those whom He wishes; those that not only believe in Him, but that follow Him and His teachings.

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Jesus’ prayer also contains a warning about one’s pride keeping us from the caring love and realization of God.  What makes us unaware and “blind” to the things of God?  Coldness of heart and spirit, and stubbornness to change (conversion) will shut God out of your life, and shut us out of His kingdom – – leading one to death and not to eternal life.

Pride is the root of all evil”, and has the strongest effect driving us to sin.  Pride overpowers one’s heart and spirit, making it cold and indifferent towards God and His graces, truths, and wisdom in our lives.

So, what is pride?  By definition, it is an arrogant and/or self-important attitude shown by somebody who believes (often unjustifiably) that one is better than others.  It is the excessive and unreasonable love of oneself at the expense of others, and an overstated judgment of one’s own learning and importance to those around oneself.

Jesus compares the attribute of pride with a person displaying a childlike simplicity and humility.  The “childlike” see themselves and others without a need for self-importance.  The childlike recognize, accept, and respond to their dependence, trust, and faith in the “One” who is far greater, wiser, and trustworthy.  The childlike truly seek only one thing, that being “the greatest good”, who is God Himself.

Simplicity of heart and spirit is linked with the supreme of virtues: humility.  Humility predisposes the heart and spirit towards God’s grace and truth.  Just as pride is the root of every sin and every evil, humility is the true earth in which God’s grace can take a firm root.  Humility, by itself, gives us the correct attitude and posture before God.  Humility and the grace of the Holy Spirit allow God to do all in, through, and for us.

Proverbs states that God is stern with the prideful, but gives grace to the humble:

When he is dealing with the arrogant, he is stern, but to the humble he shows kindness.” (Proverbs 3:34).

James also reports:

 “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  (James 4:6).

God wants His creations to be truly and fully happy and joyful.  Selfishness and pride makes true happiness impossible.  We need to go to Him in humility in order to be happy and joyful:

Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10)

Only the humble in heart and spirit can receive true wisdom and understanding of our magnificent God and His ways.  Can you submit to God’s word with a simple trust, love, and humility?

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Another part of this reading brings to our attention the unity – – the “oneness” between God the Father and God the Son.  God the Father has made Himself known through His Son, Jesus Christ.  And, in knowing Jesus, we come to know God the Father.  In Jesus’ life, in His person, in His Death, and in His Resurrection, God the Father reveals Himself to us.

 

In today’s reading, Jesus makes a declaration no one can dare to make: He is the “perfect revelation” of God the Father:  

All things have been handed over to me by my Father.  No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27). 

One of the greatest truths of the Catholic faith is that we can truly know the true “living and everlasting” God.  Our knowledge and understanding of God is not limited to only knowing “something” about God.  Instead, we can know God personally and intimately if we open ourselves up to Him, and surrender ourselves to Him.  The essence of Catholicism – – what makes it distinct from Judaism and other religions – – is the knowledge and understanding of God as our true, loving, and heavenly Father.

Jesus makes it possible for each of us to personally and intimately know and understand God as our Father.  To see Jesus Christ is to see God!  In Jesus Christ, we see the perfect love and revelation of God.  In Jesus the “Messiah”, we see a God who cares deeply for all creation, and who deeply desires the love, faith, trust, and hope of all men and women.  Jesus, – – God the Son, – – loved mankind to the point of laying down His own human life upon the Holy Cross of redemption and salvation.  Jesus is the true and pure revealing of God the Father; a God who loves us completely, unconditionally, and perfectly.  

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Jesus also promises that God the Father will hear our prayers when we pray in His name.  Through His words and example, Jesus taught His followers to pray with a certain confidence:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)

Do you pray to God the Father with a similar joy and confidence in His love, trust, and care for you?

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The middle verses of today’s Gospel are distinctive to Matthew’s Gospel:

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. (Matthew 11:28-29)

Matthew’s verses are very similar to Ben Sirach’s invitation to learn wisdom and submit to her yoke:

Come aside to me, you untutored, and take up lodging in the house of instruction.  Submit your neck to her yoke, that your mind may accept her teaching.  For she is close to those who seek her, and the one who is in earnest finds her. (Sirach 51:23, 26).

(“Ben” is Hebrew, meaning, “son” – – of Eleazar and Sirach.  Curiously, their son’s name was also “Jesus”.)

Verse 16 also states, “all you who labor and are burdened”.   What Matthew is alluding to with these words, are those people burdened with the interpretations and extraneous rules of Mosaic Law specified by the Scribes and Pharisees:

“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 practiceThey tie up heavy burdens (hard to carry) and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.” (Matthew 23:2-4).

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What does the “yoke” of Jesus refer to in today’s Gospel reading?  The Jewish people saw the religious image of a “yoke” as an expression of submissiveness to God almighty.  They regularly spoke of the yoke of Mosaic Law, the yoke of the great Commandments, the yoke of God’s kingdom, and the yoke of God Himself.  Jesus says His “yoke is easy“:

My yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:30).

The Greek word for “easy” also translates to mean “well-fitting“.  Yokes were tailor-made to fit the oxen well, as not to cause too much discomfort or injury for the animal.  Oxen were yoked in pairs, thus sharing the workload.

Jesus invites us to be yoked with Him, to unite our life with His life, our will with His will, our heart with His heart, and our spirit with His spirit.  To be yoked with Jesus is to be united with Him in a relationship of a sharing love, trust, hope, faith, and obedience.

 

Jesus also said His “burden is light“:

My yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:30).

My father used to frequently visit “Father Flannigan’s ‘Boys Town’”.  I remember the story about a statue at the entrance to the complex.  The story goes that a man met a boy carrying a smaller crippled boy on his back.  “That’s a heavy load you are carrying there,” exclaimed the man.  The boy answers simply, “He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother!”

There is NO “burden” too heavy when it is given and carried with a pure and total love.  When we “yoke” – – attach – – our lives with Jesus Christ, He also carries our burdens with us.  He gives us His strength to follow Him in His way of love, faith, and hope – – now ours.  

With a new covenant, Jesus offers us a new “kingdom” of righteousness, peace, and everlasting joy.  Sins are not only forgiven in His kingdom, but removed through the grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  In His kingdom, eternal life flows forth to the entirety of His followers in His kingdom.  

 

In place of the “yoke” of the Mosaic Law as dictated by the Scribes and Pharisees, and radically complicated by the Scribes interpretations (they were the Jewish “lawyers”, as compared to the Pharisaic “priesthood”), Jesus invites the burdened people to take the “yoke” of observance and obedience to His “word”, and thus find rest:

Thus says the LORD: Stand beside the earliest roads, ask the pathways of old which is the way to good, and walk it; thus you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16).

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In the closing sentences of today’s Gospel, Jesus’ teaching and concern for His brethren is again compared to the teachings of the Scribes and Pharisees.  It seems this comparison between Jesus and the Temple leaders is a common topic of Matthew’s Gospel.  His narratives most likely reflect tensions that existed between Jesus and the Temple leadership, as well as between the Temple officials and the community of first-century Catholics for whom Matthew wrote.  

Pharisaic Judaism became the predominant form of Judaism after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem about 70 A.D.  That tension, I believe, is expressed in today’s reading as an existence of at least two beliefs for gaining “holiness” among first-century Jerusalem Jews.  The dutiful and careful observance of Mosaic Law, taught by the Scribes and Pharisees, most likely was experienced by some Jews as being difficult, complicated, and “burdensome“.  In comparison, Jesus’ way of holiness is presented as being uncomplicated – – and even restful – – for who which choose to follow His path and carry His “yoke”.

 

Jesus does not give up His yoke.  Instead He asks you to share His yoke.  In sharing, He is also carrying a part of your “load” (your burdens).  Think about this for a moment.  All one has to do is allow Jesus Christ into one’s life, and you share your heavy burdens, entering into a personal, intimate relationship wherein Jesus Christ agrees to share in the carrying of a different load.  In all reality, one’s life is made easier by participating in God’s life!  WOW!!  Excuse the play on words (and a little pun), but, for those individuals not wanting a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, the “yoke” is on them (solely)!

The yoke of His kingdom, – – His kingly power, reign, and ways, – – frees us from our burdens of guilt, from our sinful habits, and from our hurtful desires.  Only Jesus Christ is able to free us from the burden of sin and the extreme, crushing weight of hopelessness.  Jesus used the well-known Jewish image of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for His glory and victory WITH Him. The yoke which Jesus invites us to embrace is His way of love, trust, faith, grace, and freedom from the power of our sins.  

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In conclusion, in today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches an important lesson for all of us.  From those “like a child” we can learn the most profound and clear awareness, insight, and ability to see spontaneously, instinctively, and unthinkingly into the nature of an otherwise complex and multifaceted, dual-nature, triune God.  

Those who are attentive to a childlike “true reality” can learn much from children, even as children learn from parents, teachers, and religious.  Those who “find” the time and space for encountering Jesus Christ in their lives will enrich the faith of all who share in that person’s life.  Can you “find” the time to share Jesus with others, and with yourself?

 

Please re-read today’s Gospel, slowly, again.  Allow time to reflect on what Jesus reveals to us about God the Father.  Find a creative way (i.e., through a picture, poem, or some other way) to share your revelation with another (and please share with me).  Finally, thank Jesus Christ for making God the Father known to all of us, through Him.

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Psalm 145

 

“I will extol you, my God and king; I will bless your name forever.  Every day I will bless you; I will praise your name forever.  The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and abounding in love.  The LORD is good to all, compassionate to every creature.  All your works give you thanks; O LORD and your faithful bless you.  They speak of the glory of your reign and tell of your great works, your reign is a reign for all ages, your dominion for all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in every word, and faithful in every work.  The LORD supports all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” (Psalm 145:1-2,8-11,13-14)

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.

 

The third form of the penitential rite, with the various invocations of Christ (e.g., “You came to call sinners”) will be much the same (not much of a change), though an option is added to conclude each invocation in Greek:

Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison,”

instead of in English: “Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have mercy”, as it is presently.  The first two forms (found in the past two previous blogs) may conclude with this threefold litany too, either in English or in Greek.

Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick

 

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Thomas the Apostle

 

Poor Thomas!  He made one remark and has been branded as “Doubting Thomas” ever since. But if he doubted, he also believed.  He made what is certainly the most explicit statement of faith in the New Testament: “My Lord and My God!” (see John 20:24-28) and, in so expressing his faith, gave Christians a prayer that will be said till the end of time.  He also occasioned a compliment from Jesus to all later Christians: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).

Thomas should be equally well known for his courage.  Perhaps what he said was impetuous—since he ran, like the rest, at the showdown—but he can scarcely have been insincere when he expressed his willingness to die with Jesus.  The occasion was when Jesus proposed to go to Bethany after Lazarus had died.  Since Bethany was near Jerusalem, this meant walking into the very midst of his enemies and to almost certain death.  Realizing this, Thomas said to the other apostles, “Let us also go to die with him” (John 11:16b).

Comment:

Thomas shares the lot of Peter the impetuous, James and John, the “sons of thunder,” Philip and his foolish request to see the Father—indeed all the apostles in their weakness and lack of understanding. We must not exaggerate these facts, however, for Christ did not pick worthless men.  But their human weakness again points up the fact that holiness is a gift of God, not a human creation; it is given to ordinary men and women with weaknesses; it is God who gradually transforms the weaknesses into the image of Christ, the courageous, trusting and loving one.

Quote:

“…[P]rompted by the Holy Spirit, the Church must walk the same road which Christ walked: a road of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice to the death…. For thus did all the apostles walk in hope.  On behalf of Christ’s Body, which is the Church, they supplied what was wanting in the sufferings of Christ by their own trials and sufferings (see Colossians 1:24)” (Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, 5).

Patron Saint of: Architects, Construction workers, Cooks

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Mary, Prayer, and Meditation

 

How well do you follow Saint Francis in listening to our Mother Mary when she tells us: “Do whatever he tells you“?

How much time do you spend trying to enter into the “heart of Mary” by reflecting and meditating on her prayerful messages in her “Magnificat”?  Do you take time to make these sentiments my own, to bring them into your heart and soul?

What strikes you in reading paragraph #2708 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church?:

  • “Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire.  This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ.  Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary.  This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.” (CCC, #2708)

 

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 3 & 4 of 26:

03.  The present rule, succeeding “Memoriale Propositi” (1221) and the rules approved by the Supreme Pontiffs Nicholas IV and Leo XIII, adapts the Secular Franciscan Order to the needs and expectations of the Holy Church in the conditions of changing times. Its interpretation belongs to the Holy See and its application will be made by the General Constitutions and particular statutes.

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04.  The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of St. Francis of Assisi who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.

Christ, the gift of the Father’s love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly.

Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to gospel.

 

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