Glad In His Works

Scripture Reading

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
You are clothed with majesty and glory,
robed in light as with a cloak.

You fixed the earth upon its foundation,
not to be moved forever;
With the ocean, as with a garment, you covered it;
above the mountains the waters stood.

You send forth springs into the watercourses
that wind among the mountains.
Beside them the birds of heaven dwell;
from among the branches they send forth their song.

How manifold are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you have wrought them all—
the earth is full of your creatures;
Bless the LORD, O my soul! Alleluia. 

(Psalm 104:1-2,5-6,10,12,35)

 

Scripture Study

104:1. The greatness of God is to be seen in creation, and in the order that exists in the universe, through God’s act of creation and unceasing divine providence. All these things are evidence of his glory.

104:2–4. The psalmist borrows very freely from the Genesis account of the creation (Gen 1). Light (v. 2) was the first thing that God created; it is conceived of as an element in its own right (cf. Gen 1:3–5)

104:5–9. Glossing the separating of the waters and the appearance of dry land as narrated in Genesis 1:6–10, and the original chaos referred to in Genesis 1:2, the psalmist proclaims God’s power over the seas, here seen as threatening forces.

104:10–18. The central part of the psalm is taken up with a highly poetic description of how God, using springs and rain, relieves the thirst of wild animals, provides food for flocks and for mankind, and causes tall trees to grow (“trees of the Lord”: v. 16). The earth looks like paradise.

104:33–35. The poem ends with the psalmist’s promising to devote his entire life to the praise of the Lord by extolling his works as he has done in the psalm (v. 35). The “Alleluia” (“Praise the Lord”) which appears at the very end of the psalm in the Hebrew text (the Septuagint puts it at the start of Psalm 105) must have been included here for liturgical reasons.[1]

Scripture Reflection

The praise offered God in this psalm for all his work of creation and providence is extended in the New Testament to Jesus Christ. He is the Word of God through whom all things were created (Jn 1:3) and it is through him that all things continue to exist (“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together”: Col 1:17). The Church uses this psalm in the liturgy of Pentecost, the feast day that celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, marking the climax of the new creation brought about by the Incarnation of Christ and made manifest in the Church.

The psalm is a poetic vision of the world and of what we moderns call “nature” as the work of the LORD. Contemporary people have a variety of ways of viewing and speaking about the world and the forms of life it sustains—scientific, economic, aesthetic, recreational. This psalm offers the view and language that is appropriate for faith. For those who live by faith, its view and language qualify and define the other ways of thinking and speaking.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] James Gavigan, Brian McCarthy, and Thomas McGovern, eds., Psalms and the Song of Solomon, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2003), 344–346.

Radiating Christ

Scripture Reading

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”
(Matthew 5:13-16)

 

Scripture Study

5:13-16 Jesus summons his disciples to be what God’s people were always meant to be: salt of the earth and light of the world. Salt was used to flavor and preserve food. Through living the beatitudes, Jesus’ disciples become salt of the earth, preserving goodness in the world. The disciple who does not embody the beatitudes is like salt that loses its taste: he becomes no longer good for anything. Similarly, the disciples are to be light of the world. In the Jewish tradition Israel was to be a light to the nations (Isa 60:1–3; Bar 4:2). Jesus calls his disciples to fulfill this role by living the beatitudes in such a way that the world may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus uses the images of salt and light to show how we are to bring salvation to the world. In our rather privatized and individualistic culture, we tend naturally to think of religion as something for ourselves designed to make our lives richer or better. Now there is a sense in which that is true, but on the Biblical reading, religiosity is like salt, light, and an elevated city: it is meant not for oneself, but for others.

Perhaps we can bring these two together by saying that we find salvation for ourselves precisely in the measure that we bring God’s life to others. The point is that we followers of Jesus are meant to be salt, which effectively preserves and enhances what is best in the society around us. We effectively undermine what is dysfunctional in the surrounding culture.

We are also light by which people around us come to see what is worth seeing. By the very quality and integrity of our lives, we shed light, illumining what is beautiful and revealing what is ugly. The clear implication is that, without vibrant Christians, the world is a much worse place.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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“Dear Jesus, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus! Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest, so to shine as to be a light to others; the light, O Jesus, will be all from Thee; none of it will be mine; it will be Thou shining on others through me. Let me thus praise Thee in the way Thou dost love best by shining on those around me. Let me preach Thee without preaching, not by words but by my example, by the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to Thee. Amen.”

– Cardinal John Henry Newman, “Radiating Christ”

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

[1] Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri, The Gospel of Matthew, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), 92.

His Compassion

Scripture Reading

The Apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” 
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.

When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.
(Mark 6:30-34)

 

Scripture Study

6:30 After the interlude on the death of John the Baptist, Mark picks up where he left off with the mission of the †apostles (6:7–13), who now return to Jesus and report to him all they had done and taught. Although Jesus’ recent instructions (6:7–11) did not mention teaching, it was part of the ministry for which he had appointed them (3:14).

6:31–32 Jesus recognizes that after their period of intense apostolic labors, the Twelve need to be refreshed once again in his presence and in their fellowship with one another. To “be with him” remains a requirement of fruitful apostleship that must be constantly renewed (3:14; see John 15:4). The deserted place recalls the desert of 1:3–13, a place of testing but also a place of solitude and retreat where God’s people withdraw from the world for special intimacy with him. Jesus’ desire to give them rest evokes the rest that God pledges to give his people in the promised land (Exod 33:14; Deut 12:10; see Heb 4:9–11). It also shows his concern for the practical, physical needs of those who spend themselves in his service.

6:33 The moment word gets out that Jesus is taking off by boat the people anticipate where he will go and run there on foot, arriving before them. By the time the boat lands the shore is no longer deserted but lined with a “vast crowd.”

6:34 The hoped-for retreat has been sabotaged. But instead of reacting with exasperation Jesus is moved with pity at the sight of the needy crowds. This is one of the few occasions where Mark gives us a glimpse into the emotions of Jesus, here using a verb that connotes a deeply felt, gut reaction (see 1:41; 8:2). Pity, or compassion, is one of the most distinctive attributes of God (Ps 86:15; Isa 54:7–8; Hosea 11:8). Jesus recognizes that the people are like sheep without a shepherd, a phrase often used to describe the condition of God’s people in the absence of sound leadership. Mark hints that Jesus himself is the divine Shepherd (see John 10:1–18), the fulfillment of God’s promise to care for his people directly and no longer through an intermediary.

In Matthew’s version of this incident, Jesus responds to the people’s need by healing the sick (Matt 14:14). But for Mark, Jesus exercises his saving power first and foremost by teaching. Indeed his teaching is healing, since it liberates people from their captivity to evil (see Mark 1:27). At the same time, his teaching is feeding, since by proclaiming the good news of the kingdom Jesus is satisfying their spiritual hunger.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel shows Jesus’ compassion for the multitude in the desert. “When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”

There is the motif of the people Israel in the desert after their escape from Egypt. Isolated, alone, afraid, without food, they clamored for something from Moses. Here we see people who are dying to be fed, and a prophet who is under threat of death. This crowd around the threatened Jesus is a metaphor for the Church. We have come to him because we are hungry, and we stay even when things look bleak.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] Mary Healy, The Gospel of Mark, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 124–125.

My Light and Salvation

Scripture Reading

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid? 

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart will not fear;
Though war be waged upon me,
even then will I trust.

For he will hide me in his abode
in the day of trouble;
He will conceal me in the shelter of his tent,
he will set me high upon a rock.

Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.

(Psalm 27:1,3,5,8,9)

 

Scripture Study

27:1. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The inner man, enlightened in this way, does not waver; he follows the right path, and can endure all things. He who contemplates his final homeland from afar can bear all adversity; he is not saddened by worldly things; rather he finds his strength in God; he humbles his heart and is persevering, and his humility makes him patient. The true light, which comes into the world to enlighten all men, is the Son, revealing himself to all; he gives his light to those who fear him; he infuses it into those who desire it, when they desire it.”

27:2–3. These verses suggest a king hard-pressed by his enemies (who “eat up my flesh”: v. 1); he regains his morale by remembering his God.

27:4–6. His first desire is to be with the Lord in his temple, where he can obtain his help and give him thanks. Desiring to dwell in the house of the Lord is the same thing as desiring to be saved and to see God (cf. v. 8).

27:7–9. This prayer spoken aloud (v. 7) stems from the heart of a man who yearns to see the face of God, to obtain his indulgence (v. 8), by having recourse to the temple (cf. v. 4). Commenting on this psalm, St Augustine writes: “In the most hidden place, where only you may hear it, my heart says to you: Lord, I seek your face: and I will continue in this search, without ever taking rest, so that I may love you freely, for I will never find anything more precious than you [your face]” (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 26, 8).[1]

Scripture Reflection

Trust is possible for those who know the LORD as the savior of their life. The psalm articulates that knowledge at the very beginning where it calls the LORD “my light, my salvation, the stronghold of my life” (v. 1). Salvation concerns life; life is in question in some way where salvation is needed. Salvation is intervention that makes life possible in the face of all that threatens, weakens, and corrupts life. The LORD is called “light” because light drives darkness away. It is in the light that life revives and flourishes; it is in the light that one can see the way.

Trust is nurtured and strengthened by the exercise and discipline of religion. In his time of trouble the psalmist asks one thing: to be in the temple, where he can visualize the beauty of the LORD and seek the direction for his life that comes with the instruction given there through oracle and precept (v. 4). To make his prayer, he goes to the place of the presence of God, obeying the exhortation of Israel’s religion, “Seek ye my face” (v. 8). When trust is kept a private matter, unspoken and unshared, it becomes a personal project and may decay into no more than our own resolution and willpower. Trust needs the stimulus and renewal that come from confronting and contemplating religion’s representation of the revelation of God in liturgy, architecture, and proclamation. In its praise and prayer it evokes the reality in whose life faith chooses to live—the salvation of the LORD.

– James Mays

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] James Gavigan, Brian McCarthy, and Thomas McGovern, eds., Psalms and the Song of Solomon, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2003), 108–110.

Freed From Deaths Grip

Scripture Reading

Since the children share in blood and flesh,
Jesus likewise shared in them,
that through death he might destroy the one
who has the power of death, that is, the Devil,
and free those who through fear of death
had been subject to slavery all their life.
Surely he did not help angels
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters
in every way,
that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God
to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.
(Hebrews 2:14-18)

 

Scripture Study

2:14 flesh and blood: A Semitic idiom for “human beings” or “human nature”, with some emphasis on man’s weakness and limitations (Mt 16:17; 1 Cor 15:50). partook of the same: The Son of God assumed our mortal nature in order to die and, through this means, to rob the devil of his claim over our lives (Wis 2:24; 1 Jn 3:8; CCC 635, 2602).

2:15 fear of death: Human nature cowers from pain, privation, and death. This can overpower our desire to love and obey God in the face of suffering. Even Jesus feared death as a man; nevertheless, he gave consent to suffering and death out of a reverential fear of God (5:7). In this respect, he was prefigured by those saints of the OT who preferred persecution and martyrdom to apostasy (11:17–38). Such heroism speaks directly to the original readers, who had already endured hostility for their faith (10:32–39) and were edging closer to shedding their blood (12:4).

2:16 descendants of Abraham: This could be taken in a biological sense, referring to the family of Israel descended from Abraham, or, more likely, in a Christian sense of the family of Jews and Gentiles who together imitate the faith of Abraham (Rom 4:9–13) and inherit the blessings that Yahweh pledged to the patriarch by oath (Gen 22:16–18; Gal 3:6–29). Either way, the point is that Jesus came to rescue, not angels, but fallen men.[1]

Scripture Reflection

The death of Christ, the only one who could atone for man’s sin, wipes out sin and makes death a way to God. “Jesus destroyed the demon”, St Alphonsus writes; “that is, he destroyed his power, for the demon had been lord of death on account of sin, that is, he had power to cause temporal and eternal death to all the children of Adam infected by sin. And this was the victory of the cross—that Jesus, the author of life, by dying obtained Life for us through that death” (Reflections on the Passion, chap. 5, 1).

Christ has freed men not from physical but from spiritual death and therefore from fear of death, because he has given us certainty of future resurrection. Man’s natural fear of death is easily explained by his fear of the unknown and his instinctive aversion to what death involves; but it can also be a sign of excessive attachment to this life.

“To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” St Paul explains (Phil 1:21). “Don’t be afraid of death. Accept it from now on, generously … when God wills it, where God wills it, as God wills it. Don’t doubt what I say: it will come in the moment, in the place and in the way that are best: sent by your Father-God. Welcome be our sister death!” (St Josemaría Escrivá, The Way, 739).

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] The Letter to the Hebrews, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 44-45.

Truthfully Speaking

Scripture Reading

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. 

When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished. 
They said, “Where did this man get all this? 
What kind of wisdom has been given him? 
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary,
and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? 
And are not his sisters here with us?” 
And they took offense at him. 
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.” 
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.
(Mark 6:1-6)

 

Scripture Study

6:1 His native place: the Greek word patris here refers to Nazareth (cf. Mk 1:9; Lk 4:16, 23–24) though it can also mean native land.

6:3 Is he not the carpenter?: no other gospel calls Jesus a carpenter. Some witnesses have “the carpenter’s son,” as in Mt 13:55. Son of Mary: contrary to Jewish custom, which calls a man the son of his father, this expression may reflect Mark’s own faith that God is the Father of Jesus (Mk 1:1, 11; 8:38; 13:32; 14:36). The brother of James … Simon: in Semitic usage, the terms “brother,” “sister” are applied not only to children of the same parents, but to nephews, nieces, cousins, half-brothers, and half-sisters; cf. Gn 14:16; 29:15; Lv 10:4. While one cannot suppose that the meaning of a Greek word should be sought in the first place from Semitic usage, the Septuagint often translates the Hebrew ’āh by the Greek word adelphos, “brother,” as in the cited passages, a fact that may argue for a similar breadth of meaning in some New Testament passages. For instance, there is no doubt that in v 17, “brother” is used of Philip, who was actually the half-brother of Herod Antipas. On the other hand, Mark may have understood the terms literally. The question of meaning here would not have arisen but for the faith of the church in Mary’s perpetual virginity.

6:4 A prophet is not without honor except … in his own house: a saying that finds parallels in other literatures, especially Jewish and Greek, but without reference to a prophet. Comparing himself to previous Hebrew prophets whom the people rejected, Jesus intimates his own eventual rejection by the nation especially in view of the dishonor his own relatives had shown him (Mk 3:21) and now his townspeople as well.

6:5 He was not able to perform any mighty deed there: according to Mark, Jesus’ power could not take effect because of a person’s lack of faith.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel develops a theme that is uncomfortable. It tells how the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus. Authentically religious people, authentically spiritual people, will almost always be opposed. The logic behind this is simple and unanswerable: we live in a world gone wrong, a world turned upside down; therefore, when someone comes speaking the truth to us, we will think that they are crazy and dangerous.

Think for just a moment what would happen to you if you consistently and publicly spoke the word of God to our culture. If you spoke out against abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, human trafficking, rampant materialism, and ideological secularism, what would happen to you? If you presented, in a full-throated way, the full range of Catholic social and moral and spiritual teaching, what would they do to you? Today’s Gospel offers a clue.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] Donald Senior, John J. Collins, and Mary Ann Getty, eds., The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed.: Notes, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 1410.