Sunday, February 23, 2014

Prayer for Today

Jesus, Paul reminds me
that you died for us,
even though we were
still in our sins.
I am very grateful for that,
because if this gospel presents
the measure by which
I am to be measured,
then clearly I don’t have a
chance of being saved by
my own merits.
Thank you for loving me
with a love that is
stronger than death--
and certainly stronger
than my sinfulness.

But Jesus, I do want
to be your disciple,
and that means
joining myself to you and
living your life in my own.
And you have set the bar
for discipleship very high indeed.
The world is a dangerous place;
how long would I last if
I followed your words exactly?
And yet, how much
can I water them down
and still claim to follow you?
If an outside observer would say
that my lifestyle and attitudes
are pretty much the same as
that of the mainstream
culture around me,
then perhaps I need to take
what you say more seriously.

Yes, Lord, you forgive my
sins and offer me eternal life.
I am your disciple.
Please, give me
the grace to act like it.
Amen.

Homily for Today

Today's First Reading from Chapter 19 of the Book of Leviticus teaches us that the spirit of charity makes it impossible for the spirits of enmity, revenge, and grudge bearing to dwell within us. Charity requires that fraternal correction be made when necessary.

If the spirits of enmity, revenge and grudge bearing dwell in us, then they coexists with the spirit of hatred towards others. If the spirit of hatred is within us, then we are living in sin. The First Reading reminds us not to incur sin through the spirit of hatred because of our behaviour towards one or more persons.

Today's Second Reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians [1 Cor. 3:16-23] reminds us of the division that dwelled in the Corinthian Church during the first century.

When Paul said, "Do you not know that you are God's Temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?", he was speaking of two Temples. First of all, the Corinthian community was a Temple of God, because the Divine Spirit dwelled in it. Secondly, the Holy Spirit dwelled in all those who had been baptised.

Now these two Temples, within the community and within each individual were being destroyed by division. Some of the Christians claimed to belong to Paul, others to Apollos. Who were Saint Paul and Apollos? They were nothing, merely human servants of the Church in the Name of Jesus Christ. In their vain and merely human appraisal of the ministers of the Gospel the Corinthians were displaying their foolishness, judging by the wisdom of the world. No Christian should glory in men, calling himself a disciple of any preacher, to the detriment of the unity of the Church. The ministers of the Gospel are for the faithful, not the faithful for them.

Paul made a very powerful statement when he said, "If anyone destroys God's Temple, God will destroy that person. For God's Temple is holy, and you are that Temple.

Nowadays, there are many who's actions are causing division in the Church. There is the division caused by the followers of Medjugorje who belittle those who do not believe in that alleged Marian apparition. After all, does the Church not teach that it is not necessary to believe in apparitions in order to be saved? Is it not through the Sacraments that we grow in Christ and in His Church, such faith leading to salvation?

Then there are those who reject doctrinal teachings of the Church on matters of abortion, birth control, the death penalty, same sex marriage, etc... They, some of them clergy members and religious sisters, claim there is nothing wrong with these beliefs, such causing confusion within the faithful and finally division. Remember, 'If anyone destroys God's Temple, God will destroy that person."

It is no wonder that Saint Paul said, "Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God." These words come from the Old Testament where we read, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," [Job 5:12] and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile." [Ps. 94:11]

My brothers and sisters in Christ, we belong to Christ, who in turn belongs to God. The Christian dominates the world and its happenings. Through faith and hope, he already shares in the triumph of the Lord.

Today's Reading from the Gospel of Matthew has to do with retaliation versus loving one's enemy.

In the Old Testament, we read,

"If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe." [Ex. 21:23-5] "Anyone who kills a human being shall be put to death. Anyone who kills an animal shall make restitution for it, life for life. Anyone who maims another shall suffer the same injury in return: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; the injury inflicted is the injury to be suffered." [Lv. 24:17-20]

"Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." [Dt. 19:21.]

Making reference to these passages, Jesus said, you have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

The law of revenge was an ancient custom of the Near East that protected individuals by obliging the next of kin to avenge injury or murder or to purchase property to pay the debts of a kinsman.

Regarding Jesus' teachings, we take note,

First, regarding physical violence, it is not to be met with physical violence; it is to be suffered.

Secondly, regarding legal contention (arguments), the disciples are told not to meet legal action with legal action, but to yield what is contested and even beyond what is contested.

If anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well. The garments mentioned are the tunic, a long shirt worn next to the body, and the cloak, a heavier outer garment that protected against cold and rain. These were normally the only two garments worn by the Palestinian peasant.

In Ex. 22:25-26 the creditor who takes the cloak in pledge is directed to return it at sundown so that the debtor may have covering for the night.

Thirdly, regarding forced labor or service, if anyone forced a slave or a worker to go one mile, that Christian was advised to go with them also the second mile. Today, we can compare that to your employer asking you to work a half hour longer because of a backlog of work that needs to be done. The Christian behaviour would oblige you to work an extra hour instead of a half hour to ensure that the needs of your employer are met.

Fourthly, on the matter of gifts and loans, do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. Obviously, that is if you have the money to lend. If you are truthfully broke, then you cannot lend money to the needy person.

It is difficult to see how the principle of non-resistance and yielding could be more clearly stated. The rationalizations of the words of Jesus do not show that his words are impractical or exaggerated, but simply that the Christian world has never been ready and is not ready now to live according to this spiritual ethic.

Quoting the last paragraph from today's Gospel Reading, it states, "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

The precept of love of one's neighbor is quoted from the Book of Leviticus where we read, "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." [Lv. 18:18]

My brothers and sisters, no one needs to be instructed to hate his enemies. But, we do need to be reminded to love our enemies.

The meaning of the word "neighbor" as found in the Book of Leviticus is a reference to one's group or fellowship: one's village or town, one's religion or nation, one's tribe or race. In many languages the same word is used to designate "stranger," "foreigner," or "enemy." The enemy is specified in the Gospel of Matthew as the persecutor, probably a reflection of the experience of the early Church.

The disciples were taught to show the same indifference to friends and enemies that God shows in his distribution of sunshine and rain; in exhibiting this godlike providence they vindicate their title of sons of God.

Love within one's group or fellowship is merely a natural and universal human trait. But by implementing this kind of love, a forgiving love, the disciples were being perfected as the heavenly Father is perfect.

Let us remember this week to "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." Let us pray for each other that we may all have the strength to forgive our enemies so we may be perfected by the power of the Holy Spirit in the most Holy Name of Jesus for the glory of God the Father.

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 lv 19:1-2, 17-18

The LORD said to Moses,
“Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.

“You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD.”

Responsorial Psalm ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13

R/ (8a) The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R/ The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R/ The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R/ The Lord is kind and merciful.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
R/ The Lord is kind and merciful.

reading 2 1 cor 3:16-23

Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

Let no one deceive himself.
If any one among you considers himself wise in this age,
let him become a fool, so as to become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God,
for it is written:
God catches the wise in their own ruses,
and again:
The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
that they are vain.


So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you,
Paul or Apollos or Cephas,
or the world or life or death,
or the present or the future:
all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.

Gospel mt 5:38-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand over your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Faith is not a 'theory,' emphasizes Pope

VATICAN CITY, February 21 (CNA) .- Pope Francis centered his daily homily today around the importance of Christians having a living, rather than merely theoretical, faith.

“Even we make this mistake many times: ‘But I have a lot of faith,’ we hear it said. ‘I believe everything, everything...’ And maybe the person who says this has a tepid, weak life. His faith is like a theory, but it is not alive in his life,” said Pope Francis on Feb. 21 in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.

“The Apostle James, when he speaks of faith, speaks properly of doctrine, of that which is the content of faith. But you can know all the commandments, all the prophecies, all the truths of the faith, but if this doesn’t become practice, does not end up in works, it’s no help,” he explained.

The Pontiff went on to point out that theoretical knowledge is no guarantee of true Christianity.

“We can recite the Creed theoretically, even without faith, and there are many people who do it like that. Even the demons! The demons know well what is said in the Creed and they know that it is the truth.”

Pope Francis pointed out that there are many gospel stories which illustrate that people may “know what they must believe, but they don’t have faith,” such as when the pharisees try to trick Jesus by asking about a woman who had married 7 brothers successively, after each of their deaths. “Whose wife will she be in heaven?” they demand.

Such instances reveal a vision of “faith merely as a system of ideas, an ideology.”

Those who hold to such a view, those  who “fall into ideologies” and “know the doctrine, “ but are without faith, ”like the demons,” are not living truly Christian lives, noted the Pope.

On the other hand, the gospels also contain stories of “people who don’t know doctrine but have a lot of faith,” such as the Samaritan woman at the well who opened her heart to the Lord because she “met not abstract truth,” but the person of Jesus Christ.

This encounter in faith, explained Pope Francis, always leads a Christian to move outward toward others.

“Faith always leads to witness. Faith is a meeting with Jesus Christ, with God, and it is born from that and leads you to witness.”

Without such fruit, faith is lifeless. “A  faith without works, a faith that doesn’t engage you, that doesn’t lead you to witness, isn’t faith. It is words, and nothing more than words,” concluded the Pope.
 

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle

I saw this at Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction so I borrowed it to share with you. After reading the article check out their website by clicking here; Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction

February 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Feast Days, Featured, Liz Estler, Praying Through Art

“I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder;
when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open.”[1]
The Church has celebrated this Feast of the Chair of Peter, in Rome, since the 4th century, as a sign of the unity of the Church founded upon Saint Peter, the Apostle, when Jesus said, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”[2] “How great and wonderful is this sharing in his power that God in his goodness has given to this man.”[3]
Christ entrusted the apostles with their mission just as he had been sent by the Father (cf Jn 20:21) and willed that their successors be shepherds in his Church until the end of the world.  But, so that the episcopate might be one and undivided, he put Peter at the head of the other apostles, and in him set up a lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion.[4]
Jesus’ words to Peter do “not mean that the Church and the office of Peter will not be attacked from all sides but rather that it will be the magnetic pole that attracts the darkest powers of world history…”[5]  Yet, we should not be surprised.  We’ve seen this over and over again.  But, God is no foolish builder.  The rains fall, the floods come, the winds blow and buffet this House, this Chair of Peter, but it does not collapse.  It has been built on solid rock.[6]  If the Church, the Body of Christ, were not of divine origin, She would have been destroyed long ago.  Rather, we see Her hardened through suffering yet sheltering the tender and sweet fruit of the Spirit exhaled on the Cross.[7]  This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.[8]  As members of His Body, let us pray for our Holy Mother the Church, and our Holy Father, echoing Christ’s prayer for unity that all may be consecrated in the truth[9] and be made one.[10]

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A stationary Christian has a sickness of identity, Pope reflects


A stationary Christian has a sickness of identity, Pope reflects
By Elise Harris
Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St. Peter's Square before the Wednesday general audience Dec. 4, 2013. Credit: Kyle Burkhart/CNA.
Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St. Peter's Square before the Wednesday general audience Dec. 4, 2013. Credit: Kyle Burkhart/CNA.
.- In his daily homily Pope Francis addressed the identity of a Christian, saying that the faithful must “go out” and “walk” as disciples that are astute and who announce the Gospel with joy.

“You cannot think of a stationary Christian: a Christian that remains stationary is sick, in their Christian identity, has some illness in his identity. The Christian is a disciple to walk, to move,” the Pope affirmed in his Feb. 14 daily Mass.

Speaking to those gathered in the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse for, the pontiff reflected on the lives of brothers Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who are brothers that became missionaries among the Slavic peoples and whose feast is celebrated today, as examples of true Christian identity.

Part of this identity, he observed, is to “go out,” and is a dynamic illustrated by Jeroboam in the first reading, taken from the First Book of Kings, in which he goes out to meet the prophet Ahijah.

Highlighting the importance of this act, the Pope stated that a Christian who does not go out, but remains where they are “has some illness in his identity,” because to truly be a disciple means “to walk,” and “to move.”

Calling to mind the words of Jesus in the Gospel when he tells the disciples to “Go out to all the world and proclaim the Gospel,” the pontiff emphasized the need to “Go; Walk,” adding that “a first attitude of the Christian identity is to walk, and to walk also if there are difficulties, to go beyond the difficulties.”

The Pope continued, emphasizing how Jesus extends this invitation to all, the “good” and the “bad,” and that because of this the Christian walks, and “if there are difficulties,” the disciple “goes further to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is near.”

Reflecting on another aspect of our identity as Christians, the pontiff highlighted that “the Christian must always remain lamb,” and that Jesus sends us out “like lambs among wolves.”

Describing how in his battle against the giant David was given large amour to wear, Pope Francis observed that the king could not move and that he “was not himself, he was not humble, was not the simple David,” and that he won with just his own sling.

Be “Like lambs,” encouraged the pontiff, “do not become wolves...because, sometimes, temptation makes us think: 'Well, this is difficult, these wolves are smart and I will be smarter than them, eh?'”

“Lambs,” he repeated, emphasizing “not stupid, but lambs…with Christian astuteness, but always a lamb,” adding that “if you are a lamb, He defends you.”

“But if you feel that you are as strong as a wolf, He will not defend you, he will leave you alone, and the wolves will eat you raw.”

Another aspect of our Christian identity is “joy,” the Pope explained, highlighting that “you cannot walk into a Christian without joy,” and “you cannot walk like a lamb without joy.”

Christians who have “a whiny temper” and “that always live like this, complaining, about everything, sad,” don’t do any favors for “the Lord or the Church,” the pontiff continued, adding that “this is not the style of the disciple.”

Drawing attention to a quote of Saint Augustine, the Pope emphasized how the bishop told Christians to “'Go, go forward, singing and walking!'” always “with joy,” because “it's the style of a Christian; to announce the Gospel with joy.”

On the contrary, “too much sadness, this great sadness, even bitterness leads us to live a so-called Christianity without Christ,” he explained, reflecting that “the Cross empties the Christians who are in front of the tomb crying, like Mary Magdalene, but without the joy of having found the Risen Lord.”

Bringing his homily to a close, the Pope again brought to mind how the lives of Cyril and Methodius reflect our Christian identity, observing that a Christian “never stands still,” but is “a man or a woman who always walks,” even “past the difficulties.”

May the Lord, expressed the pontiff, “through the intercession of these two brothers, patrons Saints of Europe, grant us the grace to live as Christians who walk like lambs and with joy.”

Homily for Today's Mass

When a pre-schooler touches something hot, he learns that it burns. If he climbs on a chair or up the stairs, he learns that he can fall down. Most children do fall and bump their little head. In child development, the child progressively learns by natural instinct how to use logic to ensure that his basic needs of life are met. Those needs consist of eating and drinking, sleeping when tired, dressing up or taking shelter to protect himself from the heat of the sun or the cold, seeking mom and dad's security, etc... The pre-schooler even learns to be safety minded by not trying to chase and catch in his hand those nice looking yellow bumble bees. It should be the other way around, the bee chasing him.

But what about when we become adults? Is our learning process completed? Many seem to think so! Being an adult, they consider themselves mature! But, are we really mature in the whole of our being according to the teachings of the Bible?

True maturity does not only consist of going through the phases of child development, getting a job and finally settling down with a family. That is worldly maturity. Today's readings speak of spiritual maturity that begins when the individual is spiritually enlightened by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual maturity has to do with learning spiritual virtues that will benefit the holiness of the soul.

Today's First Reading tells us that the Lord God placed before us fire and water and He tells us to stretch out our hand to take which ever we choose. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are witnesses to each other that we have stretched out our hand and chosen water. But how many choose the second gift of God with joy, the fire?

The spiritually mature Christian knows what God meant by those words. Today's Second Reading refers to understanding God's wisdom, what is sacred and hidden, what God decreed before the ages for the glory of all. In Genesis 1:26, we read that God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness..." The last words were, "to our likeness", referring to God's characteristics. God decreed that His children would be in His likeness, having His Divine characteristics.

Now, consider Adam and Eve who were the perfect happy couple in the Garden of Eden before they sinned through their disobedience. Did they have all of God's characteristics or did they lack some of them? Did Adam and Eve have the ability to know what it meant to be cold or to be warm? Could they understand shame before they sinned? Could they understand the words forgiveness, mercy and compassion? Could they understand what it meant to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the sick and the prisoners? Did they understand what it meant to be angry or to be violent? Did they cry or understand sadness? Did they understand hardship from hard work? Did they know what it feels like to lose a loved one? Could Adam and Eve have practiced faith, hope and charity when there was no need for it because God was present among them and they already lived a life of perfect love?

It appears from the above list, one that is far from being complete, that while Adam and Eve were happy in many ways, they were deprived of many characteristics that would entitled them to be children of God in the likeness of God Himself.

If someone here knows how Adam or Eve, before the original sin, could have experienced shame, mercy, hardship, sadness, faith, hope and any of the characteristics that we have today because of sin, let him or her come up here and explain it to us! [PAUSE]

Religious truths teach us that while God did not will for sin to enter the world, He allowed it to happen as punishment. Religious truths also teach us that God can make good things come out of all things, including from evil things. While we have been cursed by sin and called to suffer physical death, we are blessed by the knowledge and spiritual growth that we gain through the outcome of sin.

The child who touched fire for the first time certainly became wiser. He will not touch the fire a second time because he does not want to get burned again. In a way, the child is blessed by God, knowing what fire feels like. Before the original sin, Adam and Eve could not have experienced the burning of fire. They could not have understood how the skin blisters from being burned. They could not have understood how fire destroys completely what it consumes such as during forest fires.

This spiritual understanding of today's first two Readings leads to the Third Reading. Jesus said that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, we will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The scribes were known to be a class of citizens who copied and explained the Laws of Moses. The Pharisees based their lives on the written law and thousands of detailed prescriptions handed down by verbal tradition. Both were so obsessed with the laws that they had lost the meaning of the purpose of the law, the necessity for flexibility, common sense and even the meaning of mercy. They lacked spiritual maturity. They were worldly in their ways. Their hearts were cold and darkened.

Jesus brought a message of love to the world. He taught us that love overcomes everything! Jesus overcame the world. [Jn. 16:33] He did not allow Himself to be overcomed by evil, but overcame evil by goodness. [Rom. 12:21] The one who overcomes the world is from God, [1 Jn. 4:4] being a child of God.

The Almighty Father is concerned for our salvation that is obtained through the spiritual growth of our soul, in the living of our faith in Jesus Christ. By His grace, we are given the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit to transform us into holy children.

To become holy children, we must reconcile with our brothers and sisters, first of all, being concerned with our spiritual maturity. It is not important what the others think because we have forgiven someone who was hurting us. What is important is that we have obeyed God's command to love one another.

Today's readings teaches us that in our lives, our work, in marriage and even in our social lives, we must seek out our spiritual maturity. We must open our spiritual minds to the Holy Spirit who searches everything, even the depths of God, so we can know the will of God in all things. Knowing the will of God, we must be moved to act upon it, performing the acts of goodwill that the Holy Spirit inspires us to do.

We must stop looking at the hardships and sufferings of life as punishments from God. Rather, we must ask ourselves, "What does God want me to learn from this discipline?" "What virtue can I gain from this hardship or suffering?" Can I learn patience that Adam and Eve could not have learned? Can I learn compassion for others who have similar hardships? Can I learn not to be judgmental?

When we will have learned what God is trying to teach us, having been disciplined by the grace of a loving Heavenly Father and having been purified by the fire of the Holy Spirit, then my brothers and sisters, we will begin to shine as children of God in the likeness of God Himself.

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 sir 15:15-20

If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;
if you trust in God, you too shall live;
he has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.
Immense is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power, and all-seeing.
The eyes of God are on those who fear him;
he understands man’s every deed.
No one does he command to act unjustly,
to none does he give license to sin.

Responsorial Psalm ps 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34

R/ (1b) Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they who observe his decrees,
who seek him with all their heart.
R/ Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
You have commanded that your precepts
be diligently kept.
Oh, that I might be firm in the ways
of keeping your statutes!
R/ Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Be good to your servant, that I may live
and keep your words.
Open my eyes, that I may consider
the wonders of your law.
R/ Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Instruct me, O LORD, in the way of your statutes,
that I may exactly observe them.
Give me discernment, that I may observe your law
and keep it with all my heart.
R/ Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

reading 2 1 cor 2:6-10

Brothers and sisters:
We speak a wisdom to those who are mature,
not a wisdom of this age,
nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.
Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
and which none of the rulers of this age knew;
for, if they had known it,
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written:
What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him,

this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

Gospel mt 5:17-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you,
whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment;
and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin;
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’
will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

“It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife -  unless the marriage is unlawful -
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow
.
But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,' and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.”

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Homily for Todat's Mass

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." [Mt. 5:16] Welcome my brothers and sisters in Christ to today's celebration of the Holy Mass. Your presence here today is a witnessing example of how your light is shining before others.

Today's First Reading from the Book of Isaiah [Is. 58:6-10] supplements the message of the Gospel Reading. Over and above being commanded to let our light shine before others, the Lord God tells us through the prophet Isaiah that our actions will determine our glory or darkness. Allow me to explain.

For some time, God had been telling His chosen people through Isaiah that He would send a Light in the world to save His people and the gentiles. "It is too light a thing that You should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give You as a Light to the nations, that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth." [Is. 49:6]

A passage from the Gospel of Lukes tells us that our Saviour Jesus, the "Light of the world," [Jn. 8:12] fulfilled the promised of the Lord. Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour." [Lk. 4:18; Is. 61:2] "Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." [Jn. 8:12]

The timing of the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy concerning the arrival of the promised Messiah depended entirely on God's blessings upon His people or the withdrawal of His grace from them. The people were asked to fast as the means through which their bonds of injustice would be broken. Through fasting, the oppressed would be freed. [Is. 58:6]

Over and above this, the people were asked to share their bread with the hungry, to bring the homeless into their homes. They were asked to cover the naked and not to hide themselves from their relatives who may need their assistance. [Is. 58:7]

Through those good works, the light of the people would break forth like the dawn. Sadness would turn to joy, their oppressors withdrawing before them. And the glory of the Lord would be their rear guard, protecting them from unexpected hardships. [Is. 58:8]

After having performed all these good works of righteousness, when the people shall call upon the Lord, He will answer them, "Here I am." But first, they must get rid of the evil around them, the pointing of the finger, the gossiping, the false accusations, the speaking of evil, all what displeases God. [Is. 58:9]

When they share their food with the hungry and deliver justice to those who are afflicted, then their light shall rise in the darkness and their gloom will be like the noonday. [Is. 58:10] Darkness shall become light. Where there was despair, there will be hope. Where there was death, there shall be life. Where there was sorrow, there shall be joy.

While preparing my homily, I read in a book that "fasting should unite the rich and the poor so that all can taste the dust of which each was made." [Gen. 3:19] How can such be? How can the poor fast if they have nothing to eat? The call to fast is not a call to the poor, but rather a call to the rich. By fasting, the rich come to share in the poverty and suffering of the poor who go hungry.

By true fasting, by enduring long-term hunger, the rich come to the realization that there is something greater in life than worldly fame, pleasures and wealth. By co-sharing in the suffering of the poor, they come to the realization that there is a greater purpose in life, a spiritual purpose. They come to the realization that hunger and suffering are temporary; joy and peace are eternal, these being the fulfillment of the promise of the eternal Lord.

Reviewing the Second Reading, [1 Cor. 2:1-5] when St. Paul went to preach to the Corinthians, it was to proclaim to them the mystery of Jesus Christ, He being crucified. [1 Cor. 2:2] Nothing else was on his mind. There was no intent to use lofty words or wisdom to deceive the Corinthians. Arrogance and procrastination was not part of his purpose.

When Paul was in Corinth for over a year and a half, [Acts 18:11] he went in weakness and in fear with much trembling. [1 Cor. 2:3] It was not easy. He was opposed and reviled. [Acts 18:5] He was brought before the tribunal, accused of influencing the people to worship a God contrary to the law. [Acts 18:13] In his love for the Lord Jesus, He endured much.

Whatever was accomplished through him as a light in the world, it was not because of his own doing. His speech and his proclamation were not plausible words of wisdom. They were a demonstration of the Spirit and of power so that the faith of the believers may not rest on human wisdom, but on the power of God. [1 Cor. 2:4-5] Paul was the instrument of God through which the Holy Spirit produced good works. Without the power of the Spirit, there would have been no goods works. Without the protection of the Spirit, St. Paul would not have lasted as long as he did in Corinth. Through his obedience, his servitude and his humility, he was a worthy instrument of the Lord.

Consequently, some believed. That faith did not come from Paul. The faith of the Corinthians rested entirely on the power of God, not on human wisdom. It is the same with our faith. Our faith does not come from the priest. It does not come from our parents or the school teachers. Nor does it come from our spouse or peers.

The gift of our faith rests entirely on the power of God that was manifested because of His love for each and everyone of us. "We love Him, because He first loved us." [1 Jn. 4:19]

Today's Gospel Reading [Mt. 5:13-16] tells us that we are the salt of the earth. If salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. [Mt. 5:13] In other words, when we stop doing good works, our souls are worthless to God. We are no longer worthy of being called the brother or friend of Jesus. We are no longer worthy of being called a son or daughter of God. We are no longer worthy of the eternal inheritance that awaits all those who persevere in their living faith.

Using a second example, Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." [Mt. 5:14- 6]

In life, we have two choices. In the likeness of Christ, we can shine as a light in the world or we could be rejected by God for failing to realize the ideal of the life of the Gospels. We cannot have both. We cannot serve two masters. We cannot gain the world and Heaven. The outcome of our eternal blessings entirely depends on the choice we make today, not tomorrow, because we might not be here tomorrow. No one knows when they will be called to appear before the Lord.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, when we received our Sacrament of Confirmation, our Bishop sent us forward to preach and defend the Gospel. Our calling obligates us to be lights in the world in the likeness of Christ Who is the Source of all lights. This week, let us take the opportunity to evaluate to what extent we are answering our calling, remembering the Sacred Words of Jesus, "Let your light shine before others." [Mt. 5:16]

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 is 58:7-10

Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
If you remove from your midst
oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;
if you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday.

Responsorial Psalm ps 112:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R/ (4a) The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice.
R/ The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.
An evil report he shall not fear;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
R/ The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
His justice shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R/ The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.
or:
R/ Alleluia.

reading 2 1 cor 2:1-5

When I came to you, brothers and sisters,
proclaiming the mystery of God,
I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you
except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling,
and my message and my proclamation
were not with persuasive words of wisdom,
but with a demonstration of Spirit and power,
so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom
but on the power of God.

Gospel mt 5:13-16

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.”

Daily Prayer

Sunday, February 9, 2014
You are the salt of the earth

Jesus, you are the light of the world.
You are the pillar of fire that lit the way
for the Israelites in the desert.
You guide and show me the way.
And through baptism and Eucharist,
you give me the power to
bring your light to the world.

But salt, Lord? How am I salt?
I cannot think of this passage
without thinking of the cultural historians
and Scripture scholars who argue
that your salt reference here
has nothing to do with seasoning.

They tell me that people of your time cooked
in earthen ovens, using animal dung as fuel.
These ovens, they say, used a thin block
of salt at the bottom as a catalyst to make
the dung burn hot and strong.
When the salt’s ability to catalyze the fire
was used up, it was taken out
and thrown away,
to be “trampled underfoot.”

It’s a powerful image
for me to ponder:
In this earthen oven of the world
I am here as your catalyst,
to help turn even the basest things
into the hottest flame of your self-giving love--
so that you may be food for a hungry world.

You bring the spark, Jesus; you light the fire.
Help me to help it burn brightly.
Amen.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Homily for Today


"For my eyes have seen Your salvation." [Lk. 2:30] These are the words that echo the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord that we are celebrating today. The events surrounding this special Feast are found in Chapter 2, verses 22 to 40 of the Gospel of Luke.

As some of you may be aware, the Feast of the "Presentation of the Lord" in the Temple, always observed on February the second in the Roman Rite, is also known as "Candlemas Day" and the "Purification of the Blessed Virgin."

Some may ask, what does "Candlemas Day" means? During the eleventh century, the liturgical calendar required that the First Reading be the Book of Zephaniah versus today's reading from the Book of Malachi. In the Book of Zephaniah, it states, "At that time, I will search Jerusalem with lamps..." [Zeph. 1:12] In harmony with the words of this biblical verse, the faithful of those days participated in a candle light procession. Nowadays, the Catholic liturgy still permits a procession. Using the rite in the sacramentary, the candles are blessed at the beginning of the Mass. For the procession, the priest wears a chasuble or cope.

Now you may wonder why today's Feast is also called, the "Purification of the Blessed Virgin?" In the days of the birth of Jesus, the Jewish custom commanded that a woman who gave birth to a son remain in semi-seclusion for 40 days. Counting from December 25 th as the first day, the fortieth day fell on February 2 nd, which is today's date.

The Book of Leviticus tells us, "The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the people of Israel, saying: If a woman conceives and bears a male child, she shall be ceremonially unclean seven (7) days: as at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Her time of blood purification shall be thirty-three (33) days; she shall not touch any holy things, or come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification are completed." [Lev. 12:1-4]

When the days of her purification are completed, (7 + 33 = 40) whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb in its first year for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. He shall offer it before the Lord, and make atonement on her behalf; then she shall be clean from her flow of blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, male or female. If she cannot afford a sheep, she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement on her behalf, and she shall be clean." [Lev. 12:6-8 and Exo. 13:11-13; 22:29; Numb. 18:15-16; Deut. 15:19]

Therefore, the Blessed Virgin Mary's Presentation of the Lord to the Temple was executed in obedience with the precept of the Law. She redeemed her first-born from the Temple and she was purified by the prayer of Simeon the righteous in the presence of the prophetess Anna. [Lk. 2:22-36]

While today's readings echo both, the Presentation of the Lord to the Temple and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, in its wisdom, the Catholic Church deemed it more praiseworthy to place emphasis on the Feast of the Lord Jesus.

As previously stated, today's First Reading was taken from the Book of Malachi. [Mal. 3:1-4] This reading was prophetic in nature. While speaking to the prophet Malachi, God said that He was sending His messenger to prepare His way. And the Lord that the people were seeking would suddenly come to His Temple. [Mal. 31; Mt. 11:10; Mk. 1:2; Lk. 1:76, 7:27]

Continuing with the same reading, it states, "But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?" [Mal. 3:2; Joel 2:11; Rev. 6:17] "For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap;" [Mal. 3:2] "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness." [Mal. 3:3; Tit. 3:14]

These words echo the words of Jesus Who Himself stated that He would be the cause of division. Jesus said, "I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." [Lk. 12:49-53]

On the same matter, John the Baptist stated, "I baptise you with water for repentance but One who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and will gather His wheat into the granary; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire." [Mt. 3:11-2]

Jesus "gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for Himself a people of His own who are zealous for good deeds." [Tit. 3:14] "For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctified those who had been defiled so that their flesh was purified, how much more will the Blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God." [Heb. 9:13-4]

Our sanctification was constantly on the mind of Jesus. It was on His mind during His ministry. And it was on His mind when He prayed after the Last Supper. In His words, while praying to the Father, Jesus said, "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth." [Jn. 17:17] "And for their sakes I sanctify Myself so that they also may be sanctified in truth." [Jn. 17:19]

Our purification, our sanctification, had its beginning when we received the Sacrament of Baptism. First came baptism by water; then followed our baptism by fire, our sanctification by the power of the Holy Spirit. "For indeed our God is a consuming fire." [Heb. 12:29] Those who believe and submit themselves to the guidance and teachings of the Holy Spirit, they will be saved. Those who reject the grace of God, they will be lost forever. Naturally, having a free will, as Jesus foretold, some family members will welcome the grace of God while others will reject it.

Today's Second Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews [Heb. 2:10- 11, 13b-18] teaches us that Jesus had to become like His brothers and sisters in every respect. To bring us to glory, Jesus was made our source of perfect salvation through sufferings. [Heb. 2:10] As we suffer in life, He suffered for our sake. Jesus was rejected by most of His own people. And He was even accused of being possessed by evil spirit. All of this He wholeheartedly endured for us.

"The one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters, saying, 'Here am I, and the children whom God has given me.'" [Heb. 2:12-3]

As our Saviour, so that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil, Jesus emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. [Heb. 2:14; Phil. 2:6] Through this tremendous act of love, He freed all of us who were held in slavery by the fear of death. [Heb. 2:15]

When Jesus came into this world, He did not come to save the angels. He came to save the spiritual children of Abraham, all of us who believe in Him. [Heb. 2:16; Rom. 4:12]

For the sins of the people, Jesus made the perfect sacrifice of atonement to God, the self-sacrifice of every spark of life that was within Himself. As a merciful and faithful High Priest in the service of God who has been tested by what He has suffered, He is now able to help us who are being tested. [Heb. 417-8]

Today's Gospel Reading [Lk. 2:22-40] is summarized by the words of Simeon. "For my eyes have seen your salvation." [Lk. 2:30] When the time had come for the purification of the Virgin Mary in accordance to the Law, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord God. For it was written, "Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord." As required by the Law, Mary and Joseph offered the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. [Lk. 2:22-4; Lev. 12:6- 8]

At the Temple, they met Simeon, a righteous and devout man who longed for the consolation of Israel. [Lk. 2:25] Filled with the Holy Spirit, it had been revealed to Simeon that he would not die until such time as he had seen the Lord's Messiah. [Lk. 2:26]

As we heard earlier, guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the Temple; and when Joseph and Mary brought in the Child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God, saying, 'Master, now You are dismissing Your servant in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a Light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel.'" [Lk. 2:27-32]

These words acknowledged the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecies of the prophet Isaiah. "Through You I will make a Covenant with all peoples; through You I will bring Light to the nations." [Is. 42:6, 49:6, 52:10]

"Then Simeon blessed the Holy Family, saying to Mary, 'This Child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed - and a sword will pierce your own soul too.'" [Lk. 2:34-5] In other words, Jesus would be the cause of division within families, some accepting Him, others rejecting Him.

Also present at the Temple was the prophetess Anna, the daughter of Phanuel. When she saw Jesus, she began to praise God and to speak about the Child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. [Lk. 2:36-8]

These events confirm to us that Simeon and Anna, both being filled with the Holy Spirit, were chosen by God to meet Jesus and to affirm that He was the promised Messiah. Now both, having met the Lord of their salvation, could go in peace.

Equally, we as members of the Catholic Church that is led by the Spirit of Christ, have also met in our lives the Lord Jesus, our Redeemer. Therefore, when we depart after the celebration of the Holy Mass, it can be said that we too go in peace.

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Reading 1MAL 3:1-4

Thus says the Lord God:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner’s fire,
or like the fuller’s lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.

Responsorial Psalm PS 24:7, 8, 9, 10

R. (8) Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle.
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD of hosts; he is the king of glory.
R. Who is this king of glory? It is the Lord!

Reading 2 HEB 2:14-18

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.

Gospel LK 2:22-40

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. 

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. 
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go 
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
—and you yourself a sword will pierce—
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.

Or LK 2:22-32

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. 

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. 
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go 
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”

SPIRITUAL PROTECTION of the HOME PRAYER:

[At this time of spiritual warfare and agitation in all aspects of life -- in the family, in the Church, in media, in society -- let us sta...