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March 27, 2010

March 28th Holy Spirit Novena
Scripture selection is Day 9 Period II.

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C
 

Nehemiah 8: 2-4a, 5-6, 8-10 

Accordingly, on the first day of the seventh month, the priest Ezra brought the Law before the assembly, consisting of men, women and all those old enough to understand. In the square in front of the Water Gate, in the presence of the men and women, and of those old enough to understand, he read from the book from dawn till noon; all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.

    The scribe Ezra stood on a wooden dais erected for the purpose;

In full view of all the people — since he stood higher than them all — Ezra opened the book; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed Yahweh, the great God, and all the people raised their hands and answered, 'Amen! Amen!'; then they bowed down and, face to the ground, prostrated themselves before Yahweh.

Ezra read from the book of the Law of God, translating and giving the sense; so the reading was understood. Then His Excellency Nehemiah and the priest-scribe Ezra and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all the people, 'Today is sacred to Yahweh your God. Do not be mournful, do not weep.' For the people were all in tears as they listened to the words of the Law. He then said, 'You may go; eat what is rich, drink what is sweet and send a helping to the man who has nothing prepared. For today is sacred to our Lord. Do not be sad: the joy of Yahweh is your stronghold.'

    

Psalm 19: 8-10

The precepts of Yahweh are honest, 
    joy for the heart; 
the commandment of Yahweh is pure, 
    light for the eyes. 

The fear of Yahweh is pure, 
    lasting for ever; 
the judgements of Yahweh are true, 
    upright, every one, 

more desirable than gold, 
    even than the finest gold; 
his words are sweeter than honey, 
    that drips from the comb.

 

  1 Corinthians 12: 12-30

For as with the human body which is a unity although it has many parts—all the parts of the body, though many, still making up one single body—so it is with Christ. We were baptised into one body in a single Spirit, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as free men, and we were all given the same Spirit to drink. And indeed the body consists not of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, ‘I am not a hand and so I do not belong to the body,’ it does not belong to the body any the less for that. Or if the ear were to say, ‘I am not an eye, and so I do not belong to the body,’ that would not stop its belonging to the body. If the whole body were just an eye, how would there be any hearing? If the whole body were hearing, how would there be any smelling? 

    As it is, God has put all the separate parts into the body as he chose. If they were all the same part, how could it be a body? As it is, the parts are many but the body is one. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ and nor can the head say to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ 

    What is more, it is precisely the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest which are the indispensable ones. It is the parts of the body which we consider least dignified that we surround with the greatest dignity; and our less presentable parts are given greater presentability which our presentable parts do not need. God has composed the body so that greater dignity is given to the parts which were without it, and so that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally concerned for all the others. If one part is hurt, all the parts share its pain. And if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy. 

    Now Christ’s body is yourselves, each of you with a part to play in the whole. And those whom God has appointed in the Church are, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers; after them, miraculous powers, then gifts of healing, helpful acts, guidance, various kinds of tongues. Are all of them apostles? Or all prophets? Or all teachers? Or all miracle–workers? Do all have the gifts of healing? Do all of them speak in tongues and all interpret them?

  

Luke 1: 1-4; 4: 14-21

Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have reached their fulfilment among us, as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word,  I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you, Theophilus, so that your Excellency may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received.

Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone glorified him. He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written: The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord. He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, 'This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening.'

      

Fr. Joe's Homily:  Third Sunday - Ordinary Time - C cycle - January 24, 2010

INTRODUCTION - After the Persians released the Jews from their Babylonian exile and even assisted them to return to their homeland, it did not happen all at once. After fifty years in Babylon, most of the Jews were quite comfortable there and were not in a hurry to return to their devastated homeland. Even a hundred years after being allowed to go back to Israel, they continued to struggle in their efforts to rebuild their cities and their civilization. Today's first reading brings us back to that period of return and restoration, about 100 years after the Jews started returning home. The Persians were still the reigning power in the Middle East -including Israel. Today's first reading is from the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah had held an important position as a servant to the Persian king. Knowing the difficulties the Jews were confronted with, the king allowed Nehemiah to return to Israel to help his people rebuild and appointed Nehemiah to be governor in Israel. In an effort to rebuild the nation, Nehemiah started with what was most important and that was their faith in God. In today's first reading Nehemiah called for a general assembly of the people and he delegated the priest-scribe, Ezra, to read God's word to them. Remember, books were very rare in those days and were very expensive, since there were no printing presses. Every letter of every word had to be individually printed by a scribe. Very few people knew how to either read or write. So, for an ordinary person to know God's word, someone had to read it or preach it to them. Ezra read God's word to the people and interpreted it for them. The reading was most probably from the first five books of the bible. Notice how the people actively responded to God's word.

HOMILY - The people who heard God's word in our first reading and in our gospel took what they heard seriously. If they hadn't taken it seriously, their response would have been indifference. They were certainly not indifferent to the Word. Unfortunately, the people of Nazareth eventually responded to Jesus with hostility, which was not the response Jesus was looking for. One of the questions I have been hearing frequently from people who want to take Jesus' words seriously is if the Bible is God's word, how did it come to be. Did it come floating down out of heaven? Well, no. I want to explain today the gospels and how they came to be. I'm not going to try to explain the development of the Hebrew Bible or what we call the Old Testament. That would take quite a long time. I am probably biting off more than I should in even trying to explain the development of the gospels, but we get some special help today from St. Luke. That is why I am bringing up this topic for my homily. I don't think it's something I've ever preached on before. Luke tells us at the very beginning of his gospel why he wrote what he did and how he went about it. He gives us a similar introduction at the beginning of his second work, the Acts of the Apostles.

Most of you probably know that the gospels were not written until many years after Jesus died and rose. So how did people learn about Jesus? Many knew him during his lifetime. He was a public figure, teaching and healing for about three years. Immediately after the Spirit came upon the Apostles at Pentecost, they began to tell the story of Jesus. In spite of persecution, and actually because many believers fled the persecutions, the story of Jesus quickly spread all through the Middle East and the Mediterranean area. The Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of Paul give us some idea of how this process took place so quickly. As the Apostles traveled far and wide, as faith began to grow, and as those who were eyewitnesses to Jesus began to die out or be put to death, the need for authoritative written accounts of Jesus' life and teachings increased. Because of the striking similarities between the first three gospels, scholars reasonably assume there was a collection of Jesus' sayings which they call Q, which stands for the word Quelle (the German word for source). Whatever document contained this collection of Jesus' sayings no longer exists, but it was available in the early Church. The earliest document we have about Jesus is not a gospel. It is Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians and was written about 51 A.D. The earliest gospel, St. Mark, came on the scene 20 years later - around the year 70. Matthew and Luke were written about the year 85 A.D. It is easy to picture Matthew and Luke each having the gospel of Mark in front of them as they composed their own gospels for they borrow heavily from Mark. But they each had other sources as well to help them put their gospels together. As we just heard Luke tell us at the beginning of his gospel, others "have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us." Luke evidentially feels he has some things to say that the others didn't say - and indeed he did have a lot to tell us that the others didn't. Luke goes on to tell us he very carefully investigated everything and wrote it down so that Theophilus might be strengthened in faith regarding the teachings he was already familiar with -through other writings and preaching. The name Theophilus means "friend of God" so he could have been a real person or the name could symbolize all of us. Just to deviate from Luke for a moment, John tells us he wrote his gospel for the same reason, so that we may believe in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God and through this belief we may have life in his name. (Jn 20,31) John assures us that his testimony is that of an eyewitness. (Jn 19,35) By the way, John's gospel is believed to have been written roughly around the same period as Matthew and Luke (or maybe later). Other gospels came to be written too. I have a list of 16 other gospels, most of which came out of heretical groups and were from a later time. Most are in Greek. I have a copy of some that were published in English. I confess I didn't read much from them. I found them boring and at times somewhat bizarre. They really do not reflect the belief of the early Church about Christ and that's why they pretty much were ignored or forgotten. What we have in the four gospels reflects the belief of the early Christians as derived from the apostles and from eyewitnesses. It is the testimony of men and women who were willing to give up their life rather than give up, not just what they believed, but what they had seen. As John says in his first letter: the Word of life was made visible; "we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us..." (I John 1,2) Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all give us the same message of faith about Jesus, but they are four different authors so they describe Jesus in their own unique way and with their own unique emphasis. We can learn from each of them, and we do throughout our three-year liturgical cycle. When we read what their words, God is speaking to us through them. May the seriousness of their message lead us to respond with faith and love to the Word we hear. Amen.

 

 

 

 

  

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July 31, 1994

Words of Jesus to Members of
Shepherds of Christ Associates:

"My beloved priest-companion, I intend to use the priestly newsletter, Shepherds of Christ, and the movement, Shepherds of Christ Associates, in a powerful way for the renewal of My Church and the world.

"I will use the newsletter and the chapters of Shepherds of Christ Associates as a powerful instrument for spreading devotion to My Heart and My Mother's Heart.

"I am calling many to become members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. To all of them I will give great blessings. I will use them as instruments to help bring about the triumph of the Immaculate Heart and the reign of My Sacred Heart. I will give great graces to the members of Shepherds of Christ Associates. I will call them to be deeply united to My Heart and to Mary's Heart as I lead them ever closer to My Father in the Holy Spirit."

- Message from Jesus to Father Edward J. Carter, S.J., Founder, as given on July 31, 1994,
feast of Saint Ignatius Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus (The Jesuits)

 

  

 

  


 

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