At the end of January, the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), organized a special program on Interculturality. The 2-week Workshop was held at the UISG Headquarters in Rome. The purpose of this program was to assist religious congregations in engaging in their cultural/ ethnic/national diversity and moving closer to a fuller expression and experience of mutually-enriching interculturality both within the congregation and in their ministry/mission activities.
Reading the first reading and the gospel together hit me in a new way. The Genesis story of the aftermath of the first sin of Adam and Eve, followed by Mark's first version of the feeding of the 4,000, touched me. The first story reminds us that there is a rebellious part in each of us, which lets ourselves be seduced by an evil desire to be like God. The result is that God has to ask us the question, "Where are you?" [Pope Francis focused on this question in a number of his homilies. See references below.]
In today’s gospel the crowd brings to Jesus a deaf man with a speech impediment and begs Jesus to lay his hand on him. Note how Jesus deals with the man, one on one, sensitively, carefully and compassionately.
“He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ (that is ‘Be opened!)”
Greetings from Rome.
Elisabetta Sanna was born in Codrongianos (Sassari) on April 23rd, 1788. At the age of three months, she lost the ability to raise her arms. She married and raised five children. In 1825, she was widowed and made a vow of chastity; she was spiritual mother to the girls and women of her area. In 1831, having embarked on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she ended up in Rome, and was unable return due to grave physical ailments. She dedicated herself totally to prayer and to service of the poor and sick. She was among the first members of the Union of Catholic Apostolate of Saint Vincent Pallotti, her spiritual director. Her dwelling became a shrine of faith and of burning love. She died in Rome on February 17th, 1857 and was buried in the church of SS. Salvatore in Onda.
A celebration of saints is always a chance to understand oneself because every saint is a witness to Truth and a role model to follow. From the many gifts and founders' activities of Saints Cyril and Methodius I have chosen five we should consider.
1) The Glagolitic alphabet, our first Slavic script, has been often spoken about. For our country the important fact is that they allowed us to record our history, even though now we have been using the Latin alphabet for more than a thousand of years already. Constantine's famous statement saying that naked are nations without books and as if ready to become a prey - which talks about the importance of the Bible in the struggle with evil - we can apply also to other cases and to understand it in such a way that a nation, which has not recorded its history and does not remember anything from its history and cannot learn from the experience of ancestors, is seriously threatened. This is exactly our case. History does not repeat itself but mistakes do. Gottwald and Husák will not come back. K. H. Frank with Moravec and Otta Braniborský will not return but there are again some people among us who act in such a way that they can bring to power a new dictator. So far, it is not necessary to point a finger at anybody and attack anybody but it is important to take a firm stand against lies, slander, envy, greed and the like. They could enslave us.
The heart of being Christian is proclaiming and following the message of Jesus. Jesus’ dialogue with his disciples in today’s gospel cuts to the heart of the Christian message asserting that internal disposition of heart, not punctilious external obligation, is central to following Jesus.
Doubtless Jesus was engaged in a discussion about the Jewish food laws as contained in the Jewish law. Does observation of these make one holy and lack of observation defile one? Jesus is forthright: “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from the outside cannot defile. . . .But what comes out of a man, that is what defiles him.”
Genesis 1: 20-2:|4a; Psalm 8: 4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Mark 7: 1-13
As we continue our journey through Genesis and the other readings, we are reminded of the special role of humans. They are the climax of creation, they are made in the image and likeness of GOD. In the Gospel, Jesus reminds the religious leaders that the relationship between GOD and humans is more important than the human laws and regulations, particularly those which separate humans from increasing their relationship with GOD.
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE XXVII WORLD DAY OF THE SICK 2019
“You received without payment; give without payment” (Mt 10:8)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“You received without payment; give without payment” (Mt 10:8). These are the words spoken by Jesus when sending forth his apostles to spread the Gospel, so that his Kingdom might grow through acts of gratuitous love.
On the XXVII World Day of the Sick, to be solemnly celebrated on 11 February 2019 in Calcutta, India, the Church – as a Mother to all her children, especially the infirm – reminds us that generous gestures like that of the Good Samaritan are the most credible means of evangelization. Caring for the sick requires professionalism, tenderness, straightforward and simple gestures freely given, like a caress that makes others feel loved.
What struck me in this gospel reading was the last sentence of the reading. St. Mark says: "and as many as touched it were healed." The fame of Jesus in Galilee, even early in his public life, was such that when people heard he was coming they hurried to gather together their sick in hopes for a cure. On this day Jesus was recognized as soon as he came ashore at Gennesaret. And the townspeople rushed in a great frenzy to gather together their sick. They placed them on mats in the marketplace where they hoped to touch the cloak of Jesus as he passed by. When Jesus arrived he was not in a great hurry. He probably moved slowly through the town so as to give as many as possible the opportunity to reach up and touch him. There must have been great crowds in each town that Jesus passed through. And so there were probably a great many healings that day.
Is 6:1-2, 3-8; 1 Cor 15:1-11; Lk 5:1-11
While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch." Simon said in reply, "Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets." When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him. Lk 5:1-11
He calls you by name
God beholds thee individually, whoever thou art. He "calls thee by thy name." He sees thee, and understands thee, as He made thee. He knows what is in thee, all thy own peculiar feelings and thoughts, thy dispositions and likings, thy strength and thy weakness. He views thee in thy day of rejoicing, and thy day of sorrow. He sympathizes in thy hopes and thy temptations. He interests Himself in all thy anxieties and remembrances, all the risings and fallings of thy spirit. He has numbered the very hairs of thy head... He compasses thee round and bears thee in his arms; He takes thee up and sets thee down. He notes thy very countenance, whether smiling or in tears, whether healthful or sickly. He looks tenderly upon thy hands and thy feet; He hears thy voice, the beating of thy heart, and thy very breathing...