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Parish Daily Update 1/6/21

Dear Parish Family,

“When you say to God, ‘Our Father,’ God’s ear is next to your lips.”     ~St. Andre Bessette (1845-1937)

Be sure to call for reservations for this Sunday’s Masses before tomorrow at 4:00.

God bless,

Pam

Thursday after Epiphany

First Reading:  1 John 4:19-5:4

Beloved, we love God because he first loved us.  If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him. In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 72:1-2, 14, 15, 17

R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
 and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
 and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
From fraud and violence he shall redeem them,
and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
May they be prayed for continually;
day by day shall they bless him.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.
May his name be blessed forever;

as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R. Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Gospel:  Luke 4:14-22

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region.  He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day.  He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. 

Homily

[Jesus] unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me … Luke 4:14-22a

In an essay in The New York Times published the day after Christmas, Esau McCauley, assistant professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, reflected on his family’s experience of going to church via livestream over the past several months. While not the most fulfilling experience, McCauley writes, these past several months of “remote worship” have given him a new appreciation of church and prayer:

“Humans disappoint, especially those we expect to share our beliefs and values.  We see other believers fail to display the deep love for one another and the stranger that is commended in our sacred texts.  We witness others compromise our deepest values, sacrificed for access to power.  Integrity seems in short supply.  We attend services where the people are unfriendly, the sermons aren’t great and the music is a struggle.  Instead of encountering the transcendent, we bump against the limits of human talent.”

And yet, McCauley, notes a third of Americans attend church – live or livestreamed – each week. Why? McCauley’s answer:

“We stay because attendance is not about what the church gives us; it is our way of offering something to God.  It is a small rebellion, a way of saying that there is more to life than simply the acquisition of more. It is an attempt to become the kind of people who live lives of charity and service.

“The very inadequacy of church services, Zoom and otherwise, is a reminder we do not come into churches to encounter a life lesson on how to raise our children or to learn to be good Americans, whatever that means.  Our aim is much more audacious.  We are attempting to encounter God and, in so doing, find ourselves, possibly for the first time.”

Despite our doubts and fears, our exhaustion and cynicism, the Spirit of God dwells in our very imperfect lives. It brings us together, whether around a table with bread and wine or through a computer screen, that our hearts might be moved and healed. Isaiah’s prophecy that Jesus cites in today’s Gospel is fulfilled in our own lives whenever we take on Jesus’ work of reconciliation and healing. Every act of kindness “brings glad tidings to the poor;” every effort to reconcile with the estranged and bring back the lost “proclaims liberty to captives” of despair and hopelessness; every offering of help and comfort “proclaims a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Esau McCauley has it right: We are here in this church to encounter God in our lives and so remember what God’s Spirit calls us to become. [“Why You Can’t Meet God Over Zoom -Virtual Services Are Inadequate — But I Keep Going”. By Esau McCaulley Dec. 24, 2020]

Send your Spirit upon us, O Lord, that we may be prophets of your justice and mercy; anoint us to be your disciples of compassion and peace; send us to do your work of reconciliation and justice. By your wisdom and grace, may we fulfill in our own lives your call to discipleship and prophecy.

An Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that You are present
in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
I ask You to come spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You, trusting that you are already there and I unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.  Amen. 

Optional Memorial of Saint Raymond of Peñafort, priest

c. 1175–1275

Patron Saint of canon lawyers and medical record librarians

The law, scripture, the Church, and love work harmoniously together Today’s saint lived numerous lives inside of his 100 years on earth. He was an intellectual prodigy who was teaching university-level philosophy by the age of twenty, and who took degrees in civil and canon law from the premier law university of the time—Bologna. While in Bologna, he likely came to know the founder of a new religious order who had also come to Bologna, and who would die there—St. Dominic Guzman. The example of the Dominicans led Fr. Raymond to exchange the diocesan priesthood for the Dominicans.

St. Raymond’s abilities and holiness were such that everyone seemed to want him in their service. Kings and Popes and Bishops and Orders all had plans on how to utilize him best. He was called to the Pope’s service to make the great contribution for which he is still known today, the organization of a huge compendium of Church law which served as the basic reference for canon lawyers until the early 20th century. Exhausted by this three year of effort in this project, he returned in middle age to his native Barcelona.

But his life of quiet and prayer did not last long. He was shocked to learn from Dominicans sent to him from Bologna that he had been elected the second successor to St. Dominic as the master general of the Dominican Order. He served his Order well and dutifully as Master General but not long. He resigned due to old age when he was 65. But there was still a lot of life left to live.

St. Raymond’s activities in his old age included efforts to try to convert the Muslims then occupying Spain, the establishment of theology and language schools dedicated to converting Muslims, his probable personal encouragement to St. Thomas Aquinas that the young scholar write an apologetic work directed at non-Catholics, the Summa contra Gentiles, and St. Raymond’s rejection of an episcopal appointment.

St. Raymond’s life shows an admirable synthesis of traditional piety and devotion, service to the Church, obedience to his superiors, love of theology, dedication to his Order, and respect and love for the law. To know, love, and follow the law is not contrary to charity. When kept, the law promotes charity and protects the weak, the poor, and the ignorant from being taken advantage of. It takes very smart and holy people to protect simple people and bad people from themselves. Saint Raymond was smart and holy. He laid his gifts at the altar of God, and God used those gifts splendidly.

St. Raymond, teach us to see the law of God and the law of the Church as one harmonious law meant to foster true communion among men and true communion between God and men. May God’s law be our law. And may the law never be an obstacle to true love and devotion.