Friday, 15 September 2017

Forgive your brother as God forgives you!

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time  A

L-Erbgħa u għoxrin Ħadd matul is-Sena   2017
Missalin A  p 374


Reading
Sirach 27:30-28:7
Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the LORD's vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor's injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD? Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins? If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins? Remember your last days, set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High's covenant, and overlook faults.

L-Ewwel Lezzjoni
Qari mill-Ktieb ta' Bin Sirak 27, 30 – 28, 7
Għadab u qilla, dawn ukoll ta' min jistmerrhom, Min ifittex jitħallas b'idejh, isib ħlasu mingħand il-Mulej, li jifli sewwa dnubietu. Aħfer il-proxxmu dnubietu, u mbagħad titlob u dnubietek jinħafrulek. Bniedem irawwem għadab għal ieħor, u mbagħad  se jfittex fejqan mingħand il-Mulej? Minn bniedem bħalu m'għandux ħniena, u mbagħad se jitlob għal dnubietu? Jekk bniedem jibqa' mgħaddab, min se jpattilu għal dnubietu? Ftakar fl-aħħar ta' ħajtek, u ieqaf mill-mibegħda; ftakar fit-taħsir u l-mewt, u oqgħod għall-kmandamenti. Ftakar fil-kmandamenti u tobgħodx il-proxxmu, ftakar fil-patt ta' l-Għoli u agħlaq għajnejk għall-offiża. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej

Responsorial Psalm 
PSALM 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12

R. (8) The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

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.

He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.                    R.

He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.                   R.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.                       R.

Salm Responsorjali                                                                                  
Salm 102 (103)

   R/   Ħanin u twajjeb il-Mulej.

Bierek, ruħ tiegħi, il-Mulej!
B'qalbi kollha nbierek l-isem qaddis tiegħu.
Bierek, ruħ tiegħi, il-Mulej,
u la tinsiex il-ġid kollu li għamel miegħek.                   R/

Hu jaħfer dnubietek kollha;
ifejjaq il-mamrd tiegħek kollu;
jifdi lil ħajtek mill-qabar,
iħaddnek bit-tjieba u l-ħniena.                                     R/

Ma joqgħodx jitlewwem magħna,
u anqas jinkorla għal dejjem.
Ma mexiex magħna skond ma ħaqqhom ħtijietna;
ma ħallasniex skond ma ħaqqha ħżunitna.                R/

daqskemm huma s-smewwiet 'il fuq mill-art,
hekk hi kbira tjubitu ma' min jibża minnu;
daqs kemm hu mbiegħed il-Lvant mill-Punent,
hekk hu jbiegħed minna ħtijietna.                                R/

Reading
Romans 14:7-9
Brothers and sisters: None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

It-Tieni Lezzjoni
Qari mill-Ittra ta' San Pawl Appostlu lir-Rumani 14, 7-9
Ħuti, ħadd minna ma jgħix għalih innifsu,  u ħadd ma jmut għalih innifsu. Jekk ngħixu, ngħixu għall-Mulej; jekk immutu, immutu għall-Mulej. Sew jekk ngħixu, mela, sew jekk immutu,  aħna tal-Mulej.  Kristu għalhekk miet u rxoxota, biex ikun Sid kemm tal-ħajjin u kemm tal-mejtin. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej

Gospel 
Matthew 18:21-35
Peter approached Jesus and asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?"  Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.  That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants.  When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.  Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.  At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.' Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.  When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller  amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, 'Pay back what you owe.' Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused.  Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt.  Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair.  His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!  I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.  Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?' Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt.  So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."

Evanġelju
Qari mill-Evanġelju skond San Mattew 18, 21-35
F'dak iż-żmiien,  Pietru resaq lejn Ġesu' u qallu: "Mulej, xi kemm-il darba jrid jonqosni hija biex jiena naħfirlu? Sa seba' darbiet? Wieġbu Ġesu':  "Ma ngħidlekx sa seba' darbiet,  imma sa sebgħa u sebgħin darba.   Għalhekk is-Saltna  tas-Smewwiet nistgħu nxebbħuha ma' wieħed sultan,  li ried jagħmel il-kontijiet mal-qaddejja tiegħu.  Kif beda jagħmel dan, ħadulu quddiemu wieħed li kellu jagħtih għaxart elef talent.  Billi ma kellux minn fejn irroddhomlu, is-sinjur ordna li jinbiegħu hu, martu, uliedu u kull ma kellu, ħalli b'hekk jitħallas id-dejn. Imma l-qaddej nxteħet quddiemu jitolbu u jgħidlu: "Sinjur, stabar ftit bija, kollox inroddlok." Is-sinjur  ġietu ħasra minn dak il-qaddej, bagħtu u ħafirlu dejnu. Mela dak il-qaddej joħroġ, u jiltlaqa' ma' wieħed minn sħabu, li kellu jagħtih mitt dinar;  qabdu minn għonqu u beda jagħfsu.   "Ħallas dejnek,"  qallu.   Il-qaddej sieħbu nxteħet quddiemu  jitolbu bil-ħniena u jgħidlu; "Stabar ftit bija u  rroddlok."  Imma dak ma riedx jaf, mar u xeħtu  l-ħabs sa ma  jrodd kull ma kellu jagħtih.Sħabu l-qaddejja raw il-ġrajja kollu u sewdu qalbhom ħafna; marru għand is-sinjur tagħhom u tarrfulu kull ma kien ġara. Imbagħad is-sinjur bagħat għalih u qallu:  "Ja qaddej ħażin,  meta jiena ħfirtlek dak id-dejn kollu wara li tlabtni bil-ħniena, ma kienx imissek int ukoll tħenn għal sieħbek kif ħennejt jien  għalik?"   U saħan bl-aħrax is-sinjur  għalih, u taħ f'idejn min jaħqru sa ma jrodd kull ma kellu jagħti. Hekk jagħmel lilkom  Missieri li hu fis-Smewwiet  jekk ma taħfrux lil xulxin minn  qalbkom." Il-Kelma tal-Mulej 

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Forgiveness has Implications for this Life and the Next
A reflection by Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB 

Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 18:21-35) addresses the necessity of repentance and repeated forgiveness that are required of those who call themselves Christian. The Gospel passage can be divided into two major sections. The first is Peter’s question to Jesus: “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” (18:21-22). This is followed by Jesus’ response that forgiveness knows no bounds or limits (18:22). The second section is the parable of the unmerciful servant that Jesus uses to drive home his point (18:23-34).

There is some similarity between this story in Matthew and the teaching related in Luke 17:4, but the parable and its ending are unique to the Matthean account. In examining Matthew’s parable of the king and the servant closely, we realize that it doesn’t necessarily describe Jesus’ insistence on repeated forgiveness which was the original purpose of Peter’s question and Jesus’ subsequent reply. The first slave had become vulnerable; he was weak and worthless before the king as he stood before him begging. He regains power by demanding repayment of his fellow slave and imprisonment when he cannot pay. He will not relinquish this power over others. His fellow servants then go and report him to the king; and yet their action is like that of the first servant whom they incriminate. In the end, the fellow servants have behaved in the same way he did; they failed to forgive and demanded punishment. In the final analysis, the Father’s forgiveness, already given, will be withdrawn at the final judgment for those who have not imitated his forgiveness by their own (18:35). Jesus warns that his heavenly Father will give those who are unforgiving the same treatment that the king accorded the unmerciful servant.

Lingering questions

What does it mean to forgive? First of all, forgiveness implies that there is something to forgive. Whether it’s something big or small, the need for forgiveness means somebody has done something wrong. The Greek word used for “forgiveness” in today’s parable means “to send away” or “to make apart.” Forgiveness “sends away” whatever has been keeping people apart. Anger or feelings of vengeance are “sent away.” By forgiving, one is no longer under the control of the past sinful act that he/she suffered. We know that Jesus demands boundless forgiveness of his disciples. Forgiving and showing mercy, however are not always simple matters.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that those involved will be reconciled immediately. Nevertheless it begins the healing process and helps to remove feelings of revenge. To ignore Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness has serious implications in this life and in the next. Do we really believe that our eternal destiny and salvation are harmed or hindered by our inability to forgive while we are on this earth? How do we do justice and show mercy? These are certainly not easy questions for us to answer and they surface in us a myriad of emotions which are also present in this parable.

That is why we need to listen closely to the words of Sirach in today’s first reading (27:30-28:7): “Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight. The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbour’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.”

The lessons of a “crime against humanity”

This time of year offers us an opportunity to reflect deeply on how we as a Christian community respond to evil in the world, how we forgive and how we show mercy. On the eleventh day of September 2001, the world stopped and terror and horror led us into the depths of the mysteries of evil, human suffering, and death on a great scale. Many asked where God was in the midst of such devastation and destruction on September 11. Yet with God’s grace we also experienced the height of human sacrifice and the ability of our brothers and sisters to manifest heroic love.

The terrorist attacks on Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, and New York City were not just attacks on the United States of America. In the words of Saint John Paul II, “they were crimes against humanity.” The victims of these tragedies came from dozens of countries, and the economic and political repercussions have been global. While those responsible for the attacks may have been motivated by opposition to specific American policies, particularly in the Middle East, their underlying agenda appeared to be a deep antagonism toward Western culture and Western institutions. Any simplistic connection between Islam and terrorism must be rejected. 9/11 presents a challenge to the Church as well as our government to come to a deeper level of understanding and engagement with Islam.
The “enemy” in a war against terror is difficult to define, we have to be careful to avoid that everyone becomes a potential enemy. We have to avoid the war against terror becoming a war against the other. A society built on fear and mistrust of the other will never be a peaceful society. Only when legality, the rule of law, and peaceful coexistence are re-established will we taste victory.


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Monday, 4 September 2017

The Duty of Fraternal Correction

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

It-23 Ħadd matul is-Sena
Messalin A 368


Reading
Ezekie 33:7-9
Thus says the LORD: You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me. If I tell the wicked, "O wicked one, you shall surely die, " and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death. But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself. This is the Word of the Lord.

L-Ewwel Lezzjoni
Qari mill-Ktieb ta' Eżekjel. 33, 7-9
Dan jgħid il-Mulej: "Lilek, o bniedem, qegħedek għassies ta' dar Iżrael. Meta tisma' minn fommi xi kelma,  għandek twiddibhom f'ismi. Jekk jien ngħid lill-midneb:  "Int tmut żgur," u  int ma tkellmux u ma twiddibux biex jitlaq triqtu,  hu, il-midneb, imut fi ħżunitu,  imma demmu nfittxu minn idejk. Imma jekk inti twiddeb il-midneb dwar triqtu biex  jerġa' lura minnha u ma jerġax, hu jmut fi dnubu,  imma int tkun salvajt ħajtek. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej

Responsorial Psalm 
PSALM 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
"Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works."
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Salm Responsorjali
Salm 94 (95)

R/   Isimgħu leħen il-Mulej u la twebbsux qalbkom.

Ejjew, ħa nfaħħru bl-hena l-Mulej,
ħa ngħajtu bil-ferħ lill-blata tas-salvazzjoni tagħna!
Nersqu quddiemu b'għana ta' radd il-ħajr,
ngħannulu b'għajat ta' ferħ.                                                     R/

Ejjew inqimuh u ninxteħtu quddiemu,
għarkubbtejna quddiem il-Mulej li ħalaqna!
Għaliex hu Alla tagħna,
u aħna l-poplu tal-mergħa tiegħu u n-nagħaġ tiegħu.             R/

Mhux li kontu illum tisimgħu leħnu!
"La twebbsux qalbkom bħal f'Meriba,
bħal dakinhar f'Massa, fid-deżert,
meta ġarrbuni u ttantawni missirijietkom,
għalkemm raw dak li jien għamilt."                                         R/

Reading
Romans 13:8-10
Brothers and sisters: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, " and whatever other  commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no evil to the neighbour; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.  This is the Word of the Lord.

It-Tieni Lezzjoni
Qari mill-Ittra lir-Rumani 13, 8-10
Ħuti, tkunu obbligati lejn ħadd ħlief li tħobbu lil xulxin. Kull min iħobb ikun iħares il-bqija tal-Liġi. Għax il-Kmandamenti:  "La tagħmilx adulterju, la toqtolx, la tisraqx, la tkunx rgħib,"  u kull preċett ieħor, hu liema hu, kollha jinġabru f'kelma waħda:  "Ħobb il- proxxmu tiegħek bħalek inifsek." L-imħabba ma tagħmilx deni lill-proxxmu; mela l-imħabba  hi l-milja tal-Liġi. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej

Gospel
MATTHEW 18:15-20
Jesus said to his disciples:"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that 'every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."  This is the Word of the Lord.

Evanġelju
Qari skond San Mattew 18, 15-20
F'dak iż-żmien, Ġesu' qal lid-dixxipli tiegħu: "Jekk ħuk jaqa' f'xi dnub, mur sibu waħdu u widdbu. Jekk jisma' minnek, tkun irbaħt lura lil ħuk. Jekk ma jismax, erġa' mur u ħu miegħek  weħed jew tnejn oħra, biex kull ma jingħad jissaħħaħ bil-kelma ta' żewġ xhieda jew tlieta. Jekk imbagħad anqas minnhom ma jkun irid jisma', mur għid lill-knisja. U jekk anqas mill-knisja ma jkun irid jisma' żommu b'wieħed pagan jew pubblikan. Tassew ngħidilkom, li kull ma torbtu fuq l-art  ikun marbut fis-sema, u kull ma tħollu fuq l-art ikun maħlul fis-sema. Ngħidilkom ukoll li jekk tnejn minnkom fuq l-art jgħollu leħinhom flimkien biex jitolbu xi ħaġa, Missieri li hu fis-smewwiet, jagħtihielom. Għax fejn tnejn jew tlieta jkunu miġbura f'ismi hemm inkun jien f'nofshom." Il-Kelma tal-Mulej

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The Duty of Fraternal Correction

Gospel Commentary by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, Pontifical Household Preacher 

In the Gospel this Sunday we read: “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your brother sins, go and admonish him privately; if he listens to you, you have gained your brother.’”  Jesus speaks of all sins; he does not restrict the field to sins committed against us. In this latter sort of case, it is hard to know whether what moves us is zeal for truth or our own wounded pride. In any case, it would be more of a self-defense than a fraternal correction. When the sin is against us, the first duty is not correction but forgiveness.

Why does Jesus say to admonish your brother privately? Above all, this injunction has respect for your brother’s good name, his dignity in view.

The worst thing would be to want to correct a husband in the presence of his wife or a wife in the presence of her husband, a father in front of his children, a teacher in front of pupils, or a superior in the presence of inferiors; in other words, in the presence of those whose esteem is important for the person in question? The situation will soon become a public trial. It would be very difficult for the person to accept the correction well. His dignity would be compromised.

Jesus says that the admonishment should take place privately to give the person the chance to defend himself and explain his actions in complete freedom. Many times what appears to an outside observer to be a sin is not in the intention of the person who committed it. A frank explanation clears up many misunderstandings. But this is no longer possible when the person is publicly redressed and the incident brought to the awareness of others.

When, for whatever reason, fraternal correction is not possible in private, there is something that must never be done in its place, and that is to divulge, without good reason, one’s brother’s fault, to speak ill of him or, indeed, to calumniate him, proposing as fact something that is not, or exaggerating the fault. “Do not speak ill of one another,” Scripture says (James 4:11). Gossip is not something innocent; it is ugly and reprehensible.

A woman once went to St. Philip Neri for confession, accusing herself of bad-mouthing people. The saint absolved her but gave her a strange penance. He told her to go home, get a hen and come back, plucking the bird’s feathers as she walked along the street. When she had returned to him he said: “Now go back home and, as you go, pick up each feather that you plucked on the way.” The woman told him that it would be impossible since the wind had almost certainly blown them away in the meantime. But St. Philip was prepared: “You see,” he said, “just as it is impossible to pick up the feathers once the wind has scattered them, it is likewise impossible to gather gossip and calumnies back up once they have come out of our mouth.”

Returning to the theme of the correction, we should say that the good outcome of the correction does not always depend on us; despite our best intentions, the other may not accept the correction, he may harden. But this can be compensated for: When we ourselves are corrected, the good outcome does depend on us! Indeed, I could very well be the person who “who has sinned” and the “corrector” could easily be someone else: husband, wife, friend, confrere or father superior.

In sum, there is not only active correction but passive correction; there is not only the duty to correct but the duty to allow yourself to be corrected. And it is precisely here that we can see whether someone is mature enough to correct others. Whoever wants to correct someone must be ready, in turn, to be corrected. When you see someone accept an observation and you hear him or her answer with simplicity: “You are right. Thanks for letting me know!” Doff your cap because you are in the presence of a true man or true woman.

Christ’s teaching about fraternal correction must always be read together with what he says on another occasion: “Why do you regard the speck in your brother’s eye and ignore the bean in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’ when you do not see the beam that is in yours” (Luke 6:41)?

What Jesus has taught us about correction can be very useful in raising children too. Correction is one of the parent’s fundamental duties. “What son is not disciplined by his father?” Scripture says (Hebrews 12:7); and again: “Straighten the little plant while it is still young if you do not want it to be permanently crooked.” Completely renouncing every form of correction is one of the worst things that you can do to your children and unfortunately it very common today.

You must simply take care that the correction itself does not become an accusation or a criticism. In correcting you should just stick to reproving the error that was committed; don’t generalize it and reproach everything about the child and his conduct. Instead, use the correction to point out all the good things that you see in the child and how you expect much better from him, in such away that the correction becomes encouragement rather than disqualification. This was the method that St. John Bosco used with children.

It is not easy in individual cases to know whether it is better to correct something or let it go, speak or be silent. This is why it is important to remember the Golden Rule, valid in all cases, that St. Paul offers in the second letter: “Owe each other nothing but the debt of mutual love. […] Love does evil to no one.” Augustine synthesized everything in the maxim, “Love and do what you will.”

You must make sure above all that in your heart there is a fundamental disposition of welcome toward other persons. If you have this, then whatever you do, whether you correct or remain silent, you will be doing the right thing, because love “does evil to no one.”


Saturday, 2 September 2017

Take up your cross and follow me!

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time



                           It-Tnejn u Għoxrin Ħadd matul is-Sena                            
Missalin A  p 363



Reading 1                           
You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the LORD has brought me derision and reproach all the day. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it. This is the Word of the Lord.

L-Ewwel Lezzjoni
Qari mill-Ktieb tal-Profeta Ġeremija 20, 7 -9 
Qarraqtni Mulej, u jien tqarraqt: kont aqwa minni, u għelibtni.  Jien sirt id-daħka ta'  kuljum, kulħadd jiddieħek bija. Kull meta niġi nitkellem, jien ngħajjat, u nxandar, "Moħqrija u ħsara!" Il-Kelma tal-Mulej saret għalija tagħjir u tmaqdir kuljum. U jien għedt:  "Ma nsemmihx aktar, ma nitkellimx aktar f'ismu." Iżda f'qalbi hemm bħal nar jaqbad, magħluq f'għadmi. Għejejt inżommu magħluq ġo fija, ma niflaħx aktar għalih. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej

Responsorial Psalm                                                                         psalm 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

R/ (2b) My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.     R/

Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.                                              R/

Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.      R/                                           

You are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you;
your right hand upholds me.                                       R/

Salm Responsorjali                                                                                     
Salm 62 (63)

    R/   Għalik imxennaq jiena, Mulej, Alla tiegħi.

Alla,  Alla tiegħi int; lilek ħerqan infittex.
Ruħi bil-għatx għalik,
għalik imxennaq  jiena,
bħal art niexfa, maħruqa, bla ilma.                  R/

Għalhekk ġejt narak fit-tempju mqaddes tiegħek,
biex nitgħaxxaq bis-setgħa u l-glorja tiegħek.
Għax it-tjieba tiegħek aħjar mill-ħajja,
xufftejja jxandru t-tifħir tiegħek.                        R/

Għalhekk inbierkek tul ħajtikollha;
ngħolli idejja u nsejjah ismek.
Bħal b'ikel mill-aħjar li jsemmen nimtela,
u jgħannilek fommi b'xofftejn ferrieħa.            R/

Għax int kont għajnuna għalija,
għad-dell ta' ġwenħajk ngħanni bil-ferħ.
Miegħek  tingħaqad ruħi,
int tweżini bil-leminija tiegħek.             R/

reading 2                                     
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.  Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. This is the Word of the Lord.

It-Tieni Lezzjoni
Qari mill-Ittra ta' San Pawl Appostlu lir-Rumani 12, 1-2
Nitlobkom ħuti, għall-ħniena ta' Alla,  offru ġisimkom b'sagrifiċċju ħaj, qaddis, jogħġob lil Alla, jiġifieri l-qima spiritwali tagħkom. Timxux max-xejra ta' din id-dinja, iżda nbidlu skond it-tiġdid ta' fehmietkom, biex iseħħilkom tagħrfu x'inhi r-rieda ta' Alla, x'inhu t-tajjeb li jogħġbu,  x'inhu perfett. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej

Gospel             
Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.  Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”  He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.  You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?  Or what can one give in exchange for his life?  For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.” This is the Word of the Lord.


L         L-Evanġelju
           Qari skond San Mattew 16, 21 – 27
F'dak iż-żmien, Ġesu' beda juri lid-dixxipli tiegħu li kien meħtieġ għalih li jmur Ġerusalemm, isofri ħafna mix-xjuħ u l-qassisin il-kbar u l-kittieba, joqtluh, u fit-tielet jum iqum. Pietru ġibdu lejh u beda jlumu u jgħidlu: "Allaħares, Mulej!  Ma jkun qatt li dan jgħaddi minn għalik!"   Iżda Ġesu' dar u  qal lil Pietru:   "Itlaq minn quddiemi, ja xitan! Int tfixkil għalija, għax m'intix tqis il-ħwejjeġ ta' Alla,  imma qiegħed taħsibha ta' bniedem li int!"  Imbagħad qal lid-dixxipli tiegħu:  "Jekk xi ħadd irid jiġi warajja, għandu jiċħad lilu nnifsu, jerfa' salibu, u jimxi warajja.   Għax min irid isalva ħajtu, jitlifha,  imma min jitlef ħajtu għall-imħabba tiegħi, isibha.    Għax xi jkun jiswielu l-bniedem jekk jikseb  id-dinja kollha  u mbagħad jitlef ħajtu? Jew xi  prezz se jagħti l-bniedem biex isalva ħajtu? Għax Bin il-bniedem għandu jiġi fil-glorja ta' Missieru flimkien ma' l-anġli tiegħu, u mbagħad  irodd lil kull wieħed skond ma wieħed ikun għamel." Il-Kelma tal-Mulej
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The Language of Love

Gospel Commentary by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFMCap, Pontifical Household Preacher

In this Sunday’s Gospel we hear Jesus who says: “Whoever wants to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. Because whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

What does it mean to “deny" yourself? And why should you deny yourself? We know about the indignation of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche over this the request of this Gospel.

I will begin answering these questions with an example. During the Nazi persecution, many trains full of Jews traveled from every part of Europe to the extermination camps. They were induced to get on the trains by false promises of being taken to places that would be better for them, when, in fact, they were being taken to their destruction. It happened at some of the stops that someone who knew the truth, called out from some hiding place to the passengers: “Get off! Run away!” Some succeeded in doing so.

The example is a hard one, but it expresses something of our situation. The train of life on which we are traveling is going toward death. About this, at least, there are no doubts. Our natural “I,” being mortal, is destined for destruction. What the Gospel is proposing to us when it exhorts us to deny ourselves, is to get off this train and board another one that leads to life. The train that leads to life is faith in him who said: “Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.”

Paul understood this transferring from one transport to another and he describes it thus: “It is no longer I who lives, Christ lives in me.” If we assume the “I” of Christ we become immortal because he, risen from the dead, dies no more. This indicates the meaning of the words of the Gospel that we have heard. Christ’s call for us to deny ourselves and thus find life is not a call to abuse ourselves or reject ourselves in a simplistic way. It is the wisest of the bold steps that we can take in our lives.

But we must immediately make a qualification. Jesus does not ask us to deny “what we are,” but “what we have become.” We are images of God. Thus, we are something “very good,” as God himself said, immediately after creating man and woman. What we must deny is not that which God has made, but that which we ourselves have made by misusing our freedom -- the evil tendencies, sin, all those things that have covered over the original.

Years ago, off the coast of Calabria in southern Italy, there were discovered two encrusted masses that vaguely resembled human bodies. They were removed from the sea and carefully cleaned and freed. They turned out to be bronze statues of ancient warriors. They are known today as the Riace Warriors and are on display at the National Museum of Magna Grecia in Reggio Calabria. They are among the most admired sculptures of antiquity.

This example can help us understand the positive aspect of the Gospel proposal. Spiritually, we resemble the condition of those statues before their restoration. The beautiful image of God that we should be is covered over by the seven layers of the seven capital sins.

Perhaps it is not a bad idea to recall what these sins are, if we have forgotten them: pride, greed, lust, wrath, gluttony, envy and sloth. St. Paul calls this disfigured image, “the earthly image,” in contrast to the “heavenly image,” which is the resemblance of Christ.

“Denying ourselves,” therefore, is not a work of death, but one of life, of beauty and of joy. It is also a learning of the language of true love. Imagine, said the great Danish philosopher Kierkegaard, a purely human situation. Two young people love each other. But they belong to two different nations and speak completely different languages. If their love is to survive and grow, one of them must learn the language of the other. Otherwise, they will not be able to communicate and their love will not last.
This, Kierkegaard said, is how it is with us and God. We speak the language of the flesh, he speaks that of the spirit; we speak the language of selfishness, he that of love.

Denying yourself is learning the language of God so that we can communicate with him, but it is also learning the language that allows us to communicate with each other. We will not be able to say “yes” to the other -- beginning with our own wife or husband -- if we are not first of all able to say “no” to ourselves.

Keeping within the context of marriage, many problems and failures with the couple come from the fact that the man has never learned to express love for the woman, nor she for the man. Even when it speaks of denying ourselves, we see that the Gospel is much less distant from life than it is sometimes believed.

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Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa is a Franciscan Capuchin Catholic priest, born in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, 22 July 1934, ordained in 1958. A Divinity Doctor and Doctor in classical literature, in 1980 he was appointed by Pope John Paul II Preacher to the Papal Household in which capacity he still serves, preaching a weekly sermon in Advent and Lent.


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Thursday, 24 August 2017

Let Us Not Forget that Peter Holds the Keys

 
Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Il-21 Ħadd matul is-Sena
Missalin A  p 358

Reading 1         
Isaiah 22:19-23
 Thus says the LORD to Shebna, master of the palace:  “I will thrust you from your office  and pull you down from your station.  On that day I will summon my servant  Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;  I will clothe him with your robe,  and gird him with your sash,  and give over to him your authority.  He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,  and to the house of Judah.  I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder;  when he opens, no one shall shut  when he shuts, no one shall open.  I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot,  to be a place of honor for his family.” This is the Word of the Lord.

L-Ewwel Lezzjoni
Qari mill-Ktieb tal-Profeta Isaija 22, 19-23
Dan jgħid il-Mulej lil Sebna,  dak li jieħu ħsieb il-palazz tas-sultan; "Inwarrbek minn postok, u nneħħik minn fejn qiegħed. Dak inhar insejjaħ lill-qaddej tiegħi Eljakim, bin Ħilkija, inlibbsu l-libsa tiegħek, u nħażżnu bit-terħa tiegħek, u nagħtih f'idejh il-ħakma tiegħek. U jkun missier għal min jgħammar f'Ġerusalemm, u għad-dar ta' Ġuda. Inqiegħed muftieh dar David fuq spallejh. Jiftah hu, u ħadd ma jiftaħ. U nwaħħlu bħal musmar ma' ħajt fis-sod, u jkun tron glorjuż għal dar missieri." Il-Kelma tal-Mulej

Responsorial Psalm                     

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple.
R. Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.

I will give thanks to your name,
because of your kindness and your truth:
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.
R. Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.

The LORD is exalted, yet the lowly he sees,
and the proud he knows from afar.
Your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands.
R. Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.

Salm Responsorjali                                                                                              
Salm 137 (138)

Irroddlok ħajr, Mulej, b'qalbi kollha,
għaliex int smajt kliem fommi.
Quddiem l-allat irrid ngħannilek.
B'wiċċi fl-art ninxteħet
quddiem is-santwarju tiegħek.                        R/
R/   It-tjieba tiegħek, Mulej, tibqa' għal dejjem.

Irroddlok ħajr għath-tjieba u l-fedelta' tiegħek,
għax int kabbart ismek u kelmtek fuq kollox,
Meta sejjaħtlek, int weġibtni,
kattarli l-qawwa f'ruħi.                         R/
R/   It-tjieba tiegħek, Mulej, tibqa' għal dejjem.
                
Kbir il-Mulej imma jieħu ħsieb iż-żgħar;
u, għalkemm fl-għoli, jagħraf mill-bogħod.
Il-Mulej iżomm kelmtu miegħi.
It-tjieba tiegħek, Mulej, tibqa' għal dejjem.       R/
R/   It-tjieba tiegħek, Mulej, tibqa' għal dejjem.

Reading II    

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has given the Lord anything that he may be repaid?  For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. This is the Word of the Lord.

It-Tieni Lezzjoni
Qari mill-Ittra lir-Rumani11, 33-36
Ħuti, kemm huma kbar l-għana, l-għerf u l-għaqal ta' Alla! Kemm tassew ħadd ma  jista' jgħarbel il-ġudizzju tiegħu u jifhem it-triqat tiegħu! Għax min  qatt għaraf moħħ il-Mulej? Min qatt kien il-kunsullier tiegħu? Min qatt tah l-ewwel biex jistħoqqlu l-ħlas?  Kollox ġej minnu, kollox permezz tiegħu, kollox għalih. Lilu l-glorja għal dejjem ta' dejjem.  Amen! Il-Kelma tal-Mulej

Gospel                      

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.  For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.  And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld 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.”  Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. This is the Word of the Lord.

L-Evanġelju
Qari skond San Mattew 16, 13 -20
 F'dak iż-żmien, meta wasala fl-inħawi ta' Ċesarija ta' Filippu, Ġesu' staqsa lid-dixxipli tiegħu u qalilhom:   "Min jgħidu n-nies li hu Bin il-bniedem?" U huma wieġbuh:  "Xi wħud, Ġwanni l-Battisita;  oħrajn, Elija, u oħrajn, Ġeremija jew wieħed mill-profeti." "Imma intom min tgħidu li jien?"  staqsiehom. U qabeż Xmun Pietru u qallu:  "Inti l-Messija, Bin Alla l-ħaj." U Ġesu' wieġbu u qallu:  "Ħieni int, Xmun bin Ġona,  għax mħux bniedem tad-demm u l-laħam uriek dan,  imma Missieri li hu fis-smewwiet.   U jiena ngħidlek:  Inti Pietru, u fuq din il-blata jiena nibni l-Knisja tiegħi,  u s-setgħat ta' l-infern  ma jegħlbuhiex.   Jiena nagħtik  l-imfietaħ tas-Saltna tas-Smewwiet, u kull ma torbot fuq l-art ikun marbut fis-Smewwiet, u kull ma tħoll fuq  l-art ikun maħlul fis-smewwiet." Imbagħad lid-dixxipli tiegħu wissiehom biex ma  jitkellmu ma' ħadd fuq il huwa l-Messija. Il-Kelma tal-Mulej   

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 A reflection on Sunday’s Gospel Reading by Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB


 Son of the living God

“Son of God” must be understood against the Greek mythological background of the site where Peter’s confession occurred. The Greek god Pan was associated with a mountain in Arkadia and a grotto in Attika. Since Arkadia was not rich in large cattle, the goat was its characteristic beast and Pan was thus half-goat in shape. Pan became a universal god in Greek mythology, popular with shepherds, farmers, and peasants. In general Pan is amorous as is the nature of a god whose chief business it was to make his flocks fertile! He supposedly loved caves, mountains, and lonely places, and was a very musical creature; his instrument was the panpipe! Pan was a son of Zeus, therefore a son of god!

Peter declares Jesus to be “the Son of the living God.” The addition of this exalted title to the original Marcan confession of “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:27-29) eliminates whatever ambiguity was attached to the Messianic title. Peter’s declaration cannot help but take into consideration the Greek mythological background that was associated with Caesarea Philippi!

Flesh and blood

In verse 17, Jesus acknowledges Peter’s declaration saying to him: “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” “Flesh and blood” is a Semitic expression for human beings, especially in their weakness. That Peter reveals Jesus’ true identity indicates that his knowledge is not through human means but through a revelation from God. This is similar to Paul’s description of his recognition of who Jesus was in Galatians 1:15-16: “...when God...was pleased to reveal his Son to me...”

You are the rock

In verse 18, Jesus revels Peter’s new identity: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” (16:18). The Aramaic word kepa – meaning “rock” and transliterated into Greek as Kephas – is the name by which Peter is called in the Pauline letters (1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:4; Galatians 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14) except in Galatians 2:7-8, where “Peter” is used.Petros (“Peter”) is likewise used in John 1:42. The presumed original Aramaic of Jesus’ statement would have been, in English, “You are the Rock (Kepa) and upon this rock (kepa) I will build my Church.” When Jesus declared Peter to be the rock upon which the Church would be built, was he referring to the massive stones which surrounded him in this area, and which housed temples to pagan gods and a secular leader? Were the deaths of the Great Pan and of Christ, both occurring under Pontius Pilate’s procuratorship, somehow linked? Did early Christians wish to see a link between these two events as Eusebius points out in his writings?

Matthew’s use of “church”

Matthew is the only evangelist to use the word “Church” (Greek ekklesia), here in verse 17. The word is used twice in today’s Gospel text. What might be the possibilities for the Aramaic original that would have been spoken by Jesus himself? Jesus’ “Church” means the community that he will gather and that, like a building, will have Peter as its solid foundation. That function of Peter consists in his being a witness to Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

The keys of the kingdom

The image of the keys found in verse 19 is probably drawn from today’s first reading from Isaiah 22:15-25, where Eliakim, succeeding Shebnah as master of the palace, is given “the key of the house of David,” which he authoritatively “opens” and “shuts” (Isaiah 22:22).

In Matthew 18:18 all of the disciples are given the power of binding and loosing, but the context of the verse suggests that a special power or authority is given to Peter. That the keys are those to the Kingdom of heaven and that Peter’s exercise of authority in the Church on earth will be confirmed in heaven show an intimate connection between, but not an identification of, the Church and the Kingdom of heaven. The Church is the battleground between the powers of Hades and the powers of heaven. How many times over the past years have we felt that the gates of Hades have swung open on the Church, releasing upon it the fire and fury of hell?

In the midst of the storms, however, let us take heart and realize that Peter is given the keys that unlock the gates of heaven. Those gates too will swing open, and the kingly power of God break forth from heaven to enter the arena against the demons we face. Our faith assures us that Hades will not prevail against the Church because God will be powerfully at work in it, revealing his purposes for it and imparting the heavenly power necessary to fulfil these purposes.

Our own Caesarea Philippi moments

The struggle to identify Jesus and his role as Messiah continues today. Some say individual Christians and the whole Church should be Elijah figures, publicly confronting systems, institutions, and national policies. That was the way Elijah saw his task. Some say, like Jeremiah, that the reign of Christ, through his Church, is the personal and private side of life. Indeed, there are many in our world today who would like to reduce religion and faith to an exclusively private affair.

Jesus probes beyond both approaches and asks, “You, who do you say I am?” In Peter’s response, “You are Messiah,” blurted out with his characteristic impetuosity, we are given a concept that involves both of the approaches and transcends them. The Messiah came into society – and into individual lives – in a total way, reconciling the distinction between public and private. The quality of our response to this decisive question is the best gauge of the quality of our discipleship.

Everyone at some stage must come to Caesarea Philippi and provide an answer to “Who do you say I am?” Where are the Caesarea Philippis in my life where I have been challenged to identify Christ as who he really is for me, for the Church, and for the world?

Like Peter, do I struggle to accept how God acts in the world – through, as Pope Emeritus Benedict said, “the defenseless power of love” (Youth Vigil, XX World Youth Day, Cologne, Germany)? How does love transform scenes of tragedy and suffering today? How have I seen the power of God’s love at work in the trials and tragedies of my own life? In the storms of life, what consolation have I received because I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ?

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