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Gospel for Thursday

May 24, 2018
Thursday of the Seventh week in Ordinary Time

 

If your hand or eye causes you to sin

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to

Saint Mark 9:41-50
Jesus said to his disciples: «Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe (in me) to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'”
Everyone will be salted with fire.
Salt is good, but if salt becomes insipid, with what will you restore its flavor? Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another.”

 

Meditation:

Who in their right mind would want to lose their reward and then be deprived of joy in the end? We have been given the greatest of rewards – God himself who is perfect love and source of abundant life and unending happiness. Paul the Apostle tells us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). God’s love purifies our hearts and compels us to express kindness and charity towards our neighbor who is created in the image and likeness of God. We were created in love for love. The charity we show to our neighbors in their need expresses the gratitude we have for the abundant goodness and kindness of God towards us. Jesus declared that any kindness shown and any help given to the people of Christ will not lose its reward. Jesus never refused to give to anyone in need who asked for his help. As his disciples we are called to be kind and generous as he is.

“God never asks his servants to do what is impossible. The love and goodness of his Godhead is revealed as richly available. It is poured out like water upon all. God furnishes to each person according to his will the ability to do something good. None of those seeking to be saved will be lacking in this ability, given by the one who said: ‘whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward'”

Do you allow the love of Christ to transform your heart that you may treat your neighbor with loving-kindness and mercy?

Was Jesus’ exaggerating when he urged his followers to use drastic measures to avoid evil and its harmful consequences (Mark 9:42-47? Jesus set before his disciples the one supreme goal in life that is worth any sacrifice, and that goal is God himself and his will for our lives which leads to everlasting peace and happiness. Just as a doctor might remove a limb or some part of the body in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything that causes us to sin and which leads to spiritual death.

Jesus warns his disciples of the terrible responsibility that they must set no stumbling block  in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin. The Greek word for temptation (scandalon) is exactly the same as the English word scandal. The original meaning of scandal is a trap or a stumbling block which causes one to trip and fall. The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he or she in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith. Do you set a good example for others to follow, especially the young?

What does Jesus mean when he says “have salt in yourselves” (Mark 9:50)? Salt served a very useful purpose in hot climates before the invention of electricity and refrigeration. Salt not only gave food flavor, it also preserved meat from spoiling. Salt was used as a symbol of fellowship and the sharing of a common meal with one’s friends. The near-Eastern expression to betray the salt meant to betray one’s Lord or Master or one’s friends. Leonardo da Vinci in his painting of the Last Supper depicts Judas in the act of tipping over the salt shaker, thus symbolically indentifying himself as the betrayer of his Master the Lord Jesus.

Jesus used the image of salt to describe how his disciples are to live in the world. As salt purifies, preserves, and produces rich flavor for food, so the disciple of Christ must be salt in the world of human society to purify, preserve, and  bring the flavor of God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, joy, and mercy. What did Jesus mean by the expression “salted with fire” and “salt losing its saltiness”? Salt in the ancient world was often put in ovens to intensify the heat. When the salt was burned off and no longer useful it was thrown out on the foot path where it would easily get trodden upon (Matthew 5:13). Perhaps Jesus wanted to contrast useful salt and salt which lost its ability to prevent corruption to encourage his disciples to bring the rich flavor of Christ’s love, holiness, and righteousness to a world dominated by greed, selfish ambition, and neglect for the weak, poor, and defenseless.

Paul the Apostle reminds us that we are called to be “the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16 ). The Lord Jesus wants the fragrance of his love and righteousness to permeate our lives, thoughts, speech, and actions. Do you allow the fragrance of Christ’s love and truth to permeate your relationships and circle of influence, especially among your family, friends, and neighbors?

 

Introductory Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I believe in your presence in my life. I believe that you consider those around me your children and that you ardently desire to possess them with love for all eternity. I trust that you will help me treat others as your brothers and sisters. I love you now with my prayer. May this prayer increase my desire to honor and serve you with my life.

 

Petition:

Jesus, help me to set a good example for others out of love.

 

  1. You Are Priceless: Jesus leaves us with no doubt: We are valuable. We all carry within us a God-given dignity. And this dignity is identified and enhanced when we bear his name. Every human being has an intrinsic dignity because every human being is created in God’s image. But this image of God is perfectly incarnated in Christ, God made man. So, a baptized Christian—a Christ bearer—carries a more perfect image: Christ, in whom we are made children of God. It is little wonder, then, that Jesus assures a reward to anyone who serves us for his sake!

 

  1. Every Little One Is Priceless: To carry his image is also a responsibility. We must live up to this dignity and show to others a life worthy of the image we carry within. Others may be “little” due to their age, the newness and immaturity of their Christian life, or even their weakness and struggle. We put a stumbling block in their way, we scandalize them, when our behavior causes them to doubt or become discouraged about living the ideals of faith. A “millstone” suggests that anything would be better for us than this. How damaging then are my bad examples given to “little ones”! Damaging for them and for me! What can I do to avoid such scandal? On the other hand, what a great reward awaits those who do the contrary, giving these little ones good example! If I loved “these little ones” just half as much as Jesus does, would it not be much easier to avoid giving bad example?

 

  1. Better to Lose Anything Else: In today’s world, the value of something is measured in comparison to other items of the same kind: stocks, food, clothes, even music and films are judged against each other. Yet, there are some things that have absolute value: the value of a soul. Nothing compares! Jesus paints this total non-comparison in terms of cutting off whatever becomes an obstacle. You are so valuable that you must be ready to deny, subdue, silence and even sacrifice your own body, or any of its members, rather than risk losing your soul. Do I value my immortal soul, my vocation to eternal life? If so, do I show this by the self-denial I exert in controlling what makes me (and eventually others through me) stumble? How often do I prefer my “things” to the loved ones who depend on my example of Christ? How radical is my faith?

 

Conversation with Christ:

Lord Jesus, open my eyes to understand a little more just how valuable I am to you, how priceless my eternal life is. Make me sensitive to value each and every person in my life. I know you want me to help save them. Never allow me to become a stumbling block for anyone. If I have, may my love and efforts of faith be used by you now to restore what was lost.

 

Resolution:

I will repair a past act of “scandal” (outburst of anger, foul language, gossip or slander, dishonesty, etc.) with a period of quality time given to the “little ones” so as to rebuild the trust and Christ-like behavior they expect from me.

 

Prayer:

“Lord Jesus, fill me with the fragrance of your love and truth that I may radiate the joy and peace of the Gospel wherever I go and with whomever I meet.”

Evangelio del jueves

24 de mayo, 2018

Jueves de la séptima semana del tiempo ordinario

 

Ustedes son la luz del mundo

Lectura del santo Evangelio según

San Marcos 9, 41-50
Les aseguro que no quedará sin recompensa el que les dé de beber un vaso de agua por el hecho de que ustedes pertenecen a Cristo. Si alguien llegara a escandalizar a uno de estos pequeños que tienen fe, sería preferible para él que le ataran al cuello una piedra de moler y lo arrojaran al mar. Si tu mano es para ti ocasión de pecado, córtala, porque más te vale entrar en la Vida manco, que ir con tus dos manos a la Gehena, al fuego inextinguible. Y si tu pie te está haciendo caer, córtatelo; porque más te vale entrar lisiado en la Vida, que ser arrojado con tus dos pies a la Gehena. Y si tu ojo prepara tu caída, sácatelo; pues es mejor para ti entrar con un solo ojo en el Reino de Dios que ser arrojado con los dos al infierno, donde el gusano no muere y el fuego no se apaga. Porque cada uno será salado por el fuego. La sal es una cosa excelente, pero si se vuelve insípida, ¿con qué la volverán a salar? Que haya sal en ustedes mismos y vivan en paz unos con otros».
Palabra del Señor

Oración introductoria
Dios mío, Tú me has llamado a una misión sublime y para cumplirla con fidelidad tengo que alimentarme espiritualmente. De este modo escucharé lo que Tú me pides cotidianamente y recibiré las gracias necesarias para responderte con fidelidad, no sólo hoy, sino cada día de mi vida.

Petición
Señor, permíteme ver las faltas que hay en mí y dame tu luz para reconocer en ti el ejemplo que debo imitar.

Meditación
“Sabemos que [a la Iglesia] no le faltan hijos reacios e incluso rebeldes, pero es en los santos donde la Iglesia reconoce sus propios rasgos característicos y, precisamente en ellos, saborea su alegría más profunda. Todos tienen en común el deseo de encarnar el Evangelio en su existencia, bajo el impulso del eterno animador del Pueblo de Dios, que es el Espíritu Santo. Al fijar la mirada sobre sus propios santos, esta Iglesia particular ha llegado a la conclusión de que la prioridad pastoral de hoy es hacer de cada hombre y mujer cristianos una presencia radiante de la perspectiva evangélica en medio del mundo, en la familia, la cultura, la economía y la política. Con frecuencia nos preocupamos afanosamente por las consecuencias sociales, culturales y políticas de la fe, dando por descontado que hay fe, lo cual, lamentablemente, es cada vez menos realista. Se ha puesto una confianza tal vez excesiva en las estructuras y en los programas eclesiales, en la distribución de poderes y funciones, pero ¿qué pasaría si la sal se volviera insípida?” La fe abre la «ventana» a la presencia actuante del Espíritu y nos muestra que, como la felicidad, la santidad está siempre ligada a los pequeños gestos. «El que les dé a beber un vaso de agua en mi nombre –dice Jesús– no se quedará sin recompensa» (Mc 9,41). Son gestos mínimos que uno aprende en el hogar; gestos de familia que se pierden en el anonimato de la cotidianidad pero que hacen diferente cada jornada. Son gestos de madre, de abuela, de padre, de abuelo, de hijo, de hermanos. Son gestos de ternura, de cariño, de compasión. Son gestos del plato caliente de quien espera a cenar, del desayuno temprano del que sabe acompañar a madrugar. Son gestos de hogar. Es la bendición antes de dormir y el abrazo al regresar de una larga jornada de trabajo. El amor se manifiesta en pequeñas cosas, en la atención mínima a lo cotidiano que hace que la vida tenga siempre sabor a hogar.  (S.S. Francisco).

Reflexión apostólica
La respuesta que le hemos dado a Cristo requiere una renovación diaria para no correr el peligro de alejarnos de Él hasta el punto de destruir nuestra amistad con el Señor. Esforcémonos por vivir una vida coherente con la fe que profesamos para que, además de asegurar nuestra salvación, seamos faros que alumbran en la oscuridad, sal que da sabor a la sociedad.

Propósito
En diversos momentos del día puedo elevar una oración a Dios pidiéndole que asemeje mi corazón más al de Él.

Diálogo con Cristo
Jesús sé que Tú quieres que yo sea santo (cf. Mt 5,48) y me has indicado el camino que debo seguir. Ayúdame a mantenerme cerca a las fuentes de tu gracia, especialmente la oración, los sacramentos y la caridad activa para que mi vida cristiana no pierda su sabor. Entonces podré decir con san Pablo: «tengo la certeza de que ni la muerte ni la vida, ni los ángeles ni los principados, ni lo presente ni lo futuro, ni los poderes espirituales, ni lo alto ni lo profundo, ni ninguna otra criatura podrá separarnos jamás del amor de Dios, manifestado en Cristo Jesús, nuestro Señor.»

 

Despedida

Te damos gracias, Señor, por todos tus beneficios, a Ti que vives y reinas por los siglos de los siglos.  Amén.

¡Cristo, Rey nuestro!  ¡Venga tu Reino!

Virgen prudentísima, María, Madre de la Iglesia.  Ruega por nosotros.

En el nombre del Padre y del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo. Amén.