"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Friday, 6 March 2015


Reading 1 Ex 20:1-17
In those days,

God delivered all these commandments:
"I, the LORD, am your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other gods besides me.
You shall not carve idols for yourselves
in the shape of anything in the sky above
or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;
you shall not bow down before them or worship them.
For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God,
inflicting punishment for their fathers' wickedness
on the children of those who hate me,
down to the third and fourth generation;
but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation
on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.

"You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.
For the LORD will not leave unpunished
the one who takes his name in vain.

"Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Six days you may labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God.
No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter,
or your male or female slave, or your beast,
or by the alien who lives with you.
In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth,
the sea and all that is in them;
but on the seventh day he rested.
That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

"Honor your father and your mother,
that you may have a long life in the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor's house.
You shall not covet your neighbor's wife,
nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass,
nor anything else that belongs to him."
Or Ex 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17

In those days, God delivered all these commandments:
"I, the LORD am your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other gods besides me.

"You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.
For the LORD will not leave unpunished
the one who takes his name in vain.

"Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Honor your father and your mother,
that you may have a long life in the land
which the Lord, your God, is giving you.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor's house.
You shall not covet your neighbor's wife,
nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass,
nor anything else that belongs to him."
Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R. (John 6:68c)Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

Reading 2 1 Cor 1:22-25

Brothers and sisters:
Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
but we proclaim Christ crucified,
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike,
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Gospel Jn 2:13-25
Since the Passover of the Jews was near,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
as well as the money changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords
and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,
and spilled the coins of the money changers
and overturned their tables,
and to those who sold doves he said,
"Take these out of here,
and stop making my Father's house a marketplace."
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him,
"What sign can you show us for doing this?"
Jesus answered and said to them,
"Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up."
The Jews said,
"This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?"
But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,
his disciples remembered that he had said this,
and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
many began to believe in his name
when they saw the signs he was doing.
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all,
and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.
He himself understood it well.


Cleansing the Temple in John
Fr. Stephen Freeman (Orthodox)

A rather oddly placed story – always a problem for those who need to harmonize the gospels (and many of the Fathers tended to desire this themselves) – is the story of the “cleansing of the temple” found in the second chapter. In other gospel accounts it is always part of the story of Holy Week. But here in John it follows immediately after the miracle at the wedding in Cana (another water miracle). What is going on?

No one can say with certainty – though my own sense is to part with whatever literal streaks may be found among some of the Fathers – a lay aside concerns for “when did this event take place.” St. John makes it quite clear in his final chapter that “these things are written so that in believing them you may have eternal life.” Salvation is literary scheme for St. John’s gospel.

This story falls amid “water stories.” It is preceded by the Wedding at Cana, where Christ turns water into wine and it is followed His conversation with Nicodemus where He speaks of “water and the Spirit.” But here, rather than water, we see the “cleansing” (though this word is not itself used) of the Temple. It is a story of repentance, the setting of things in their correct order, along with reference to Christ’s own resurrection (vs. 19).

Unlike the cleansing of the Temple in the other gospel accounts, this one does not have the Holy Week drama in which the Temple action takes on a certain “political” overtone. It occurs in the very “beginning” of Christ’s ministry (although John has little interest in historical order).

But it says much to us of our Baptism. The temple (and in this account “temple” and “body” are quite synonymous as indeed they are in the other accounts) is to be for God and not for theives and robbers. Our bodies become the Temple of the Lord, not the home of evil things.

I’m sure it is possible to make other approaches to the Temple story in this location. But I offer these thoughts for your consideration.

Baptism is a complete reorientation of our lives. We are not only born of the Spirit and Water – we are Baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. Destroy these temples (our bodies) and God will raise them up as well. But the body is to be for God and not for theives and robbers. We are not to lay up treasures for ourselves on earth, but treasure in heaven.

For the newly illumined, there is a caution (as for all Christians): everything we are now belongs to God. We should live in such a manner that this is shown forth to the world.

Patricia Datchuck Sánchez  |  Mar. 7, 2015 Spiritual Reflections
my source: National Catholic Reporter

On this Third Sunday of Lent, the ancient authors set before the praying assembly two of the most important institutions in Jewish life, the law (Exodus) and the temple (John). By their faithful observance of the law, the Jews were sincerely surrendering themselves to God's will, which, they believed, was expressed in the law. By their reverence for the temple, its liturgy, its feasts and sacrificial system, the Jews were expressing their gratitude for the presence of God among them.
But by the time of Jesus, both of these institutions had accrued certain embellishments.

Third Sunday of Lent
Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
John 2:13-25
Added to the essential Decalogue was a multiplicity of laws, written and oral, so precise and detailed that most ordinary people required an expert to interpret the law for them. The temple, which was in its third construction during Jesus' ministry, was a far cry from the Tent of Meeting in Israel's desert days.

Described in great detail by Flavius Josephus (War of the Jews, Book 5, Chapter 5), the temple was ascended by 12 steps. Its first gate was 70 cubits high and 25 cubits broad (a cubit is 18 inches). The outward face of the temple was covered with plates of gold of great weight, and, at sunrise, it reflected a fiery splendor and made those who to looked upon it avert their eyes.

Jesus went to the beautiful-to-behold temple that day and made a clear, unmistakable statement: "Stop making my Father's house a marketplace." He was not against the temple per se; Jesus objected to the desecration of the holy place by a marketplace mentality, one that took advantage of the poor. As Carol Cavin of Brentwood United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn., has pointed out, examples of this marketplace mentality are not difficult to come by; all around us, we see moneymaking schemes in the name of Jesus. Just as Jesus was angry and acted radically to eliminate injustice and greed, so also must the church guard against practices that shut out or even discriminate against the poor.

Pat's Francis cartoon book.jpg 
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When we plan our programs and community celebrations, are we assuming that everyone has the resources to participate? Can everyone pay the fees and buy the books for religion classes for their children? Is tuition for the parish school affordable for all? The care of the poor is to be the primary responsibility of those who belong to Jesus, rather than an afterthought.

Luke Timothy Johnson has posited one way of getting our priorities straight and alleviating the marketplace mentality (Religious Experience in Earliest Christianity, Fortress Press, 1998). Johnson suggests that we compare the back of a typical Catholic church in America to the front of the church. In the front, all is orderly and correct. Both furniture and art create an ambience of solemnity and reverence. The choirs of angels are placed below God the creator, just as the priest's presiding chair and the stools of the lesser ministers express a more obvious arrangement of power.

In the vestibule of the church, another world thrives. There we find the parish book of intercession, where people request prayers for their difficulties and sufferings, great and small. There, we find signup sheets for various trips, for donating flowers and volunteering for liturgical ministries. There, too, we find pamphlets on a variety of topics, and religious items for sale.

While the front of the church is concerned with the divine presence, morality, authority, proper procedure and liturgy, the back is given over to the nitty-gritty exigencies of life. In order to maintain the whole church as the Father's house and the place where the body of Christ meets to pray, it is necessary to unite the front and back of the church in a creative tension.

When Jesus appeared in the temple area that long-ago day, his words and his presence were transformative. Moneychangers and sellers with their animals had no place within the confines of the Father's house. But he also used that moment to speak of another temple, the temple of his body. "Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up."

As one in whom the very presence of God dwelled, Jesus could readily call himself a temple. Earlier in his Gospel, the evangelist told his readers that Jesus, the Word of God, became flesh and pitched his tent among us (1:14). Tent, or shakein, shares the same root as the word shekinah, the term used for the divine presence in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Jesus' words also remind us that we, too, are temples, holy places where God has chosen to take up residence. Just as the Jerusalem temple was cleansed of a marketplace mentality, so do we have to focus not on the transient but on the transcendent, not on ourselves but on God and on those God puts on our way to love and serve.

[Patricia Sánchez holds a master's degree in literature and religion of the Bible from a joint degree program at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary in New York.]



my source: Aleteia
As an oncologist with 29 years of professional experience, I can say that I’ve grown and changed as a result of the tragedies my patients have endured. We don’t know our real measure until, amid adversity, we discover that we are capable of going far beyond what we imagined.

I have fond memories of the Oncological Hospital of Pernambuco, where I took my first steps as a professional. I started going to the children’s ward, and there I fell in love with pediatric oncology.

I witnessed the tragedies my patients endured, as innocent little victims of cancer. With the birth of my first daughter, I started to feel uncomfortable seeing children suffer. Until the day an angel passed by!

I saw that angel in the semblance of an 11-year-old girl, exhausted by two years of different treatments, handling, injections and all the problems that chemical treatment programs and radiation involve. But I never saw that little angel give up. I saw her cry many times. I also saw the fear in her eyes, but that is only human!

One day I arrived at the hospital, early and I found my little angel alone in her room. I asked her where her mother was. To this day I cannot recount her response without becoming very emotional.

“Sometimes my mother leaves the room to cry in the hallway in secret. When I’m dead, I think my mother will miss me, but I’m not afraid to die. I wasn’t born for this life!”

“What does death represent for you, my dear?,” I asked her.

“When we’re little, sometimes we go to sleep in our parents’ bed, and the day after we wake up in our own bed, isn’t that right? (I thought about my own daughters, who at the time were 6 and 2, and this is exactly what happened with them)”.

“That’s what it’s like. One day I will go to sleep and my Father will come for me. I will wake up in His house, in my true life!”

I was stunned, and didn’t know what to say. I was shocked by the maturity which suffering had brought about in the spirit of that child.

“And my mama will miss me,” she added.

Moved, I held back the tears and asked: “And what does missing someone mean to you, my dear?”

“Missing someone is the love that remains.”

Today, at 53, I challenge anyone to give a better, more direct and simpler definition for the word “longing”: it is the love that remains.

My little angel left many us years ago, but she left me with a great lesson that helped me to improve my life, to try to be more human and affectionate with my patients, to rethink my values. When night falls, if the sky is clear and I see a star, I call it “my angel”, who sparkles and shines in heaven.

I think that in her new and eternal home, she is a shining star.

Thank you, little angel, for the life you had, for the lessons you taught me, for the help you gave me. How beautiful longing is. 

— Dr. Rogério Brandão, Oncologist

Translation from Italian by Diane Montagna of Aleteia's English edition.

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