Préoccupation pour l’apostolat

Si, par ta prière, ton esprit de sacrifice et tes actes, tu ne fais pas preuve d’une préoccupation constante pour l’apostolat, voilà une preuve évidente que tu n’es pas assez heureux, et donc que ta fidélité doit s’accroître. En effet, il s’efforce de le donner aux autres, celui qui jouit du bonheur ou du bien. Lorsque tu fouleras pour de bon aux pieds ton propre moi et que tu vivra pour les autres, c’est alors que tu sera l’instrument qu’il faut entre le mains de Dieu. Il a appelé – Il appelle – ses disciples, et Il leur commande : “ut eatis!” (“allez en chercher d’autres !”) – St Josémaria, Forge, 914

 

Psaumes du jour

Ps 50 (51), 3-4, 12-13, 18-19
Pitié pour moi, mon Dieu, dans ton amour,
selon ta grande miséricorde, efface mon péché.
Lave-moi tout entier de ma faute,
purifie-moi de mon offense.

Crée en moi un coeur pur, ô mon Dieu,
renouvelle et raffermis au fond de moi mon esprit.
Ne me chasse pas loin de ta face,
ne me reprends pas ton esprit saint.

Si j’offre un sacrifice, tu n’en veux pas,
tu n’acceptes pas d’holocauste.
Le sacrifice qui plaît à Dieu, c’est un esprit brisé ;
tu ne repousses pas, ô mon Dieu, un coeur brisé et broyé.

Méditation sur le bonheur

Ceux qui sont heureux ne sont pas ceux qui recherchent le plus de richesse, de plaisir et de pouvoir. Ce sont ceux qui savent vivre la sagesse de l’Évangile, et qui ont compris que sans effort, sans sacrifice, il n’y a pas de véritable bonheur possible, tant que nous sommes dans ce monde. C’est l’un des mystères de la condition humaine : à vouloir éviter à tout prix le sacrifice, on se retrouve avec une vie insipide, une vie qui perd son sens. Pour trouver le bonheur, il faut passer par ce qui, en apparence, s’y oppose. Savoir accepter la croix dans notre vie est une condition indispensable pour trouver la paix de l’âme et la véritable joie.

Meditation on today’s Gospel

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 9:38-43.45.47-48

John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. 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 the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenaa, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fir is not quenched.'”

Meditations

Do you rejoice in the good that others do? Jesus reprimands his disciples for their jealousy and suspicion. They were upset that someone who was not of their company was performing good work in the name of Jesus. They even “forbade” the man “because he was not following us.” Jesus’ reply is filled with wisdom: “No one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me.” Are we not like the disciples when we get upset at the good deeds of others who seem to shine more than us? Paul says that “love is not jealous… but rejoices in the right” (1 Corinthians 12:4,6).

Envy and jealousy must be rooted out of our hearts

Envy and jealousy, its counterpart, are sinful because they lead us to sorrow over what should make us rejoice namely, our neighbour’s good. The reason we may grieve over our another’s good is that somehow we see that good as lessening or own value or excellence. Envy forms when we believe that the other person’s advantage or possession diminishes or brings disgrace on us. Envy is contrary to love. Both the object of love and the object of envy is our neighbour’s good, but by contrary movements, since love rejoices in our neighbour’s good, while envy grieves over it.

How can we overcome envy? Witht he love that God has put into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). THe Holy Spirit purifies our heart and frees us from our disordered passions, such as envy, jealousy, greed, and bitterness. God’s love is a generous and selfless love which is wholly oriented towards our good and the good of all his creatures. The love that God places in our hearts seeks the highest good of our neighbour. God’s love purifies and frees us from all envy and jealousy – and it compels us to give generously, especially to those who lack what they need.

God rewards those who do good to others

Every one in need has a claim on us because they are dear to God who created them in his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). God created us in love for love. We are most free and happy when we love as he loves. The love and charitable help we show to our neighbour also expresses the gratitude we have for the abundant mercy and kindness of God towards us. Jesus declared that any kindness shown and any help given to those in need would 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. Are you grateful for God’s mercy and kindness towards you and are you ready to show that same kindness and generosity towards your neighbour?

Gregory of Nyssa, an early church father (330-395 AD), comments on this passage: 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 furnished 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 loses his reward (Mark 9:41). Do you allow the love of Christ to transform your heart that you may treat your neighbour with kindness and mercy?

Avoiding evil and the near occasion of sin

Was Jesus exaggerating when he urges his followers to use drastic measures to avoid evil and its harmful consequences (Mark 9:42-48)? 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 work for temptation (scandalon) is exactly the same at 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 foresseable 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?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, free my heart from envy and jealousy, and every disordered thought and wrong desire, that I may always treat each person with respect and goodness for the glory of you name.

Our Lord has crossed our paths

Self-giving is the first step along the road of sacrifice, joy, love, union with God. And thus, a whole life is filled with a holy madness which makes us encounter happiness where human logic would only see denial, suffering, pain. – St Josemaria, Furrow

Like Our Lord, I too am fond of talking about fishing boats and nets, so that we may all draw clear and decisive resolutions from the Gospel scenes. St Luke tells us of some fishermen washing and mending their nets by the shores of Lake Genesareth. Jesus comes up to the boats tied up alongside and goes into one of them, which is Simon’s. How naturally the Master comes aboard our own boat! ‘Just to complicate our lives,’ you hear some people complain. You and I know better, we know that Our Lord has crossed our paths to complicate our existence with gentleness and love.

When he has finished preaching from Peter’s boat, he says to the fishermen, duc in altum et laxate retia vestra in capturam! (Luke 5:4), ‘launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch!’ Trusting in Christ’s word they obey, and haul in a wonderful catch. Then turning to Peter who, like James and John, cannot hide his astonishment, the Lord explains, ‘Fear not; henceforth you shall be fishers of men. And having brought their boats to land, leaving all things, they followed him’ (Luke 5:10-11).

– St Josemaria, Friends of God

Why did Jesus offer himself as “food and drink” to his disciples?

Comunione degli apostoli by Guido Cornini
Comunione degli apostoli by Guido Cornini

Jesus chose the time of Passover to fulfill what he had announced earlier at Capernaum – giving his disciples his body and his blood (Jon 6:51-58). Jesus’ passing over to his Father by his death and resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Last Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of God’s kingdom.

This is the most significant meal of Jesus and the most important occasion of his breaking of bread. In this meal Jesus identifies the bread as his body and the cup as his blood. When the Lord Jesus commands his disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he invites us to take his life into the very center of our being (John 6:53). That life which he offers is the very life of God himself. Jesus’ death on the cross, his gift of his body and blood in the Supper, and his promise to dine again with his disciples when the kingdom of God comes in all its fullness are inseparably linked.

Jesus instructed his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me”. These words establish every Lord’s Supper of Eucharist as a “remembrance” of Jesus’ atoning death, his resurrection, and his promise to return again. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper anticipates the final day when the Lord Jesus will feast anew with his disciples in the heavenly marriage feast of the Lamb and his Bride. Do you know the joy of the drinking Christ’s cup and tasting the bread of his Table in sincerity?

Mark ties the last supper meal with Jesus’ death and the coming of God’s kingdom. Jesus transforms the passover of the old covenant into the meal of the “new covenant in my blood”.

In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in a thanksgiving sacrifice as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to the Creator as the giver and sustainer of life. Melchizedek, who was both a priest and king (Genesis 14;18, Hebrews 7:1-4), offered a sacrifice of bread and wine. His offering prefigured the offering made by Jesus, our high priest and king (Hebrews 7:26; 9:11; 10:12). The remembrance of the manna in the wilderness recalled to the people of Israel that they live – not by earthly bread alone – but by the bread of the Word of God (Deuteronomy 8:3).

The unleavened bread at Passover and the miraculous manna in the desert are the pledge of God’s faithfulness to his promises. The “cup of blessing” at the end of the Jewish passover meal points to the messianic expectation of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Jesus gave a new and definitive meaning to the blessing of the bread and the cup when he instituted the “Lord’s Supper” or “Eucharist”. He speaks of the presence of his body and blood in this new meal. When at the Last Supper Jesus described his blood poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28), he was explaining his coming crucifixion as a sacrifice for sins. His death on the cross fulfilled the sacrifice of the paschal lamb. That is why John the Baptist called him the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus made himself an offering and sacrifice, a gift that was truly pleasing to the Father. He offered himself without blemish to God (Hebrews 9:14) and gave himself as a sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2). This meal was a memorial of his death and resurrection,

When we receive from the Lord’s table we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the “one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ” (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward. When you approach the Table of the Lord, what do you expect to receive? Healing, pardon, comfort, and rest for your soul? The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist is an intimate union with Christ. As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens us in charity and enables us to break with disordered attachments to creatures and to be more firmly rooted in the love of Christ. Do you hunger for the “bread of life”?

“Lord Jesus, you nourish and sustain us with your very own presence and life. You are the “Bread of life” and the “Cup of Salvation”. May I always hunger for you and be satisfied in you alone.”

What is the Holy Eucharist?

The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament in which Jesus Christ gives his Body and Blood himself for us, so that we too might give ourselves to him in love and be united with him in Holy Communion. In this way we are joined with the one Body of Christ, the Church.

After Baptism and Confirmation, the Eucharist is the third sacrament of initiation of the Catholic Church. The Eucharist is the mysterious center of all these sacraments, because the historic sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross is made present during the words of consecration in a hidden, unbloody manner. Thus the celebration of the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen gentium, 11). Everything aims at this; besides this there is nothing greater that one could attain. When we eat the broken Bread, we unite ourselves with the love of Jesus, who gave his body for us on the wood of the Cross; when we drink from the chalice, we unite ourselves with him who even poured out his blood out of love for us. We did not invent this ritual. Jesus himself celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples and therein anticipated his death; he gave himself to his disciples under the signs of bread and wine and commanded them from then on, even after his death, to celebrate the Eucharist. “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24).

The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.” (CCC 1324)