Saturday, March 4, 2017

Liturgical Year A, Cycle I

First Saturday

First Reading: Isaiah 58:9-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 86:1-6
Gospel: Luke 5:27-32

Saint Casimir - Commemoration

The Joyful Mysteries

First Reading: Isaiah 58:9-14

True and False Fasting

Isa 58:9 Then you will call, and the Lord will heed; you will cry out, and he will say, "Here I am," if you take away the chains from your midst, and cease to point your finger and to speak what is not beneficial.

Isa 58:10 When you pour out your life for the hungry, and you satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light will rise up in darkness, and your darkness will be like the midday.

Isa 58:11 And the Lord will give you rest continually, and he will fill your soul with splendor, and he will free your bones, and you will be like a watered garden and like a fountain of water whose waters will not fail.

Isa 58:12 And places that have been desolate for ages will be built up by you. You will raise a foundation for generation after generation. And you will be called the repairer of hedges, who turns the roadways into quiet places.

Isa 58:13 If you restrain your foot on the Sabbath, from doing your own will on my holy day, and if you call the Sabbath delightful, and the Holy of the Lord glorious, and if you glorify him, while you do not act according to your own ways, and your own will is not found, not even to speak a word,

Isa 58:14 then you will find delight in the Lord, and I will take you up, above the heights of the earth, and I will nourish you with the inheritance of Jacob, your father. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 86:1-6

Great Is Your Steadfast Love

Psa 86:1 85:1 A Prayer of David himself. Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear me. For I am needy and poor.

Psa 86:2 85:2 Preserve my soul, for I am holy. My God, bring salvation to your servant who hopes in you.

Psa 86:3 85:3 O Lord, be merciful to me, for I have cried out to you all day long.

Psa 86:4 85:4 Give joy to the soul of your servant, for I have lifted up my soul to you, Lord.

Psa 86:5 85:5 For you are sweet and mild, Lord, and plentiful in mercy to all who call upon you.

Psa 86:6 85:6 Pay attention, Lord, to my prayer, and attend to the voice of my supplication. 

Gospel: Luke 5:27-32

Jesus Calls Levi

Luk 5:27 And after these things, he went out, and he saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the customs office. And he said to him, "Follow me."

Luk 5:28 And leaving behind everything, rising up, he followed him.

Luk 5:29 And Levi made a great feast for him in his own house. And there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others, who were sitting at table with them.

Luk 5:30 But the Pharisees and scribes were murmuring, saying to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"

Luk 5:31 And responding, Jesus said to them: "It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who have maladies.

Luk 5:32 I have not come to call the just, but sinners to repentance."

Jesus calls sinners to follow him

When your neighbor stumbles through sin or ignorance, do you point the finger to criticize or do you lend a helping hand to lift him or her up? The prophet Isaiah tells us that God repays each in kind. When we bless others, especially those who need spiritual as well as physical and material help, God in turn blesses us. 

Who do you point the finger at?
When Jesus called a despised tax collector to be his disciple he surprised everyone including Levi (also known as Matthew). The religious leaders were especially upset with Jesus' behavior towards public sinners like Levi. The Jewish  people were roughly divided into two groups: the orthodox Jews who rigidly kept the law and all its petty regulations, and the rest who didn't keep all the minute regulations. The orthodox treated the latter like second class citizens. They scrupulously avoided their company, refused to do business with them, refused to give or receive anything from them, refused to intermarry, and avoided any form of friendship with them, including table fellowship. Jesus' association with the latter, especially with tax collectors and public sinners, shocked the sensibilities of these orthodox Jews.

A true physician of body, mind, and soul
When the Pharisees challenged Jesus unorthodox behavior in eating with public sinners, Jesus' defense was quite simple. A doctor doesn't need to treat healthy people - instead he goes to those who are sick. Jesus likewise sought out those in the greatest need. A true physician seeks healing of the whole person - body, mind, and spirit. Jesus came as the divine physician and good shepherd to care for his people and to restore them to wholeness of life. 

The orthodox were so preoccupied with their own practice of religion that they neglected to help the very people who needed the greatest care. Their religion was selfish because they didn't want to have anything to do with people not like themselves. Jesus stated his mission in unequivocal terms: I came  not to call the righteous, but to call sinners. Ironically the orthodox were as needy as those they despised. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Do you thank the Lord for the great mercy he has shown to you? And do you seek the good of all your neighbors and show them mercy and kindness?

Leave all and follow Christ
What does it mean to "leave all and follow the Lord"? Bede the Venerable (673-735 AD), an Anglo-Saxon monk who wrote numerous commentaries on the Scriptures, explains what it meant for Matthew and for us to "follow" as disciples of the Lord Jesus:

"By 'follow' he meant not so much the movement of feet as of the heart, the carrying out of a way of life. For one who says that he lives in Christ ought himself to walk just as he walked, not to aim at earthly things, not to pursue perishable gains, but to flee base praise, to embrace willingly the contempt of all that is worldly for the sake of heavenly glory, to do good to all, to inflict injuries upon no one in bitterness, to suffer patiently those injuries that come to oneself, to ask God’s forgiveness for those who oppress, never to seek one's own glory but always God's, and to uphold whatever helps one love heavenly things. This is what is meant by following Christ. In this way, disregarding earthly gains, Matthew attached himself to the band of followers of One who had no riches. For the Lord himself, who outwardly called Matthew by a word, inwardly bestowed upon him the gift of an invisible impulse so that he was able to follow."

Are you ready to forsake all for the Lord Jesus Christ?

"Lord Jesus, our Savior, let us now come to you: Our hearts are cold; Lord, warm them with your selfless love. Our hearts are sinful; cleanse them with your precious blood. Our hearts are weak; strengthen them with your joyous Spirit. Our hearts are empty; fill them with your divine presence. Lord Jesus, our hearts are yours; possess them always and only for yourself."  (Prayer of Augustine, 354-430)

Daily Reflection
Of Creighton University's Online Ministries

Today’s Gospel tells about a meal that Levi hosted for his tax collector friends and Jesus and his disciples. Why this behavior of Jesus and his followers should be so shocking to the Pharisees and their scribes is largely lost on us contemporary readers. What we are missing is that sharing a meal was a very intimate activity in first-century Palestine. One didn’t share a meal casually; eating with others was a sign of friendship. What’s more, for a Jew to eat with people who were considered “unclean” because they didn’t keep the Mosaic law was absolutely taboo. And tax collectors—because they worked in the service of the occupying Roman forces—were definitely unclean. And “sinners” here was a label of anyone who didn’t keep the Mosaic law. So by eating with these outcastes, Jesus and his disciples rendered themselves technically unclean.

The gospels make it clear that this was a deliberate practice of Jesus; it was really a prophetic symbol. It becomes clear in Luke 15 that Jesus was using this stunningly inclusive practice to demonstrate the hospitality of the Father welcoming sinners to the forgiveness of being invited into the kingdom that Jesus was inaugurating in his earthly ministry. It is interesting to note that Luke changes Mark’s wording describing the complaint of the Pharisees and their scribes: whereas Mark says that they ask the disciples why Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners, Luke says that they ask the disciples, “Why do you [plural] eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners.” That subtle adjustment likely means that Luke is alluding to the practice of Christians of his day continuing the practice of their Lord. The takeaway for us is twofold: not only are we sinners invited to share the table of the Lord in Eucharist; we are called to extend hospitality and welcome to include those considered outsiders, strangers and aliens in our communities. In the last speech of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, he puts it this way: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (synēgagete me). The Greek word reminds us of the community dimension of the welcome. This can help us think about the Christian approach to immigrants and refugees.

by Dennis Hamm
Creighton University's Emeritus Theology
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday after Ash Wednesday - Fasting for the kingdom of God

First Sunday of Lent - Jesus fasted and was tempted by the devil

Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager
Bible Story illustrations by 


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