28 sept. 2008

Domingo 28 de Septiembre. REFLEXION Evangelio Semanal

Conocer al Pastor (Por el P. Luis Tamayo)

El evangelio de hoy habla de un padre y dos hijos. Un padre con una viña y dos hijos que viven con él. Un padre con una misma petición y dos hijos que contestan de distinta forma a la petición. La pregunta clave que hace Jesús es: ¿quién de los dos hizo lo que quería el padre?

La parábola es la de un padre que expresa lo mismo y los dos hijos que escuchan lo mismo; pero al final ambos, habiendo escuchado la misma petición, hacen cosas distintas. Yo me pregunto ¿Cómo escucho en mi oración a Dios Padre? O para ir un poco mas lejos, ¿Conozco realmente al que me habla en el silencio de mi oración?

Muchas veces me examino y descubro que en conversaciones con la gente a veces no presto toda la atención que la persona que se dirige a mi requiere. Cuando la persona te interesa, hay cierto cariño, y deseas complacerla, la escucha a sus conversaciones y peticiones se hace mas atenta y delicada. ¿Por qué? Porque quieres complacerla pues es alguien importante para ti.

Delante del hijo que en un principio dijo si y luego no hizo lo que su padre le pedía me surge la pregunta de si verdaderamente conocía a su padre. Y cuando hablo de conocer me refiero al sentido bíblico, conocer implica una relación mas profunda, implica el amor y deseo de complacer a la persona amada (o conocida).

De fondo viene a mi mente la parábola del hijo prodigo… el hijo mayor que aun viviendo en casa no conoce a su padre, no sabe del amor y el cariño con que es amado. Trabaja para él, si, pero luego le reclama como si de un extraño se tratara. Al final el padre le tiene que decir: “pero hijo, si todo lo mío es tuyo…” El hijo trabajaba para el padre, pero no le conocía como un padre amoroso.

En nuestra oración es importante llegar a conocer con quien dialogamos… Santa Teresa de Jesús llego a definir la oración como: “muchos ratos a solas con Aquel sabemos nos ama”. Conocer a Dios, conocer al Buen Pastor es escucharle con atención y cariño, es buscar entender bien que quiere de mi vida, es intentar vivir aquello que me pide. ¿Conoces bien la voz del Ben Pastor?

Hoy he leido una parabola que nos puede ayudar para comprender el evangelio:

"Al final de una cena en un castillo inglés, un famoso actor de teatro entretenía a los huéspedes declamando textos de Shakespeare. Después se ofreció a que le pidieran alguna pieza extra. Un tímido sacerdote preguntó al actor si conocía el salmo 22. El actor respondió: ‘Sí, lo conozco, pero estoy dispuesto a recitarlo con una condición; que después lo recite usted’. El sacerdote se sintió incómodo, pero accedió. El actor hizo una bellísima interpretación, con una dicción perfecta: ‘El Señor es mi Pastor, nada me falta...’ Al final, los huéspedes aplaudieron vivamente. Llegó el turno al sacerdote, que se levantó y recitó las mismas palabras del salmo. Esta vez, cuando terminó, no hubo aplausos, solo un profundo silencio y el inicio de lágrimas en algún rostro. El actor se mantuvo en silencio unos instantes, después se levantó y dijo: ‘Señoras y señores, espero que se hayan dado cuenta de lo que ha sucedido esta noche: yo conocía el salmo, pero este hombre conoce al Pastor”.

Cuando escuches a Dios hablandote en el interior de tu corazón no le digas “si” para luego “no”. Paraté y escuchalé bien, entra en su corazón. Buscalé, conocelé, desea saber más de Él, preguntalé y quedaté  a solas con Él… y verás como hacer su querer resulta mas facil.

September 28. Sunday Gospel

Matthew 21: 28 - 32

28 "What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, `Son, go and work in the vineyard today.'
29 And he answered, `I will not'; but afterward he repented and went.
30 And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, `I go, sir,' but did not go.
31 Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.
“Yes Lord!” ( by Rev’d James McTavish FMVD)

In the gospel of this Sunday Jesus gives us the interesting example of the two sons. When asked by their father to go and work in the vineyard the first one replies 'I will not,' but afterwards he changed his mind and went. The other son was also asked to go and work in the vineyard and replied, 'Yes, sir,' but did not go. Jesus then asks the question “Which of the two did his father's will?". We would all agree, as did the listeners 2000 years ago, that it was only the first son who did the will of his father. Jesus uses this example to explain that many people such as tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of heaven because they changed their ways. They believed in the gospel that they heard and had a change of heart and mind. In this sense, by their lives they first said no to God but later changed their ways and said yes, like the first son in the parable. However the so called righteous ones are those that say yes to God with their lip service but their heart is far from God and in their lives they give a big no to his presence and to his love. Like the man who sang in the choir every Sunday “Yes Lord!” but away from the Church his life was big no to the Lord. 

God does not just want a blind yes from us. A yes given out of fear, a yes out of conformism. Many times today the yes of us Christians is very mediocre. It is a Christianity of ‘cheap grace’. A yes that does not cost anything. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German protestant pastor who was executed by the Nazis in World War II wrote about the grace offered to Christians. It is a grace so powerful that it enables the Christians to grow in faith and love, even to the pint of living exemplary and holy lives, to live a life that stands out in the crowd. This grace has been bought at a price – the cost of the life of Christ. When we modify our following of the Lord and water down our options, we are living a life of cheap grace. Our yes does not cost us anything. Very soon that yes will become a maybe and then a no. Jesus wants us to be sincere with him. It is more honest to say no to the Lord if we really feel that what he asking seems beyond our strength at that moment. How many play with the idea of a vocation for example, talk about it, gain admiration from interested listeners, but deep down there is no real commitment. Better to be honest with Jesus and say Lord, if you don’t make me more in love with you I cannot follow what you are asking me. The word in greek for sincerity is translated as ‘not to be a hypocrite’. Many people say they are searching for God. But there are many types of searching. One can search for a new jumper on a leisurely shopping trip, one can search for a lost key with a bit more urgency or one can search for a lost child with all one’s heart and strength. 

Jesus criticizes those who did not believe the example of John the Baptist. They see but they do not believe or change their ways. Often what they see can make them lose faith. Many today lose faith in the Church because they say it is rich. Once I came to mass on my bicycle to serve as deacon. There was a man standing outside the church and I asked him if he was going to the service. “No” he said, “I don’t have faith anymore. How can I believe when the Church is so rich?”. He then proceeded to tell me a friend had heard that a Bishop was leaving the Vatican in a sportscar! I started to laugh because instead of noticing the bicycle in front of him he had decided to believe this story. Often we believe what we want to believe, and many times it is to justify our own mediocrity!_He could also believe in many examples of religious men and women who leave everything behind and dedicate their whole lives to the poor such as the brothers and sisters of Mother Theresa who have as their specific charism to go to the poorest of the poor. 

It is true that it is not easy for us to change. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks! But Jesus is patient. His patience is our opportunity for salvation. Even if we say no at first, with the help of his Spirit we can give a big yes. In many quiz shows they announce “I’m sorry. We can only accept your first answer”. Luckily for us Jesus gives us a second chance and our initial no can change when we see it is not the right answer. When we see that the way of life we have chosen is not making us happy. We don’t need to be stuck in a rut or complain that God is not fair. Like in the first reading of today “You say, "The LORD'S way is not fair!" Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?” (Ezekial 18,25). God’s grace makes it possible for us to live a truly Christian life. Jesus became man, emptying himself of his divinity so that we could become divine! (see Philippians 2, 1-11). This is an admirable exchange. Perhaps we can only become holy little by little. 

Cardinal Newman once remarked that the man who becomes perfect is the man who has changed often. This is our hope that each day our little options can make us grow more in love with Jesus and our neighbor. We try to live our ordinary lives in extraordinary ways. Let us give thanks this day for the opportunity offered to us in Christ to grow. Not to be like a Bonsai tree which looks pretty but with such short roots that its small fruits nourish no one. Let us put our roots deep in Christ and remain united to him and we shall bear much fruit. Let us ask Mary to strengthen us, to help us when we say no, and to make our yes a real ‘YES Lord!’

24 sept. 2008

The exaltation of the Cross

(By Rev. James McTavish FMVD)

“In this sign conquer”

Every army would traditionally have a battle standard. This would be hoisted in the air and paraded in front for the advancing men to inspire them and hopefully lead them to victory. Loss of the standard was an omen that the battle was all but lost. When Constantine, before he became Great, was about to go into a difficult affray he looked up into the sky and saw a glowing cross in the sky with these words “In this sign conquer”. He had all his men paint the cross on their shields and they subsequently won the decisive battle. This vision of the cross was instrumental in his conversion and he went on to become Constantine the Great, convoking the first ecumenical Church councils (325 AD in Nicea, which gave us the basis of our creed today), building basilicas and getting things in motion for Christianity to become the religion of the Roman empire by 380AD. Going into the battle of each day we need to raise high a battle standard. We are lucky to have the cross of Christ. In this sign we can conquer because it was Jesus who conquered death for us first. Fixing our eyes on Him we can overcome. 

We too can pick up wounds in the good fight but in the cross we can find healing. Often pharmacies or apothecaries have a pole outside them with a snake wrapped around it. This imagery is explained in the first reading. The fiery serpents which killed the people of God become their salvation when Moses mounts them on a pole. What once killed the people now becomes the source of their salvation. The image of the snake mounted on a pole is used in medicine to represent healing. Jesus uses the same image and announces that as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert so too he will be lifted up so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

Now life is full of crosses – challenges, difficulties in the relations with others, addictions (sometimes we impose the cross on ourselves), uncertain situations. Today’s feast is the exaltation of the cross. It is not a celebration of meaningless suffering. We are not masochists. What we do celebrate is the transforming power of the cross. Why is it hard to think of exalting the cross? One reason is that our flesh kicks. Only the Spirit can help us understand. One thing that happens is we suffer from selective memory loss. We forget. We forget the reason why we had to go through a suffering, we forget the grace we received, we forget the fruit that we obtained, in short, we remember the Good Friday part of the story but forget the Easter Sunday. In Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, to say someone is sad you say that he or she has a “Good Friday face”! When the disciples going to Emmaus were complaining about the suffering endured by the Lord he reproached them for being foolish and slow to believe. “Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer before enter into his glory”. To get to where we are now we have had to suffer but also we have experienced the new life of the resurrection. If we allow this selective memory loss to continue we will never truly exalt the cross. 

Lord Jesus, we know that we need to embrace your cross but many times we listen to our fears, more than we listen to your words. You told us “In this world you will suffer. But be brave I have conquered the world” (John 16,33). Help us to trust in your ways which are not our ways. Help us to remember how you have always been with us and never abandoned us and how often we have needed that cross to wake us up out of laziness and mediocrity, to shake us out of a spiritual torpor of self-sufficiency and that there is no true following of you if we are not embracing the cross. Let us celebrate this feast. Let us exalt the cross, and lift it up high. Let us march into the battle of each day, parading and exalting the cross in our hearts and in our lives. 

21 sept. 2008

September 21, 2008 TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR

REFLECTION Sunday´s Gospel

Today’s Gospel gives the parable of the workers hired in the vineyard. The parable is linked with the passage immediately preceding, namely the refusal of rich young man to follow Jesus, explanation of Jesus that the riches as an obstacle, and the reward for those who accept to follow him, that is the kingdom. He concludes by saying that “many that are first will be last and the last first”. Hence we have the parable: The parable describes a vineyard owner going out several times during a day to get workers for his vineyard. He makes an agreement with each one of them for a wage of one denarius, a normal daily wage for a worker in Jesus’ time. The vineyard owner went out at 6 o’clock in the morning and again at 9, at noon and at 3 and 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Each time the vineyard owner assures the workers he will give them a “just wage”. He goes again when just an hour is left and hires them for the just wage. We see in the Parable the stress on the importance of work and not to be idle.

At the end of the day when wages are paid he starts from the last giving them the wage he promised. They secure a full days wage and so do the first ones and they are not very happy with it and complain about it. If we listen to the owner’s reply, it is clear to us of the divine prerogative. He says that he has been fair to each one. But at the same time he says: “I choose to pay the last-comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?” In other words the righteousness of the Lord is not the righteousness of man. The Lord God gives to those that He pleases in the amount that He chooses. His love is gratuitous and he gives his gifts to those of his choice and one cannot be envious of this.

There is an important lesson here about God’s justice. We cannot be calculative regarding the justice of God. We even think that if we do more for God, he will somehow love us more and reward us more. There is no room for envy in the Christian context. Secondly, when we something more for God it does not mean that God will love us more. God does not look at the quantum of good we do. He looks at our needs; looks at our heart and sincerity. The hiring of servants reminds us of the Old Testament who were the first to respond. Yet those who accepted Jesus were the recipients of his greater generosity. Finally we should remember the way God works in the lives of people. His disciples, the “last”, who have given up everything to be with him, will be the first recipients of the same love and the same rewards. In fact, they may receive more in the sense that, unlike unbelieving Jews, they fully opened themselves to the love of God in following Jesus.

In our life we ought to be very grateful that we have a God whose justice is so patently unjust. He loves every one equally. God loves us where we are now. He does not keep an account book with accumulated credits and debts. This means that no matter how many times I fail, no matter how many times I do wrong, no matter how late in life I come to find Jesus, I am assured of the welcome of love.

Domingo 21 de Septiembre de 2008, 25 del tiempo ordinario

REFLEXION Mateo 20, 1 - 16 (por P. Luis Tamayo)
Probablemente era otoño y en los pueblos de Galilea se vivía intensamente la vendimia। Jesús veía en las plazas a quienes no tenían tierras propias, esperando a ser contratados para ganarse el sustento del día। ¿Cómo ayudar a esta pobre gente a intuir la bondad misteriosa de Dios hacia todos?

Jesús les contó una parábola sorprendente. Les habló de un señor que contrató a todos los jornaleros que pudo. Él mismo vino a la plaza del pueblo una y otra vez, a horas diferentes. Al final de la jornada, aunque el trabajo había sido absolutamente desigual, a todos les dio un denario: lo que su familia necesitaba para vivir.

El primer grupo protesta. No se quejan de recibir más o menos dinero. Lo que les ofende es que el señor «ha tratado a los últimos igual que a nosotros». La respuesta del señor al que hace de portavoz es admirable: « ¿Vas a tener tú envidia porque yo soy bueno? ».

La parábola es tan revolucionaria que, seguramente, después de veinte siglos, no nos atrevemos todavía a tomarla en serio. ¿Será verdad que Dios es bueno incluso con aquellos y aquellas que apenas pueden presentarse ante él con méritos y obras? ¿Será verdad que en su corazón de Padre no hay privilegios basados en el trabajo más o menos meritorio de quienes han trabajado en su viña?

Todos nuestros esquemas se tambalean cuando hace su aparición el amor libre e insondable de Dios. Por eso nos resulta escandaloso que Jesús parezca olvidarse de los «piadosos» cargados de méritos, y se acerque precisamente a los que no tienen derecho a recompensa alguna por parte de Dios: pecadores que no observan la Alianza o prostitutas que no tienen acceso al templo.

Nosotros seguimos muchas veces con nuestros cálculos, sin dejarle a Dios ser bueno con todos. No toleramos su bondad infinita hacia todos. Hay personas que no se lo merecen. Nos parece que Dios tendría que dar a cada uno su merecido, y sólo su merecido. Menos mal que Dios no es como nosotros. Desde su corazón de Padre, Dios sabe entenderse bien con esas personas a las que nosotros rechazamos.

14 sept. 2008

14/09/08 Reflexión del Evangelio. Domingo 14 de Septiembre

Reflexión (por el P. Luis Tamayo)
(Fiesta de la exaltación de la cruz)

Recordémonos 'el jardín' en el libro de Génesis. Cuando Dios creó a Adán, creó también el jardín con toda clase de árboles. Dos árboles están mencionados por nombre – el árbol de la Vida y el árbol de la Ciencia del bien y del mal. Dios prohibió a Adán y a Eva comer del fruto del árbol de la Ciencia del bien y del mal. Si Adán lo comería, dijo Dios, moriría.

A pesar de la amonestación, Eva y Adán comieron el fruto del árbol de la Ciencia del bien y del mal. Una serpiente engañó a Eva por decirle que no morirán si comerían de ese fruto. Más bien, según la serpiente, se harán como dioses por el conocimiento del bien y del mal. Como siempre el engaño estuvo por medio. Por comer el fruto del árbol de la Ciencia del bien y del mal, Adán y Eva se hicieron como dioses. Eso es, se hicieron constructores de sus propias vidas, independientes de Dios. Pero, como consecuencia de su desobediencia, Dios les expulsó del jardín para que no comieran del árbol de la Vida que les habría dado la vida eterna. 

“¿Lograron la Ciencia del bien y del mal?” quisiéramos preguntar. Realmente no. Es cierto que se dieron cuenta de que habían pecado. Pero aprenderán por sus propios esfuerzos a discernir el bien del mal. 

Esta es nuestra situación ahora, ¿verdad? Como dijo el inventor Tomás Edison: “El genio es sólo un uno por ciento de inspiración y un noventa y nueve por ciento de sudor.” Sin embargo, Dios reveló a todos los descendientes de Adán y Eva los mandamientos para que supieran el camino hacia el bien. Si sólo los seguiríamos,…

Después de este pasaje no se menciona nada más del árbol de la Vida en la Biblia. Sin embargo, nosotros cristianos miramos la cruz de Cristo como un árbol del que procede la Vida. El evangelio de Juan ahora nos dice que la persona que crea en Jesús levantado en la cruz tendrá la vida eterna. 

Creer en Jesús levantado en la cruz significa más que arrodillarse ante el crucifijo. Es entrar por los caminos de la obediencia a Jesús así como él obedeció a Dios hasta su propia muerte. Este es el camino que desató el nudo atado por Adán y Eva. 

La cruz no es el fin, es el medio, es el camino para el fin, y éste es salir del nudo de la mentira y de la muerte en el que muchas veces nos encontramos. La cruz de la obediencia a Dios nos lleva al esplendor de la Verdad y a la Vida autentica.

8 sept. 2008

Yo te bautizo por lo civil (por Antonio Burgos)

SON muchos siglos de cristianismo los que tiene España como para que la ola-de-laicismo-que-nos-invade los borre de un plumazo. Por muy laicos y agnósticos que se proclamen, siempre hay un trasfondo de tradición religiosa que los traiciona. Puede verse en los ritos relacionados con la vida y la muerte. El vacío que deja la renuncia a lo religioso, por esa traición de la tradición, es sustituido por algo que, quieras que no, acaba recordando a lo cristiano. Y en la mayoría de los casos los ritos por lo civil desembocan en una triste parodia de los católicos.

Miren, si no, las bodas civiles. Me parecen dignas de todo elogio las bodas civiles que se celebran discretamente en un despacho del juzgado, según la ley. Pero son lamentables esas parodias del matrimonio canónico en que se convierten las bodas civiles cuando quieren tener todos los lujeríos de los casamientos por la Iglesia... y los remedan. La boda civil como parodia de la religiosa encanta al personal, y al dinero que le dedican los ayuntamientos me remito. 

Hay determinados días de la semana en que los salones de plenos se convierten en parroquias y los alcaldes o concejales, en curas. Son los días del arroz. Según cuánto arroz veas en la puerta de tu ayuntamiento en fin de semana, así se habrán celebrado de bodas civiles. Con una enorme nostalgia de lo religioso, para mayor contradicción. El alcalde que casa a los novios se cree cura, y les da un fervorín que es en el fondo una homilía vestida de paisano. La madrina, desde luego, va de mantilla, como si hiciera falta el velo para entrar en la sala capitular. Donde un amigo de los novios lee unos versos de un poeta que siempre acaba en -uda, Cernuda o Neruda, que hacen las veces de evangelio de las Bodas de Canaá. Un tocadiscos hace sonar finalmente la parodia del órgano parroquial con la marcha nupcial, cuando los novios salen ya casados de esta charlotada por lo civil, precedidos por niños emperifollados a lo Versalles que portan las arras que no existen.

Parodia, puro teatro. Como triste parodia de los funerales católicos son muchos memoriales fúnebres por lo civil, a los que sólo les falta el hisopazo de agua bendita sobre el ataúd. O esas esquelas mortuorias sin cruz, en cuyo texto se escapan siempre conceptos católicos acerca del difunto, como «por su eterno descanso» o «su alma».

Cuando nos creíamos que las parodias civiles de lo religioso estaban ya colmadas con las ceremonias del casamiento y la muerte, vienen los ritos del nacimiento a la vida, como aquel padre que pidió al director del colegio que su niño hiciera la primera comunión por lo civil. Y en Cádiz, donde se inventó el liberalismo, la Constitución y la lotería nacional, un concejal (de Izquierda Unida tenía que ser) quiere inventar el Bautizo Civil. Y no quiere celebrarlo de cualquier manera, sino por todo lo alto, para lo que pide el salón de plenos municipales, a fin de que los civiles sean bautizos de rumbo y tronío. Cita nada menos que una costumbre de la Revolución Francesa, que era la prima fanfarrona que La Pepa gaditana tenía en París, para implantar esta parodia de echarle a los niños el agua por lo civil. Y le ha puesto a la ceremonia un nombre que es el colmo de la cursilería, palabra que también se inventó en Cádiz, con las niñas del sastre francés Tsicourt. Tsicourt, ¡Court-sí! Los bautizos serán «acogimientos civiles». ¡Toma ya! Lo cual es más nostálgico aún de lo católico: la sociedad acoge al niño como la Iglesia recibe en su asamblea al bautizando... sólo que por lo civil y por lo ridículo.

Debe intervenir el Defensor del Menor. Pues el concejal pretende que a los neófitos por lo civil les lean a los pobrecitos, qué barbaridad, la Carta Europea de los Derechos Humanos y la Declaración Universal de Derechos del Menor. No, mire usted: entre los derechos del menor está el fundamental de que los mayores progres no hagan perrerías con ellos porque no les parezca suficientemente izquierdoso bautizarlos por la Iglesia, como los bautizaron a ellos, por cierto, por muy rojos que fueran. Espero que la charlotada baptismal gaditana no prospere. Porque me estoy viendo a ese concejal comunista haciendo de cura en el salón de plenos, y diciendo, concha (Velasco, que es de la cuerda) en mano: «Yo te bautizo en el nombre de Carrillo, de Anguita y de La Pasionaria».

ABC, 31 de Agosto de 2008

Gospel Commentary for 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

THE DUTY OF FRATERNAL CORRECTION (By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM)

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 badmouthing 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.”

Father Raniero Cantalamessa is the Pontifical Household preacher.

WORLD YOUTH DAY '11 TO BRING HOPE TO SPAIN

VATICAN CITY, JULY 23, 2008 (Zenit.org).-

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi commented on the next World Youth Day, to be hosted by Madrid in three years. Benedict XVI announced the venue for the event when he closed World Youth Day '08 in Sydney last Sunday.

Father Lombardi acknowledged on Vatican Radio that "[Europe] is a continent where the confrontation between faith and the problems of modern society, of secularization is always alive."

He added: "The Pope often speaks of the risk that Europe might lose its fundamental values, linked to Christian tradition and to the faith's contribution to the continent's development.
"This will certainly be one of the topics and objectives of the next Youth Day, but without controversies and without the will to oppose the world that surrounds us."

Father Lombardi recalled the Pope's most recent trip to Spain: for the 2006 World Meeting of Families in Valencia.

He said that the Holy Father's message at that event was "entirely positive, centered on the beauty of being Christian, a positive message also for today's family."
"At a time when the family is going through great difficulties, to be Christian is a positive message," Father Lombardi affirmed. "I believe this should also be the spirit of the next Youth Day in Spain: a message of hope, a message that shows how faith offers a beautiful and great contribution for the future of our societies and of the world, as truly happened in Australia."

Father Lombardi mentioned the disappointment expressed by some people that, because of organizational and security problems, it has not been possible to organize a World Youth Day in Africa.

"So we return to Europe," he said, "though the intention is to involve the African continent in every possible way."

XXIII Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario

AL CORREGIR, LA PRIMERA REGLA ES EL AMOR (Comentario del Padre Cantalamessa a la liturgia del domingo)

En el Evangelio de este domingo leemos: "En aquel tiempo dijo Jesús a sus discípulos: 'Si tu hermano llega a pecar, vete y repréndele, a solas tú con él. Si te escucha, habrás ganado un hermano' ". Jesús habla de toda culpa; no restringe el campo sólo a la que se comete contra nosotros. En este último caso de hecho es prácticamente imposible distinguir si lo que nos mueve es el celo por la verdad o nuestro amor propio herido. En cualquier caso, sería más una autodefensa que una corrección fraterna. Cuando la falta es contra nosotros, el primer deber no es la corrección, sino el perdón.

¿Por qué dice Jesús: "repréndele a solas"? Ante todo por respeto al buen nombre del hermano, a su dignidad. Lo peor sería pretender corregir a un hombre en presencia de su esposa, o a una mujer en presencia de su marido; a un padre delante de sus hijos, a un maestro en presencia de sus alumnos, a un superior ante sus subordinados. Esto es, en presencia de las personas cuyo respeto y estima a uno le importa más. El asunto se convierte inmediatamente en un proceso público. Será muy difícil que la persona acepte de buen grado la corrección. Le va en ello su dignidad.

Dice "a solas tú con él" también para dar a la persona la posibilidad de defenderse y explicar su propia acción con toda libertad. Muchas veces, en efecto, aquello que a un observador externo le parece una culpa, en la intención de quien la ha cometido no lo es. Una explicación sincera disipa muchos malentendidos. Pero esto deja de ser posible cuando el tema se pone en conocimiento de muchos.

Cuando por cualquier motivo no es posible corregir fraternamente, a solas, a la persona que ha errado, hay algo que absolutamente se debe evitar: la divulgación, sin necesidad, de la culpa del hermano, hablar mal de él o incluso calumniarle, dando por probado aquello que no lo es o exagerando la culpa. "No habléis mal unos de otros", dice la Escritura (St 4,11). El cotilleo no es menos malo o reprobable sólo porque ahora se le llame "gossip".

Una vez una mujer fue a confesarse con San Felipe Neri acusándose de haber hablado mal de algunas personas. El santo la absolvió, pero le puso una extraña penitencia. Le dijo que fuera a casa, tomara una gallina y volviera donde él desplumándola poco a poco a lo largo del camino. Cuando estuvo de nuevo ante él, le dijo: "Ahora vuelve a casa y recoge una por una las plumas que has dejado caer cuando venías hacia aquí". La mujer le mostró la imposibilidad: el viento las había dispersado. Ahí es donde quería llegar San Felipe. "Ya ves -le dijo- que es imposible recoger las plumas una vez que se las ha llevado el viento, igual que es imposible retirar murmuraciones y calumnias una vez que han salido de la boca".

Volviendo al tema de la corrección, hay que decir que no siempre depende de nosotros el buen resultado al hacer una corrección (a pesar de nuestras mejores disposiciones, el otro puede que no la acepte, que se obstine); sin embargo, depende siempre y exclusivamente de nosotros el buen resultado... al recibir una corrección. De hecho la persona que "ha cometido la culpa" bien podría ser yo y el que corrige ser el otro: el marido, la mujer, el amigo, el hermano de comunidad o el padre superior.

En resumen, no existe sólo la corrección activa, sino también la pasiva; no sólo el deber de corregir, sino también el deber de dejarse corregir. Más aún: aquí es donde se ve si uno ha madurado lo bastante como para corregir a los demás. Quien quiera corregir a otro debe estar dispuesto también a dejarse corregir. Cuando veáis a alguien que recibe una observación y le oigáis responder con sencillez: "Tienes razón, ¡gracias por habérmelo dicho!", quitaos el sombrero: estáis ante un auténtico hombre o ante una auténtica mujer.

La enseñanza de Cristo sobre la corrección fraterna debería leerse siempre junto a lo que dijo en otra ocasión: "¿Cómo es que miras la brizna que hay en el ojo de tu hermano y no reparas en la viga que hay en tu propio ojo? ¿Cómo puedes decir a tu hermano: 'Hermano, deja que saque la brizna que hay en tu ojo', no viendo tú mismo la viga que hay en el tuyo?" (Lc 6, 41 s.).
Lo que Jesús nos ha enseñado sobre la corrección puede ser también muy útil en cuanto a la educación de los hijos. La corrección es uno de los deberes fundamentales del progenitor: "¿Qué hijo hay a quien su padre no corrige?"(Hb 12,7); y también: "Endereza la planta mientras está tierna, si no quieres que crezca irremediablemente torcida". La renuncia total a toda forma de corrección es uno de los peores servicios que se puede hacer a los hijos, y sin embargo hoy lamentablemente es frecuentísimo.

Sólo hay que evitar que la corrección misma se transforme en un acto de acusación o en una crítica. Al corregir más bien hay que circunscribir la reprobación al error cometido, no generalizarla rechazando en bloque a toda la persona y su conducta. Más aún: aprovechar la corrección para poner en primer plano todo el bien que se reconoce en el chaval y lo mucho que se espera de él, de manera que la corrección se presente más como un aliento que como una descalificación. Este era el método que usaba san Juan Bosco con sus chicos.

No es fácil, en casos individuales, comprender si es mejor corregir o dejar pasar, hablar o callar. Por eso es importante tener en cuenta la regla de oro, válida para todos los casos, que el Apóstol da en la segunda lectura: "Con nadie tengáis otra deuda que la del mutuo amor... El amor no hace mal al prójimo". Agustín sintetizó todo esto en la máxima "Ama y haz lo que quieras". Hay que asegurarse ante todo de que haya en el corazón una disposición fundamental de acogida hacia la persona. Después, lo que se decida hacer, sea corregir o callar, estará bien, porque el amor "jamás hace daño a nadie".

La Iglesia reclama diálogo sobre el aborto (hacer click sobre el titulo para más información)

La Iglesia reclama diálogo sobre el aborto y el Gobierno dice que buscará el máximo consenso

El Vaticano está "entristecido" por la decisión del Ejecutivo español



7 sept. 2008

07/09/08, Domingo de la 23ª semana de Tiempo Ordinario.

Reflexión del Evangelio semanal (por Fernando Torres cmf)

Hay veces en que para encontrar el sentido de las cosas es mejor empezar por el final que por el principio. Me da la impresión de que eso sucede con las lecturas de este domingo. Hay que irse al final del texto del evangelio de Mateo para encontrar la clave que da sentido a todo lo anterior. Allí Jesús nos dice: “Donde dos o tres están reunidos en mi nombre, allí estoy yo en medio de ellos”. La comunidad cristiana contempla en este domingo su propia realidad y descubre con sorpresa que es más de lo que parece a primera vista. En el corro de los que formamos la comunidad, cada una de las comunidades, la comunidad diocesana, la comunidad global que es la Iglesia, hay siempre uno más que no sale en la foto pero que es el elemento necesario. Sin él no hay comunidad cristiana. Sin él no hay comunión eclesial.

Jesús es el que nos hace hermanos, el que en medio de nosotros nos conforma como comunidad eclesial. En su nombre nos reunimos y nuestra fuerza se multiplica y potencia hasta límites insospechados. En su nombre la comunión eclesial se hace posible más allá de las distancias geográficas, lingüísticas o culturales. Tareas que pueden parecer imposibles para la suma simple de fuerzas de los miembros de la comunidad quedan al alcance de la mano. La comunidad reunida en el nombre de Jesús es creadora de vida y esperanza para todos los que la forman y para los que de cualquier forma entran en contacto con ella.

Comunidades creyentes

Hay que notar que nada se dice en el Evangelio de que, para que Jesús se haga presente en medio de los hermanos, la comunidad deba estar presidida por un apóstol o un discípulo. Nada de eso. Otra cosa será para la celebración de un sacramento, donde sí es necesaria habitualmente la presencia y presidencia de un presbítero. Pero el texto no habla de la celebración de un sacramento sino de la constitución de la comunidad eclesial. Los hermanos y hermanas se reúnen, invocan el nombre del Señor y su presencia transforma su realidad. Ya no son “dos o tres”. Son comunidad creyente, renovada por la presencia del mismo Jesús que inspira, dinamiza y potencia a los que la forman.
Desde esa realidad básica de la vida cristiana, la comunidad constituida en el nombre del Señor –y no de otros intereses espúreos–, cobra sentido lo que dice el resto del texto evangélico y las otras dos lecturas. Sólo en el seno de la comunidad cristiana y en el nombre de Jesús se podrá intentar la corrección fraterna. Para que la corrección no sea acusación sino fraternidad expresada en palabras hechas de la misericordia y la compasión que Jesús tuvo siempre hacia los que sufrían por cualquier causa. Será una corrección fraterna hecha siempre con temor y temblor porque en la presencia de Dios sentiremos con fuerza nuestra propia debilidad y la incerteza de nuestro juicio para determinar si nuestro hermano ha pecado. Será una corrección purificada de esos otros intereses espúreos, hechos de sentimientos de revancha, venganza, envidia, rivalidades y tantas otras cosas que llenan desgraciadamente a veces nuestro corazón.

5 sept. 2008

23rd Sunday of the Ordinary Time.

Reflection on Sunday´s Gospel (by Rev. james McTavish)

“Falling Asleep on the Watch”

In the Church document Gaudium et spes there is a strong call for all Christians to assume more responsibility for building the Kingdom in the world of today. This responsibility is reflected in the first reading where Ezekial is appointed as watchman for his people, called to be vigilant and watch out, to be able to warn the citizens of impending danger. He is called to be a prophetic voice. St Gregory the Great (whose name in greek means vigilance) compares the prophet to a watchman. Each Christian is called to have a prophetic voice, to watch out and speak out for justice and truth. By virtue of our baptism we all share in the prophetic mission of Christ and his Church. We are called to be active voices.

The Gospel encourages us to be responsible and to speak out against the sins of our brother. If he does not listen we are to seek help. This paves the way for what is known as the right of association, that when we are united together we have a stronger voice. Associations of like minded people exist in the fields of social justice and human rights. In today’s reflection I would like to emphasize the importance for the Church and for all men and women of good will to be a prophetic voice in the field of bioethics. Some claim that the Church should not delve into bioethics because the bible does not talk about them. How wrong this is! The whole of Sacred Scripture is concerned about the gift of life (bios) and how we should act and behave morally (ethics) towards one another. 

In his letter to the Romans St Paul lists some precepts of the law one of which is “You shall not kill”. This commandment is summed up in the appeal “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”. Our smallest neighbor is the human embryo, so small that he or she is easy to step on and ignore. Today’s responsible and prophetic Christian voice must continue to announce “Do not kill”. Do not kill unborn human life, do not destroy human embryos in research, do not perform IVF. What must be ensured in all of scientific research is the respect for the dignity of human life. In his letter on the Gospel of Life, Evangelium vitae, Pope John Paul II wrote “The human embryo must be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception” (EV 60). The prophetic voice of the Church is much weakened when we take little effort to be informed about issues of life and death. 

Many Christians today would wrongly be in favour of IVF for example (In vitro Fertilization) without really knowing what it involved and not having taken the time or trouble to read what the Church teaches on the subject. This is irresponsible. If a person was in an operating theatre as a bystander and was asked by the surgeon in a critical moment of the operation if he should cut this structure or not, only a foolhardy spectator would answer without having studied well the matter in question. For similar matters of life and death such as abortion, cloning, embryo research and euthanasia it is becoming increasingly fashionble to give opinions on such lofty and serious matters. It is amazing how many people would be in favour of IVF without understanding the technique and its dangers. Many would even have strong opinions against the teaching of the church without even having read what she says! 

We need to take care and be vigilant. Many times we fall asleep in our prophetic responsibility. Today’s expression “To fall asleep on watch” comes from the military. Often on night duty a soldier would be on guard, watching out for the enemy. He had to stay awake otherwise lives could be lost. In the society of today, each of us is called to be watchmen and watchwomen. In the battle for a culture of life we can speak out together, join associations, form our conscious and be well informed about important social and political issues. As watchmen we cannot fall asleep. If we remain sleeping many more innocent lives will continue to be lost. Let us resolve to be more active, to speak out more in defence of innocent life.

1 sept. 2008

Communion of Saints, now and forever

By Jason A. Baguia
(first published August 24, 2008 in Cebu Daily News - Faith)

It is to some extent reasonable to suppose that the character of a person can be gauged by the kind of the company that he or she keeps. Sacred Scripture says "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." (Proverbs 27:17) Cases in point are the subjects of recent news coming out of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints or sourced from that church department's observers.

It has been announced that French couple Louis and Marie Zelie Guerin Martin, respectively a watchmaker and a lacemaker will be declared "blessed" in the last step before official recognition as saints this October 19. Around three weeks prior to their beatification, on September 28, Poland's Father Michal Sopocko will be beatified. Sometime next year, England's John Henry Cardinal Newman will also be declared "blessed."

The awaited beatifications mean that miracles have been wrought by God for people who asked for his favors through the intercession of these venerable faithful departed. But that is beside the point here. The light of these people's Christian testimonies shined strong and clear long before they died.

Part of the beauty common to the lives of Louis and Marie, Father Michal and Cardinal Newman, apart from their personal strivings to keep God remembered in this world by their active love for fellow men and women, is their relationship with people who shared their passion to be faithful to God.

Obviously Louis and Marie as husband and wife looked to each other for encouragement and inspiration in their walk with God. They also had nine children who grew up to be luminaries of faith.Five Martin daughters entered religious communities. The most famous one we know as the patroness of missions and doctor of the church, the "Little Flower," Saint Therese of Lisieux, whose pilgrim relics have been brought to Cebu for veneration twice over this decade.

Father Michal was the spiritual director of Saint Faustina of Kowalska, the Blessed Sister Faustina of yore to whom our Lord Jesus himself spoke words that have become familiar to many Filipinos by being broadcast daily on television after the 3:00 p.m. devotion to the Divine Mercy.It is understood in the spiritual life that one does not succeed without a mentor, and good mentors learn even from their protégées. We can be certain that Saint of Kowalska's devotion to our Lord had a profound effect on Father Michal, who became a leading promoter of the Divine Mercy devotion.

Cardinal Newman (not to be confused with Saint John Neumann whose statue is venerated at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help – Redemptorist Church in uptown Cebu City), converted to the Catholic Faith after being prodded by the Holy Spirit to be intellectually honest.The cardinal used to be a Church of England minister at Oxford, earth's oldest and most prestigious university. Together with some of the leading scholars of his time he led the Oxford Movement, which sought to reconcile Anglicanism and Catholicism by clarifying the compatibilities of the differing confessions.

Eventually Newman realized in his studies of history that the full deposit of Christianity resides in Catholicism, and so he converted. He would not have reached that crucial step of entering the Church without the support of his Anglican friends, a network of people—many of whom, heartened by Newman's lead took just a bit more time before embracing Catholicism—who made him not alone in his quest for the truth.

Louis and Marie, Father Michal and Cardinal Newman's message for us today is that we can help one another to be faithful to God and devoted to his people in loving, active service. Part of Balanga Bishop Socrates Villegas' homily on the 25th death anniversary of Filipino hero Benigno Aquino Jr., an exhortation to service of God and neighbor, brings home the point: "The friend serves. The friend brings out the best in us. The friend tells us the bare and painful truth because he wants us to be better. Friends do not use friends. Friends do not bribe and pay off. There are no friends for an evil cause... Do we still bring out the best in one another because we give one another equal opportunities-- which is what democracy is all about?"

Let us pray that we may inspire each other in godliness just as the blessed ones mentioned in this space did. Sanctity is not impossible, nor reserved to the elite. Take it from Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard: "God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners." Iron sharpeneth iron, so God sharpeneth the countenance of men and women who enter into his friendship.