Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Prayer of the Day

The Sign of the Cross

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading I
1 Kgs 8:22-23, 27-30

Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD
in the presence of the whole community of Israel,
and stretching forth his hands toward heaven,
he said, “LORD, God of Israel,
there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below;
you keep your covenant of mercy with your servants
who are faithful to you with their whole heart.
“Can it indeed be that God dwells on earth?
If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you,
how much less this temple which I have built!
Look kindly on the prayer and petition of your servant, O LORD, my God,
and listen to the cry of supplication which I, your servant,
utter before you this day.
May your eyes watch night and day over this temple,
the place where you have decreed you shall be honored;
may you heed the prayer which I, your servant, offer in this place.
Listen to the petitions of your servant and of your people Israel
which they offer in this place.
Listen from your heavenly dwelling and grant pardon.”

Responsorial Psalm
84:3, 4, 5 and 10, 11

R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!

My soul yearns and pines
for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
cry out for the living God.

R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest
in which she puts her young—
Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
my king and my God!

R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!

Blessed they who dwell in your house!
continually they praise you.
O God, behold our shield,
and look upon the face of your anointed.

R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!

I had rather one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I had rather lie at the threshold of the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

R. How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God!

Mk 7:1-13

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.
(For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace
they do not eat without purifying themselves.
And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,
the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds.)
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”
He responded,
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites,
as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
In vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”
He went on to say,
“How well you have set aside the commandment of God
in order to uphold your tradition!
For Moses said,
Honor your father and your mother,
and Whoever curses father or mother shall die.
Yet you say,
‘If someone says to father or mother,
“Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’
(meaning, dedicated to God),
you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother.
You nullify the word of God
in favor of your tradition that you have handed on.
And you do many such things.”

Saint of the Day

February 8

St. Jerome Emiliani (1481?-1537)

A careless and irreligious soldier for the city-state of Venice, Jerome was captured in a skirmish at an outpost town and chained in a dungeon. In prison Jerome had a lot of time to think, and he gradually learned how to pray. When he escaped, he returned to Venice where he took charge of the education of his nephews—and began his own studies for the priesthood.

In the years after his ordination, events again called Jerome to a decision and a new lifestyle. Plague and famine swept northern Italy. Jerome began caring for the sick and feeding the hungry at his own expense. While serving the sick and the poor, he soon resolved to devote himself and his property solely to others, particularly to abandoned children. He founded three orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes and a hospital.

Around 1532 Jerome and two other priests established a congregation, the Clerks Regular of Somasca, dedicated to the care of orphans and the education of youth. Jerome died in 1537 from a disease he caught while tending the sick. He was canonized in 1767. In 1928 Pius Xl named him the patron of orphans and abandoned children.

Office of Readings

O Lord, open my lips.
– And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Antiphon: Come, let us worship the Lord, the great King.

(repeat antiphon*)

Come, let us rejoice in the Lord,
let us acclaim God our salvation.
Let us come before him proclaiming our thanks,
let us acclaim him with songs.

(repeat antiphon*)

For the Lord is a great God,
a king above all gods.
For he holds the depths of the earth in his hands,
and the peaks of the mountains are his.
For the sea is his: he made it;
and his hands formed the dry land.
(repeat antiphon*)

Come, let us worship and bow down,
bend the knee before the Lord who made us;
for he himself is our God and we are his flock,
the sheep that follow his hand.

(repeat antiphon*)

If only, today, you would listen to his voice:
“Do not harden your hearts
as you did at Meribah,
on the day of Massah in the desert,
when your fathers tested me –
they put me to the test,
although they had seen my works.”

(repeat antiphon*)

“For forty years they wearied me,
that generation.
I said: their hearts are wandering,
they do not know my paths.
I swore in my anger:
they will never enter my place of rest.”

(repeat antiphon*)

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


(repeat antiphon*)

Psalm 9B (10)

The Lord will give just judgments to the poor.
With what purpose, Lord, do you stay away,
hide yourself in time of need and trouble?
The wicked in their pride persecute the weak,
trap them in the plots they have devised.
The sinner glories in his desires,
the miser congratulates himself.
The sinner in his arrogance rejects the Lord:
“there is no God, no retribution.”
This is what he thinks
– and all goes well for him.
Your judgements are far beyond his comprehension:
he despises all who stand against him.
The sinner says to himself: “I will stand firm;
nothing can touch me, from generation to generation.”
His mouth is full of malice and deceit,
under his tongue hide trouble and distress.
He lies in ambush by the villages,
he kills the innocent in some secret place.
He watches the weak,
he hides like a lion in its lair, and makes plans.
He plans to rob the weak,
lure him to his trap and rob him.
He rushes in, makes a dive,
and the poor victim is caught.
For he has said to himself, “God has forgotten.
He is not watching, he will never see.”

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


The Lord will give just judgments to the poor.
Psalm 9B (10)

Lord, you see the poor man’s trouble and his suffering.
Rise up, Lord, raise your hand!
Do not forget the weak.
Why does the wicked man spurn God?
Because he says to himself, “you will not take revenge.”
But you do see: you see the trouble and the pain,
and then you take things into your own hands.
The weak fall to your care,
and you are the help of the orphan.
Break the arms of the sinner and evil-doer:
seek out wickedness until there is no more to be found.
The Lord is King for ever and for ever.
The Gentiles have perished from his land.
You have heard the prayer of the weak, Lord,
and you will strengthen their hearts.
You will lend your ear to the pleas of the orphans and the helpless,
so mere mortals can frighten them no longer.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


Lord, you see the poor man’s trouble and his suffering.
Psalm 11 (12)
A prayer against the proud

The words of the Lord are pure words, they are silver refined in the furnace.
Save me, Lord, for the good men are all gone:
there is no-one to be trusted among the sons of men.
Neighbour speaks falsehood to neighbour:
with lying lips and crooked hearts they speak.
Let the Lord condemn all lying lips,
all boastful tongues.
They say “Our tongues will make us great,
our lips are ours, we have no master.”
“On account of the sufferings of the poor,
the groans of the weak, I will rise up,” says the Lord.
“I will bring to safety the one whom men despise.”
The words of the Lord are pure words,
silver tried by fire, freed from dross,
silver seven times refined.
You, Lord, will help us
and guard us from now to all eternity –
while the wicked walk round outside,
where the vilest are most honoured of the children of men.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.


The words of the Lord are pure words, they are silver refined in the furnace.
The Lord will guide the humble on the right path.
– He will teach his ways to the meek.

Reading Galatians 2:11-3:14

When Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, since he was manifestly in the wrong. His custom had been to eat with the pagans, but after certain friends of James arrived he stopped doing this and kept away from them altogether for fear of the group that insisted on circumcision. The other Jews joined him in this pretence, and even Barnabas felt himself obliged to copy their behaviour.

When I saw they were not respecting the true meaning of the Good News, I said to Cephas in front of everyone, ‘In spite of being a Jew, you live like the pagans and not like the Jews, so you have no right to make the pagans copy Jewish ways.’

Though we were born Jews and not pagan sinners, we acknowledge that what makes a man righteous is not obedience to the Law, but faith in Jesus Christ. We had to become believers in Christ Jesus no less than you had, and now we hold that faith in Christ rather than fidelity to the Law is what justifies us, and that no one can be justified by keeping the Law. Now if we were to admit that the result of looking to Christ to justify us is to make us sinners like the rest, it would follow that Christ had induced us to sin, which would be absurd. If I were to return to a position I had already abandoned, I should be admitting I had done something wrong. In other words, through the Law I am dead to the Law, so that now I can live for God. I have been crucified with Christ, and I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in this body I live in faith: faith in the Son of God who loved me and who sacrificed himself for my sake. I cannot bring myself to give up God’s gift: if the Law can justify us, there is no point in the death of Christ.’

Are you people in Galatia mad? Has someone put a spell on you, in spite of the plain explanation you have had of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Let me ask you one question: was it because you practised the Law that you received the Spirit, or because you believed what was preached to you? Are you foolish enough to end in outward observances what you began in the Spirit? Have all the favours you received been wasted? And if this were so, they would most certainly have been wasted. Does God give you the Spirit so freely and work miracles among you because you practice Law, or because you believed what was preached to you?

Take Abraham for example: he put his faith in God, and this faith was considered as justifying him. Don’t you see that it is those who rely on faith who are the sons of Abraham? Scripture foresaw that God was going to use faith to justify the pagans, and proclaimed the Good News long ago when Abraham was told: In you all the pagans will be blessed. Those therefore who rely on faith receive the same blessing as Abraham, the man of faith.

On the other hand, those who rely on the keeping of the Law are under a curse, since scripture says: Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in observing everything prescribed in the book of the Law. The Law will not justify anyone in the sight of God, because we are told: the righteous man finds life through faith. The Law is not even based on faith, since we are told: The man who practises these precepts finds life through practising them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by being cursed for our sake, since scripture says: Cursed be everyone who is hanged on a tree. This was done so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might include the pagans, and so that through faith we might receive the promised Spirit.

Reading Origen's homilies on Genesis
The sacrifice of Abraham

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering, loaded it on Isaac, and carried in his own hands the fire and the knife. Then the two of them set out together. Isaac himself carries the wood for his own holocaust: this is a figure of Christ. For Christ carried the burden of the cross himself, and yet to carry the wood for the holocaust is really the duty of the priest. So Christ is then both victim and priest. This is the meaning of the expression: they set out together. For when Abraham, who was to perform the sacrifice, carried the fire and the knife, Isaac did not walk behind him, but with him. In this way he showed that he exercised the priesthood equally with Abraham.

What happened next? Isaac spoke to his father Abraham, ‘Father’ he said. This plea from the son was at that instant the voice of temptation. For do you not think the voice of the son who was about to be sacrificed struck a responsive chord in the heart of the father? Although Abraham did not waver because of his faith, he responded with a voice full of affection: ‘Yes, my son’ he replied. ‘Look,’ said Isaac, ‘here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘My son, God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering’.

The careful yet loving response of Abraham moves me greatly. I do not know what he saw in spirit, because he did not speak of the present but of the future: God himself will provide the lamb. His son asks what is to happen now, but Abraham’s reply concerns the future. Indeed the Lord himself provided a lamb, in Christ.

Abraham stretched out his hand and seized the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he said. ‘I am here’ Abraham replied. ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’ the angel said. ‘Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God’. Compare this to what St Paul says when he speaks of God: He did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. God emulates man with magnificent generosity. Abraham offered to God his mortal son who did not die; God gave up his immortal Son who died for all of us.

Then looking up, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. We said before that Isaac is a type of Christ. Yet this also seems true of the ram. It is worth understanding how both are figures of Christ – Isaac who was not killed and the ram which was. Christ is the Word of God, but the Word became flesh.

Christ therefore suffered, but in the flesh. Christ, the bodily Christ, endured death; and the ram signifies that body and that death. As John said: Behold the lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. The Word, on the other hand, remained incorruptible. This is Christ according to the spirit, and Isaac signifies that spirit. Therefore, Christ himself is both victim and priest according to the spirit. For he offers the victim to the Father according to the flesh, and he is himself offered on the altar of the cross.

Concluding Prayer

Lord, keep your family always in your care.
Our only hope is in your divine grace:
keep us always under your protection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.