Friday, February 18, 2011

Blessed The People The LORD Has Chosen To Be His Own.

Friday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading I
Genesis 11:1-9
The whole world spoke the same language,
using the same words.
While the people were migrating in the east,
they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar
and settled there.
They said to one another,
“Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.”
They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar.
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city
and a tower with its top in the sky,
and so make a name for ourselves;
otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.”

The LORD came down to see the city and the tower
that they had built.
Then the LORD said: “If now, while they are one people,
all speaking the same language,
they have started to do this,
nothing will later stop them from doing
whatever they presume to do.
Let us then go down and there confuse their language,
so that one will not understand what another says.”
Thus the LORD scattered them from there
all over the earth,
and they stopped building the city.
That is why it was called Babel,
because there the LORD confused the speech
of all the world.
It was from that place
that he scattered them all over the earth.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 33
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
The LORD brings to nought the plans of nations;
he foils the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever;
the design of his heart, through all generations.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down;
he sees all mankind.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
From his fixed throne he beholds
all who dwell on the earth,
He who fashioned the heart of each,
he who knows all their works.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Mark 8:34-9:1
Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the Gospel will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
What could one give in exchange for his life?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words
in this faithless and sinful generation,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of
when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

He also said to them,
“Amen, I say to you,
there are some standing here who will not taste death
until they see that the Kingdom of God has come in power.”
Blessed John of Fiesole
(c. 1400-1455)

The patron of Christian artists was born around 1400 in a village overlooking Florence. He took up painting as a young boy and studied under the watchful eye of a local painting master. He joined the Dominicans at about age 20, taking the name Fra Giovanni. He eventually came to be known as Fra Angelico, perhaps a tribute to his own angelic qualities or maybe the devotional tone of his works.

He continued to study painting and perfect his own techniques, which included broad-brush strokes, vivid colors and generous, lifelike figures. Michelangelo once said of Fra Angelico: “One has to believe that this good monk has visited paradise and been allowed to choose his models there.” Whatever his subject matter, Fra Angelico sought to generate feelings of religious devotion in response to his paintings. Among his most famous works are the Annunciation and Descent from the Cross as well as frescoes in the monastery of San Marco in Florence.

He also served in leadership positions within the Dominican Order. At one point Pope Eugenius approached him about serving as archbishop of Florence. Fra Angelico declined, preferring a simpler life. He died in 1455.

Saint of the Day

1 comment:

Sarah in the tent said...

'Come, let us build ourselves a city
and a tower with its top in the sky,
and so make a name for ourselves;'

Perhaps this city of brick and bitumen shows an aspiration for the heavenly city of the Book of Revelation. The people of Babel also aspired to a name and to unity (they feared being scattered). These are all good aspirations, but man goes about fulfilling them in an idolatrous way. After all, who is united humanity trying to impress with his name? God? No wonder the whole enterprise backfired! We can all find glory and unity in God's name, which Jesus teaches us to hallow and even to enter in Baptism. Trying to make a name for ourselves will not fulfil our longings - even worse, it distracts us from them.

The sacrament of Baptism (when a person enters God's name and receives a new Christian name) involves both losing one's life for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel, and thereby saving one's life, as Jesus promises. This not only fulfils the aspiration of the people of Babel for a 'name', unity and a share in glory, but also gives us something these ambitious people never even dared dream of - eternal life.

'What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?'

Jesus forfeited his life to gain the whole world, so what profit is there in this? Perhaps the answer is 'God and sinners reconciled', a new creation and the revelation of God as perfect love, mercy and justice ...?

'What could one give in exchange for his life?'

The pat answer under the Law is 'a life for a life' - I give my life because He gave His life for my life. These two questions that Jesus asks are more mysterious that they seem on first reading!