Monday, April 4, 2011

I Will Praise You, LORD, For You Have Rescued Me.

Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Reading I
Isaiah 65:17-21
Thus says the LORD:
Lo, I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
The things of the past shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness
in what I create;
For I create Jerusalem to be a joy
and its people to be a delight;
I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and exult in my people.
No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there,
or the sound of crying;
No longer shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not round out his full lifetime;
He dies a mere youth who reaches but a hundred years,
and he who fails of a hundred shall be thought accursed.
They shall live in the houses they build,
and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant.
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Psalm 30
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
“Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.”
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
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John 4:43-54
At that time Jesus left [Samaria] for Galilee.
For Jesus himself testified
that a prophet has no honor in his native place.
When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him,
since they had seen all he had done in Jerusalem at the feast;
for they themselves had gone to the feast.

Then he returned to Cana in Galilee,
where he had made the water wine.
Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum.
When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea,
he went to him and asked him to come down
and heal his son, who was near death.
Jesus said to him,
“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”
The royal official said to him,
“Sir, come down before my child dies.”
Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.”
The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.
While the man was on his way back,
his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live.
He asked them when he began to recover.
They told him,
“The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon.”
The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him,
“Your son will live,”
and he and his whole household came to believe.
Now this was the second sign Jesus did
when he came to Galilee from Judea.
St. Isidore of Seville

The 76 years of Isidore's life were a time of conflict and growth for the Church in Spain. The Visigoths had invaded the land a century and a half earlier and shortly before Isidore's birth they set up their own capital. They were Arians — Christians who said Christ was not God. Thus Spain was split in two: One people (Catholic Romans) struggled with another (Arian Goths).

Isidore reunited Spain, making it a center of culture and learning, a teacher and guide for other European countries whose culture was also threatened by barbarian invaders.

Born in Cartagena of a family that included three other saints, he was educated (severely) by his elder brother, whom he succeeded as bishop of Seville.

An amazingly learned man, he was sometimes called "The Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages" because the encyclopedia he wrote was used as a textbook for nine centuries. He required seminaries to be built in every diocese, wrote a Rule for religious orders and founded schools that taught every branch of learning. Isidore wrote numerous books, including a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a history of Goths and a history of the world—beginning with creation! He completed the Mozarabic liturgy, which is still in use in Toledo, Spain. For all these reasons Isidore (as well as several other saints) has been suggested as patron of the Internet.

He continued his austerities even as he approached 80. During the last six months of his life, he increased his charities so much that his house was crowded from morning till night with the poor of the countryside.

Our society can well use Isidore's spirit of combining learning and holiness. Loving, understanding knowledge can heal and bring a broken people back together. We are not barbarians like the invaders of Isidore's Spain. But people who are swamped by riches and overwhelmed by scientific and technological advances can lose much of their understanding love for one another. So vast was Isidore's knowledge that some moderns have proposed him as the patron of Internet users.

Patron Saint of:

Saint of the Day


Sarah in the tent said...

“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”

Jesus' words seem unkind, but perhaps this is an example of Jesus, the Prophet, knowing the official's guilty secrets as well as he knew the Samaritan woman's.

John tells us the supplicant is a royal official. King Herod also sought a sign – but only in order to kill Jesus at birth! Very soon Herod's son would seize John the Baptist and keep him almost as a pet sign-giver, then serve up the prophetic head on a platter! So perhaps it’s not surprising that a royal official seeking signs met with a chilly reception. He might also have incurred much guilt in the course of his duties: the massacre of the innocents would have preyed on the conscience of anyone involved. When later that guilty person's own son seems doomed to die, the father might fear it is a case of a life for a life - rather like the sad story of King David's first child by Bathsheba.

Perhaps Jesus’ harsh words caused the official to repent. As a career servant of the king, he might have been using his own son's case more or less coldly to test whether Jesus could prophesy the boy’s fate correctly and challenge Him, if He is the Messiah, to perform a healing. Perhaps he also hoped that Jesus could perform some purification rite to lift the curse from himself and his son. If he thought his son's illness was due to some sin he, the father, had committed, that would explain why he personally had to go to Jesus, at the risk of missing his son’s last moments, rather than send the fastest runner he could find. When Jesus told him 'your son will live' (the opposite of Nathan’s terrible words to David), perhaps the official felt the burden of guilt lift: for him they were words of absolution.

The sudden sense of freedom Jesus’ words produced and the realization that this man knew everything about him were what caused the official to believe in Jesus. It was only after he returned home that he knew not only that Jesus’ prophecy of his son’s survival was true, but that a messianic healing had occurred.

Sarah in the tent said...

Thinking some more about the death of David's son ...

Jesus called himself the 'one greater than Solomon'. Solomon's older brother, with all the birthright of the first-born, was the original 'one greater than Solomon'. In a sense, David's line also went from that innocent victim to Jesus himself.