The solemn exclamation with which today’s Gospel begins is one of the few prayers of Jesus reported in the Gospels: “Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I praise you because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to simple people” (v. 25). The wise and the intelligent are often mentioned together in the Bible and, many times, in a pejorative sense. They are those who profess themselves as devout researchers of wisdom. They even think of having a monopoly on it. In fact, they rack with folly and revel with vain discussions.
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From today's Gospel passage, as in many other texts of the New Testament (Mt 10:2; Lk 22:32, Jn 21:15-17), it is clear that Peter is entrusted with a particular task in the church. It is he who always appears first, is called to feed the lambs and the sheep and sustains his brothers and sisters in the faith.
The second of the five discourses of Jesus found in the Gospel of Matthew develops the themes related to sending of the disciples to a mission. Today we are offered the concluding passage. In the first part (vv. 37-39), the demands of discipleship are presented in all their harshness. Radical and unprecedented renouncements are required.
Today we celebrate the feast of the birth of John the Baptist, June 24, the solstice, when the sun begins to diminish and this is the reason why, since the time of St. Augustine (we are at the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth century), the feast of the Baptist is celebrated. Precisely because he himself had said: Now I must stay to one side because another light has appeared.
I am sure each one of you knows that this pandemic experience is going to have a major effect on your future. It’s going to leave a deep imprint on everything, on human lives, on communities, on society, politics, our sense of our place in nature, even our faith.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus insists, three times: “Do not be afraid!” (vv. 26, 28, 31) and each time, he adds a motive to justify his recommendation. The announcer of the Gospel is afraid, first of all, because of the violence unleashed by the enemies of Christ, his mission might fail (vv. 26-27). Jesus assures him that despite the trials and hardships, the Gospel will spread and transform the world.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart has very ancient origins. It has spread in the Church especially starting from the seventeenth century through the work of a French mystic, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Like all forms of popular piety, this too entered into crisis after the Vatican Council II. The traditional image—the one showing the Sacred Heart “on a throne of flames, radiant as the sun, with the adorable wound, surrounded by thorns and topped by a cross” is in conformity with the description given by St. Margaret Mary to whom He appeared.
Here they have clearly marked: the two loaves or if we like, the only bread in two forms or the double table. These are the signs: the altar of the Eucharist, the lectionary of the Word. The Second Vatican Council has recalled it: “The Church has never failed to take the bread of life, taking it from the table both of the Word of God and the body of Christ and offer it to the faithful” (DV 21).
Today’s feast was very lately introduced in the liturgical calendar (only around 1350). It offers the opportunity, through reflection on the Word of God, to purify the image that we have made of him and to discover new and surprising features of his face.
Where the Spirit comes radical upheavals and transformation always happen; barriers fall, doors are opened wide; all the towers built by human hands and designed by "the wisdom of this world" shake; fear, passivity, and quietism disappear; initiatives are developed and courageous decisions are made.
Matthew does not describe the Ascension of Jesus as the Acts of the Apostles do but, using different images, he suggests the same message. Unlike Luke and John, he places the encounter with the Risen not in Jerusalem but in Galilee. This geographical setting has a theological value: the evangelist wants to say that the mission of the apostles begins where their Master had begun.
Jesus has not taught only “the way.” He communicated his Spirit, his force to reach the goal. We pray: “Create in us, Oh Lord, a new heart, infuse in us your Holy Spirit.
One of the characteristics of the primitive community described in the Acts of the Apostles is the absence of classes, titles, honorifics, greater prestige or recognized dignity of some eminent member.All believers are considered on a level of equality. No one would be called rabbi because there was only one Master and they were only disciples. They felt themselves brothers and sisters, and no one claimed the title of father. They knew the fact of having one Father in heaven (Mt 23:8-10).
The central image today, in fact, is that of the door. Further on, in his long discourse to the Jews, Jesus proclaims: “I am the good shepherd” (v. 11). Today, he presents himself twice as the door (v. 7). To this image, others are added: the fence, the thieves and robbers, the guardian and strangers. Who are they? Whom do they represent? What is the meaning of the “similitude”?
The story of the disciples of Emmaus is one of the most beautiful pages of the Gospels. It introduces in a celestial world, where dream, instead of being dissolved, is transformed into reality. After this lovely first impression, however, perplexities and questions arise: Where is Emmaus?
It is the time when Jesus manifests himself alive to the disciples. The one who deserts the meetings of the community like Thomas, cannot have the experience of the Risen Lord (vv. 24-25). He cannot hear his greeting and his word; he cannot accept his forgiveness and his peace (vv. 19,26,23), nor experience his joy (v. 20) and receive his Spirit (v. 22).
Witnessing is not to give a good example. This is certainly useful, but the testimony is something else. This can only be given by one who passed from death to life; one who can confirm that his existence is changed and acquired meaning when it was illuminated by the light of Easter; one who has made the experience that faith in Christ gives meaning to the joys and sorrows and illuminates the joyful and sad moments.
The urgency of a new life can be understood only by one who is no longer afraid of death because, with the eyes of faith, “he saw” the Risen One and cultivates in the heart the expectation that soon the day dawns and the morning star rises (2 P 1:19).
With Christ on the cross, we are made to understand where sin leads to: it renders a person unrecognizable. But immediately John has us contemplate God’s response to sin: the gift of his Spirit and the resurrection of the Holy and Just One.
“We cannot live without the Lord’s supper.” “Yes, I went to the assembly and celebrated the Lord’s Supper with my brothers and sisters, because I am a Christian.” Christians have participated in the breaking of bread every Sunday. It was for them an indispensable requirement. They understood that that was the hallmark of the disciples of the Lord Jesus.