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1. MAKE THE SIGN OF THE CROSS THEN SAY"May the Word of the Lord be on my mind, on my lips, and in my heart."

2. COMPOSITION OF PLACE—

"VISIO DIVINA" OR SEEING WITH HEART'S EYES (Optional)

Use this image of Joseph The Carpenter with child Jesus by Georges de La Tour. The experience of beholding a La Tour is like looking at the sunset; your eyes are glued to the dimming sun. Sit down and quietly gaze and marvel at this masterpiece by someone who went through a similar crisis. Ten years after painting this in 1652, Georges and his family perished in an epidemic in Lunéville France. GUIDED MEDITATION—1—Does it mirror or evoke any feeling of the darkness surrounding you these days? Focus on your breathing and feel your own heart beat; listen.—2—Move your attention towards the candle light. Feel in your eyes the warmth. Look at those dirty fingernails. Ask to be cleansed.—3—Notice too the straight flame unperturbed by Joseph's breath. Imagine the heart of God beating and aflame with divine love for you.—4—Join in! The light leads the way as you enter the scene. As you move closer towards Jesus' glowing face you likewise move away from the cast shadows. Look at that face with a bright smile. Thank him briefly.—5—Now, tell Jesus quietly your heart's desires. Imagine his gaze shifting on you. Jesus says "BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD" (Ps 46:10). Use this image as a screen saver.

Readings at Mass - 15 Feb 2021

Here is your Readings at Mass page for 15 Feb 2021: Monday of week 6 in Ordinary Time.

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Monday 15 February 2021

Monday of week 6 in Ordinary Time 

Liturgical Colour: Green.

Readings at Mass


First reading
Genesis 4:1-15,25

The mark of Cain

The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. ‘I have acquired a man with the help of the Lord’ she said. She gave birth to a second child, Abel, the brother of Cain. Now Abel became a shepherd and kept flocks, while Cain tilled the soil. Time passed and Cain brought some of the produce of the soil as an offering for the Lord, while Abel for his part brought the first-born of his flock and some of their fat as well. The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering. But he did not look with favour on Cain and his offering, and Cain was very angry and downcast. The Lord asked Cain, ‘Why are you angry and downcast? If you are well disposed, ought you not to lift up your head? But if you are ill disposed, is not sin at the door like a crouching beast hungering for you, which you must master?’ Cain said to his brother Abel, ‘Let us go out’; and while they were in the open country, Cain set on his brother Abel and killed him.
  The Lord asked Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ ‘I do not know’ he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s guardian?’ ‘What have you done?’ the Lord asked. ‘Listen to the sound of your brother’s blood, crying out to me from the ground. Now be accursed and driven from the ground that has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood at your hands. When you till the ground it shall no longer yield you any of its produce. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer over the earth.’ Then Cain said to the Lord, ‘My punishment is greater than I can bear. See! Today you drive me from this ground. I must hide from you, and be a fugitive and a wanderer over the earth. Why, whoever comes across me will kill me!’ ‘Very well, then,’ the Lord replied ‘if anyone kills Cain, sevenfold vengeance shall be taken for him.’ So the Lord put a mark on Cain, to prevent whoever might come across him from striking him down.
  Adam had intercourse with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she named Seth, ‘because God has granted me other offspring’ she said ‘in place of Abel, since Cain has killed him.’

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 49(50):1,8,16-17,20-21


Pay your sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.
The God of gods, the Lord,
  has spoken and summoned the earth,
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
‘I find no fault with your sacrifices,
  your offerings are always before me.’
Pay your sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.
‘But how can you recite my commandments
  and take my covenant on your lips,
you who despise my law
  and throw my words to the winds?
Pay your sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.
‘You who sit and malign your brother
  and slander your own mother’s son.
You do this, and should I keep silence?
  Do you think that I am like you?’
Pay your sacrifice of thanksgiving to God.

Gospel Acclamation
Ps 94:8

Alleluia, alleluia!
Harden not your hearts today,
but listen to the voice of the Lord.
Alleluia!
Or:Jn14:6
Alleluia, alleluia!
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, says the Lord;
No one can come to the Father except through me.
Alleluia!

Gospel
Mark 8:11-13

No sign shall be given to this generation

The Pharisees came up and started a discussion with Jesus; they demanded of him a sign from heaven, to test him. And with a sigh that came straight from the heart he said, ‘Why does this generation demand a sign? I tell you solemnly, no sign shall be given to this generation.’ And leaving them again and re-embarking, he went away to the opposite shore.

Three instances that Jesus accomplished more not through signs

Firstly, Fr. Richard Rohr holds that Jesus has accomplished more by acceptance or by his Passion (from the Latin "pati" meaning, "to endure," "to accept") than by his action a a miracle worker. What has been translated as “endure” is the Greek verb ὑπομένει (hypomenei) from hupo and meno; to stay under, remain (Strong's Greek 5278). Jesus had a chance and all the power to avoid his Passion but he remained and endured. What does this mean? There is a fascinating story in the 12th chapter of John, after Jesus triumphal entry into Jesrusalem, which some scholars see as an opportunity offered to Jesus to take action to avoid his Passion. John tells us that upon Jesus' entry into Jerusalem some Greeks who were attending the Passover feast paid a visit to Philip, one of the Twelve, who presumably spoke Greek. "Sir," they said, "we want to see Jesus" (cf. Jn 12:21). What did they say to Philip? We do not know; John the Evangelist does not say. Perhaps they invited Jesus to move to a safehouse in Greece to escape the growing tensions in Jerusalem. This supposition is deduced from Jesus' answer and decision, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit" (cf. Jn 12:23-24) By these words, Jesus chose to accept what lay ahead and declined the offer of the well-meaning visitors from Greece.

Secondly, Christ’s greatest love was solidified at the Garden of Gethsemane when not many saw the awful agony he went through while he was there. The garden which may have been owned by a follower of Jesus, was a large orchard of trees surrounded by a stone wall. Jesus often visited this garden to pray in private. Jesus led the eleven disciples to the edge of the garden. Then leaving eight of his men there, he took his three closest friends, Peter, James and John, deeper into the quiet garden for them to see him go through immense suffering. As they walked further, Jesus “began to be sorrowful and amazed and deeply distressed” (Mark 14:33). What do you think Jesus saw that caused this much fright and sorrow? Death? Benedict XVI says, “The principal evil is death, which appears as the final enemy, the enemy that stands behind all other enemies, from which we must seek protection in the company of the Lord and his saints” (Eschatologie–Tod und ewiges Leben, p. 23). However let us not think of just any ordinary death that caused great sorrow in Jesus. St Paul writes to the Philippians: “Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). St Paul does not just say death but death on a cross–a humiliating death. Just how frightening the cross is, Bryan Elliff writes a reflection entitled Jesus Died a Hero? No way, he says, it was not even a heroic or inspiring death–“the kind of act that people would talk about with respect or make into movies with emotional soundtracks.” They had to kill Jesus, together with it, every inspiration or positivity that it might ignite in people's hearts. Those who put him to death knew that they cannot afford the mistake of giving to Jesus a heroic death knowing that everyone loves a heroic death. Pilate was “amazed” when it was first reported to him that Jesus had already died. It was unbelievable for him. He knew, through his own balancing of things, that the man Jesus was too good to be sentenced to a despicable and disgusting death on a cross. Bryan Elliff further expounds that, “According to Cicero, ‘cross’ was a word that should not even be mentioned in polite company. I wonder if the Romans would have experienced a similar kind of revulsion upon hearing the ‘C-word’ (or S-word, since it starts with S in Greek) as we may experience today when we hear other derogatory expletives. To hear one slave say to another ‘may you be crucified’ would scandalize the Roman as much as certain lewd cursing scandalizes us.”

No wonder in Gethsemane Jesus suffered this rare medical condition which St Luke, who was a physician, makes an account of–“and being in anguish he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Hematidrosis, a.k.a. hematohidrosis and hemidrosis, is so rare that many people don't know it exists or if it's real. But sweating blood has been seen throughout history, e.g., Leonardo Da Vinci wrote about soldiers sweating blood before going for battle. Under extreme emotional stress blood vessels expand so much that they break where they come into contact with the sweat glands.

We come to the last instance when almost all the signs in the life of our Lord failed. The Bible tells that three times Jesus went back to His disciples only to find them asleep. Three times He went back to pray to the Father, Jesus' Abba, only to find Himself in agony over what? He was at the brink of thinking he was a total failure just looking at the sign given by his closest friends who were fast asleep and clueless on what all these were about. Not to mention, every action that they will take after that. There was just one sign though, when all else failed. In the midst of his struggle in the garden, an angel came. Jesus must have held on to this as a sign of His Father’s love no matter how faint that one was. We do not have the details of this. But certainly Jesus felt the nearness of his Father which brought him to a final decision, to face his Passion and death on a cross.

The German Dominican monk and mystic Meister Eckhart preached about an over emphasis on the physical or mere external expressions of the faith which has made many of the people to become infantile in their faith. Very straightforward in his criticism he said: “To seek God by ritual is to get the ritual and lose God in the process” [Sermon 5]. If I were to rephrase it: “To seek God by sign is to get the sign and lose God in the process.” Let us not depend on external signs that will only dampen or numb our senses from finding God’s true and sure love. Amen. Fr. JM Manzano, SJ

Copyright © 1996-2021 Universalis Publishing Limited: see www.universalis.com. Scripture readings from the Jerusalem Bible are published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc, and used by permission of the publishers. Text of the Psalms: Copyright © 1963, The Grail (England). Used with permission of A.P. Watt Ltd. All rights reserved.

Calendar used: Philippines

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3. 'TODAY, IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS'—EVER IN SCRIPTURE, IT IS THE HEART THAT PRAYS. In today's featured Gospel reading, what word or phrase from God speaks to me?—PONDER—LISTEN—THANK—SURRENDER. I contemplate God's word and then end with the OUR FATHER...

Nota bene: Featured after 3:00 PM Philippine Time (PHT) +0800 UTC are the readings for tomorrow.
4. "FATHER, WE THANK YOU FOR SPEAKING TO US TODAY THROUGH YOUR HOLY WORD."
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).

†FINAL BLESSING

"MAY ALMIGHTY GOD BLESS US, IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN." The sign of the cross strengthens us in temptations and difficulties (CCC 2157). Wherever you are be mindful of your interior silence. "If we do not understand silence, we do not understand God."

Optional/Alternative Prayer Exercise

THE EXAMEN PRAYER at the Center for Ignatian Spirituality Philippines [www.cisphil.org]

Lectio Divina: The three concentric circles of Divine Reading

I. The first outermost circle–the mind–which is the first place or vessel of the Word. It is said that "Empty vessels make the most sound" so feed your mind with the words of Scripture and let it reverberate–never straining to "study or solve." But, first, it might be good to empty your mind of other concerns. When ready, slowly read and pause to listen to the echoes by remembering a word or a phrase from what you read. Be reverent towards the Word of God that is expressed in human words and fashioned in the light of the same Spirit through whom it was written (cf. DV 12).

II. It is not just the mind that is fed by the Word of God. Move to the second inner circle–the mouth, the door to our enteric nervous system which is commonly called gut. When we were still in the womb of our mothers both our gut and our brain originated from the same clump of tissue called the neural crest. One section turned into the brain between our ears and another section turned into the "second brain" or one's gut where one half of all our nerve cells are located. One can "think" through the gut. Our capacity for feeling and expressing emotions depend primarily on it and, only secondarily, the brain. There is a Native American proverb which says, “Listen or your tongue will make you deaf.” Like the mind, the mouth needs quieting down too. They are like Siamese twins; when one is sick, the other may also be sick. The reason you do not hear others' feelings or even your own emotions is because your busy tongue has made you deaf.

III. Only after we have quieted our two brains that we can move into the third innermost circle–the heart. The opening words of the Rule of St Benedict says, “Listen with the ear of the heart.” What does it mean to listen with the ear of the heart? Once, I got a feedback from one of my silent retreatants who thanked me for listening not only to words but to movements of the heart. It dawned on me that it does make a big difference to listen in this way. As always in the Scripture, it is the heart that prays. Deep in the heart, prayer happens. So allow the "ears of your heart"–to do their work. It is a difficult and challenging journey though to listen with the heart if it is not emptied, e.g., of one's own assumptions, prejudices and past hurts. However, this is the most privileged place to receive the Word of Scripture. This innermost place of prayer is what the desert fathers and mothers call “purity of heart” where we come face to face with God. "Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it all" (Ps 139:4). Although God knows already what you might have there in your heart, talk to Him and listen reverently to His words of consolation.