This Sunday’s liturgy presents to us a brief but very important evangelical passage (Cf. Matthew 22:34-40). The evangelist Matthew recounts that the Pharisees came together to put Jesus to the test. One of them, a Doctor of the Law, asked Him this question: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (v. 36). It’s an insidious question because in the Law of Moses more than six hundred precepts are mentioned. How can one distinguish, among all these, the great commandment? However, Jesus has no hesitation and answers: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And He adds: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (vv. 37.39).
Jesus’ answer is not a given because, among the many precepts of the Jewish Law, the most important were the Ten Commandments, communicated directly by God to Moses, as conditions of the pact of the Covenant with the people. However, Jesus wants it understood that without the love of God and of one’s neighbor there isn’t true fidelity to this Covenant with the Lord. You can do many good things, fulfill many precepts, many good things, but if you don’t have love it’s all for nought.
It’s confirmed by another text of the book of Exodus, called “Code of the Covenant,” where it states that one can’t be in the Covenant with the Lord and mistreat those that enjoy His protection. And who are those that enjoy His protection? The Bible says: <they are> the widow, the orphan, the stranger, the migrant, namely, the people most alone and vulnerable (Cf. Exodus 22:20-21). Answering those Pharisees who had questioned Him, Jesus tries to help them put their religiosity in order, to re-establish what really counts and what is less important. Jesus says: “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40). They are the most important and the others depend on these two. And Jesus in fact lived His life precisely thus: preaching and doing what really counts and is essential, namely, love. Love gives impetus and fruitfulness to life and to the journey of faith: without love, life and faith remain sterile.
What Jesus proposes in this evangelical page is a stupendous ideal, which corresponds to the most authentic desire of our heart. In fact, we were created to love and to be loved. God, who is Love, has created us to make us participants in His life, to be loved by Him and to love Him and, with Him, to love other people. This is God’s “dream” for man. And, to realize it, we need His grace; we need to receive in ourselves the capacity to love, which comes from God Himself. Jesus offers us the Eucharist in fact for this. In it we receive Jesus in the greatest expression of His love, when He offered Himself to the Father for our salvation.
May the Holy Virgin help us to receive in our life the “great commandment” of love of God and of our neighbor. In fact, even if we have known it since we were children, we will never end being converted to it and putting it into practice in the different situations in which we find ourselves.
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
After the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Giovanni Schiavo, priest of the Fathers of St. Joseph of Murialdo, was proclaimed Blessed yesterday at Caxias do Sul, Brazil. Born in the early 1900s in the hills of Vicenza, as a young priest he was sent to Brazil, where he worked zealously at the service of the people of God and of the formation of men and women religious. May his example help us to live fully our adherence to Christ and to the Gospel.
I greet you all affectionately, Italian pilgrims and those from various countries, in particular, those form Ballygawley (Ireland), Salzburg (Austria) and from the Traunstein and Berchtesgaden region (Germany). I greet the participants in the congress of the Italian Secular Institutes, whom I encourage in their witness of the Gospel in the world, and the FIDAS Blood Donors Association of Orta Nova (Foggia). I see there are Colombians there!
I greet the Togolese community in Italy, as well as that of Venezuela with the image of Our Lady of Chiquinquira, the “Chinita.” We entrust to the Virgin Mary the hopes and legitimate expectations of these two nations!
I wish you all a good Sunday. Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!
[Original text: Italian] [BLOG Entry SHARE of ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
1. HALLOWEEN comes from the Old English "All Hallows Eve" or night before All Saints Day.
2. This is a Christian celebration of all the Saints who have died and gone to heaven.
3. The first account showing a celebration of this feast comes from St Ephrem the Syrian (d. AD 373). The dates of this feast varied.
4. In many areas Christians dress up as Saints and Angels and learn of their stories of Faith. 5. This feast has become paganized and now many dress in other costumes without realizing the origins of this feast.
(Image - Google)
This Halloween consider dressing in honor of a Saint or Angel from heaven who's life was a witness to the unending love of God for you.
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Focolare.org report: There was nothing extraordinary or unusual about the life of Chiara Badano (known as Chiara Luce). And yet for this girl who loved swimming, skiing, listening to music and being with friends, God was always present, beginning with her birth for which Ruggero and Maria Teresa Badano had been praying for eleven years. Then, to their surprise, it happened and Chiara was born on 29 October 1971 in Sassello, in the inlands of Savona, Italy.
Clare was a tenacious girl, someone “outside the box” and always attentive to the “least” among people. In 1981, when she was nine years old, she attended the “FamilyFest” which is a large gathering of the Focolare Movement. It was a revelation for her. She wrote to Chiara Lubich: “I’ve rediscovered the Gospel in a new light. Now I want this book to be the sole purpose of my life!”
Soon, however, Chiara Luce also experienced suffering, especially when despite her effort she had to repeat the first year of high school because of a misunderstanding with a teacher. It was the first time she felt that she could offer God not only her joys, but also the sufferings. She wrote to a friend: “I wasn’t able to give this suffering to Jesus right away. It took a little time to recover.”
When she was seventeen years old, while playing tennis, she felt a stabbing pain in the shoulder. Soon afterwards she made the tragic discovery: osteosarcoma, one of the most ruthless forms of tumour.
It was a hard verdict. When she returned home after the first cancer treatment, Maria Teresa was waiting: “Chiara, how did it go?” But she didn’t even look at her mother and throwing herself on her bed, she remained for a long time gripped by an interior struggle. Only after twenty-five minutes did she return with her usual smile: “Mum, you can talk to me now.” Chiara had said her yes to God and would never turn away from it: “For you, Jesus . . . if you want it, I want it too!” As the treatments became more painful her offering remained firm. Chiara never lost an opportunity to love. “At first we felt like we were going to visit her in order to support her,” a friend recounts, “but quite soon we noticed that whenever we went into her room, the feeling came over us that we were being projected into the splendid adventure of God’s love. And yet, Chiara didn’t say any extraordinary words, she didn’t write pages and pages of diary. She simply loved.”
The more the illness progressed, the more the experience intensified for Chiara. At one point she refused morphine because “It takes away my lucidity” and “I can only offer my pain to Jesus. It’s all I have left.”
Finally, on 7 October 1990, her “departure”. One last smile for Ruggero and then a goodbye for Maria Teresa: “Mamma, be happy, because I’m happy!” There was a huge crowd at the funeral and, as she had requested, Chiara Luce was buried in a white dress, “like a bride going to Jesus”.
Shortly before dying, Chiara Luce exclaimed: “The youth are the future. I can no longer run, but I’d like to pass the Olympic torch on to them. The young people have only one life and it’s worth it to spend it well!” The 25,000 young people who attended her beatification ceremony in Rome on 25 September 2010, demonstrate that Chiara Luce Badano has given witness to a model of holiness that can be lived by everyone!
Thus says the LORD: "You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword; then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans.
"If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him. If you take your neighbor's cloak as a pledge, you shall return it to him before sunset; for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body. What else has he to sleep in? If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate."
Responsorial PsalmPS 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
R. (2) I love you, Lord, my strength. I love you, O LORD, my strength, O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer. R. I love you, Lord, my strength. My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold! Praised be the LORD, I exclaim, and I am safe from my enemies. R. I love you, Lord, my strength. The LORD lives and blessed be my rock! Extolled be God my savior. You who gave great victories to your king and showed kindness to your anointed. R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
Reading 21 THES 1:5C-10
Brothers and sisters: You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves openly declare about us what sort of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
Feast: October 29
St Narcissus was born towards the close of the first century, and was almost fourscore years old when he was placed at the head of the church of Jerusalem, being the thirtieth bishop of that see. Eusebius assures us that the Christians of Jerusalem preserved in his time the remembrance of several miracles which God had wrought by this holy bishop, one of which he relates as follows. One year, on Easter-eve, the deacons were unprovided with oil for the lamps in the church, necessary at the solemn divine office that day. Narcissus ordered those who had care of the lamps to bring him some water from the neighbouring wells. This being done, he pronounced a devout prayer over the water; then bade them pour it into the lamps, which they did, and it was immediately converted into oil, to the great surprise of the faithful. Some of this miraculous oil was kept there as a memorial at the time when Eusebius wrote his history. The veneration of all good men for this holy bishop could not shelter him from the malice of the wicked. Three incorrigible sinners, fearing his inflexible severity in the observance of ecclesiastical discipline, laid to his charge a detestable crime, which Eusebius does not specify. They confirmed their atrocious calumny by dreadful oaths and imprecations; one wishing he might perish by fire, another that he might be struck with a leprosy, and the third that he might lose his sight, if what they alleged was not the truth. Notwithstanding these protestations, their accusation did not find credit; and some time after the divine vengeance pursued the calumniators. The first was burnt in his house, with his whole family, by an accidental fire in the night; the second was struck with a universal leprosy; and the third, terrified by these examples, confessed the conspiracy and slander, and by the abundance of tears which he continually shed for his sins, lost his sight before his death.
Narcissus, notwithstanding the slander had made no impression on the people to his disadvantage, could not stand the shock of the bold calumny, or rather made it an excuse for leaving Jerusalem and spending some time in solitude, which had long been his wish. He spent several years undiscovered in his retreat, where he enjoyed all the happiness and advantage which a close conversation with God can bestow. That his church might not remain destitute of a pastor, the neighbouring bishops of the province after some time placed in it Pius, and after him Germanion, who dying in a short time was succeeded by Gordius. Whilst this last held the see, Narcissus appeared again, like one from the dead. The whole body of the faithful, transported at the recovery of their holy pastor, whose innocence had been most authentically vindicated, conjured him to reassume the administration of the diocese. He acquiesced; but afterwards, bending under the weight of extreme old age, made St. Alexander his coadjutor. St. Narcissus continued to serve his flock, and even other churches, by his assiduous prayers and his earnest exhortations to unity and concord, as St. Alexander testifies in his letter to the Arsinoites in Egypt, where he says that Narcissus was at that time, about one hundred and sixteen years old. The Roman Martyrology honours his memory on the 29th of October.
If we truly respect the church as the immaculate spouse of our Lord, we will incessantly pray for its exaltation and increase, and beseech the Almighty to give it pastors according to his own heart, like those who appeared in the infancy of Christianity. And, that no obstacle on our part may prevent the happy effects of their zeal, we should study to regulate our conduct by the holy maxims which they inculcate; we should regard them as the ministers of Christ; we should listen to them with docility and attention; we should make their faith the rule of ours, and shut our ears against the language of profane novelty. SOURCE: The Catholic Encyclopedia