Luke Live! Online: Reflection on Mary’s Prayer THE MAGNIFICAT

The Canticle of Mary. 46 And Mary said:*

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

47 my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

48 For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;

behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

49 The Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.

50 His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.

51 He has shown might with his arm,

dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.

52 He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones

but lifted up the lowly.

53 The hungry he has filled with good things;

the rich he has sent away empty.

54 He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,

55 according to his promise to our fathers,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

56 Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Now let’s take a closer look at the words of Mary’s prayer that you have just heard. Tradition identifies this prayer as “The MAGNIFICAT.” “Magnificat” is a Latin word. Its English equivalent is the word “magnifies.”  The Christian tradition translated Luke’s original Greek into Latin and from Latin into English with the phrase “My soul magnifies the Lord.”  Scholars who created the New American Bible translation chose the word “proclaims” in this context.  Thus you heard Mary say in this translation, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” Other translators coined these phrases: “My heart praises the Lord” (Good News translation), “My soul glorifies the Lord” (NIV), “My soul exalts the Lord” (New English Bible).  The Revised Standard Version (RSV) and the New Revised Standard Versions (NRSV) returned to the more classic English translation “My soul magnifies the Lord” as do all of the King James versions. 

To magnify is to enlarge—i.e., to make God’s greatness more evident. The words “praise” and “proclaim” accomplish the same purpose. The more we praise God, the more opportunity for people to ponder God and God’s greatness.  Both Christians and Muslims see Mary’s willingness to conceive and give birth to Jesus as a perfect witness to God’s greatness.  Her willingness to trust God in this miraculous conception also emphasizes the importance of surrendering to God’s will.   And even though Mary is not part of the Hebrew Scriptures, her cooperation with God, which we call GRACE in this moment, concretizes her Jewish sensibilities inherent in the words of Psalm 79, verse 13: “We, your people, will give thanks to you forever; through all ages we will declare your praise.”   Also Psalm 111: 3: “Majestic and glorious is God’s work, God’s righteousness endures forever.”  Thus Mary can rightfully say, “from now on will all ages call me blessed,” and “God’s mercy is from age to age.”  Remember, Grace has an uncontainable quality that extends far beyond any one individual or group or place or time.  Indeed, many faiths and philosophies uphold that “goodness begets goodness,” ‘truth strengthens truth,” and that “love knows no boundaries.”  

In Mary’s prayer we also find affirmation of the great reversal promised in the Hebrew Scripturestraditionally called TANAKH[1]: “the poor will be exalted, the exalted humbled.” Most notably there is the Song of Hannah in the book of 1 Samuel 2: which contains phrases such as

“My heart exults in the Lord, 

my strength is exalted in my God.

 Speak boastfully no longer nor let arrogance issue from your mouths.  The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, 

while the hungry batten on spoil. 

The Lord makes poor and makes rich. He humbles, he also exults. 

He raises the needy from the dust; 

from the ash heap he lifts up the poor, to seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage.” 

Clearly the Divine Action is to reconcile peoples to their proper state of living:  a celebration of our common humanity—everyone standing before God as equals.  This is a “great reversal,” indeed, for so much of human history progressed—just as our world continues to progress—at other people’s expense.  God’s reversal through prophets and through Jesus insists that we implement checks and balances on progress for everyone’s mutual benefit.  Indeed, the biblical vision obliterates the importance of status and heritage because they distract us from the common vision that we are all one.  Ultimately, social rankings are illusions.  At the end of each and every day, everyone needs air, water, food, clothing shelter, sleep and, yes, toilet facilities.  We must not take any aspect of our humanity for granted.  The Book of Ecclesiastes puts it this way: “As they came forth from their mother’s womb, so again shall they return, naked as they came, having nothing from their toil to bring with them.”  (Ecclesiastes 5:14)

When all social divisions cease, every person is as important as another.  This is humanity’s one, unifying vision: Every individual is an instrument of Providence.  Believers are invited to live daily in awe and wonder that we are able to experience life and love because of God and through God.  The Catholic liturgy proclaims God as the one “In whom we live and move and have our being.”  (This is a direct quote from the Book of Acts 17: 28.) In secular terms, gratitude for life itself breeds humility which, in turn, brings people together.   

INTRODUCTION TO AVE MARIA

         Now I invite you to collect your feelings and thoughts about THE GREAT REVERSAL, AND THE ANNUNCIATION AND VISITATIONS PASSAGES through my song meditation, Schubert’s AVE MARIA.  The words are Latin but they comprise Luke 1, verses 28 and 42.  Verse 28 recalls the Angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary that preceded the Visitation passage you just heard. Gabriel calls out to Mary: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” The next line of the prayer and lyric echoes Elizabeth’s words to Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”  For Christians these words are an affirmation of our belief in the “Incarnation,” God entering into human history as a human being.  We’ll explore that further in subsequent tracks.  I invite listeners from other faiths to meditate on the ways your religions affirm God’s presence in the world through people of good will in all times and places. 

The song’s second verse addresses Mary as Mother of God, that is, of Jesus. Christians believe Jesus to be both fully God and fully human—the complete manifestation of God to the material world.  Both aspects of Jesus are inseparable, therefore Mary is the mother of the ONE who is both God and human. That is followed by a prayer of petition that Mary will pray for us now and at the hour of our death so that we may be with God for all eternity.   These themes also have secular counterparts that can be part of your discussion with relatives and friends who hold other faiths or maintain more secular perspectives.  

“Full of grace” is to be blessed, to be congratulated, to be filled with good news, good thoughts–to be caught up in a life-affirming enterprise.  Prayer, which comprises the second part of Hail Mary, for example, is an active expressions of HOPE in eternal life.  Its secular counterpart is the concept of horizon—a reality that can be seen or envisioned but not fully grasped because, like the horizon itself, it beckons only to recede further into space and time.  Recede though it may, the impact of horizon—magnificent sunrises and sunsets–lingers and we are able to grasp some of its energy and inspiration in the here and now.   Here then is Schubert’s AVE MARIA.  Additional commentary with questions for discussion will follow. 

 Here are links to two of my recordings of AVE MARIE -one Audio Only with Instrumental Ensemble from my CD The Gospel of Luke In Word and Song; The second is a Video with piano accompaniment by Laurence Rosania.

Latin Catholic prayer versionLiteral English Translation 
Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Maria, gratia plena,
Maria, gratia plena,
Ave, Ave, Dominus,
Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus,
Et benedictus fructus ventris (tui),
Ventris tui, Jesus.
Ave Maria!

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Ora, ora pro nobis;
Ora, ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Nunc et in hora mortis,
In hora mortis nostrae.
In hora, hora mortis nostrae,
In hora mortis nostrae.
Ave Maria!
Hail Mary, full of grace,
Mary, full of grace,
Mary, full of grace,
Hail, Hail, the Lord
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed,
Blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Thy womb, Jesus.
Hail Mary!

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Pray, pray for us;
Pray for us sinners,
Now, and at the hour of our death,
The hour of our death.
The hour, the hour of our death,
The hour of our death.
Hail Mary!

For more on Schubert’s AVE MARIA, see: 

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Ave_Maria_(Schubert)


[1] I want to emphasize the Hebrew word TANAKH in sensitivity to our Jewish friends.  What Christians call “The Old Testament” is actually the writings of The First Covenant, i.e. God’s covenant with Israel—the descendants of Jacob aka Israel.  The Covenant through Jesus for Christians is truly a Second Covenant. The Jews call their books TANAKH and so we respect them by using this title rather than “Old Testament.”  Contemporary Christians affirm the validity of God’s Covenant with Israel grounded in Paul’s Letter to the Romans 11: 29 and in the Catholic Ecumenical Council known as Vatican II (1963-65) in the document NOSTRA AETATE (“In Our Time”) See

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html  In truth the people of Christian History have been disrespectful of Judaism and contributed to anti-Semitism and violence against the Jewish people.  Yet, Judaism constitutes the very foundation of Jesus and therefore Christianity.  In that way our ancestors neglected to observe the Fourth Commandment (Catholics) aka Fifth Commandment (Orthodox Christians and Protestants): Honor your Father and your Mother. 

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Questions for Luke Live! Online! More on The Annunciation and New Material on The Visitation Luke 1: 39-56

BY Paulist Father James DiLuzio to accompany Luke Live! ONLINE

Commentary on Luke 1: 26 to 56   

The Annunciation and Visitation segments of Luke’s Gospel highlight a number of universal human experiences beyond the specifics of the Incarnation—God as the person of Jesus.  Foremost is the announcement of conception—that moment when women share the news that they have a child to bring into the world.  Echoing many wonderful moments in the Jewish scriptures TANAKH[1] (which Christians call the “First Testament”), this moment shared between Mary and Elizabeth known as “The Visitation,” engages listeners in a timeless celebration of life and hope. At the same time, it acknowledges human vulnerability.  For amidst the joy there is also trepidation as Elizabeth is pregnant in old age and Mary is pregnant out of wedlock.   Because Elizabeth is so advanced in years, she has to “go into seclusion” to care for and nurture her baby in utero.  That little phrase “go into seclusion” is a powerful reminder that even though God may answer our prayers, we must do our part to honor the blessings we receive.  Mary, too, will have to take responsibility for the gift of a child because of her youth and unwed status.  Indeed, both women would have been subject to public scrutiny, judgments and condemnations just as goodness, beauty, even life itself often become objects of ridicule and derision for those rooted in resentments or caught in webs of despair, chains of anxiety, fear or suffering.

Another spiritual message: God enters into human history.  These Gospel events and many like them affirm that human life has a purpose beyond mere survival.  God enters into history by endowing each and every individual with the gift of free will: the awesome capability to discern good and to choose good over evil, life over death. The stories of Jesus and his disciples, beginning with Mary, Elizabeth and Zechariah—and all stories like them—offer the blessed assurance that God is with us “from age to age,” accompanying us, supporting us on our earthly journey so that we may cooperate with grace, to choose every possible manifestation of life and what is life-giving.   A secular parallel to these events and themes includes the many ways the stories of our ancestors (i.e., ancestors from our individual family trees and from our larger ethnic and national collectives) can inspire us toward the good in the here and now.  Indeed, history itself offers us innumerable opportunities to keep learning from the past—correcting its mistakes and fostering its virtues for the good of all.  Believers call this “Grace;” secularists might simply call it “the nobility inherent in every man, woman and child.”

[1] TANKAH is an acronym of the first Hebrew letters for each sections of the Jewish Bible: Torah (“Teaching”, also known as the Five Books of Moses), Nevi’im (“Prophets”) and Ketuvim (“Writings”)—hence TaNaKh. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanakh   It comprises the same writings in most of what Christians call “The Old Testament.”  Use of TANKAH is more multi-faith sensitive than “Old Testament” as is “First Covenant” and “First Testament.”

HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:

A. Explore the myriad of thoughts and feelings women in your group (or YOU as WOMAN,  or women in your family) may have experienced when You or They first knew or learned they have conceived? Invite them to relate these to the thoughts and feelings Mary and Elizabeth expressed in the Gospel.

B.  Ask women and men who have not had children, their emotional responses to other people’s pregnancies, particularly those of their siblings or close friends or the conceptions of a favored niece, nephew or Godchild.

C. Refer to birth announcements in the Jewish Bible called TANAKH[1] and in the Koran and other faith traditions as well.  Now ask yourself, “How do these add to your discussion of your experiences of pregnancy and sharing the “Good News?” You may wish to follow these links:

The Annunciation to Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18: 1-15

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%2018&version=NABRE     AND LATER IN Genesis 21: 1-8

The Annunciation to Hannah that she will bring the prophet Samuel into the world:  https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Samuel%201&version=NABRE

And Hannah’s Prayer of Thanksgiving

For your convenience, I’ve inserted a selection of texts from THE KORAN.  The website source appears after the text. from KORAN

 SAHIH INTERNATIONAL TRANSLATION

KORAN

3:44  That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muhammad]. And you were not with them when they cast their pens as to which of them should be responsible for Mary. Nor were you with them when they disputed. 3: 45  [And mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah ]. 3:46: He will speak to the people in the cradle and in maturity and will be of the righteous.” 3:47-48 She said, “My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?” [The angel] said, “Such is Allah ; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.  And He will teach him writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel.

19: 18 – 35 She said, “Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allah .” He said, “I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy.”

She said, “How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?” He said, “Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter [already] decreed.’ ”  So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, “Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.”

But he called her from below her, “Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream.  And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates.  So eat and drink and be contented. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say, ‘Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.’ “

Then she brought him to her people, carrying him. They said, “O Mary, you have certainly done a thing unprecedented.  O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste.”

So she pointed to him. They said, “How can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child?”

[Jesus] said, “Indeed, I am the servant of Allah . He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet.  And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah as long as I remain alive.  And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.”  That is Jesus, the son of Mary – the word of truth about which they are in dispute.  It is not [befitting] for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is.

What the KORAN teaches about MARY

https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2015/12/18/what-islam-really-teaches-about-virgin-mary

IF YOU WISH TO EXPLORE MORE OF THE KORAN ON YOUR OWN, GO TO:   https://quran.com/      (Choose ENGLISH  translation on top right of the web page)

D. Can you embrace the concept that whenever two people share the news of a pregnancy with joy (or GOOD NEWS of any kind), they are caught up in the same spiritual and emotional realities of the Annunciation and Visitation and other faith events?   Why or why not?

E. Have you ever made a conscious connection with your own experiences and the biblical ones?  If you have, what has that experience been like?  In doing so now enliven your faith?  If you are a secularist, how might these and other birth stories affirm your own humanity?

F. Explore sharing “Good News” of any kind with significant people in your life.  Include such “Annunciation and Visitation Moments” as opening your first college acceptance letter, or Marriage Proposal, Engagement Announcement, job promotions or the beginning of any new enterprise.  I am sure you will discover a lot of common ground here as the parallels are endless.

G. Now here’s my rationale for these questions:  Moments of “GOOD NEWS” have a universal, mystical quality about them as if we are “suspended outside of time and place.” When, as people of faith, we allow ourselves to be caught up in these moments, we believe we are experiencing God.  This is one of our many opportunities to see Scriptures as our autobiographies.  For those more skeptical about owning moments as “experiences of God,” how might you describe these kind of events and experiences of sharing “Good News?”

[1] I want to emphasize the Hebrew word TANAKH in sensitivity to our Jewish friends.  What Christians call “The Old Testament” is actually the writings of The First Covenant, i.e. God’s covenant with Israel—the descendants of Jacob aka Israel.  The Covenant through Jesus for Christians is truly a Second Covenant. The Jews call their books TANAKH and so we respect them by using this title rather than “Old Testament.”  Contemporary Christians affirm the validity of God’s Covenant with Israel grounded in Paul’s Letter to the Romans 11: 29 and in the Catholic Ecumenical Council known as Vatican II (1963-65) in the document NOSTRA AETATE (“In Our Time”) See http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html  n truth the people of Christian History have been disrespectful of Judaism and contributed to anti-Semitism and violence against the Jewish people.  Yet, Judaism constitutes the very foundation of Jesus and therefore Christianity.  In that way our ancestors neglected to observe the Fourth Commandment (Catholics) aka Fifth Commandment (Orthodox Christians and Protestants): Honor your Father and your Mother.

MEDITATION on the ANNUNCIATION

Prepared for YOU by Fr. James DiLuzio CSP

Let’s focus more on the ANGEL experience and the topic of Miracles. Whether or not you are open to believe in angels, many people have what they call a NUMINOUS experience or an experience of sublime, positive energy that is akin to what is depicted here in what the Christian tradition calls, “The Annunciation,” the great announcement of the angel Gabriel to Mary.  However you choose to identify the situation, whether you understand it as a divine intervention or simply a personal, deep inspiration or premonition of what God is capable of, a powerful CHAIN REACTION occurs—an overflow of hope and all of its possibilities.  

For Christians, being designated as “full of grace,” or “full of God’s favor” provides the necessary condition for humanity to be open to the miraculous—that is in this part of the Gospel to angels, to their inspiration and to what God may achieve.  In evidence here is the biblical truth that God loves us First, that God’s love initiates all things.  In this case, Mary’s assent is a response to God’s love that inaugurates the miracle of a virgin conceiving a child without a human male’s contribution. In religious language we call this miracle “INCARNATION”—God becoming fully human in order to identify with the human condition in all of its fullness beginning in and with the fertilized ovum or embryo attaching to a virgin’s womb. Believing in that, of course, is a matter of faith, both faith in miracles and faith in the claims of Christianity.  

Some say that one is either open to the mystery of the miraculous, the suspension of the laws of physics, biology, natural phenomena, or one is not.  At the same time, some miracles can be explained scientifically without in any way detracting from a belief that God is acting in the world.  Still, some phenomena such as Messiah’s conception in Mary’s womb cannot be explained scientifically at all.   

Here are some questions for discussion:

QUESTION 1: To what degree do you feel compelled to insist on explanations for all events of your life or world history? What motivates you to take a leap of faith?  What are your personal obstacles to faith?

QUESTION 2: Does a scientific explanation for an event dismiss the possibility of God’s intervention in history or participation in it?  Similarly, can the “miracles” of modern science –the ability to engage in organ transplants, cure diseases – be also understood as God’s spirit at work in the world?  Are they any less “miraculous,” in being explained in medical terms? 

QUESTION 3Can you agree that “mystery” is a common human experience whether one follows or does not follow a religion? 

QUESTION 4: Discuss the benefits and burdens of each worldview, i.e.

a. belief in miracles

b. the power of God or of “goodness” working through people

c. trust in mystery 

d. rejection of all of the above concepts

QUESTION 5: Whether or not you find yourself open to the miraculous or unexplainable phenomenon, what do you think is the meaning and purpose of Mary’s virgin conception of Jesus?  

QUESTION 6: Christians uphold a belief in the Incarnation — God becoming human in, through and as Jesus of Nazareth, but one doesn’t have to be Christian to explore this aspect of our faith, that is, that “God shares in all dynamics of the human condition.”  To what extent to those upholding other religions and spiritualities uphold or explore that statement? Discuss how or how not “God or “Your Higher Power” or “The Cosmos” share in all dynamics of the human condition.”  In secular terms: “we all participate in something greater than ourselves, be it beauty, truth, hope, justice, mercy, compassion, love beyond all telling.” 

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Homily by Fr. James DiLuzio CSP (Biblical Readings follow at the end of the homily.)

Long before Freud, Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences and Psychology, there was the Bible with precepts and laws to govern human behavior.  Evidently, we humans think of anything and everything and thus required mandates and prohibitions from on high: Do this, don’t do that!  Then, as now, guidelines remain essential for humanity’s survival.  God mandates that we all get along. 

Moreover, our Covenant with God insists we have a future to build, goals to achieve. From the beginning, God, in God’s infinite Wisdom, desired human participation in building an earthly kingdom to prepare every person for heaven.  Whether we like it or not, Cooperation with God and Reverence for all God’s creation –people, animals, nature, things– have been, and always will be, part of God’s plan. 

The Signs of our Times demand this.  We can no longer perpetuate the sins of our ancestors. Nor can we afford to succumb to neglect of vital issues they ignored. We were baptized into “kingdom building:” Each of us destined to make our mark advancing equality, justice with mercy.  Our Eucharistic Spirituality insists “everyone belongs,” everyone is respected.  Cultures may separate us.  Economies and politics divide us. But Jesus unites us.  Remember, Our Savior never accepted the status quo, never defaulted to convenience and comfort when improvements could be made.  He insisted on new wine poured into new wineskins, knowing full well that, without his help, our fallible nature will keep us cultivating the old.

Yes, Jesus acquainted Himself with temptation for our sake. He understood the allures of self-aggrandizement, and one-upmanship.  He knew well that we prefer comfort and security at the expense of integrity and hope.  He knew we would sin; He knew we cause harm to ourselves and others. Therefore, he insisted that we reconcile with one another—never lording another’s faults or flaws or wickedness over him or her, but instead,  acknowledging our own temptations as we strive to  reconcile wrongdoers to the better way: the 10 Commandments and the Beatitudes.  These are our litmus tests for our behavior and everyone else’s.  We must hold ourselves and others accountable if we are ever to move forward to a true communion of Saints.  But we must not be “holier than thou” for    condescension and condemnation never win over anyone.

Today’s Readings remind us we are to warn the wicked to turn from evil ways while making every effort not to become wicked ourselves.  Who among us has not been betrayed?  Who hasn’t been put down, scorned, unforgiven?  Whose most cherished beliefs and values have not been dismissed or scorned? Evil beckons whenever these affronts occur. We must remember what Jesus knew 2,000 years ago:   Because everyone suffers, deal with the suffering others cause by addressing one problem at a time, one person at a time.   That is the most humbling approach; only true humility will work things out.

Naturally, it is easier to be humble with people we know and love.  When we witness wrongdoing, when we or others we care about get hurt, we usually need to vent first –expunge the anger, the outrage, the hurt so that we may cool off.  It is fitting, then, to vent to God and to loved ones before we address our offenders.  Still, we are obliged to let them know not only that the Church expect better of them, but that we know they are capable of better behavior.  Trusting in another person’s better self is the way to broach wrongdoing.  As disciples In Christ, it is the only way.

Of course, when dealing with people we do not love, Jesus’ prescription is next to impossible to follow on our own.  It is especially difficult with people who have authority over us -a manager, a boss, a benefactor.  In fairness, if we do not feel safe –-emotionally or physically, one-on-one reconciliation can be unworkable without the help of others.  Thankfully, Jesus says, “take one or two along with you.”  Thank God those folks are in our lives!  But even then, the step we often miss, or refuse to take, before we attempt to reconcile is prayer—praying alone and with those who support us. Prayer will fortify us to move forward. Notice how Jesus’ precept on reconciliation concludes with his insistence on prayer.     

Prayer will prepare us to handle uncontrite offenders by placing us in solidarity with Jesus on the cross, who, out of compassion, forgave the unrepentant. And although we may need to start with “pity,” (the lesser cousin of compassion), prayer, and perseverance in prayer, will, in time, move pity to empathy. For isn’t it sad when we are, or anyone is, mean?  Isn’t it a shame that people can choose to hurt, to offend, cause harm to any person, to any animal, to anything on which goodness, truth and health depend?  Isn’t it a pity when we denigrate our being made-in-God’s-image by clinging so tightly to the past that we refuse to move forward to advance human destiny toward the Kingdom of God?

Pity may be the pivotal point of redemption for reconciliation and getting along. Was not compassion for sinners the reason for Jesus’ incarnation?  We must cultivate a daily consciousness that we are always in need of a Savior and embrace the Thanksgiving in this and every Eucharist.   Without Jesus, we have no true humility. Without humility we find little recourse to prayer. Without prayer, we have little pity for the sinner—be it our own sins or anyone else’s.  So, let us pray:  

“For every person our lives have touched, for every person whose life has touched ours, for good and for ill, whether known or unknown to us, Lord, have pity!  Strengthen the gifts of Your Holy Spirt in us.  Nurture us in patience and humility that inspire reconciliation, and sustain us in faith, hope, and love.  Let Your Kingdom come.”

Lectionary: 127

Reading 1

EZ 33:7-9

Thus says the LORD:
You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;
when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ”
and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,
the wicked shall die for his guilt,
but I will hold you responsible for his death.
But if you warn the wicked,
trying to turn him from his way,
and he refuses to turn from his way,
he shall die for his guilt,
but you shall save yourself.

Responsorial Psalm

PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8) If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading 2

ROM 13:8-10

Brothers and sisters:
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another;
for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery;
you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet, ”
and whatever other commandment there may be,
are summed up in this saying, namely,
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 
Love does no evil to the neighbor;
hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Alleluia

2 COR 5:19

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

MT 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If your brother sins against you,
go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. 
If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.
If he does not listen,
take one or two others along with you,
so that ‘every fact may be established
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. 
If he refuses to listen even to the church,
then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.
Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Again, amen, I say to you,
if two of you agree on earth
about anything for which they are to pray,
it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. 
For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”