Tuesday, January 14, 2014




(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican on Tuesday morning. Commenting on the readings of the day, the Holy Father offered four models of the believer, with a view to developing his reflection on the nature of Christian witness.
 Pope Francis spoke of Jesus, the scribes, Eli the priest, and his two priestly sons, who were priests as well. He said that the Gospel offers an example of Jesus’ own catechetical attitude: the Lord taught as one who had authority – and not as the scribes, who, in their teaching and preaching, tended to bind people with many heavy burdens, and the poor people could not go on:

“It is Jesus himself who says that [the scribes] did not move these things even with a finger, right? And then He will say say to people: ‘Do what they say but not what they do!’ [They are] incoherent people. It always seems – doesn’t it? – that these scribes and Pharisees are always beating on the [regular folks]. ‘You must do this, this and this…’ to the poor people. Jesus told them – told the scribes and Pharisees – that in this way, they closed the door to the Kingdom of Heaven, [as if to say], ‘You don’t let others enter, and so neither will you yourselves gain entrance.’ This is how some people teach, preach and witness the faith…and how many people out there think that the faith really is as they present it.”

In the First Reading, from the Book of Samuel, Pope Francis explained that the figure of Eli, who disparages the humble lady who prays after the simple manner of the common people for the gift of a son, represents the “salesman” or “manager” of the faith – a tepid priest whose heart wasn’t really in it.

“How many times,” said Pope Francis, “do God's people feel themselves unloved by those who ought to give witness: by Christians – by lay faithful, by priests, by bishops ... ‘But [these] poor bumpkins [It. “povera gente”] do not understand anything ... one needs to do a degree in theology to understand.’ Why, then, do I have some sympathy for this man, [Eli]? Because in his heart he still had the anointing, because when the woman explains her situation, Eli says, ‘Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant you what you asked for.’ The priestly anointing comes out in the end: he had hidden it inside his laziness, poor man, a lukewarm man, and it ends badly for him, poor fellow.”

Eli’s sons, explained Pope Francis, represent a third model of the witnessing believer. “They were brigands,” he said, “they were priests, but [they were also] brigands,” who chased after power and money. They exploited the people took advantage of alms, gifts – and the Lord punishes them powerfully. The Holy Father explained that the sons are figures of the corrupt Christian – like Judas – who betrays Jesus.

Then, Pope Francis went on to explain, there is the fourth model: Jesus himself, who teaches with the power and authority of his own holiness, by being close to people – to sinners especially – pardoning the adulteress and talking theology with the Samaritan woman – seeking genuinely to heal people’s wounded hearts:

“Let us ask the Lord that these two readings help us in our lives as Christians: all of us, each of us in his own place – [let us learn] not to be pure legalists, hypocrites like the scribes and Pharisees. Let us not be corrupt like the sons of Eli, nor to be lukewarm as Eli himself, but to be like Jesus, with that zeal to seek the people, heal people, to love people, and with this to say: ‘But if I do this tiny little thing, little as I am, think about how God loves you, think about how your Father is!’ Let us ask for this grace.”

Text from Vatican Radio website 


Tuesday of the First week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 306

Reading 1                1 SM 1:9-20

Hannah rose after a meal at Shiloh,
and presented herself before the LORD;
at the time, Eli the priest was sitting on a chair
near the doorpost of the LORD’s temple.
In her bitterness she prayed to the LORD, weeping copiously,
and she made a vow, promising: “O LORD of hosts,
if you look with pity on the misery of your handmaid,
if you remember me and do not forget me,
if you give your handmaid a male child,
I will give him to the LORD for as long as he lives;
neither wine nor liquor shall he drink,
and no razor shall ever touch his head.”
As she remained long at prayer before the LORD,
Eli watched her mouth, for Hannah was praying silently;
though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard.
Eli, thinking her drunk, said to her,
“How long will you make a drunken show of yourself?
Sober up from your wine!”
“It isn’t that, my lord,” Hannah answered.
“I am an unhappy woman.
I have had neither wine nor liquor;
I was only pouring out my troubles to the LORD.
Do not think your handmaid a ne’er-do-well;
my prayer has been prompted by my deep sorrow and misery.”
Eli said, “Go in peace,
and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
She replied, “Think kindly of your maidservant,” and left.
She went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband,
and no longer appeared downcast.
Early the next morning they worshiped before the LORD,
and then returned to their home in Ramah.

When Elkanah had relations with his wife Hannah,
the LORD remembered her.
She conceived, and at the end of her term bore a son
whom she called Samuel, since she had asked the LORD for him.

Responsorial Psalm                 1 SM 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8ABCD

R. (see 1) My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“My heart exults in the LORD,
my horn is exalted in my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies;
I rejoice in my victory.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“The bows of the mighty are broken,
while the tottering gird on strength.
The well-fed hire themselves out for bread,
while the hungry batten on spoil.
The barren wife bears seven sons,
while the mother of many languishes.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“The LORD puts to death and gives life;
he casts down to the nether world;
he raises up again.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
he humbles, he also exalts.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“He raises the needy from the dust;
from the dung heap he lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles
and make a glorious throne their heritage.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.

Gospel                       MK 1:21-28

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers,
and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!”
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
“What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.



(Vatican Radio) A meeting took place today in the Vatican between the Secretary of State, Cardinal designate Pietro Parolin and the Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry. The US Secretary of State is currently engaged in an international diplomatic tour to promote a peace accord between Israeli's and Palestinians as well as the successful outcome of the “Geneva 2” Conference for peace in Syria, scheduled for the 22nd of January. The Head of the Vatican Press Office, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi made the following statement regarding the meeting:

“ This morning the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry met with his Vatican counterpart , Cardinal designate Pietro Parolin. This meeting was extremely important; and intensive as it lasted an hour and forty minutes. Also present at this meeting were the United States Ambassador to the Holy See and three staff members of the United State's Secretary of State. Present for the Vatican beside the Secretary of State were the Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Mamberti and two other Curia officials versed in the related discussions.
The encounter was extremely fruitful and rich in content. The main topics discussed clearly centred around Middle East issues and in particular the Syrian situation, in view of the Geneva Peace Conference to shceduled to take place this January. Naturally the concerns and hopes of the Holy See were discussed, as also expressed in the speech the Pope delivered to the Diplomatic Corps yesterday. That’s to say the desire for a pacific solution to the conflict and a commitment for humanitarian aid for the populations so deeply affected by the crisis. Also discussed was the theme of negotiations between Israel and Palestine, in an effort to encourage, pursue and hopefully achieve the aspired for positive result.
The African continent was also a subject of conversation. In particular the situation in Sudan which has recently become increasingly dramatic. It is hoped that the mediation underway for a an agreement between parties may reach satisfactory results.
The theme of the United States was also touched upon and the Holy See expressed its concern, shared by the bishops of the United States, regarding rules regulating the health reform relating to guaranteeing freedom of religion and conscientous objection. Discussed too was the President of the United State’s plan to contrast poverty and improve the situation for the most needy areas of the population.
The mood of the meeting was a positive one. It was a constructive encounter, an important one and the length of time it lasted is indicative of its underlying significance."
Text from Vatican Radio website 


ASIA NEWS REPORT: Four unknown men visited the home of Rev Sanjeevulu, head of the 'Friends of Hebron.' After beating beat him and stabbing him seven times, they also attacked his wife, who managed to escape. Christians who asked for justice were arrested by the authorities. "Although the motive of the attack is not yet known," said a Christian leader, "It could be premeditated murder."

Hyderabad (AsiaNews) - A group of strangers murdered an evangelical pastor in Andhra Pradesh and tried to kill his wife as well before they fled the scene of the crime.
At present, the government appears unable to deliver justice in the case, but was able to arrest a group of Christians who demonstrated to demand the arrest of the culprits.
The murder victim, Rev Sanjeevulu, died yesterday after two days of suffering.
According to some sources, on the afternoon of 11 January four men visited Rev Sanjeevulu's home in Vikarabad, a village that is 64 kilometres from the state capital of Hyderabad. The clergyman heads a group called the 'Friends of Hebron'.
On the doorstep of the reverend's home, the men said they wanted to "pray with the pastor," but as soon as he came out, they stabbed him seven times and beat him with clubs and sticks.
After she heard screams, Sanjeevulu's wife rushed to him, whereupon the attackers tried to kill her as well. Although she was stabbed, she luckily managed to escape and survived.
The pastor was admitted to Yashoda hospital (pictured) where, despite medical treatment, he died yesterday afternoon from his stab wounds.
The day after the attack, many Christians and friends of the clergyman went to the hospital where they expressed their sorrow for the attack.
Christian leaders in Hyderabad organised a dharna (sit-in protest) demanding justice from the government.
Some of the faithful marched outside the offices of the Chief Minister to demand the arrest of the culprits, but were themselves arrested.
Police did announce that it was launching an investigation into the incident.
Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Churches, told AsiaNewsthat he was "deeply saddened" by the murder of the clergyman.
"Although the motive of the attack is not yet known, we must strongly condemn the fact that anti-Christian persecution has made a comeback in Andhra Pradesh. We need to see justice done," George said.

"Approximately three months ago," he added, "we know that Sanjeevulu had a heated discussion with some members of a Hindu fundamentalist group, who threatened him. It could be premeditated murder."  (N.C.)


St. Sava
Feast: January 14

Feast Day:January 14
Died:January 14, 1235, Tarnovgrad, Bulgariaa
Major Shrine:Temple of Saint Sava (Belgrade)
Patron of:Serbia
Born, Rastko, he was the third son of Stephen I Nemanja (r. 1167-1196), ruler of Serbia. In 1191, he went to Mount Athos, where he took the name Sava and became a monk. He was joined there five years later by his father, who had abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Stephen. With his father, Sava established on Mount Athos the monastery of Khilander (Hilandar), which emerged as one of the leading monastic centers for the Serbians. Sava returned to Serbia in 1208 and became archimandrite of Studenica, using the post to wield considerable political and religious influence throughout the kingdom.

He opposed his brother's religious policy of treating with the Holy See and in 1219 was consecrated the metropolitan of an independent Serbian Church by the patriarch of Nicaea with the approval of the Byzantine emperor, who was much in favor of keeping Serbia within the sphere of Greek Orthodox influence. Sava worked to establish dioceses throughout Serbia, promoted native clergy, built churches, and translated numerous religious texts into Serbian. In 1229, he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, returning there in 1233 to win recognition of the Bulgarian patriarch from the patriarchs of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch. he died while on his way home, at Tirnovo, Bulgaria.

(Taken from Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints



During this season last year TIME MAGAZINE released a cover photo showing that the abortion industry is declining. This issue was to mark the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. On the cover they say, "40 years ago, abortion-rights acitivists won an epic vitory with Roe V. Wade; they've been losing ever since". The article on the subject in this issue is very pro-life, It was written by Emily Buchannon and gives some factual statistics and insights. One poingnent excerpt notes, "Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” It is in this same spirit of King and the original feminists that young pro-life women are rising up in increasing numbers to say abortion is a radical injustice that affects us all and must end." They even produced a video about the "weakening pro-choice movement":

The March for Life in Washington DC takes place every year to protest Abortion; normally over 400, 000 people attend.  To join the thousands in the Nation's capitol please SEE


Agenzia Fides REPORT - The Iranian security authorities arrested four Iranian Christians, gathered together in a house to celebrate the New Year with a moment of prayer in the town of Karaj. The police broke into the house, beat and arrested Sara Rahimi – Nejad, Mostafa Nadri, Majid Sheidaei and George Isaiah, transferring them to an unknown location. As reported in a note sent to Fides by "Mohabat News", Iranian Christian news agency, the police in plainclothes seized personal belongings, books, notes, computers, CDs and DVDs. In past days, the families of the four, who went to the prison in Evin were told to go away. During the Christmas period, another group of Christians had been arrested: Faegheh Nasrollahi, Mastaneh Rastegari, Amir Hossein -Nematollahi, Ahmad Bazyar and Hosseini, who gathered in a house church in Tehran.
According to Fides sources, the pressure on the Christian community in Iran intensifies during the Christmas and New Year season: the police carry out raids to discourage the faithful who get together in so-called "house churches", considered to be illegal and dangerous. 
Often the police try to extort confessions in which Christian prisoners admit to being "paid from abroad to promote Christianity in Iran".
According to a recent report by the NGO "Open Doors" Iran is among the top ten countries in the world where Christians are most persecuted. (PA) 

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