Thursday, January 26, 2012

Saints Timothy and Titus - Lunar New Year Images - Sunday 4B: JesusTeaches "with Authority"

Rembrandt van Rijn, St. Timothy as a child and his grandmother Lois
(cf. 2 Timothy 1.5), c. 1648


O God, who adorned Saints Timothy and Titus with apostolic virtues, grant, through the intercession of them both, that, living justly and devoutly in this present age, we may merit to reach our heavenly homeland. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Saints Timothy and Titus were two of the most beloved and trusted disciples of St. Paul, whom they accompanied in many of his journeys.

St. Timothy has been regarded by some as the "angel of the church of Ephesus", Rev 2:1-17. According to the ancient Roman martyrology he died Bishop of Ephesus.

The Bollandists (Jan. 24) give two lives of St. Timothy, one ascribed to Polycrates (an early Bishop of Ephesus, and a contemporary of St. Irenæus) and the other by Metaphrastes, which is merely an expansion of the former. The first states that during the Neronian persecution St. John arrived at Ephesus, where he lived with St. Timothy until he was exiled to Patmos under Domitian. Timothy, who was unmarried, continued Bishop of Ephesus until, when he was over eighty years of age, he was mortally beaten by the pagans.

According to early tradition Titus continued after St. Paul's death as Archbishop of Crete, and died there when he was over ninety. (Principal source - Catholic Encyclopedia - 1913 edition)

St. Paul and St. Titus

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On Monday, a few photos were posted on the parish celebration at Sheng Shen (Holy Spirit) Chinese Catholic Parish. Here are some additional photos of the exchange of greetings by the Vietnamese Parish representatives (they brought gifts of spring rolls, Oriental fruits and Canadian ice wine) and of my visit to the Chinese community and celebration of Mass with them. 

The Vietnamese choir came from Our Lady of LaVang Parish to sing at the Mass at Sheng Shen Parish; two Vietnamese priests also concelebrated the liturgy.

A few photos : 


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Meeting with Deacon Peter Fan and the Parish Executive on arrival

Meeting with Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults Team and Catechumens

The catechumens are sent forth after the homily

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Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year “B”) - January 29, 2012

[Deuteronomy 18.15-20 [Psalm 95]; 1 Corinthians 7.32-35; Mark 1.21-28]

Last Sunday's second reading ended with Paul observing, “The present form of this world is passing away”. This weekend, a similar note is struck when Paul speaks of the value of celibacy—singleness, being unmarried—so that men and women may be “concerned about the affairs of the Lord”.

Paul says this not because, as is sometimes asserted, he has a negative view of sex. His outlook is quite realistic and positive regarding human sexuality. He recognizes it as a divine blessing meant to issue in intimacy within marriage.

Beginning his mini-treatise on marriage, divorce and celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 7.1-40), Paul told the Corinthians, who thought everyone should be celibate, that, instead, “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband” (7.2-3).

Later, treating the issue of the single state, Paul praised it for allowing one to serve the Lord without distraction (“the unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord”).

By contrast, Paul said, marriage presents complications, producing divided interests. The married Christian must rightly consider how to please his or her spouse rather than concentrating on pleasing God alone (`for the married woman is concerned about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband').

In contrast with our culture, which claims the unmarried state is unhealthy and that wholeness for humans is possible only through sexual relationships, Paul reminds believers that the single state has dignity and value before God.

Through the ages, the Church has affirmed the truth of what Paul says through admiration for religious life, for the celibacy of priests in the Latin Rite and for disciples who, being single for a variety of motives, thereby offer “unhindered devotion to the Lord”.

There is only one reference in the New Testament to Jesus' celibate state, though it is everywhere presupposed. A single saying of Jesus on this theme has been preserved: “Some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19.12; New International Version).

Those who “make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom” (New Revised Standard Version) remain celibate to devote themselves fully to Christian ministry or witness. Marriage and the family are highly esteemed by disciples of Jesus. Still, exceptional people of the early community remained unmarried as a mark of their singular calling.

Jesus' single-minded devotion to heralding the Kingdom is evident from the outset. Mark's initial description of Jesus' ministry is that it presents “a new teaching—with authority!” The power in his teaching is evident when linked with an exorcism (“he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him”).

Mark stressed the impact of Jesus' teaching without telling us what feature of it displayed that authority. His focus was on the authority as such and on the people's reaction (“they were astounded”). Or, as one translator suggests, ‘they were being knocked out with astonishment’ (R. Gundry).

Mark wanted to emphasize the overwhelming power of Jesus' teaching authority. As long as Jesus taught, astonishment overwhelmed the residents of Capernaum. Mark thought it unimportant to inform his readers what Jesus said in his teaching. Instead, Mark showed that the power of Jesus' teaching authority became manifest in his casting “an unclean spirit” out of a man who came into the synagogue of Capernaum.

As Mark's gospel progresses, readers will observe Jesus working three other exorcisms (Mark 5.1-20; 7.24-30; 9.14-29). Yet Mark multiplies the impression of the extent of Jesus' exorcising activity through summary statements that generalize this feature of His ministry (cf. 1.34, 39; 3.11-12; 15, 22-23; 6.13; 9.38).

Mark identifies an exorcism as the first of Jesus' mighty acts and links the exorcism to the authoritative teaching of Jesus. The two activities coordinate and support each other, evoking astonishment and causing the fame of Jesus to spread through the surrounding Galilean countryside.

The people of Capernaum's question (“What is this?”) will soon become a question dominating the first half of Mark's gospel, “Who is this?” (4.41). ultimately, it will become the question Jesus poses to each person, “Who do you say that I am?” (8.29). [Living God's Word: Reflections on the Sunday Readings for Year B; Toronto/Montreal: Novalis, 2011, pp. 49-51]

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