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Look up the daily passages from the New American Bible online at www.usccb.org/nab/bible.SUNDAY, MAY 19, 2013
SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST
Like a strong wind—or a quiet breath
The experience of the coming of the Holy Spirit is usually associated with the incident in Jerusalem where the apostles, seven weeks after Jesus’ Resurrection, gathered to celebrate the Jewish feast Shavuot (Pentecost). Yet John’s gospel says the risen Jesus breathed the Spirit into the disciples on the evening of the Resurrection. The Hebrew and Greek word (ruah and pneuma) can mean “spirit,” “breath,” or “wind,” inviting a range of images from the intimate breath of life Jesus gave the disciples, almost as one might revive a drowning person, to the tornado-like wind that rattled their house to its foundations. However we imagine the Spirit of God, it is alive, it is strong, it moves where it will, and it is irresistible
“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”
MONDAY, MAY 20
MEMORIAL OF BERNARDINE OF SIENA, PRIEST
It’s Greek to me
IHS is the three-letter symbol of the Greek form of Jesus (Iesous Christos) that Saint Bernardine of Siena used as a devotion to Christ’s Holy Name. As a Franciscan missionary Bernardine was an Italian priest who is often credited with the title “the Apostle of Italy” for his evangelization efforts throughout that country in the 15th century. His devotion to these three letters, though simple and humble, parallel another powerful three-word phrase: “I love you.” Whether it is these three letters or words, embrace the humble beginnings of their magnificent gifts of joy, sacrifice, and salvation.
“The word of God on high is the fountain of wisdom and her ways are everlasting.”
TUESDAY, MAY 21
Children figure prominently in biblical stories as models of innocence, deserving of special care and protection. Yet child abuse, forced child labor, and even child slavery and forced military duty are all part of the world we live in. The United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of Children in the mid-1990s, and nearly every nation in the world signed on—the United States being one of only three that have not. Though the U.S. helped draft the Convention, it balked at prohibitions on the death penalty and life imprisonment for children. President Barack Obama has described the failure to ratify the Convention as “embarrassing” and has promised to review it. Put some pressure on Congress and the White House to get the job done.
“ ‘Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me.’ ”
WEDNESDAY, MAY 22
The Lord loves those who love Wisdom
At times biblical poetry sets theological distinctions aside. In some places in Hebrew scripture, for example, divine wisdom is feminine and spoken of in a way almost indistinguishable from God. While the church often uses the masculine term “Father” for God, that is not to say God is male but that God acts toward us as a loving father does. Scripture and tradition have other names for God as well. Of course the Supreme Being is ultimately beyond gender—and all description really—but human beings need human terms to express their experience of God, including that of “wise woman.”
“Wisdom breathes life into her children . . . . Those who serve her serve the Holy One.”
THURSDAY, MAY 23
Pass the salt, please
What might humble table salt have to teach us about God? Surprisingly, a lot! The Catholic Encyclopedia has an entire entry devoted to salt, noting that historically it almost always has had a sacred and religious character. As a seasoning, salt gives a kick of flavor and taste to what might otherwise be a blander meal. It’s also a preservative to keep food from going bad. The gospels use the symbol of salt to refer to Christ’s new life within us, an ingredient that indeed transforms our whole lives. How can you add some more seasoning to God’s activity in your life?
“Keep salt in yourselves and you will have peace with one another.”
FRIDAY, MAY 24
The graceful gift of friendship
The church’s present sacramental system designates seven ritual moments in the life of the church as occasions of particular grace. Any parochial school child can recite them: the initiating sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist; the healing rituals of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick; the vocations of Marriage and Holy Orders. But if there’s ever room for an eighth candidate, many might vote for a sacrament of friendship. Who hasn’t experienced their closest friends as occasions of grace? And didn’t Jesus “institute” this sacrament just as obviously in the choice of his companions from Galilee to Jerusalem? Express your gratitude to a friend today.
“Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one has found a treasure” (NRSV).
SATURDAY, MAY 25
MEMORIALS OF BEDE THE VENERABLE, PRIEST, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH; GREGORY VII, POPE; MARY MAGDALENE DE’PAZZI, VIRGIN; BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
The embers still glow
In addition to being the memorial of three saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary, today is also what used to be known as an “Ember Day.” Perhaps best known today primarily to traditional Catholics and readers of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, Ember Days, which take their name from an old English word meaning the “anniversary of a cycle,” go back to the third century. They are sets of three days during four weeks of the year that divide the church calendar into four seasons, and are set aside for fasting and abstinence. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia their purpose is to provide human beings with an opportunity to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach the use of those gifts in moderation, and to help those in need. Nearly 2,000 years later these are still good reasons to remember Ember Days.
God from the earth created man, and in his own image he made him.”
©2013 by TrueQuest Communications, L.L.C. PHONE: 800-942-2811; E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org; WEBSITE: PrepareTheWord.com Licensed for noncommercial use. All rights reserved. Scripture quotes come from the New American Bible.
Contributors: Alice Camille, Daniel Grippo, Caroline Hopkinson, Father Larry Janowski, O.F.M., Ann O'Connor, Joel Schorn, Patrice J. Tuohy, and Sister Julie Vieira, I.H.M.