The Mount Nyiragongo is an active stratovolcano with an elevation of 3,470 m (11,385 ft) in the Virunga Mountains, associated with the Albertine Rift. It is located inside Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, about 12 km (7.5 mi) north of the town of Goma and Lake Kivu and just west of the border with Rwanda. In this area are working the Pallottine Missionary Sisters and the Pallottine Fathers.
It was on 22nd May in the evening, when the Nyiragongo Volcano erupted. What people there are experiencing today is beyond human imagination!
“When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.’ And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Do you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.”-Luke 2:48-51
It is fitting that this celebration of the heart of Mary should follow the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. For most of us clinically minded moderns, it takes a bit of quiet reflection to get into the spirit of this heart-talk. Obviously, we are not celebrating cardiac muscles here, wonders of creation though they are. The heart has long been the symbol of the center or interior of the human person—especially as the seat of our deepest thoughts and desires. To speak of the human heart this way is to name what makes us most human. And to speak of the hearts of Mary and Jesus is to get to the heart of the mystery of the Incarnation itself.
This is one of our most powerful feasts, but it has not always been well served by the “artists” who make and sell religious objects. Jesus with blood dripping from his heart does not stimulate my devotion, anyway. Likewise, some of the prayers connected with devotion to the Sacred Heart strike me as putting the focus on ourselves—human sin and wrong-doing—rather than on God and the redeeming power of that love poured out in Jesus.
2 Corinthians 3:15—4:1, 3-6
Psalm 85:9ab and 10, 11-12, 13-14
In today’s first reading Paul reminds the Corinthians that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And in today’s gospel reading the Spirit of the Lord was certainly on Jesus, as he spoke with authority about commandments they were all too familiar with. With freedom conferred by the Spirit he critiqued not the command itself, but the understanding attached to it by Scribes and Pharisees, whose righteousness was not enough to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
2 Corinthians 3:4-11; Matthew 5:17-19
There is a wonderful short line in 2 Cor 3:6. It comes at the end of the first paragraph of the first reading used at Mass today: "The written law kills, but the Spirit gives life." The volumes that have been written about the contrast of law and spirit in our lives testify that for many Christians this opposition touches on something deep, pervasive, and recurring.
What if I would set out today to perform one action that comes not from the law but from the Spirit? What might that action be? An unexpected word of encouragement to a struggling co-worker? A gratuitous word of interest in the activities of a son, daughter, or parent?
2 Corinthians 1:18-22; Matthew 5:13-16
We are all capable of being salt and light. We can heal and flavor and preserve just as salt does. We can all be lights in the small corner of the world where we live. We can bring light into the dark, provide light to find the lost and to find the way. We all can be the source of warmth. We can do that because “God has put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts.”
In this week’s Gospel…we read the beautiful Beatitudes…a favorite of mine. I have had a copy of the Beatitudes often on my desk, or behind my computer, or posted in my journal…it is often used as my cue for me to ‘push the pause button’; to stop and contemplate my own blessings in life, to reflect if I am aligned with my values, my purpose and my direction in life; and it is a time for me to re-evaluate. The word Blessed gives me pause, what is its meaning and how do I interpret the word? Blessing is a positive word, a fulfilling word, a loving word, a caring word and its interpretation in the Beatitudes is reflective of that. In a reading that explains the Beatitudes it states Blessed is “an inner joy and peace that comes with being right with God”. I find peace in that interpretation.
Genesis 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 4:13--5:1; Mark 3:20-35
A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand
Jesus tells us in our Gospel reading that ‘if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand’. If there is a war going on in our mind the solution is not to cower from the fight and seek refuge in ‘holding patterns’ that at best offer a truncated existence and at worst can be actively destructive, but instead to build the kinds of relationships that will embolden us and strengthen us carry our cross, to fight the good fight, and finally find freedom.
Every so often I am reminded, or perhaps I need to be reminded, that “it’s not about me.” I think of that when I read of Jesus saying, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces...” For these scribes, their position, and the honor due to them, was what it was all about, not the service that they rendered to others. It’s apparently a big deal to wear a long robe and get good seats. It’s what celebrities in Jesus’ time enjoyed, and I suppose people looked at the scribes as people now look at today’s celebrities and say, “How cool.”
Tobit 11:5-17; Mark 12:35-37
After entering Jerusalem, cursing the fig tree, and clearing the temple, Jesus has a series of six encounters with religious authorities — chief priests, scribes, and elders, Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees. The first five result in a variety of responses — fear of the crowd, withdrawal, utter amazement, and silence. Finally, he responds to the honest enquiry of a single scribe, who asks, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus responds by naming not only the first, the command of the Shema (Deut 6:4-5) to love God, but he also adds a second, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18). The scribe not only affirms Jesus response, but tops it, by saying the love of God and neighbor is greater than the liturgy of the temple. Jesus affirms the scribe, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dares to ask him any more questions.
'Abide in Me and bear much fruit'
Consecrated life means going to the very root of the love of Jesus Christ with an undivided heart and putting nothing ahead of this love. With this experience of getting rooted in the love of Jesus Christ, six sisters of our Indian Province, namely Sr. Evujin D’Souza, Sr. Matilda Horo, Sr. Josephine Clara, Sr. Rashmi Augustine, Sr. Nirosha Talluri and Sr. Vilma Noronha made their final commitment and dedicated their lives completely to God on 24th May 2021, in Bangalore, India. According to the Covid 19 guidelines of social distancing, the celebration was held in Vidya Deepti Pallotti Study hall. The theme for the celebration was “Abide in me and bear much fruit”.
"This is my blood..., which will be shed for many"
The lovers of this world display their generosity by giving money, clothes and various gifts, but not one of them gives his own blood. Christ gives his. In this way he demonstrates the tenderness he feels for us and his ardent love. Under the Old Law... God consented to receive the blood of sacrifices but this was just to prevent his people from offering it to false gods and, already, this was proof of a very great love. But Christ transformed this rite...; there is no longer the same sacrificial victim; it is himself he offers in sacrifice.