12Jun 12 June, 2020. Friday of Week 10

1st Reading: 1 Kings 19:9-16

Elijah’s encounter with God, at the cave on Mount Horeb

Elijah came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”

He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.

Responsorial: Psalm 27

R./: It is your face, O Lord, that I seek

Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks. (R./)

Your presence, O Lord, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off. (R./)

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew 5:27-32

Jesus’ words about chastity, scandal and divorce

Jesus said to his disciples,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”


Elijah’s Prayer

Today’s responsorial psalm is the prayer of one who sincerely seeks the true God. “It is your face, O Lord, that I seek.” We can identify with that psalm, because we are all to some extent seekers. What we are ultimately searching for is none other than God, the origin of our being and the final destiny of our lives. As St Augustine famously put it, “You have made us for yourself, o Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

It is the seeker in all of us that makes us pilgrims, on a journey towards the fully disclosed presence of our God. Elijah the prophet was clearly such a seeker as he set out on his journey to the mountain of God, Mount Sinai, or Mount Horeb, as it was also called. In a cave in that mountain, he met the divine presence, but not in the way he would have expected, in fire or storm or earthquake. God’s presence was revealed in a and quiet way — in what the reading calls, “the sound of a gentle breeze.” Another translation expresses it as a “sound of sheer silence.”

Such silence is not easy to come by in our noisy times. Yet, it is where the Lord can be most clearly heard. And we often have to seek it in order to find it. To seek silence is, in a very real way, to seek the Lord, because it is where we become most attuned to the Lord’s passing by.


Keeping pornography off our screens

The words of Jesus about the ideal of perfect chastity are counter-cultural in today’s widespread ignoring of this virtue. Apart from the challenge to couples of remaining faithful to each other, today’s Gospel has a stern warning against unchaste thoughts and desires. It seems that internet pornography is rampant and addictive to many today. There’s a cybersex compulsion often fostered by pornography on the internet.

It’s a big problem, and a big business. Online pornography is driven by three factors: 1. Anonymity (real or imagined); 2. availability (24/7); and 3. affordability (many sites are free or inexpensive). A number of factors may be drawing viewers to pornography, such as overwork, loneliness or immature spirit. For a workaholic, pornography may seem a risk-free stress-reliever; for a lonely or socially anxious person it offers the illusion of being connected with others; and for an immature character it can be the shadow side of a double life, often marked by a perfect observance of external rules and rigid, black-and-white thinking. People with other addictive behaviours are at risk of adopting internet pornography as a form of self-medication.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in par. 2339 calls chastity an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom . – We guard our dignity when, getting rid of slavery to the passions, we press on with freely choosing what is good. Later, in par. 2520 (“The Battle for Purity”) it says: “The baptized must continue to struggle against concupiscence of the flesh and disordered desires.”


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