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Speaking the Word of God with Authority
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – February 1, 2015
At the beginning of Mark’s story of the Son of God, we read of the calling of the first disciples (1:16-20) and the confrontation with evil (1:21-28). The calling, influenced by the compelling calls of the prophets (e.g., Isaiah 6:1-13; Jeremiah 1:14-19), is a model of discipleship. Jesus is not a solitary prophet but one who calls companions “to be with him;” he enters the lives of four people engaged in their ordinary occupations, simply says, “Follow me,” and they immediately leave everything to follow him.
The story of Jesus in the Capernaum synagogue inaugurates the first day of his ministry that consists of exorcisms and healings. The story reflects contemporary Jewish thought that the coming of God’s kingdom would mark the defeat of evil, which is personified in an array of demons and unclean spirits. Jesus’ word is so powerful that people abandon their occupations and follow him, and even demonic powers are powerless before it. Jesus summons people to a change of heart, to take a new look at their lives and put their trust in the good news. This is not simply a story from the past, but one that continues to speak powerfully and prophetically to people today.
On this Fourth Sunday of Ordinary time, both the first reading (Deuteronomy 18:15-20) and the Gospel (Mark 1:21-28) raise the issue of the authority of those who speak the Word of God. Authentic prophets taught with authority because God put his own words into their mouths. In the first reading, Moses tells the people that God will send a prophet from the line of the Israelites. God commands everyone to listen to this prophet, who we come to recognize as Jesus.
Jesus astonishes the people in the Capernaum synagogue with his teaching and authority. He taught with authority because he is the living Word of God. We are all witnesses to this living Word who is Jesus. We have no authority of our own; we simply proclaim his Word. Each member of the Church, by virtue of baptism and confirmation, has a prophetic role, and echoes the Word of God himself, both by words and example. We must walk our talk!
Two of the most misused and misunderstood words in our day are “prophet” and “prophetic.” In the popular mind, prophets fall into some well-worn stereotypes, always standing outside, protesting the system. They might be dressed poorly, shouting out and embarrassing the polite and the elite! For many such prophets, anger seems to be a signature emotion.
Yet in the Bible, prophecy often looks very different. There were certainly those lone prophets like Elijah and John the Baptist, but more often prophets were fully integrated into the “systems” and “structures” of their times. Think of Jeremiah, who came from the fallen priestly house of Eli; and Ezekiel, Zechariah and Isaiah were also priests and prophets of the court. Prophets appeared in the courts of the kings of Israel. In the moving story of King David, the prophet Nathan rebuked the king for adultery and murder but he was also capable of some rather discrete maneuvering in his efforts to put Solomon on the throne!
Authentic prophets were strident opponents of the status quo. They recognized and felt the injustice that kings and priests and false prophets wanted to whitewash. They shared the groans of the oppressed poor, of widows, orphans and the dispossessed, and articulated those groans in cries of woe. They denounced the system, but denounced a system in which they were often enmeshed. They experienced deeply what was wrong with that system, and did everything they could to bring about change from within the system.
It’s far too easy to denounce from a distance. Gestures of repudiation and condemnation cost so little, and adding the term prophetic may lend an aura of piety, importance and savvy to one’s reputations and works. But they don’t accomplish their goal of bringing about conversion, transformation and renewal.
Prophets in the Bible cannot afford gestures. They are called to speak the word of the Lord from within the court, often wreaking havoc in the process! Authentic prophets spoke the truth face-to-face with power, to powerful men and women whom the prophets knew intimately, frequently from their own position of power. And often, the prophets were in the employ of those whom they challenged!
Finally, a word on our own “prophetic” efforts to bring about change in the Church. I will be forever grateful to the late Jesuit Cardinal Avery Dulles for having instilled these ideas in my mind and heart years ago. The then Father Dulles said that reformers ought to speak prophetically. This may well be true, provided that the nature of prophecy be correctly understood. Father said that St. Thomas Aquinas made an essential distinction between prophecy as it functioned in the Old Testament and as it functions within the Church. The ancient prophets were sent for two purposes: “To establish the faith and to rectify behavior.” In our day, Father Dulles continued, “the faith is already founded, because the things promised of old have been fulfilled in Christ. But prophecy which has as its goal to rectify behavior neither ceases nor will ever cease.”
How do we speak the Word of God with authority today? How do we use our authority to further the Kingdom of God? How are our words, gestures, messages and lives prophetic today, in the Church and in the world?
[The readings for this Sunday are: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; and Mark 1:21-28]
Please call and email your state Senators with this message, “I urge you to vote against the appointment of Pedro Cortes to serve as Pennsylvania Secretary of State. He failed to stop abortionist Kermit Gosnell by failing to shut down his dangerous abortion operation.”
If you do not know who your state Senator is, or you need his or her contact information, please go to http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/#address and insert your address. A window will pop up with the name of your state Senator and his or her contact info.
This is a state issue, not a federal one, so please do not call or email U.S. Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey.
For background information about Cortes and his connection to the Gosnell scandal, please go to http://www.lifenews.com/2015/01/13/he-failed-to-inspect-kermit-gosnells-abortion-clinic-
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World Meeting of Families:The Patrons
The WMOF-Philadelphia has designated two patron saints for the event in the City of Brotherly Love this fall. One is Pope St. John Paul II; the other is an Italian woman named Gianna Molla. Who was she? What was her claim to sanctity of life? Watch the video below to gain insight into this exemplary woman of faith!
World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 Debuts Official Hymn for September 2015 Event Entitled “Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom” – the hymn will serve as the musical cornerstone for celebration of this triennial global event
The World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015, being held September 22-27, 2015, and featuring Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States, has debuted the official hymn for this international gathering. Entitled “Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom,” the hymn draws inspiration from the theme for the 2015 World Meeting of Families, “Love is our mission: the family fully alive,” as well as the Roman Missal and Sacred Scripture. It was first performed by the Cathedral Choir during the Offertory Procession of the November 30th Sunday evening Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul celebrated by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Selected by a committee led by Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre; Father G. Dennis Gill, Director of the Office for Worship of the Archdiocese; and Dr. John Romeri, Director of Music for the Archdiocese; “Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom” was formally approved as the official hymn by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the co-sponsor of the 2015 World Meeting of Families with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The hymn tune, PHILADELPHIA, was written by composer Normand Gouin, former music director at Old St. Joseph in Philadelphia, who currently serves as a Musician and Liturgist at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. The text was penned by Fr. Andrew Ciferni, O.Praem, a nationally-known liturgist, teacher and scholar who is a native of South Philadelphia.
“Following the joyous news that Pope Francis will join us in Philadelphia next year, this hymn will further inspire all of us as we prepare for the 2015 World Meeting of Families,” said Archbishop Chaput. “This event has the power to transform the lives of families – both Catholic and non-Catholic alike – in positive and charismatic ways. I’m confident that this hymn will affirm that spirit. With its powerful words and melody, ‘Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom’ is an excellent choice for our official hymn and I hope it encourages all who hear it to deepen their daily relationship with God and with their own families in significant ways.”
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World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia, 2015: NOW OPEN FOR REGISTRATION
November 10, 2014
P R E S S R E L E A S E
World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 Opens Registration and Announces Keynote Speakers & Content
Baltimore, MD (November 10, 2014) – In remarks offered today at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fall Assembly, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. announced that registration for the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015, which is being held September 22-25, 2015 in Philadelphia, PA, is now officially open. Individual registrants and families can register via Worldmeeting2015.org/Plan-your- visit/Register for the four day Congress at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and also book hotel rooms for Congress days through the website. Multiple registration and pricing options are available, allowing delegates to select a package that best suits their needs. There is also an option available for registrants to seek out local host families through Homestay.com via http://www.worldmeeting2015.org/plan-your-visit/places-stay/.
The World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 will offer an Adult Congress and a Youth Congress for ages 6- 17. There will also be a licensed daycare for children under the age of six. The Adult Congress, for ages 18 and older, will consist of keynote presentations and breakout sessions that address the many ways in which families can strengthen their bonds, especially in the face of the significant challenges facing the family globally in the 21st century. The Youth Congress will provide interactive programs designed for young people to play, listen, serve, build, and embrace the mission of love in a family.
“The World Meeting of Families will deal with a wide range of family issues where our faith is both needed and tested,” said Archbishop Chaput at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Fall General Assembly. “These are matters that affect families not only here in the United States but on a global scale. So we want to focus next year not just on the neuralgic sexual issues that seem to dominate the American media, but on things like the family and poverty, the family and addiction, the family and children with disabilities, the loss of a spouse, the effect of divorce and co-parenting, health and wellness as building blocks to preserving the family, creating real intimacy between husband and wife, the challenges of raising children, the role of grandparents, the parish as a support community for families, and similar themes. And we want to involve the whole community in this celebration, which is why we’ve included Jewish, Mormon, Muslim and Protestant presenters on issues that we all share – regardless of confessional divides.”
In addition to announcing the opening of registration, Archbishop Chaput also spoke about the impressive roster of influential leaders and scholars that the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 will bring together to discuss the critical issues facing the family worldwide. Nearly 100 renowned speakers are expected to present and facilitate conversation among delegates. From Baptist to Jewish to Lutheran, 24 percent of the Congress presenters will represent other faith traditions and 30 percent of presenters are from outside of North America. Leading the program are keynote addresses from Father Robert Barron, founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, Rector of Mundelein Seminary, and host of CATHOLICISM; His Eminence, Seán Patrick Cardinal O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Boston; Helen Alvaré, Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law; Dr. Juan Francisco de la Guardia Brin and Gabriela N. de la Guardia, renowned Panamanian doctors; His Eminence, Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila; and His Eminence, Robert Cardinal Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, Archbishop Emeritus of Conakry, Guinea.
Although a few breakout session speakers are still being confirmed, the majority of speakers and presentations for the Congress has been finalized and can be reviewed at http://www.worldmeeting2015.org/about-the-event/speakers/ .
“The 2015 World Meeting of Families will welcome a most remarkable and dynamic group of speakers as we aimed to bring people together in faith and share a common message of love while also giving comfort and encouragement to those who may be struggling,” said Dr. Mary Beth Yount, World Meeting of Families Director of Content and Programming. “When developing the programming and educational sessions, one of our goals was to create a Congress inclusive of people of all ages, all walks of life, all cultures and even other faiths so that every person might leave the conference feeling inspired by new ideas to incorporate into his/her family life. Through the grace of God and the messages shared during the Congress, we hope to reaffirm the importance of the family and strengthen its bonds on a global scale.”
As the world’s largest family gathering, the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 is expected to bring together 10,000 – 15,000 delegates from more than 150 nations in faith and celebration. The Congress will provide delegates the opportunity to share their thoughts, dialogue and prayers during daily Mass, devotions and breakout sessions. All sessions will focus on the myriad issues facing today’s global families, including financial crises/poverty, blended families, disabilities, addiction, divorce, and interfaith marriage, with speakers from the Pontifical Council for the Family, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Foundation for Family and Futures, National Catholic Partnership on Disability, Catholic Relief Services, among others. Rooted in the 2015 Congress’ theme, “Love is our mission: the family fully alive,” the catechetical content and programming will emphasize the impact of the love and life of families in society.
For more information regarding the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next September, please visit www.WorldMeeting2015.org. An online retail store, featuring t-shirts, hats, pins and other small mementos, is also open and can be accessed at http://wmof.myshopify.com/. You can also engage the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia on Facebook (World Meeting of Families 2015) (Encuentro Mundial de las Familias – Filadelfia 2015), Twitter (@WMF2015) (@WMF2015ES) and Instagram (WMF2015).
About World Meetings of Families Beginning with 1994, The Year of the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Family has been responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families in Rome (1994); Rio de Janeiro (1997); Rome (2000); Manila (2003); Valencia (2006); Mexico City (2009); Milan (2012); and now, Philadelphia (2015). Since its inception by Saint John Paul II, the World Meeting of Families has sought to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe.
Click here to view the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 “Schedule at a Glance”.
Host a Family
Welcome Visitors with Hospitality
Many of our visiting families are traveling long distances to reach the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015. As an affordable alternative to hotel accommodations and to support the volume of people coming to the Philadelphia area, we are offering families located in the Philadelphia region the opportunity to open their doors to our visitors.
Host Families can host visitors in a spare bedroom, a vacated apartment, or any amenable facility. Visiting individuals and families can then search the Host Family database to find hosts to be matched too. When registering as a Host Family, you will include information on your hosting situation (bedrooms, family hobbies, pets, allergies, access to public transportation, etc.). Additionally, each visiting family will pay a nightly fee to the Host Family. The Host Family can use that money to offset costs, buy breakfast each day, donate to the visiting family, or in any other way desired. Your role, as a Host Family, is pivotal in enabling many families to make this trip safe and affordable.
If you would like to open your home to a World Meeting of Families Visitor, you can register at https://worldmeeting2015.homestaymanager.com/host/sign_up or email us at host@WorldMeeting2015.org.
Once Host registration has opened, you will be notified so that you can enter your information into a private database which will be used only for the World Meeting of Families event.