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Ordinary Time: February 24th

Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time

MASS READINGS

February 24, 2004 (Readings on USCCB website)

COLLECT PRAYER

Father, keep before us the wisdom and love you have revealed in your Son. Help us to be like him in word and deed, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

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Old Calendar: St. Matthias, apostle

"Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me." (Mk 9:37)

Today is the day before Ash Wednesday, called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Traditionally, it is the last day for Christians to indulge before the sober weeks of fasting that come with Lent. Formally known as Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras has long been a time of extravagant fun for European Christians. In many southern states of the USA Mardi Gras is a traditional holiday. The most famous celebration takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana. It has been celebrated there on a grand scale, with masked balls and colorful parades, since French settlers arrived in the early 1700s.

Before the reform of the General Roman Calendar this was the feast of St. Matthias, apostle. His feast has been transferred to May 14.


Meditation on the Gospel - Mark 9:30-37
Although moved when he sees the crowds like sheep without a shepherd (Mt 9:36), Jesus leaves them, to devote time to careful instruction of the Apostles. He retires with them to out-of-the-way places, and there he explains points of his public preaching which they had not understood (Mt 13:36). Here, specifically, for a second time, he announces his Death and Resurrection.

In his relationships with souls Jesus acts in the same way: he calls man to be with him in the quiet of prayer and there he teaches him about his more intimate plans and about the more demanding side of the Christian life. Later, like the Apostles, Christians were to spread this teaching to the ends of the earth.

Jesus uses this argument going on behind his back to teach his disciples about how authority should be exercised in his Church — not by lording it over others, but by serving them. In fulfilling his own mission to found the Church whose Head and supreme Lawgiver he is, he came to serve and not to be served (Mt 20:28).

Anyone who does not strive to have this attitude of self-forgetful service, not only lacks one of the main pre-requisites for proper exercise of authority but also runs the risk of being motivated by ambition or pride. "To be in charge of an apostolic undertaking demands readiness to suffer everything, from everybody, with infinite charity" (J. Escriva, The Way, 951).

To demonstrate to his Apostles the obligation and humility needed in their ministry, he takes a child in his arms and explains the meaning of this gesture: if we receive for Christ's sake those who have little importance in the world's eyes, it is as if we are embracing Christ himself and the Father who sent him. This little child whom Jesus embraces represents every child in the world, and everyone who is needy, helpless, poor or sick — people who are not naturally attractive. — The Navarre Bible - St. Mark

Things to Do:

  • Today is Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras! Try some of the traditional recipes linked here. When eggs were among the foods that were forbidden by the Church during Lent, people would use them up on Fat Tuesday by mixing up large quantities of pancakes or doughnuts (also known as fastnachts).

  • Read Maria von Trapp's explanation of the traditions associated with Carnival, or Fat Tuesday here.

  • Sing this American favorite, Turkey in the Straw, with your children as part of your Mardi Gras celebrations.

  • Discuss Jesus' Gospel teaching for today, He who would be first must be last, with your children and ask them how they can put others in the family before themselves. Keep it simple and practical — setting the table, washing the dishes, folding laundry, watching the littler ones, doing homework right away.

  • What does it mean to become a child spiritually, that we may enter Heaven and be received by Christ Himself? We can learn much from St. Therese of the Child Jesus about spiritual childhood. Begin reading her Story of a Soul.

  • Read Fr. William Saunder's article, Shrove Tuesday and Shrovetide, from the Catholic Culture Library.