A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday Liturgy



10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – June 5, 2005


“I Desire Mercy …”



Hos 6:3-6 // Rom 4:18-25 // Mt 9:9-13






The Fresno-based Poverello House is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization whose mission is to enrich the lives and spirits of all who pass their way, to feed the hungry, offer focused rehabilitation programs, temporary shelter, medical, dental and other basic services to the poor, the homeless, the disadvantaged, without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex or disability through Providential and community support. Its founder is Mike McGarvin, a man who had experienced God’s mercy and transforming compassion through a saintly Franciscan priest, Fr. Simon Scanlon. They met at the “Poverello Coffee House” which Fr. Simon opened in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, notorious for its poverty, prostitution and violence. Mike narrates: “Gradually my life of self-indulgent destruction was being replaced by a life of service … I began seeing people through Father Simon’s eyes. He, in turn, saw people through Christ’s eyes, and he deeply believed that Jesus walked among the poor and the outcast. It was a revelation to me. The more I got to know the people who came to Poverello, the more compassion I felt for them.”


Papa Mike, as Mike McGarvin is fondly called, is now himself an instrument of God’s mercy and compassion for others. The “OPERATION BROWN BAG”, a fund-raising drive organized by Poverello House, is a tribute to Papa Mike’s meal ministry to the poor in Fresno. The April 2005 issue of POVERELLO NEWS focuses on this mission initiative.


OPERATION BROWN BAG … JUNE 6, 7, & 8: More than 30 years ago, Mike Mc Garvin offered peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the homeless on Fresno’s streets. Mike’s simple solution to hunger not only met the physical needs of the street people, but it also provided a means by which he could touch their souls with compassion and hope. That same compassion for people is alive and well today at Poverello House. Join us as we pay homage to our simple beginnings through Operation Brown Bag, a project that offers a brown bag lunch of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with all the trimmings for a $5.00 donation. All proceeds will benefit Poverello’s ongoing mission of feeding the hungry and providing services to the homeless … Your $5.00 donation will have a significant impact.



Today’s Gospel reading (Mt 9:9-13) is not only a concise presentation of Matthew’s vocation story, but also a powerful theology of the Christ, as full of compassion and mercy. The liturgical scholar, Adrian Nocent explains: “St. Matthew records his own calling in a simple, straightforward way. The story is marked, in fact, by the moving simplicity of all vocation narratives in the New Testament: Christ chooses and calls; the person chosen and called immediately leaves everything and follows Jesus. In its very simplicity, the calling is so wonderful that it defies commentary. In this instance, however, the choice is quite unusual, and St. Matthew deliberately emphasizes this aspect of it by describing the sequel. Jesus comes to dine with Matthew and the other disciples in Matthew’s house at Capharnaum; they are joined at table by many tax collectors and sinners, to whose ranks Matthew belonged until now.  It is easy to see the point Matthew wants to make, namely, that Jesus has come into the world to save not only the Jews but others as well, including sinners. When Jesus is challenged for eating with sinners, we observe that he does not justify himself but simply speaks of himself as a physician. A physician does not have to justify his presence among the sick; neither does Jesus. Matthew is thus once again offering us a theology of the Christ. Jesus is characterized by mercy, because his Father is mercy itself and he, Jesus, has been sent in order to communicate God’s mercy.


The French theologian, Yves Congar underlines the truth that the merciful quality of God is fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ: “Mercy is eminently a quality of God. Saint Ireneus writes, To exercise mercy is God’s own function and Saint Catherine of Siena heard God say, I can be recognized by mercy … In Jesus Christ God took a human heart and human sensitivity; he was touched, had compassion, and suffered; he became a merciful and faithful high-priest … It is quite easy and very moving to follow, in the gospels, the abundant signs of the emotion and feeling of mercy which God experienced in the heart and sensitivity of our Lord. Christ understood his mission to be a mission of mercy. He set himself to heal distress of every kind … In this way, throughout the gospel, God’s love, the Father’s agape is revealed to us, in the working out of his plan of salvation in the human heart of the incarnate Word.”


The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4 contend that God’s mercy is the very framework of salvation history and that Jesus is the incarnation of the divine mercy: “God’s mercy forms the framework of the whole history of salvation and of the covenant from their beginning. It is the object of faith, hope, and thanksgiving, of which the psalms sing … This divine mercy Jesus taught by any means, not only in words. He is the living image, the incarnation of it. His way of welcoming sinners, going to them, sharing in the intimacy of their meals had revealed the God of mercy to the eyes of all. To believe in him is to find again the unfailing hope in the coming of salvation offered to all, because Jesus, our Lord, delivered himself up for our faults and rose for our justification.”


The vocation to experience God’s mercy and compassion is offered to the entire Church and the challenge to incarnate the divine mercy in today’s world is directed to each of us. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, assert: “The Church, which is the community of sinners to whom God was merciful, must in its turn announce this good news and exemplify it by its behavior, its attitude towards other sinners and publicans. Proclaimed during the celebration of the Eucharist, the Scripture passages of this Sunday are set in relief and resound like an urgent challenge. At the moment of communion – Happy are those who are called to his supper – we repeat, Lord, I am not worthy to receive you. It is not enough to say it. We must behave according to what we are by acting as the one we receive, the Body of Christ, who ate with sinners and publicans, who keeps open house for the sinners and publicans that we are. To say, Amen, when receiving Communion, is to respond to the invitation: Follow me. Be a witness and an apostle of my mercy in the Church and in the world.”





A.     What is our response to Jesus’ call addressed personally to each of us, “Follow me” (Mt 9:9)?

B.     Are we willing to welcome fully into our hearts Jesus and the gift of divine mercy that he brings into our fragile, often times broken and self-destructive lives?

C.     Are we ready to incarnate God’s compassionate heart in today’s distressed world so needful of healing and mercy?




(A prayer composed by Michael Buckley)


Assembly:  God,

whose mercy is boundless and whose gifts are without end,

help us always to thank you

for everything that your loving power has bestowed on us.

Make us realize that our desire to thank you

is itself your gift

and that our thankfulness is never-ending

because your love is never-failing.





            The following is the bread of the living Word that will nourish us throughout the week. Please memorize it.


“Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’” (Mt 9:13a)




A.     ACTION PLAN: Thank the loving God the Father deeply for his mercy and compassion made incarnate in his Son Jesus Christ and enlivened by the Holy Spirit. In your compassionate stance for the poor and needy, together with Jesus, try to incarnate the love and mercy of God in today’s world. If you are living in the Fresno area, participate in the Poverello’s “OPERATION BROWN BAG”.


ACTION PLAN: That we may appreciate more deeply the mercy and compassion of God, and in view of a more meaningful Year of the Eucharist, make an effort to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration. Visit the PDDM WEB site (www.pddm.us) for the EUCHARISTIC ADORATION THROUGH THE LITURGICAL YEAR (# 28): A Weekly Pastoral Tool for the Year of the Eucharist.






Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang  PDDM






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