A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (# 31)

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – June 26, 2005

 

“Take Up the Cross”

 

BIBLE READINGS

2 Kgs 4:8-11, 14-16a // Rom 6:3-4, 8-11 // Mt 10:37-42

 

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS

 

The MARYKNOLL magazine (cf. May-June 2005 issue, p. 33) presents a current example of a Christian disciple who took up her cross in imitation of Christ. She dared to lose her life believing that she would find it. The American-born Sr. Dorothy Stang is a beautiful figure of one who renounces self to follow Christ and receives his “little ones” with a welcoming heart. Here is the account in the “World Watch” section of the magazine.

 

Sister Dorothy Stang, present!  Sister Dorothy Stang, a native of Dayton, Ohio, and a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, was shot to death on February 12, allegedly on orders of a group of landowners threatened by her work for justice for landless and small farmers in Anapu, the town in Brazil’s Amazon where she lived and worked for 37 years. After attending the United Nation’s 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Stang realized her work for the poor was fully entwined with protecting the environment. For the past 15 years, she was an outspoken activist against the destruction of the Amazon, which has lost as much as 20 percent of its 1.6 million square miles to development, logging and farming … Stang received multiple death threats before she was killed.

 

The Gospel reading of this Sunday is composed of two parts: the renunciation demanded by Christian discipleship (Mt 10:37-39) and the rewards of this discipleship (Mt 10: 40-42).

 

Concerning the renunciation that is demanded of Christian disciples, Romano Guardini remarks: “The more profoundly Christian a man becomes, the deeper the cleft between him and those who refuse to follow Christ – its exact measure proportionate to that refusal. The split runs right through the most intimate relationship, for genuine conversion is not a thing of decision an individual can make. The one makes it, the other does not; hence the possibility for a schism between father and son, friend and friend, one member of a household and another. When it comes to a choice between domestic peace and Jesus, one must value Jesus higher, even higher than the most dearly beloved: father and mother, son and daughter, friend or love. This means cutting into the very core of life, and temptation presses us to preserve human ties and abandon Christ. But Jesus warns us: If you hold life fast, sacrificing me for it, you lose your own true life. If you let it go for my sake, you will find yourself in the heart of immeasurable reality.”

 

R. Guardini then underlines the intimate connection between absolute Christian discipleship and the reality of the cross: “Naturally, it is difficult; it is the cross. And here we touch the heaviest mystery of Christianity, its inseparableness from Calvary. Ever since Christ walked the way of the cross, it stands firmly planted on every Christian’s road, for every follower of Christ has his own personal cross. Nature revolts against it, wishing to preserve herself. She tries to go around it, but Jesus has said unequivocally, and his words are fundamental to Christianity: He who hangs on, body and soul, to life will lose it; he who surrenders his will to his cross will find it – once and for ever in the immortal self that shares in the life of Christ … The great lesson of the cross is the great lesson of self-surrender and self-conquest.

 

The second part of this Sunday’s Gospel reading (cf. Mt 10:40-42) reiterates the basic points delineated in Jesus’ Missionary Discourse:

 

1.      The disciples are the representatives of Jesus.

 

2.      To receive Jesus’ disciples is to receive not only him but also his heavenly Father.

 

3.      Fitting rewards will be given to those who receive Christian prophets, holy men and women, and even any disciple because they all represent Christ and his heavenly Father.

 

 

The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, comment on the gracious act of welcoming Christ in those he sends: “Here we have Jesus himself identifying with every prophet, every just person, every disciple, be they the least. He even goes so far as to promise an eternal reward – that of the prophet, the just, the disciple – to anyone who receives him in their persons. To give a single glass of water will bring a reward. The scope of this command is broad, since it encompasses all disciples, not only the missionaries sent by the Lord. We must understand this by remembering that the door of the kingdom will be opened or closed according to what we shall have done or omitted to do for those who were hungry and thirsty, who were strangers or naked, sick or imprisoned: you did for me … you did not do for me (Mt 25:31-46). Such a word explains the high esteem in which the Church and the spiritual tradition have held hospitality … on judgment day, the Lord will reward a hundredfold the least gesture of benevolence done for the little ones.”

 

Harold Buetow elucidates: “Everyone can help in the work of witnessing for God – even if only in some small way like giving a cup of cold water. In the heat of the long, dry summer of the Holy Land, a cup of cold water is a welcome, if inexpensive, gift. In places that have plentiful water, Jesus’ cup of cold water may be translated into a much-wanted letter, a smile of appreciation, an encouraging word – all as inexpensive as a cup of water in a dry country and all equally needed and appreciated everywhere. Even those small efforts in his name, says Jesus, will receive a prophet’s reward.”

 

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART

 

A.     Is our love for Christ absolute and non-negotiable? Do we value the love of Jesus more than any other love?

 

B.     Do we glean from the mystery of the cross the great lesson of self-surrender and self-conquest?

 

C.     How do we welcome the Christian disciples and God’s “little ones”?

 

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD

(Cf. Commission Francophone Cistercienne, Tropaires des dimanches, 82 as cited in Days of the Lord, vol. 4, p.112-113.)

 

Leader: To lose one’s life in order to welcome Christ, to deliver one’s self to Christ in order to meet the Father, to find one’s self as a gift from God …

Assembly: I shall follow you, Jesus; show me the way.

 

Leader: Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.

Assembly: I shall follow you, Jesus; show me the way.

 

Leader: Whoever refuses to take up the cross is not worthy of me.

Assembly: I shall follow you, Jesus; show me the way.

 

Leader: Whoever loses life because of me will keep it.

Assembly: I shall follow you, Jesus; show me the way.

 

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD

 

 

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

 

“Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.” (Mt 10:38)

 

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION

 

A.     ACTION PLAN: Pray for those who love Jesus above all things, for those who are ready to take up their own cross and lay down their life for the love of him. Pray for those whose love is feeble and faith weak. Open your hearts to welcome Christ in the “little ones” he is sending to visit you today.

 

 

B.     ACTION PLAN: That we may appreciate more deeply the challenge of our vocation to take up our own cross and follow Christ, 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 (# 31): A Weekly Pastoral Tool for the Year of the Eucharist.

 

  

 

 

 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang  PDDM

 

 

 

PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER

60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314

Tel. (718) 494-8597 // (718) 761-2323

Website: WWW.PDDM.US

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