A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.10)

WEEK 4 IN ORDINARY TIME: January 29 - February 4, 2012 **

 

(N.B. The pastoral tool BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD: A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY LITURGY includes a prayerful study of the Sunday liturgy of Year B from three perspectives. For reflections on the Sunday liturgy based on the Gospel reading, please scroll up to the “ARCHIVES” above and open Series 1. For reflections based on the Old Testament reading, open Series 4. For reflections based on the Second Reading, open Series 7. Please go to Series 10 for the back issues of the Weekday Lectio.)

 

Series 10 presents A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: January 29 - February 4, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

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January 29, 2012 (Sunday): 4th SUNDAY

IN ORDINARY TIME

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches and Heals”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Dt 18:15-20 // I Cor 7:32-35 // Mk 1:21-28

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

This Sunday’s liturgy of the Word continues to depict the early phase of the public ministry of Jesus - God’s “Good News” in person. Today’s Gospel passage portrays him in the synagogue at Capernaum on a Sabbath, speaking the saving word of God and teaching with authority. The evangelist Mark describes the impact of Jesus’ teaching-prophetic ministry on the worshipping assembly: “The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mk 1:22). Indeed, Jesus spoke with authority as he truthfully and faithfully revealed God’s message to the people. Moreover, he reinforced the power of God’s saving word by performing a healing sign – by curing a man possessed by an unclean spirit.

 

The Christian disciples through time and space are called to proclaim the Gospel. The proclamation of the saving word becomes more effective when accompanied with concrete acts of healing and compassion. The following story of a consecrated religious, Sister Blandina Segale (cf. Margaret and Matthew Bunson, “Woman of the Wild, Wild West” in OUR SUNDAY VISITOR, March 25, 2007, p. 12) brought a smile to my lips.  Her life witness gives us better insight into the enormous power of the Gospel conjoined with charitable deeds.

 

One of the most intriguing Catholic women serving the people of the United States was Sister Blandina Segale, a Sister of Charity who cared for those who journeyed along the dangerous Santa Fe Trail. In 1872, Sister Blandina was sent alone to Trinidad, Colorado, a Wild West haven for outlaws and renegades. She was 22 at that time. Because she was a Catholic nun bent on aiding the local Native Americans and the poor, Sister Blandina was not welcomed to Trinidad with overwhelming enthusiasm. The residents of Trinidad faced hard lives and did not fancy the sort of concerns that a nun might have. They were not cruel or insulting her, but they obviously had little interest in her labors. That changed rather abruptly, however, when her “patron” announced one day that he expected one and all to treat her with respect and courtesy. If any of the good people of Trinidad caused Sister Blandina any problems, he would deal with them personally. Actually, he promised to shoot them down like dogs.

 

The townspeople knew the “patron” well, and some recalled that he had shot a man for snoring too loud at a campsite, so he was a man to take seriously when he made a threat. The “patron” of Sister Blandina was William Bonney, known in history as Billy the Kid. She had given nursing care to one of Billy’s companions when he was shot and left for dead in an abandoned hut, and the famous outlaw was repaying her for her merciful care of his friend. He also appreciated her efforts for others. The first time they met, actually, Billy the Kid had come to town to scalp the four doctors who had refused aid to his wounded companion. Sister Blandina talked him out of it.

 

She had also saved the life of another man soon after arriving in Trinidad. Caught after fatally wounding a companion in a gun battle, the man was about to be dragged from the jail by an angry mob. Sister Blandina hurried to the bedside of the dying victim and talked him into forgiving his attacker. She and the sheriff then walked the murderer through the streets to the victim, who did forgive his assailant and then died. When Sister Blandina announced the deathbed scene to the angry men standing outside in the street, the mob thought it was all a bit peculiar, but they lost their enthusiasm for a hanging and let justice prevail in a courtroom. (…)

 

Sister Blandina was transferred to Santa Fe in time, where she continued establishing charitable institutions and programs. She labored for 21 years in the American West, becoming famous and respected … In time, Sister Blandina was assigned to Cincinnati, where she continued her labors with her sister, who was also a nun. She died in Cincinnati on February 23, 1941.

I

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

Do we endeavor to proclaim the Gospel and reinforce it with good deeds and acts of compassion?

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

Jesus Lord, you teach with authority. Your healing ministry reinforces the power of your saving word. Give us to courage to speak the truth in today’s convulsed world and confirm the message with acts of healing and compassion. We adore you and bless you for you are the way, the truth and the life, now and forever. Amen.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

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

 

“He taught them as one having authority…” (cf. Mk 1:22)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO   

 

Pray that Christian disciples may live out to the full their mission and ministry to be prophets of truth in the world today. Endeavor to bring the Lord’s justice and healing love to a painful personal predicament and/or an unjust social situation.

 

 

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January 30, 2012 (Monday): WEEKDAY (4)

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Breaks the Power of Evil”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Sm 15:13-14,30; 16:5-13 //  Mk 5:1-20

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

The description of the Gerasene demoniac whom Jesus would exorcise is horrifying. He was continually gashing himself. He would break the chains and smash the irons on his feet so as to inflict more harm upon himself. The power of evil that possessed him was “legion” (literally six thousand foot soldiers, plus horsemen and some technical personnel). He was beyond control and drove himself to self-destruction. Tragically alienated, the demoniac lived in a state of death. He dwelt among the tombs, the place of death, and on the hillside wilderness, symbol of desolation, loneliness and danger.

Jesus of Nazareth, who had just tamed the sea, met the self-destructive Gerasene in an act of compassion and liberated him from evil powers. The liberated Gerasene, who did not become one of the “twelve”, was sent by Jesus to his family to witness to them the kindness of the Lord. The healed Gerasene became a missionary to the Decapolis, populated by the Gentiles. He prepared the place for Jesus’ return (Mk 7:31) and ministry of healing to non-Jews. Indeed, the Good News was meant for all peoples and the immense power of Jesus was to liberate all from evil and death.

The following ministry of a Franciscan priest gives a glimpse into what we can do today to liberate our brothers and sisters from self-destruction and death-dealing situations (cf. Father Larry Dunphy, “Jail Ministry: Holiness in an Unlikely Place” in THE WAY OF ST. FRANCIS, July-August 2010, p. 11-16).

I also found out that there was need for a Catholic priest at the county jail … I estimate that there are about 1,000 men and women in the jail … When I first started, I only had three or four men to visit. They were not ready for Communion and it took me more than a year to get clearance to celebrate Mass. Initially we just talked. This is where I get the most satisfaction. They told me some of their stories, and they asked questions – some of which were rather challenging. I was surprised to learn that one of them had been a daily communicant “on the outside”. The numbers gradually increased. Sometimes a person on the outside would request that I visit a resident.

One of the residents on my list early in my tenure was in the section reserved for those considered the most dangerous. At first I was not allowed to visit him. He was over six feet tall and very strong, and the officers were obviously afraid of him. After several requests, we finally were able to visit, while an officer stood about three feet away and watched. I discovered this man was spiritually quite hungry. He spent most of his time reading the Bible and praying. Eventually the officers allowed me to sit in a locked classroom alone with him … Though in his early twenties, he was looking at life in prison without parole. He told me that he felt he was in prison for a reason, so that he could help others spiritually. He planned to use his prison time to try to help others find a way to Christ … This man told me that he felt so much better after visiting with me, that he was able to be calmer and more able to control his tendency to violent anger.

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

Are there evil tendencies that possess us and prevent us from becoming the person God intends us to be? What are they and what do we do about them?

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

Lord Jesus, deliver us from evil. As you liberated the Gerasene from an oppressive legion of evil powers, free us from evil tendencies and vicious addictions that lead us to self-destruction. Your mercy is bountiful and your power is mighty. Grant that we may experience the freedom you earned for us by your sacrificial death on the cross. Give us the grace we need to proclaim your merciful works to all nations. We praise and bless you. With you and in you we are victorious against the power of sin and death. You live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

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

 

“Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” (cf. Mk 35:19)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

Pray for all those who are in the grip of sin and evil powers that they may be liberated by the saving power of Jesus Christ. By your act of compassion, bring the liberating power of Jesus to those who are in oppressive situations, e.g. those dealing with substance and drug abuse, the victims of sexual violence, etc.

 

***

 

January 31, 2012 (Tuesday): SAINT JOHN BOSCO, priest

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Breaks the Power of Death”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Sm 18:9-10,14b, 24-25a,30-19:3 // Mk 5: 21-43

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

Today’s Gospel (Mk 5:21-43) presents two women who were in the clutches of death: a twelve year old sick girl who died physically and a bleeding woman who died virtually for twelve years. The woman hemorrhaging for twelve years was considered unclean by Jewish law and thus experienced a social death with all the separation and desolation it entails. The compassionate Jesus manifested great power in healing the bleeding woman and in raising Jairus’ twelve-year-old daughter to life. The two women experienced a “resurrection” event - a passage from death to life. Jesus the Healer, who broke demonic powers, has power to destroy death and raise us to new life. The courageous faith of the bleeding woman and the indomitable trust of Jairus inspire us to trust in Jesus. In every death-dealing situation, Jesus Savior exhorts us, “Do not be afraid; just have faith!”

 

The following beautiful story testifies that resurrection events and miracles continue to happen if only we have faith and trust in Jesus (cf. Brian Thatcer, M.D. “The Greater the Sinner, the Greater the Mercy” in Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart, ed. Jeff Cavins, et. al. West Chester: Ascension Press, 2004, p. 186-190).

 

On September 9, 1995, the fruit of our healed marriage was born – John Paul. He was special from the start. At his birth, he struggled with life; turning blue and unable to breathe. We prayed intently and John Paul soon stabilized and fully rebounded. A friend distributing Holy Communion walked into the room and said, “Wow, what happened? I can really feel the presence of God.”

 

I understood in my heart how God had truly blessed us. My three oldest, Andrea, thirteen, Bryan, eleven, and Patricia, eight, did not always fully understand the changes from being doctor’s kids to children of one dedicated to a simple life of service to God. And yet they surely benefited from the renewal of our marriage and my commitment to fatherhood as a holy vocation.

 

In early November, fourteen months later, I returned home from a conference in the early morning hours. That evening a Mass was going to be celebrated in our home. In spite of very little sleep, I awoke early to take care of some outside work. I stepped onto our back patio, opened the gate to our swimming pool, and walked out to the backyard. Young Bryan suddenly yelled from the front for help starting the lawnmower. After helping him, I was reminded that it was time to drive Andrea to swim practice. We jumped in the car with Patricia and hurried off.

 

While on our way, I received a call on my cell phone from Bryan. “Dad”, he said in a strained voice, “John Paul is dead. Someone left the pool gate open.” Susan had found John Paul lifeless; he was not breathing and did not have a palpable heartbeat. As a trained nurse, she was already administering CPR in an effort to pump life back into John Paul’s little fourteen-month-old body.

 

I told the girls what had happened and we immediately said a Hail Mary together. The rest of the drive was spent in tears and silent prayers. “Jesus, have mercy on John Paul and me”, I cried. Guilt overwhelmed me as I envisioned my helpless little boy bobbing up and down in the pool, all because I left the gate open. John Paul had been a part of my healing – a child promised for Susan and me. “Jesus, why would You take him from us now?” my heart cried.

 

Then, as I frantically had to wait at a red light, I was suddenly hit with the scripture story from Genesis of Abraham being asked to offer his son, Isaac, up to God. “God, are you asking me for my son?” I asked, my heart breaking. It was the moment of truth for me. I had been preaching trust in God’s Divine Mercy for four years. God was calling me to a deeper trust. I wanted my little boy to live. I loved him with all my heart. Could I accept God’s will if it meant never holding John Paul again in my life?

 

“Jesus”, I prayed. “I trust in You, in all situations. I submit to Your will, whatever that means.” I told God that I did not understand why He would take John Paul from us at this time, but that I offered my son back to Him. I also thanked God for the time He had given us with John Paul. I told Jesus that I placed my trust in Him and wanted only that His will be done. I reflected on the deep trust of Abraham as he was told to sacrifice Isaac. I felt a deep sense of peace after that.

 

When we arrived at the house, the emergency squad had also gotten there. Although John Paul was bloated and unresponsive, Susan felt a slight pulse after doing CPR. I was ecstatic. There was still hope! Upon arriving at the hospital, I called my sister who lives in another town and asked her to pray for John Paul that night with her prayer group. Over the next thirty-six hours, John Paul’s mental clarity improved hourly. Within two days, he was released, totally normal!

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

In death-dealing situations, do I put my trust in Jesus and cling to his words, “Do not be afraid; just have faith”?

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

O Jesus, we trust in you. You exhort us, “Do not be afraid; just have faith”. Strong is your love and great is your power. In death-dealing situations we turn to you for help. In our affliction, we stretch out our hand to touch you, believing that in you we will be healed. You break the power of death. You are our life and resurrection. We give you thanks and praise, now and forever. Amen.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

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

 

“Do not be afraid; just have faith.” (cf. Mk 5:36)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

Pray for those who are in death-dealing situations that they may courageously trust in God. By your act of charity to the sick and the dying, allow Christ’s power over death to shine.

 

 

***

 

 

February 1, 2012 (Wednesday): WEEKDAY (4)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Was Rejected by His Own”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Sm 24:2,9-17 // Mk 6:1-6

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

            The following story narrated by Anthony de Mello in his book, The Song of the Bird, illustrates poignantly the irony contained in today’s Gospel reading (Mk 6:1-6). 

Nasruddin earned his living selling eggs. Someone came to his shop one day and said, “Guess what I have in my hand.” “Give me a clue,” said Nasruddin. “I shall give you several: It has the shape of an egg, the size of an egg. It looks like an egg, tastes like an egg, and smells like an egg. Inside it is yellow and white. It is liquid before it is cooked, becomes thick when heated. It was, moreover, laid by a hen.” “Aha! I know!” said Nasruddin. “It is some sort of cake!” 

            It is ironic. The expert misses the obvious. And it was also with irony that the neighbors of Jesus of Nazareth missed the obvious. They thought they knew every detail about him. In purporting to have complete knowledge of his personal data, they ended up showing their ignorance. Their knowledge of “the carpenter, the son of Mary” was superficial. Their prejudice prevented them from believing and responding to the Christ, the Son of God. 

In today’s Gospel episode, we come face to face with the mystery of a resisting and unbelieving heart. Mark’s narrative illustrates the human possibility and reality of closing one’s heart and mind to the Prophet of truth and Savior of the world. It is ironic that the saving Lord, who would be the object of Peter’s faith declaration: “You are the Christ.” (Mk 8:30) and the centurion’s climactic confession at the foot of the cross: “Truly this man was the Son of God.” (Mk 15:39), was not welcomed by the neighbors of Jesus. According to Mark, “they took offense at him”. They were prejudiced by the utter ordinariness of his background. Disappointment and rejection are part and parcel of the mission of Jesus, as well as of his disciples and the Church. 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

How deep is our faith in Jesus? Is it deep enough to allow him to be effective in our midst? Did we ever close our heart to his saving presence and inspiration?

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO 

Lord Jesus, your co-citizens were scandalized by your humble “roots”. They took offense at you. Your neighbors were prejudiced because you were “merely” a carpenter, and they knew you “simply” as the son of Mary. You were not able to perform mighty deeds in Nazareth for their lack of faith. Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus, help us to have true faith in you. Jesus, you are the true prophet who speaks the word of life. We welcome you in our hearts. Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening.

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

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

 

“He was amazed at their lack of faith.” (cf. Mk 6:6)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

In reparation for the rejection suffered by Jesus from his neighbors, be gracious to someone who treats you with hostility and respond to him/her with an act of kindness.

 

 

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 February 2, 2012 (Thursday): THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD

“JESUS SAVIOR: His Saving Encounter with Us”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Mal 3:1-4 // Heb 2:14-18 // Lk 2:22-40

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

Reader’s Digest (February 2003 issue) featured the story of Norma Super and her daughter, Dani, who became lost while hiking through the mountains straddling the Wyoming-Colorado border.  The possibility of saving the mother and daughter was bleak, for no one lost for more than five days in that wilderness had ever been found alive. The seventh day was dawning when Aleta Walker and her friend Diane Holycross set out to find them somewhere in the Zirkel Wilderness, moved by a strange gut feeling that mother and daughter might still be alive. The author, Peter Michelmore, described the saving encounter between the rescuers and the lost campers.

Norma splashed her face with icy creek water. Black spots fluttered in front of her eyes. She shook off the dizziness and trudged on to a meadow sprinkled with blue and pink flowers. “There’s something white there”, said Dani, pointing ahead. They hiked on, watching. “It looks like a horse.” They walked closer. Norma could make out two horses now. Two people on horseback. She broke into a run, pushed by adrenaline through the bog as mud sucked at her boots. One hundred feet from the riders, she saw that they were women. “Are you Norma Super?” one called. Norma collapsed. On her knees and weeping, she said, “Yes.”

The evangelist Luke depicts in today’s Gospel reading a saving encounter in the temple of Jerusalem: the meeting between Jesus and the two figures of messianic expectation, Simeon and Anna. This redemptive event was commemorated by the Church in a celebration known as the “feast of the Encounter”. Now called the “feast of the Presentation of the Lord”, this feast is a prolongation of the Christmas mystery.  Celebrated forty days after the birth of Jesus, it presents his “epiphany” or “manifestation” in the temple as the Messiah and Savior. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Simeon recognized in Jesus the Messiah promised long ago. The prophetess Anna, advanced in years and dedicated to the worship of the Lord in the temple, testified to the people about the arrival of redemption in the person of Jesus.

The child Jesus brought to the temple for consecration in obedience to the Mosaic prescription (cf. Ex 13:15) is the “light of revelation to the Gentiles” and the “glory for the people of Israel”. Indeed, in God’s saving plan, the light of salvation must shine on all the peoples of the world. The beautiful ceremony of the lighting and blessing of candles at the beginning of the Mass of the feast of the Lord’s Presentation underlines the joy of our life-giving encounter with Christ, the “light of the nations”.

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

The prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna recognized Jesus as the Messiah and Redeemer of Israel. Are we open to the movements of the Holy Spirit and able to recognize in the Church, in other human beings, and in other life-events the offer of salvation won for us by Christ?

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

Jesus Lord, you are light of the nations. You fulfilled the hope of Simeon and Anna. Your saving encounter with them in the Jerusalem temple brought them eternal life and joy. Like Simeon and Anna, we welcome your coming into our life and rejoice in this saving encounter with you. Make us ready for your final coming to bring us into everlasting life. We bless you and consecrate ourselves to you for you are our saving Lord, now and forever. Amen.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

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

 

“My eyes have seen your salvation.” (cf. Lk 2:31)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

February 2 is the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. Please offer special prayers for the consecrated religious. Be sensitive to the gift of “saving encounter” that the Lord Jesus gives us daily.

 

***

 

 February 3, 2012 (Friday): SAINT BLAISE, bishop, martyr or SAINT ANSGAR, bishop, optional memorial

“JESUS SAVIOR: A Victim for Truth and Justice”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Sm 11:1-4a,5-10a,13-17 // Mk 6:14-29

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

 

The death of John the Baptist narrated in today’s Gospel reading foretells Jesus’ own death. Herodias was vengeful because John had confronted her illicit husband Herod with the unsettling truth: “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife”. Determined to put John to death and resorting to devious ways, Herodias instigated her daughter to ask for his head. The revenge was made possible by feckless Herod who was trying to impress others during his birthday party. Though fascinated by John, whom he knew as righteous and holy, his braggadocio got the better of him. He was deeply distressed. But because of the senseless oath he made to the girl in front of the guests, he had to give her John’s head on a platter. Herod dispatched an executioner to behead the prophet. Herod’s birthday party thus became a bloody orgy. Evoking the death and burial of Jesus, the disciples of John came and took the body and laid it in a tomb.

 

The martyrdom of John the Baptist, which points to the ultimate witnessing of Jesus, invites us to share deeply in the paschal sacrifice of our Savior. Like John the Baptist, we too are called to manifest to the world the passion and death of Jesus, the victim par excellence for truth and justice. The following article circulated through the internet illustrates the need to continue our life witness for truth and justice, in the spirit of John the Baptist and our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Phillip Andrew A. Pestano graduated from Ateneo de Manila High School in 1989, entered the Philippine Military Academy, and became an Ensign in the Philippine Navy in 1993. He was assigned as cargo master on a Navy ship. He discovered that the cargo being loaded onto his vessel included logs that were cut down illegally, were carried to the ship illegally, and were destined to be sold illegally. Then there were 50 sacks of flour, which were not flour, but shabu – worth billions. Literally, billions. And there were military weapons which were destined for sale to the Abu Sayyaf.

 

He felt that he could not approve this cargo. Superior officers came to him and said: “Please! Be reasonable! This is big business. It involves many important people. Approve this cargo.” But Philip could not, in conscience, sign the approval.

 

Then his parents received two phone calls, saying: “Get your son off that ship! He is going to be killed!”  When Phillip was given leave at home, his family begged him not to go back. Their efforts at persuasion continued until his last night at home, when Phillip was already in bed. His father came to him and said: “Please, son, resign your commission. Give up your military career. Don’t go back. We want you alive. If you go back to the ship, it will be the end of you!” But Phillip said to his father: “Kawawa ang bayan!” (“I pity our people!”) And he went back to the ship. The scheduled trip was very brief – from Cavite to Roxas Boulevard – it usually took only 45 minutes. But on September 27, 1995, it took one hour and a half. When the ship arrived at Roxas Boulevard, Ensign Pestano was dead.

 

The body was in his stateroom, with a pistol, and a letter saying that he was committing suicide. The family realized at once that the letter was forged. They tried desperately for justice, carrying the case right up to the Senate. The Senatorial Investigation Committee examined all the evidence carefully. Then they issued an official statement, saying among other things: Ensign Phillip Pestano did not commit suicide. He was murdered. He was shot through the head, somewhere outside his stateroom, and the body was carried to his room and placed on the bed. The crime was committed by more than one person. In spite of these findings by the Senate, the family could not get justice. The case is still recorded by the Navy as suicide. (…)

 

Phillip Pestano died at the age of 24. He was scheduled to be married in January of 1996, four months after he was murdered. He was a martyr. A martyr is one who dies for the faith or for a Christian virtue. Phillip died for a Christian virtue – justice. It is not likely that he will ever be canonized, but he takes his place among the “unknown saints”.

 

 

II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

 

Do I fight for truth and justice in the spirit of John the Baptist and our Lord Jesus Christ?

 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

 

Lord Jesus, you are the victim par excellence for justice and peace. John the Baptist fully participated in your mission of justice and truth. The Baptist’s death foretells your sacrificial death on the cross. Give us the courage to fight for the cause of justice and right. Make us limpid and credible prophets of truth. Bring to your kingdom those who were persecuted for justice and right. Convert the hearts of those who perpetrate violence and injustice in today’s world. Save us from the power of evil. Deliver us from corruption and the structuralized evil in our society. We trust in you, O loving Jesus! We adore and serve you as our only Lord, now and forever. Amen.

 

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

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

 

“It is John whom I beheaded.” (cf. Mk 6:16)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

Pray for the victims of violence and injustice. Study the “Catholic Social Teaching in the Public Square” and promote the principle of the right to life and the dignity of the human person in any way and in every way you can.

 

 

***

 

February 4, 2012 (Saturday): WEEKDAY (4); BVM on Saturday, optional memorial

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Shepherds Them”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Kgs 3:4-13 // Mk 6:30-34

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS: A Pastoral Tool for the LECTIO

In 1995 I traveled about eight hours by bus to the scenic rural town of San Antonio to conduct a session on liturgical music for a parish group. San Antonio is situated at the foot of Mount Pinatubo, which erupted violently on July 16, 1991. The volcano was dormant for about five hundred years. The town was full of sand and volcanic debris. I heard vivid stories about the townsfolk’s terrible plight during the eruption. They scrambled in all directions to save their lives. They did not know where to go and were like sheep without a shepherd. My heart was filled with pity for what they went through. In a mysterious way, I was participating in the compassion of Christ Master-Shepherd: “He took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mk 6:34). 

            The focus of today’s Gospel reading is the Lord Jesus who shepherds. He shepherds the weary disciples returning from their missionary ministry, reporting to him what they had done and taught. Above all, he shepherds the large crowd of needy people hungering for the bread of his life-giving Word. Indeed, Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophetic promise reported in Jer 23:1-6 about God himself being the shepherd to his people.

Mark’s narrative describes the tender and loving response of Jesus to the pathetic plight of the pursuing crowd: “He began to teach them many things” (Mk 6:34). Indeed, the primary pastoral action and care of Jesus is to teach, that is, to nourish the hungry souls with the bread of the Word of God. The teaching ministry, which is a nourishing ministry, is the first and foremost task of Jesus the Shepherd. He nourishes the pitiable crowd seeking solace and nourishment with the bread of the Word, the saving message of God’s love. 

 

 II. POINTS FOR THE EXAMINATION OF THE HEART: A Pastoral Tool for the MEDITATIO

How do we respond to the plight of those who are weary and heavily burdened? Do we respond to them with the heart of the Shepherd? 

 

III. PRAYING WITH THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the ORATIO

Lord Jesus, we respond to your invitation, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile”. You shepherd us and our cup overflows with joy. You lead us to pasture in green meadows where it is so peaceful. You slake the thirst of our souls by restful waters. You prepare a rich fare to nourish us. You feed us with the bread of the Word that is eternal and life-giving. You anoint us with oil and we are totally consecrated to you. Give us your compassionate heart that together with you, we may alleviate the pain of the weary and heavily burdened. We thank you for your love and for being a Master-Shepherd to us. We follow you all the days of our life. You are our loving Lord, now and forever. Amen.

 

IV. INTERIORIZATION OF THE WORD: A Pastoral Tool for the CONTEMPLATIO

 

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

 

“His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” (cf. Mk 6:34)

 

 

V. TOWARDS LIFE TRANSFORMATION: A Pastoral Tool for the ACTIO

 

With the compassionate heart of the Shepherd, welcome those who are “like sheep without a shepherd” and share with them the bread of God’s Word.

 

***

 

 

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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