A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.17)

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT: March 18-24, 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: March 18 – March 24, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

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March 18: FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT

 “LENT: A Time to Honor God Who Gave His Only
Son for Us”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Chr 36:14-16,19-23 // Eph 2:4-10 // Jn 3:14-21

 

 

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

 

We continue our spiritual journey to Easter glory. Nourished by the bread of the Word, we delve more deeply into the depths of God’s love. Today’s Gospel reading (Jn 3:14-21) contains a heartwarming message: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life”. God the Father radically revealed his love by offering his Son Jesus to us. Through the life-giving death of his Son on the cross, the abundant riches of his grace have been poured upon us. We now relish the promise of eternal life. Indeed, the liberation of all peoples from sin and death, through the Son’s sacrifice on the cross, demonstrates the power of divine love. Lent is a privileged time to praise the Father who sacrificed his beloved Son for us. In this season of conversion, we are called to honor God who gave his only Son to redeem us.

 

The following story, circulated through the Internet, is fascinating. It gives insight into God the Father’s total and sacrificing love for us.

 

After a few of the usual Sunday evening hymns, the Church’s pastor slowly stood up, walked over to the pulpit and, before he gave his sermon for the evening, he briefly introduced a guest minister who was in the service that evening. In the introduction, the pastor told the congregation that the guest minister was one of his dearest childhood friends and that he wanted him to have a few moments to greet the church and share whatever he felt would be appropriate for the service.

 

With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit and began to speak. “A father, his son and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific coast”, he began, “when a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to the shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright and the three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized.”

 

The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in his story. The aged minister continued with his story, “Grabbing a rescue line, the Father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life: to which boy would he throw the other end of the life line. He only had seconds to make the decision. The Father knew that his son was a Christian and he also knew that his son’s friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves.

 

As the Father yelled out, “I love you son!” he threw out the life line to his son’s friend. By the time the Father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered. By this time, the two teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew, anxiously waiting for the next words to come out of the old minister’s mouth.

 

“The father”, he continued, “knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus and he could not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping into an eternity without Jesus. Therefore, he sacrificed his son to save the son’s friend. How great is the love of God that he should do the same for us. Our heavenly Father sacrificed his only begotten son that we could be saved. I urge you to accept his offer to rescue you and take hold of the lifeline he is throwing out to you in this service.”

 

With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room (…) Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man’s side. “That was a nice story”, politely stated one of them, “but I don’t think it was very realistic for a father to give up his only son’s life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian.”

 

“Well, you’ve got a point there”, the old man replied, glancing down at his worn bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face. He once again looked up at the boys and said, “It sure isn’t very realistic, is it? But, I’m standing here today to tell you: that story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up his son for me. You see … I was the father and your pastor is my son’s friend.”

 

 

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

 

According to the evangelist John, “God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son …” (Jn 3:16). In the face of today’s world crisis, do we truly believe in the immensity of God’s love? Do we respond to his grandiose sacrifice by being channels of his self-giving love in today’s world?

 

 

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

 

Oh, compassionate God!

You so loved the world that you gave your only Son,

not to condemn the world,

but that we may have eternal life.

Thank you for the abundant riches of your love.

By your grace we have been saved and healed.

Help us to be intimately united with Jesus

and walk with him on the path to new life

Totally configured to Christ,

may we embrace a life of good deeds

and care for the poor and vulnerable.

They are the object of your providential love.

Help us all to live as your children.

May we reach our eternal destiny with you,

and with Jesus your Servant-Son and the Holy Spirit,

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.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  (Jn 3:16) 

 

 

 

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

 

Pray that we may imitate more intensely the Father’s total and sacrificial love. In this Lenten season, assume more intensely the Catholic commitment to solidarity especially with the poor and vulnerable

 

 

 

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March 19, 2012 (Monday): SAINT JOSEPH, SPOUSE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, Solemnity

 “LENT: A Time to Imitate the Guardian Saint Joseph”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Sm 7:4-5a,12-14a,16 // Rom 4:13,16-18,22 // Mt 1:16,18-21,24a

 

 

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

 

Steven Gemmen’s story, “Where Love Grows” in GUIDEPOSTS magazine (October 2004, cf. p. 44-48) is a touching account of how he welcomed into his life the child conceived by his wife, Heather, a victim of sexual assault. Steve narrates how his anger at the rapist found its outlet in the baby. In the sixth month of his wife’s rape-pregnancy, however, Steve was given the grace to understand that the little creature in his wife’s womb had nothing to do with the crime of the father, an unidentified African-American young man who broke into their home. Steve accepted the baby as his own although there were bad times. According to Steve: “And there would be strained moments because of the baby’s appearance – starting with the delivery. How do you explain to the staff in the maternity ward that a white couple will have a biracial baby? But what a beautiful, beautiful baby! Healthy, squalling, wriggling, perfect – our long awaited little girl … Our lives haven’t been the same since that terrible night. They never will be. I’d thought nothing could make me love this child. That’s true. Nothing can make us love anyone or anything. Love is not a choice. It is the sovereign gift of God. And it was his gift that the child who stirred within Heather would make the unbearable not just bearable but miraculous.”

 

Steve’s compassionate stance towards his wife and the baby makes us appreciate the goodness of Joseph, foster-father and guardian of Jesus, born of Mary. Confronted with the unexpected pregnancy of his betrothed, Joseph may have been deeply humiliated, angered and hurt. His plans to divorce Mary may presume his suspicion that she had been raped or seduced. As a man of honor and devout observer of the Old Testament law, Joseph could not take Mary as his wife. As a man of goodness and compassion, he did not wish to expose Mary to the shameful trial of a woman suspected of adultery. He therefore decided to divorce her quietly. But an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and assured him not to be afraid to take Mary home as his wife for it is through the Holy Spirit that the child in her womb was conceived. The angel said to Joseph: “She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save people from their sins”. When Joseph woke up he did what the angel commanded him to do: he took his wife into his home.

 

Joseph is the foster-father and guardian of the Child because God himself wished him to take the place of a father to the Son of God who has come to save the world. Directly appointed by God, Joseph of Nazareth became the guardian and protector of Jesus and Mary. Like Saint Joseph, we too are called to be guardians of today’s “Jesus” living in our midst and of today’s “Mary” who needs to be defended. In this Lenten season, we too have the task of caring faithfully for the poor “Jesus” and the vulnerable “Mary” in our fragmented society today.

 

 

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

 

Are we willing to fulfill the role of St. Joseph as guardians of the “Jesus” and “Mary” in today’s fragmented world? How do we imitate the sterling virtues of St. Joseph who spent his whole life guarding Jesus, the savior and the life of the world?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father, we thank you for St. Joseph who accepted wholeheartedly his role in saving history as guardian, foster-father and protector of your Son Jesus, the Savior, and his Mother Mary. Help us to be a “true Joseph” in today’s world by taking care of the “needy Jesus” whom we see in the poor and suffering, and the victims of violence and injustice. Like St. Joseph, assist us to be honorable and compassionate to the “vulnerable Mary” in a society that could be indifferent and ruthless to the weak. Teach us to trust in your divine providence and surrender to your saving will. In this Lenten season, help us to honor you by our compassion for the poor, the weak and the defenseless. You are a God of love and mercy. With Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we love you and serve you, 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.

 

“Joseph did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him.” (cf. Mt 1:24)

 

 

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

 

In the spirit of Saint Joseph’s loving care for Jesus and Mary, offer an act of charity to the poor and the most vulnerable members of your community.

 

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March 20, 2012 (Tuesday): LENTEN WEEKDAY (4)

“LENT: A Time to Encounter Jesus, Font of Healing”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ez 47:1-9,12 // Jn 5:1-16

 

 

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

 

Our Lenten journey to Easter glory is full of signs of God’s life-giving power. In today’s Gospel episode, Jesus stands by the Sheep Gate at a pool called Bethesda. He sees a paralytic in a pitiful predicament. He has been ill for thirty-eight years and is unable to access the pool’s therapeutic waters.  Jesus, the font of ultimate healing, commands the paralyzed man, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately, the man becomes well; he takes up his mat and walks. Jesus’ healing power surpasses the famed curative waters of Bethesda. From his very person springs forth true healing; his all-powerful words are sufficient to enable the paralytic to rise. He is freed from the illness that held him down for a lifetime. Moreover, Jesus invites the cured paralytic to make a total journey from brokenness to wholeness by inviting him to sin no more.

 

Lent is a privileged time to encounter Jesus, wellspring of healing. Like the helpless paralytic of Bethesda, we too are objects of his concern. Jesus asks us, “Do you want to be well?” We thus present to him our helplessness and need for healing. By the power of his healing words, we who are broken become whole. We who are shackled by the effects of evil and sin are able to rise. Restored to health and the freedom of the children of God, we walk with Jesus along the narrow path that leads to eternal life.

 

The following story illustrates that miraculous healing continues to be experienced in the here and now (cf. Leti Martelli, “When You Walk Again” in GUIDEPOSTS, February 2012, p. 50-54). The 15-year-old Lenny broke his neck in a snowboarding accident and was paralyzed from the chest down. His mom Leni prayed lengthily for his healing.

 

Maybe it was time for me to pray for something else – for fortitude to walk whatever path the Good Lord set for us and thank him for my son’s life. I looked down at my hand. I was clutching a prayer card that someone had given to us. On it was a picture of Padre Pio, an Italian friar born in the nineteenth century who went on to become a saint. Padre Pio’s simple advice to believers was: Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry. But how could I not worry? I tried everything and my son was not recovering. A bit of light filtered into Lenny’s room from his window and I held the card up to read the prayer printed on one side.

 

At the end of the prayer I was supposed to state what I was asking for. “I confidently beseech you, Lord, to grant me the grace of healing for my son.” I said those words over and over. The prayer was short. It seemed tiny compared to the monumental miracle we needed. I said the prayer until it seemed that I was saying it in my sleep.

 

I sat up with a jolt. I was awake now, because I realized that Lenny and I weren’t alone in the room. A figure stood by the door. I squinted to try to see more clearly. It wasn’t a doctor or a nurse. It was a man wearing a long robe made of rough fabric and tied around the waist by a rope. Okay, I thought, this is weird. There’s a friar in the room with me. I should have been freaking out. But I wasn’t. The figure radiated peace and calm. He walked slowly to Lenny’s bedside and stood looking down at my son. He then laid his hand on Lenny’s right leg, the one that always gave him the most trouble in therapy. The hand rested there for a moment, then the figure backed out of the room.

 

I let out a long breath. What on earth had just happened? I looked at the prayer card again. Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry. Relief began to trickle through me, then surged, as mysterious as the figure of the old friar who had just visited. For the first time in ages I did not feel worried. I leaned back, closed my eyes and dropped back to sleep.

 

The next day in the therapy room, two therapists put their arms around Lenny’s waist and shoulders. He stood, able to put weight on his legs. “Let’s try something new”, they said. “Okay”, said Lenny. “What do you want me to do?” “Walk.” Lenny took a step with his left foot, then another with his right. All of a sudden, before any of us quite realized what was happening, he was walking. Supported by the two therapists, he made it to the end of the hallway and then turned around. “Whoa”, he said, looking startled. “How did I get here?” A huge grin and he answered his own question. “I walked!” He headed back up the hall toward me. “Mom!” he cried. “I’m walking!” (…)

 

I still can’t say for certain what really happened that night in Lenny’s hospital room. Obviously God performed a miraculous work of healing. (…) Maybe Padre Pio did visit us that night, not so much to heal Lenny, as a reminder from God that healing was underway.

 

 

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

 

What is our response to Jesus’ question, “Do you want to be well”? Do we allow his healing words to touch us and heal us of our infirmity?

 

 

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

 

Jesus, Lord, we thank you for “seeing” the unfortunate paralytic at Bethesda. You took the initiative to ask him, “Do you want to be well?” He wanted to be well, but was totally helpless to be cured on his own. Healing power springs forth from you. Your words enabled the paralytic to rise, to take up his mat and walk. Today you also ask us, “Do you want to be well?” Loving Jesus, yes, indeed! We want to be well. Heal us of all our infirmities. Raise us up to new life. Be with us in our Lenten journey from brokenness to wholeness, from despair to hope, from enslavement to freedom, from sorrow to joy. You are our merciful savior and the wellspring of healing. 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.

 

“Do you want to be well?” (cf. Jn 5:6)

 

 

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

 

Pray for God’s healing grace for you and the people in your midst. Be an instrument of God’s healing for them by your kind deeds, consoling words and inspiring actions. Do something for the infirm, especially those who are unable to walk.

 

 

***

 

 

March 21, 2012 (Wednesday): LENTEN WEEKDAY (4)

“LENT: A Time to Embrace the Life-Giving Work of the Son”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 49:8-15 // Jn 5:17-30

 

 

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

 

The Jewish authorities begin to persecute Jesus because he healed the crippled man at Bethesda and thus broke the Sabbath law. Moreover, he claimed that God is his own Father and thus made himself equal to God. Jesus does not deny the accusation, but reiterates his filial connection with God. He answers them, “My Father is always working, and I too must work.” The unceasing work of God is to give and sustain life. As the Son of God, Jesus cannot do otherwise. Hence, the Sabbath law does not have authority to prevent Jesus from healing a paralytic. His compassionate “work” on behalf of the sick is grounded on God’s nature as life-giver. The Jews believe that God rested from work on the Sabbath, but that he never rested from the work of giving life to creation since creation would cease to exist had God done so.

 

The season of Lent invites us to embrace the life-giving work of the Father and the Son. We are invited to gaze more intently on the ongoing miracle of life, which results form their creative activity. Jesus continues to dispense to us the gift of life that comes from the bosom of God. Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, in the same way the Son gives life to those he wants to. We are recipients of the gift of “new life” not only on the day of resurrection, but even in the “here and now”. We simply have to be receptive. We ought to be thankful for all the gifts that our gracious God continues to bestow on us in his Son Jesus.

 

The following story inspires us to be receptive to the miracle of life and the unceasing creative activity of God (cf. Brain Doyle, “March 15 Reflection” in DAILY GUIDEPOSTS 2010, p. 86).

 

I was visiting a grade school, as is wont, on the general theory that these are the beings who are going to own the world pretty soon and I want to stay on their good side. And as a salty, testy, thankful older man, it’s my duty and joy to try to connect to as many kids as possible and remind them that we are inundated by the profligate generosity of the Maker. Maybe we all don’t celebrate that quite enough, being also inundated by worries and bills and car troubles and back pains.

 

In this classroom I was blathering on and on about the sea of miracles, and a girl – it’s always girls who ask the piercing questions – raised her hand and said, “Yes, sir, but have you personally experienced miracles? Or is this just a lecture?”

 

There was a long pause, and I said with dawning wonder, “Oh, child, yes; oh, dear Lord, yes, yes, yes! I have seen bears the size of cars. I have heard whales moaning in dark oceans. I have had a child say, “I love you more than I could ever figure out words for my love, Dad.” I have been graced by burly brothers. I have had sicknesses that looked to be the cause of gravestone engravings, but here I am, cheerfully mumbling in your classroom. Here I am and that is a miracle beyond accounting, and here you are and that is even a cooler miracle, because you are young and strong and possible in ways that I am not any more. Yes, my young friend, I have seen miracles. Every moment of every day. Every breath. Yes. Any more questions?”

 

 

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

Do we believe and trust in the ceaseless life-giving activity of God? Do we wish to embrace the life-giving work of Jesus, the Son of God?

 

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

Lord Jesus, how wonderful are your life-giving works on behalf of the sick, the crippled, the dying and the dead! The almighty God, your Father in heaven, works unceasingly to give life and so must you. Grant us the eyes to perceive the miracles of life and to be thankful for them. Do not allow us to restrict the unceasing movement of your grace and compassion on behalf of the poor and the needy. Teach us to be life-givers. Give us the grace to preserve the beauty of creation and the strength to defend the dignity of life. We honor you, we love you, and we give glory to you, 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.

 

“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.” (cf. Jn 5:17-30)

 

 

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

 

Today take time to see the miracle of life within and around you. Promote and defend the gift of life in any way you can, e.g. by caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, etc.)

 

 

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 March 22, 2012 (Thursday): LENTEN WEEKDAY (4)

“LENT: A Time to Be His Witnesses”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ex 32:7-14 // Jn 5:31-47

 

 

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

 

As Jesus comes closer to the end of his life, the Jewish authority’s hostility grows fierce and the opposition is more threatening. Basically, the issue is whether Jesus is truly God-Messiah. Jesus responds by presenting astounding witnesses on his behalf. John the Baptist is the burning lamp that points to him as the true light. The Baptist testifies about Jesus, “He is the Son of God!”  Though John is a significant witness, Jesus has an even greater witness: God the Father himself. The deeds that Jesus carried out in obedience to the Father manifest that he truly comes from God. Moreover, the Father gives further witness to Jesus by an inner voice that is discovered by those who are responsive to divine grace. Those who oppose Jesus are spiritually blind. Their understanding is so warped that they are unable to perceive the witness of God in the Scriptures and Moses. It is ironic that they reject Jesus as God-Messiah, but easily accept charlatans whose credentials accord with their preconceived ideas. There is no need for Jesus to condemn them. They stand self-denounced by their hardness of heart.

 

The following story shows that a simple, receptive heart is necessary for truly knowing Christ (cf. Anthony De Mello, The Song of the Bird, New York: Image Books, 1984, p. 112). We are witnesses of Christ. Our personal transformation testifies to his saving presence in our life.

 

A dialogue between a recent convert and an unbelieving friend:

 

“So you have been converted to Christ?”

“Yes.”

“Then you must know a great deal about him. Tell me: what country was he born in?”

“I don’t know.”

“What was his age when he died?”

“I don’t know.”

“How many sermons did he preach?”

“I don’t know.”

“You certainly know very little for a man who claims to be converted to Christ!”

“You are right. I am ashamed at how little I know about him. But this much I know. Three years ago I was a drunkard. I was in debt. My family was falling to pieces. My wife and children would dread my return home each evening. But now I have given up drink; we are out of debt; ours is now a happy home. All this Christ has done for me. Thus much I know of him!”

 

To really know … That is, to be transformed by what one knows.

 

 

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

 

Do we truly accept the presence of Jesus in our life as true God and Savior? How do we give witness to Jesus?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, we love you. You are true God and Savior. Help us to really know you. Open our hearts to those who testify that you are God-Messiah. Anointed by the Father, you come for our healing. You heal our brokenness and lead us to wholeness. Make us your witnesses. Send us to the nations that we may announce the Gospel of salvation you have won for us. Teach us to love you devoutly and knowingly. We thank you and glorify you, 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.

 

“The Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.” (Jn 5:37)

 

 

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

 

Commit yourself to the study of the Scriptures and to acquire a deeper understanding of the presence of Christ in your life. Endeavor to give an inspiring Christian witness to others by word and deed.

 

 

 

***

 

 MARCH 23, 2012 (Friday): SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGROVEJO, optional memorial

“LENT: A Time to Be in the Gathering Storm”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 11:18-20 // Jn 7:1-2,10,25-30

 

 

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

 

The Jews celebrate the feast of Tabernacles or Sukkoth, an annual autumn celebration of thanksgiving for the yearly harvest and for the historic Exodus miracles of the water and the pillar of fire. Jesus, the font of living water and the light of the world, makes a private appearance in Jerusalem for this festival. Though he wants to be incognito, people recognize him just the same and a controversy ensues. Since they know his family origin, they doubt whether he is the Messiah. Their superficial knowledge of his person prevents them from recognizing the astounding truth that he is truly the one sent by God as the Savior of the world. Jesus is the “hidden” Messiah. His divine origin could be perceived only by “believers” who trust in him.

 

The adversaries try to seize him, but cannot since his “hour” has not yet come. At the autumn festival in Jerusalem, the “gathering storm” quickens. The mounting hostility precipitates him closer to his passion and death on the cross. As his disciples, it is our duty to stand by him and endure the “gathering storm” that will break loose on Good Friday.

 

The “gathering storm” of hostility continues to accompany the Christian disciples in today’s world. Our commitment can be a reproach to the world and our moral principles can generate opposition. The following news article gives us a glimpse into the “gathering storm” that we must endure (cf. San Jose Mercury News, March 6, 2012, p. A2).

 

Cameron creates controversy by stating views on gay rights: Kirk Cameron, the star of the 1980s sitcom “Growing Pains”, told Piers Morgan in an interview broadcast Friday, that homosexuality is “unnatural … I think that it’s detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.”

 

Well, it’s a good thing for civilization that homosexuality has only been around for a couple of years, or we’d be in real trouble by now.

 

Cameron said, “Marriage was defined by God a long time ago. Marriage is almost as old as dirt, and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve – one man, one woman for life till death do you part. So I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. And I don’t think anyone else should, either. So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No, I don’t.”

 

When asked what he would do if one of his six kids told him, “I’m gay”, Cameron responded, “I’d sit down and I’d have a heart to heart with them, just like you’d do with your kids.” Morgan retorted, “I’d say, ‘That’s great, son, as long as you’re happy.’ What would you say?” Cameron said, “I wouldn’t say, ‘That’s great, son, as long as you’re happy.’ There are all sorts of issues we need to wrestle through in our life … Just because you feel one way doesn’t mean we should act on everything we feel.”

 

Herndon Graddick of gay rights group GLAAD, said Cameron “sounds even more dated than his 1980s TV character” and he “is out of step with a growing majority of Americans, particularly people of faith who believe that their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be loved and accepted based on their character and not condemnation because of their sexual orientation.”

 

Morgan defended Cameron to TMZ saying that he was “pretty brave” for speaking out. “I felt that he was honest to what he believed”, Morgan said, “and I don’t think he was expecting the furor that it created.”

 

 

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

 

Do I stand by Jesus in the “gathering storm” of controversy that his person and teaching generate?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, the “gathering storm” of opposition is frightening. But it is time to be in the “gathering storm”. Give us the grace and the strength to stand by you when you are rejected. We believe that you are the Messiah sent by God to save us. We believe that you are the way, the truth and the life. You are the font of living water and the light of the world. Slake our thirst for justice and enlighten the darkness we suffer in today’s fragmented world. Loving Jesus, let us stand by you at the foot of the cross. You suffered and died for us. With you, we rise to new life and praise you 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.

 

 “They tried to arrest him.” (Jn 7:30).

 

 

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

 

Study the “Catholic Social Teaching in the Public Square” and be ready to present the Catholic teaching when challenged and/or requested.

 

 

***

 

March 24, 2012 (Saturday): LENT WEEKDAY (4)

“LENT: A Time to Make the Defense”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 11:18-20 // Jn 7:40-53

 

 

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

 

The controversy continues to swirl around Jesus as to whether he is the Messiah. The crowd is divided. Some enthuse that he is the Prophet. Others believe he is the Messiah. But others refute this, arguing that the Messiah will not come from Galilee, but from David’s line – from Bethlehem. Others want to arrest him, but no one lays a hand on him. As the “storm” of hostility gathers, we see some people making an effort to defend him. The temple guards ordered to arrest Jesus come back empty-handed because his words touched them. They report to the chief priests and Pharisees, “Never before has anyone spoken like this one.” The religious leaders scorn them for being so easily deceived. Encouraged by the action of the guards, the “closet Christian” Nicodemus made an effort to defend Jesus by reminding the chief priests and Pharisees that according to the law, they cannot condemn a person before hearing him and finding what he has done. His honest effort to protect Jesus, however, is of no avail.

 

Lent is a time to delve into our Christian duty to make a defense for Jesus. Courage and fortitude are given by God to those who opt to stand by Jesus Christ when our faith is challenged. The following article gives insight into the courage of those who choose to stand by Jesus (cf. Jon Sweeny, “March 17 Reflection” in DAILY GUIDEPOSTS 2010, p. 88).

 

St. Patrick is one of the handful of saints that everyone seems to know by name. We all know about the parades, concerts and parties that are held today to commemorate him and celebrate the Irish heritage, and most of us know that, according to legend, he drove the snakes out of Ireland. But the stories that have come down about him are much richer than that.

 

His life was full of contests with the Druids, the Celtic magician-priests who opposed his attempts to spread Christianity in Ireland. In one story, Patrick resolved to celebrate Easter on the hill of Slane in what is today County Meath. He climbed to the top of the hill and lit the paschal fire. The king of Ireland was holding a festival in his palace across the way, and it was the custom that no fire should be lit unless one was first seen lit at the royal house. So when the king’s Druids saw Patrick’s fire, they said to the king, “Unless this fire is quenched tonight, it will never be quenched. And the one who kindled it will seduce all the people of your realm.” So the king took nine chariots and drove to the hill of Slane.

 

When Patrick saw the chariots, he quoted Psalm 20:7. The Druids challenged Patrick, but Patrick was up to the task and he converted at least one of them on the spot. Then, at Patrick’s prayer, darkness fell and the earth quaked and the Druids and the chariots fled.

 

What stands out for me in this story is Patrick’s confidence, his assurance that no matter what the challenge, he would prevail. It was a confidence that rested not on any abilities of his own, but on his faith in God, who is always able to do the unexpected.

 

 

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

 

Am I ready to stand by Jesus and make a defense for my faith?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus, help me to stand by you. Give me strength to make a defense for my faith and to defend the weak and defenseless. Help me to trust in your power. In the hour of darkness, please give me light. In the hour of fear, be my comfort and protection. Grant me the voice of truth and the power to speak for justice. Teach me to share your saving Word to the nations. 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.

            “Does our law condemn a person before it hears and finds out what he is doing?” (Jn 7:51) 

 

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

 

Make every effort to defend the weak and defenseless.

 

 

***

 

 

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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