A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.18)

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT: March 25-31, 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 25-31, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

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March 25: FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT

 “LENT: A Time to Die and Live Like a Grain of Wheat”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 31:31-34 // Heb 5:7-9 // Jn 12:20-33

 

 

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

 

News reports and footage of war and civil disturbance in different parts of the world are very distressing, but I make them objects of intense prayer. One tool that helps me in praying for world peace is a modern-day peacemaker who radically followed the life of Jesus Christ. Her life as witness for peace is recorded in the book, PEACE PILGRIM: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words (Hemet: Friends of Peace Pilgrim, 1991). Not revealing details of her life that she considered unimportant, such as her original name, age and birthplace, she wanted to be known simply as “Peace Pilgrim”. After a rigorous spiritual preparation that led her to experience a deep inner peace, she vowed to be “a wanderer until mankind has learned the ways of peace”. Alone, penniless, and with no organizational backing, she walked more than 25,000 miles, carrying in her blue tunic her only possessions: a comb, a folding toothbrush, a ballpoint pen, copies of her message and her current correspondence. She crossed America for nearly three decades, from January 1, 1953 until her death on July 7, 1981, bearing the simplest of messages: “This is the way of peace – overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”

 

Like Jesus, the little “grain of wheat” that falls to the ground and dies to produce abundant fruit, she lived out the message of peace and sacrificial love to the full. One day, a hefty teenage boy, with a violent streak and emotional illness, beat her. Even while he was hitting her, she could only feel the deepest compassion toward someone who was so psychologically sick that he was able to hit a defenseless old woman. She bathed his hatred with love even while he hit her. As a result, the hitting stopped and he wept: “You didn’t hit back! Mother always hit me back!” Peace Pilgrim remarked about the incident: “What are a few bruises on my body in comparison with the transformation of a human life? To make a long story short, he was never violent again. He is a useful person in the world today.” Indeed, Peace Pilgrim is a modern response to the Christian challenge: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be” (Jn 12: 25-26).

 

Living today in this time of crisis in human history and confronted with the brutal truth that war is not the way to peace, we need to steep ourselves in the purifying water of the living Word. Jesus Christ exhorts us to enter into the paschal process of liberation from a purely selfish existence towards a life of loving service for others. Today’s Gospel reading (Jn 12: 20-33) speaks of the “hour” in which Jesus would be “glorified”, which means, God would reveal his radical power in the saving event of his Son Jesus. The “hour” of glorification would entail a death and birthing process similar to that of a germinating seed. Jesus affirmed: “Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” In today’s Gospel passage, the paschal image of a germinating and fruitful seed is reinforced and clarified by a reference to the suffering that Jesus would endure on the cross: “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” The season of Lent is an opportune time to be intimately united with Jesus in his sacrifice on the cross and to incarnate in our life the miracle of the “little grain” that dies in order to bear abundant fruits.

 

 

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

 

Like the life giving “grain of wheat”, Jesus Master, are we willing “to die” in order to grow and be fruitful? Are we willing to use our abilities, our talents and our lives for the service of others and risk the sacrifices that this entails? Are we willing to follow the way of peace and non-violence of the “grain of wheat”?

 

 

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

(Adapted from the Prayer of St. Francis)

 

“If a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it produces much fruit.”

Make me a channel of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring your love. Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord. And where there is doubt, true faith in you. Make me a channel of your peace. Where there is despair in life, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, only light, and where there sadness, ever joy.

 

“If a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it produces much fruit.”

O Master, grant that I may never seek so much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved, as to love with all my soul.

 

“If a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it produces much fruit.”

Make me a channel of your peace. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, in giving of ourselves that we receive, and in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

 

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.

 

            “If a grain of wheat dies, it produces much fruit.” (Jn 12:24)

 

 

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

 

When confronted with a violent situation, respond to it with non-violence in a spirit of Christian love. Through word, example and deed, and through daily dying to self, contribute to the Christian imperative of building a more peaceful world.

 

 

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March 26, 2012 (Monday): THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD, Solemnity

 “LENT: A Time to Imitate Mary’s YES

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 7:10-14; 8:10 // Heb 10:4-10 // Lk 1:26-38

 

 

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

(By Sr. Mary Martha Bruan, PDDM)

 

The Annunciation is one of the important feasts of the Blessed Mother which we celebrate every year.  We find the readings very appropriate for the feast that we celebrate today.

 

The reading from Isaiah 7:10-14 takes us back to the time when Judah is faced with the attacks of the kings of Aram and Jerusalem. God sent the prophet Isaiah to Ahaz, King of Judah, who relied more on the power of Assyria than on God’s assistance.  Since Ahaz did not ask for a sign, Isaiah spoke to Ahaz of a sign: the birth of Immanuel whose name means, “God is with us.”  The sign proposed by Isaiah is concerned more with the fulfillment of God’s earlier promise to David in the coming of Immanuel as the ideal king whose mission will be realized by his being born of a Virgin Mother. We can glean this from Luke’s narrative of the Annunciation (1:26-38).

 

The angel Gabriel greeted Mary with joy and called her “favored one.”  Mary’s reaction to this greeting was more of perplexity, silence and pondering, thus the angel told her not to fear.  This was followed by the announcement of the birth of Jesus, son of David and son of the Most High (vv. 32-33).  Mary in turn responded with a question, “How can this be since I have no relations with a man?” (v.35). This question is not an indication of doubt, but of Mary’s virginity.  She does not have sexual relations with any man thus paving the way for Gabriel’s declaration about the role of the Holy Spirit in the incarnation of Jesus, the very Word of God.  In the mind of Luke, Mary’s virginal conception is made possible through the Holy Spirit, the power of God indicating Jesus’ unique relationship to Yahweh for He is the Son of God.  To confirm the announcement, a sign was given: “Behold, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren for nothing was impossible for God” (v. 36).  If a woman like Elizabeth, past childbearing age, has conceived a child, why cannot Mary who is very young and fertile.  With this assurance, Mary, a believer uses her freedom to do God’s will.   Mary’s response is a leap of faith:  “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word” (v.38).  At that very moment the Word became flesh and blood in her virginal womb.  From that time onwards Mary became the bearer of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

 

Indeed Mary’s “Fiat” is deeply rooted in her unwavering faith in God and love for Him.  Woman of faith that she is, Mary is attentive to the message of the angel and freely chooses to do God’s will, unlike King Ahaz. Indeed Mary’s docility to God echoes loud and clear what is written in the second reading: “Sacrifice and offerings you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in.  Then I said, ‘As it is written of me in the scroll, Behold I come to do your will, O God.’” (Heb. 10:5-7).

 

What a privilege and a gift of Motherhood God bestows on Mary!  Mary’s “YES” to give life and her openness to God’s grace are sterling examples we can emulate and incarnate in today’s world dominated by the culture of death.

 

 

 

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

 

Do we imitate Mary’s “Yes” to the saving will of God? In what ways do we live out our openness to divine grace?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father, we thank you for the beautiful event of the Lord’s annunciation and for Mary’s response to grace. Teach us to imitate her life-giving “Yes” to your saving will. Like Mary, may we offer our mind, will and heart to you so that Jesus may be born in us. We love you, gracious Father. We honor 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.

 

“May it be done to me according to your word.” (cf. Lk 1:38)

 

 

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

 

In difficult moments of life, put your trust in God and, like Mary, learn to say “Yes”.

 

 

***

 

March 27, 2012 (Tuesday): LENTEN WEEKDAY (5)

“LENT: A Time to Fix our Gaze on Jesus”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Nm 21:4-9 // Jn 8:21-30

 

 

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

(By Sr. Mary Martha Bruan, PDDM)

 

As a pilgrim Church we are on a continuous journey in this world characterized by rapid technological progress and development.  We can see ourselves in the Israelites who were worn out by their long journey in the desert to the Promised Land.  Like the Israelites, in the course of our journey we encounter inconveniences, difficulties, discomforts, pains and sufferings in manifold ways thus making us feel exhausted, dissatisfied, impatient and blind to the goodness God and others have done for us.  Inevitably we grumble against each other and, more often than not, against God to the extent of losing sight of Him and committing sin.  But God has His own way of drawing us back to Him and he does it unexpectedly.

 

In the case of the Israelites He punished them by sending saraph serpents, venomous snakes whose poisonous bite has a burning effect that caused some of them died.  Faced with this situation they returned to their senses and realized that they had sinned against God.  This compelled them to approach Moses and plead for his intercession.  Following the Lord’s command, Moses made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole.  Whoever was bitten by the saraph serpent and looked at it recovered and was spared from death.  This is a preview of what will happen to Jesus: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert even so must the Son of Man be lifted up that those who believe in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting” (Jn. 3:14).

 

In the Gospel, Jesus  refers  to Himself  as  “I AM,” an expression that  late  Jewish tradition understood as Yahweh’s own self-designation (Is. 43:10).  He draws a contrast:  His enemies belong to the earth, He is from heaven.  They are of the world, He is not of the world.  Jesus came from heaven into the world.  He was sent by the Father into the world, “Kosmos,” the object of God’s love.  When the hour comes He has to depart from this world.  The death of Jesus is destined by God.  It is when Christ is lifted up on the cross that we really see “who” and “what” He is.  It is there we see Jesus’ self-oblation done for His great love for humankind.  There on the cross we see the extent of His obedience to the will of the Father, “I always do what is pleasing to Him” (Jn.8:29).

 

God was always gracious and forgiving to the Israelites who journeyed in the desert for forty years.  During the Lenten Season we journey for forty days towards Easter.  Lent is indeed the favorable time for us to fix our gaze not on the bronze serpent but on Jesus on the cross in order not to be distracted by the allurements of modern technology and strong upsurge of materialism as we go on journeying hand in hand with Him and each other.  This is the opportune time for us to reciprocate God’s immense goodness in love and do solely whatever is in accordance to His will, but how?

 

We have to discipline ourselves, intensify our prayers, fast and cease to do whatever pleases our appetite, our eyes, all our senses and break through our human shelter so as to reach out to our needy brothers and sisters with relentless care.  More importantly we are to believe and participate in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus to be with Him in the place where He is going.

 

 

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

 

In this Lenten journey, do we fix our gaze on Jesus to really see “who” and “what” he is? How does his self-oblation on the cross affect us personally?

 

 

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

 

Jesus, lifted up on the cross, you are a font of healing. You draw us to yourself for you are our loving savior. By the living streams that flow from your wounded side, you lead us in our journey from brokenness to wholeness, from deep hurt to healing, from sin to conversion, and from death to life. We commit ourselves 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.

 

“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM.” (cf. Jn 8:27)

 

 

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

 

Spend quiet moments gazing upon Christ crucified and upon his presence in today’s suffering poor. Do what you can to alleviate their pain and distress.

 

 

***

 

 

March 28, 2012 (Wednesday): LENTEN WEEKDAY (5)

“LENT: A Time to Surrender to the Truth that Sets Us Free”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Dn 3:14-20,91-92,95 // Jn 8:31-42

 

 

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

(By Sr. Mary Martha Bruan, PDDM)

 

The Book of Daniel was written during the time in which the reigning King Antiochus IV Epiphanes was carrying out a bitter persecution against the Jews. The officials of the kingdom of Babylon such as “satraps” were ordered by King Nebuchadnessar to worship the golden statue he set up in the plain of Dura, a few miles South of Babylon. The three young Jews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not exempted from worshipping the golden statue but they were firm in their faith in Yahweh. Their faith in their one and only God freed them from the fear of being punished by King Nebuchadnessar and they did not hesitate to refuse to worship the golden statue. The King was furious with them and put them in a fiery furnace. In the midst of the flames Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego raised their voices in prayer, praised God and pleaded for his help. God protected them against the peril they endured in the furnace and they came out of it victorious. The three young men’s constancy and recognition of God’s power led King Nebuchadnessar to recognize and believe in their God.

 

Faith and freedom are vital in embracing the life of discipleship.  Jesus encouraged the Jews who believed in Him to remain in his word if they want to become truly his disciples. In doing so they will know the truth and the truth will make them free.  Discipleship begins with faith which entails constant listening to the word of Jesus and learning from him.  Entering into a Master-disciple relationship involves letting the truth of the word of Jesus penetrate our being and translate itself into action.  To learn from Jesus is to learn the truth for He himself is the Truth who breaks the shackles of lies and falsehood.  In the light of Jesus’ word we see what is trivial and essential thus compels us to uphold the Gospel values of detachment and freedom. Anybody who lives in vice and sin is not free. In detaching ourselves from the slavery of pleasure, lies, deceit, selfishness and sin we go through the experience of inner freedom.  We are freed from ourselves, anxieties and fears and are now freed for God and others.

 

We follow Jesus in freedom and he walks with us.  With the presence of Christ in our lives we are totally free from fear and cease to be afraid of evil.  Freedom is the consequence of discipleship.  In freedom we continue to live and bear witness to the Gospel truth until we become the persons God wants us to be.

       

This is the freedom Jesus wants the Jews to realize.  The Jews were irritated when Jesus spoke about freedom. They claimed they have never been slaves to anybody.  They pride themselves in their belief that they are the descendants of Abraham and God’s chosen people, a way of saying that they are special.  They clung to their misplaced sense of worth and dignity and lived in falsehood.  They are enslaved by this false belief so they are not free.  Jesus our Lord and Master is reminding the Jews and all of us that we are all equal before God for we are all His children.  We are to keep his word and live according to our dignity as Christ’s disciples in today’s world, a place of blessings and challenges. We are to bear witness to the truth and love Jesus brings to us as the beloved Son of God.

 

 

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

Do we believe that Christ’s truth will set us free? Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves for his life-giving truth?

 

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

Lord Jesus, we welcome the truth that sets us free. Free us from the bondage of sin and darkness when we negate the truth. Teach us to walk in true freedom. Give us the strength to embrace suffering and death for the sake of your truth. Let us abide in you and be your faithful disciples. 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.

 

“The truth will set you free.” (cf. Jn 8:31)

 

 

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

 

Correct yourself as soon as you discover that you are not telling the truth or that you are falsifying the truth.

 

 

***

 

 March 29, 2012 (Thursday): LENTEN WEEKDAY (5)

“LENT: A Time to Welcome His Self-Revelation”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Gn 17:3-9 // Jn 8:51-59

 

 

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

(By Sr. Mary Martha Bruan, PDDM)

 

The Jews are taken a back and incredulous when Jesus tells them that “if anyone keeps his words, he will never see death.”  As usual the Jews take Jesus’ words literally and think He is merely talking about physical life and death.  This obstructs them from seeing that Jesus is leading them to understand that whoever accepts Him enters into a relationship with Him and goes, not from life to death, but from life to life.  These unbelieving Jews see Jesus as someone who is possessed and claims to be greater than Abraham.

 

The incredulity and literal mindedness of the Jews does not prevent Jesus from making a further statement, “all true honor comes from God.”   Only eternity can reveal this true honor.  In our time we find it easy to honor oneself and dwell on the satisfaction of exposing oneself into the warmth of self-conceit.  The Jews certainly do not know God as Jesus knows Him for the latter has the unique knowledge of God.  He knows God and is faithful in keeping His word.   The only way to know God totally is through Jesus - the fullness of truth.  In Jesus alone, the obedient and beloved Son we see the perfect image of God. 

 

Jesus is bent on helping the Jews open their minds and hearts to Him so He goes on saying, “Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.”  Abraham, ever faithful to God, enters into a covenantal relationship with Him and He makes him the “father of a host of nations.”  Here Jesus claims deliberately who He really is, the Messiah.  He is the Messiah Abraham saw in his vision.  The Jews even if they know that Abraham had a vision of the coming of the Messiah remain obstinate and persist in their unbelief.  It is impossible for Jesus to see Abraham for He is still young.  To their incredulity Jesus’ response is a self-revelation, “Before Abraham came to be, I AM.”  This calls to mind the time when Moses asks Yahweh for His name.  Yahweh makes a clarion declaration, “I am who am” (Ex. 3:14). 

 

          Jesus is at the beginning with God. He is timeless and exists even before Abraham came into being.  He is equal with God and therefore, above Abraham.  This is too much for the Jews and they can no longer take this blasphemy.  They were very angry with Jesus, even to the extent of throwing stones at Him. Fully aware that it is not yet His time, Jesus inevitably hides and silently leaves the temple area.  The “hour” has not yet come for Jesus’ passion, death and glorious resurrection.

            

             In the midst of varied noises, distractions and the humdrum of daily life Jesus, the timeless God who always is, invites us to make the most of this Lenten Season and go deeper into our contemplation of His paschal mystery. In contemplating Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection we need to be in silence, have time for our being, listen to and keep His words alive in our hearts today and continue to cling tenaciously to our Lord and Master who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

 

 

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

 

Do we make a serious effort to delve into the Christ mystery and his profound self-revelation?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, you are holy and immortal. You are true God and dwell in the bosom of the Most Holy Trinity. Abraham rejoiced at your coming. Grant that your profound revelation as one being with God may touch us to the core. You are the true Master of our life. You are the Lord of history and creation. May we love 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.

 

“Abraham rejoiced to see my day.” (Jn 8:51-59)

 

 

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

 

In your daily choices, show to the world that Jesus is the Divine Master and the omnipotent Lord of history and creation.

 

***

 

 MARCH 30, 2012 (Friday): LENTEN WEEKDAY (5)

“LENT: A Time to Believe in His Works”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 20:10-13 // Jn 10:31-42

 

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

(By Sr. Mary Martha Bruan, PDDM)

 

From the time Jeremiah, the prophet commits himself to speak on behalf of God he meets derision, opposition, reprimand and vengeance from his persecutors. True to what he says about God and does for him, he does not allow despair to overcome him even during his interior crisis for he believes the God who calls him to prophesy is with him. The God of Jeremiah who is with him is one with Jesus, His only-begotten Son.

 

The moment the Jews hear Jesus telling them that He and the Father are one, they become all the more hostile.  The Jews immediately draw a rash conclusion that Jesus commits blasphemy by claiming He is the Son of God.  The penalty stipulated in Jewish law for blasphemy is none other than stoning.  They are ready to stone Jesus with rocks. Jesus meets their hostility calmly and reminds them about the good works he has done for them.  He is going around preaching, feeding the hungry, comforting the desperate and sorrowing, curing the sick, casting out demons and performing other signs and wonders very revealing of God’s power.  The works that Jesus does out of His great love for humankind are indeed so noble and beautiful that they can only come from God. He is consecrated by God for a mission.  God consecrates Jesus, makes Him holy and sets Him apart from the rest of the people for a special mission.  He is sent by God into the world. He came to put into realization the mission God entrusts to his care.

 

Seeing that the Jews are not open to believe His words, Jesus appeals to them to accept His deeds. As the One sent by God he does not base His claims on what He says, but on what He is and does.  The Jews have to judge Him according to His works and not according to what He says, for what He is doing are the works of the Father.  Whatever Jesus does reveals that He and the Father are one.  Faced with the growing hostility of the Jews who tried to arrest Him, Jesus deemed it necessary to flee. Before the human eye fleeing is a cowardly act but, what Jesus did is not cowardice. He is not afraid of the Jews, but He knows that His “hour” has not yet come. He wants to be in silence and solitude with God when it finally comes.  He is preparing himself for the full realization of His mission to the point of expending His life for all. He wants to be in communion with the Father.  This is the reason why he decided to go to the other side of Jordan, a very significant place for Jesus. This is where He was baptized by John the Baptist and His identity and mission as the Beloved Son of the Father was confirmed.  There, on the distant side of Jordan, the Jews followed Jesus and remembered John the Baptist.  John spoke to them as a prophet but did not perform signs and wonders like Jesus. They regarded John as a prophet, and with their own eyes saw that everything He said about Jesus was true.

 

To believe in God is not mere lip service.  Whatever we say has to be accompanied with good deeds.  Our words should be in consonance with the works we do if we want to be credible in following Jesus and in communicating Him to contemporary men and women. Let us hold on to the sublime reality that our Lord and Master is with us. His obedience to the Father’s plan culminated in His death on the cross. Jesus’ death on the cross is the supreme proclamation and greatest act of His love for humanity that is acceptable to the Father.

 

 

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

 

Do we believe in Jesus’ works and do we acknowledge that his compassionate acts of love and mercy testify that he is the Son of God?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, we thank you for your works of mercy and love. Forgive us when we fail to recognize you as our Divine Master and as our healing Savior. Lead us from “brokenness” to “wholeness”. Make us instruments of your compassion. We love you, adore you and praise 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.

 

 “Believe the works so that you may realize that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (Jn 10:38).

 

 

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

 

By your works of mercy and compassion, let the saving presence of Jesus be experienced by the people of today who are experiencing “brokenness” and are yearning for “wholeness”.

 

***

 

March 31, 2012 (Saturday): LENT WEEKDAY (5)

“LENT: A Time to Follow Him who Dies for All”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ez 37:21-28 // Jn 11:45-56

 

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

(By Sr. Mary Martha Bruan, PDDM)

 

In due time God, out of His divine love for the remnants of Israel, will save them and bring them back to the land He gave to their fathers, and they will have it as their possession.  It is because of love that God made Himself a loving Father to Israel (Ephraim), His first born.  On that day God will gather them together and He will fill them with His blessings. Israel, Yahweh’s favored son, will return to Him, his father who always longs for His child.  The mercy of God will restore Israel to its familiar mountains and send the Israelites on their accustomed pilgrimages to Mount Sion and Jerusalem.  The gathering together into one of the dispersed children of God in today’s Gospel is prophesied by Caiaphas, the High Priest during the meeting of the chief priests and the Pharisees in the Sanhedrin

 

Many of those who witness Jesus raising Lazarus to life believe in him. When the news of this sign and wonder that Jesus performs reaches the Pharisees it disturbs them.  Feeling threatened by the growing popularity of Jesus, because of his preaching and the miracles he continues to perform, they are compelled to convene the Sanhedrin.  The chief priests and the Pharisees, anxious that Jesus might have a large number of followers strong enough to cause chaos and social unrest, ask the question, “What are we going to do?”  It appears that this question concerns the common good, but underneath is their intention to protect their own interests.  The chief priests and Pharisees are obsessed with preserving their social status, political power and prestige at the expense of another person - Jesus.

 

Caiaphas, the High Priest proposes without any qualms “that one man should die instead of the people so that the whole nation may not perish.”  For Caiaphas the death of Jesus will bring no trouble to the Romans.  The death of Jesus is the only answer to their present dilemma.  Jesus is going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.  The Jews believe that God speaks through the High Priest and so those in the Sanhedrin take the words of Caiaphas as prophetic. From that day onwards they conspired to kill Jesus who, for them, is becoming more and more dangerous. 

 

From the very beginning Jesus knows very well that it is His mission to lay down His life for the salvation of all peoples.  The culminating point of the obedience of Jesus to the will of the Father is His death on the cross.   This He has to do according to God’s plan when His “hour” comes.  Faced with the danger of the conspiracy of the chief priests and Pharisees to eliminate Jesus, He retires to Ephraim, a town near Bethel in the northern part of Jerusalem and stays there with His disciples. In silence Jesus waits for the “hour” to come when He has to die and unite all nations into one people of God.  With His death Jesus restores our dignity as God’s children. 

 

Journeying together for forty days during this grace-filled Lenten season, let us keep gazing upon Jesus. Let us allow ourselves to be grasped by Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Let us live in solidarity with one another even if this means going against the current of division and fragmentation, caused by the culture of materialism, secularism and consumerism.

 

 

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

 

Do we commit acts of injustice because we rationalize that it is better for one man to die rather than allow a bigger group to perish?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus, we thank you for your love that endures forever. You endured suffering and death that we may live and not perish. Forgive us our wicked acts of injustice and cowardice. Never again will we sacrifice the innocent to protect the mighty and powerful in our land. Be with us, Jesus, when we are persecuted for the sake of justice and right. Let us triumph with you on the throne of your cross. May we follow you all the way, 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.

            “One man should die instead of the people.” (Jn 11:50) 

 

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

 

Make reparation for injustices done to the innocent. Do what you can to vindicate the falsely accused.

 

 

***

 

 

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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