A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.24)

FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER: May 6-12, 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.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: May 6-12, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

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May 6, 2012: FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

“EASTER: A Time to Remain on the Vine”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 9:26-31 // I Jn 3:18-24 // Jn 15:1-8

 

 

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

            I love raisins. When I was a small girl, I yearned for SUN-MAID raisins from California. They are sweet and delectable. If sun-dried raisins are good, fresh grapes are even better. When I hold a bunch of grapes, my heart is filled with gratitude for the Lord’s bounty. Each little grape reminds me of the life-giving lymph that flows from the stem, to the branches, to the leaves, and to the fruit. I resided in Fresno, California from 2002-2007. Our Fresno convent is bordered by a neighbor’s vineyard. I consider myself lucky to have a chance to contemplate pruned branches sprouting new leaves and eventually, laden with fruit. Indeed, the wonderful sight of a fruitful vine enables me to relish today’s Gospel message: Jesus the vine; the disciples the branches. 

When Jesus says, “I am the vine and you are the branches”, he affirms his intimate personal relationship with his disciples. The disciples need to be deeply united with him. Since Christ is the source of life, the disciples cannot bear fruit unless they remain in him. When Jesus abides in his disciples through indwelling, and they in turn abide in him through love, the vine becomes fruitful. God prunes and purifies the branches. The painful pruning is necessary for a rich harvest of the Spirit. Just as Jesus, the “true vine” has been “pruned” through his passion and death, so must his disciples be cleansed by his “living Word” and “pruned” by his sacrifice on the Cross.

 

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

 

Do I allow Christ to remain in me? Do I remain on the vine? Am I fruitful? What is the fruit of my union with the indwelling Christ? Do I willingly submit myself to the pruning and cleansing action of the “vinedresser?

 

 

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

(Based on a prayer composed by Blessed James Alberione) 

 

Jesus, my Life, my joy, and source of all good,

I love you.

Above all, I ask of you that I may love you more and more

and all those redeemed by your blood.

You are the vine and I am the branch.

I want to remain united to you always

so as to bear much fruit.

You are the source:

pour out an ever greater abundance of grace to sanctify my soul.

You are my head, I, your member:

communicate to me your Holy Spirit with all his gifts.

May your kingdom come through Mary.

Console and save those dear to me.

Free the souls in purgatory.

Multiply and sanctify those called to the apostolate.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

 

 

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.

 

            “I am the true vine.” (Jn 15:1)

 

 

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

 

When you drink the wine from the cup at the table of the Eucharist, be very grateful for the source of this life-giving gift, Jesus Christ, the “true vine” onto which we are grafted. As a way of transmitting God’s comfort and joy, you may send a basket of fruit to a family/person that needs moral, spiritual and material support.

 

 

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May 7, 2012: MONDAY - EASTER WEEKDAY (5)

 “EASTER: A Time to Follow His Love Command”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 14:5-18 // Jn 14:21-26

 

 

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

(By Sr. Mary Cecilia Payawal, PDDM)

 

On this fifth week of Easter, we are invited to a continuous reading, and to reflect upon the fourteenth and fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John. To help us in our reflection, we need to situate ourselves in the context of these two chapters. First, these chapters are found in the third part of the Gospel of John - The Book of Glory, the part wherein Christ will face and experience the “glory”, the fulfillment of His mission on earth, the culmination of His journey in this world, and journey towards the “glory”- communion with the Father. Second, it may help to situate us in the scene of this part of the Gospel of John, that is, the moment when Jesus ate the Last Supper with his disciples.

 

Considering these points, we are now ready to reflect on and experience more deeply the message of the Gospel for today. Some repeated words may be significant to note. For example, love and word. It also important to notice the words: commandment, home, Father, Holy Spirit, teach and remembrance. We may allow the meaning of these words to sink into our whole being. Imagine how these words were uttered by Jesus to his disciples before leaving them.

 

Putting myself into the scene of the Gospel, I cannot help but imagine Jesus as someone who is telling his “habilin” (last words of someone who is about to leave or die) to his disciples. Jesus allowed them to experience the depth and height of his love. Thus he asked them to keep his commandment: “love one another” (Jn 13:34), the measure of which is his love for them: “As I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).

 

Following Jesus is never easy. Particularly, following his commandment of love is never easy. We may easily say that we love Jesus, yet have difficulty in “loving one another”, in loving our neighbor. We may experience deep within us the depth and height of God’s love for us in the person of Jesus, as well as our love for him, yet have more difficulty in experiencing this love in the persons around us. The Gospel for today presents a challenge, an invitation to us: “Let us love one another, as Christ has loved us.” In this way, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we may be led to our “home”, to our Father who loves us, in and through the person of Christ. Only through this, are we able to proclaim with the disciples: “The Lord is Risen!”

 

 

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

 

Do I really make an effort to be a true disciple of Jesus by knowing his word and keeping his love command?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Divine Master,

you are our saving Lord who loved us to the end.

You love us with an eternal love.

Teach us to love you

by being compassionate to those around us

and by serving the poor and vulnerable in our midst.

Send us the Holy Spirit, the promised Advocate.

He will teach us everything

and remind us of all that you told us,

especially your farewell command of mutual love.

You are the Lord of Easter glory, now and forever.

Amen. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

 

 

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.

 

“Whoever loves me will keep my word.” (cf. Jn 14:23)

 

 

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

 

Offer an act of charity to a person who seems to be “unlovable” and difficult to deal with.

 

 

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May 8, 2012: TUESDAY – EASTER WEEKDAY (5)

“EASTER: A Time to Remain in His Peace”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 14:19-28 // Jn 14:27-31a

 

 

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

(By Sr. Mary Cecilia Payawal, PDDM)

 

“Peace…” After hearing Jesus’ words of farewell, the disciples are certainly troubled. For their Master is about to leave, and they will be left alone. They might have asked themselves: “Who will guide us now? Whom shall we follow? Who will lead us?” They feel lost. Jesus tells them: “Peace… Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” But how can they be at peace when Jesus is leaving them? What does this “peace” signify?

 

Nobody, certainly, would be at peace knowing that someone whom they love is about to leave; when they know the uncertainly of ever meeting him/her again. What then can give “peace”? This peace is surely not the absence of pain and sorrow, struggle and conflicts. It is the experience of the “presence” of someone that allows you to be embraced by a love that never fades, a love that assures a constant “presence”, despite the “absence”. This peace cannot be given to us by the world. Only God, in the person of Jesus, the Risen Lord, can grant us this peace. Persons can love us and assure us of their presence. Yet this presence is limited by death. But Jesus’ presence goes beyond death. If his resurrected presence is experienced, we will never be troubled nor be afraid. For even in the midst of pain and sorrow, struggle and conflict, there will be peace in our inner being. And with Jesus, our Risen Lord, we can “rise and go”, we can continue the journey ahead. 

 

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

Do we treasure Jesus’ farewell gift of peace and his Easter peace benediction? Do we share the Lord’s peace with others?

 

 

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

 

O loving Lord,

peace is your farewell gift to us as well as your Easter gift.

Help us to treasure the peace

that springs forth from your presence.

You are our Risen Lord

and with your Easter benediction of peace,

we can “rise and go” to continue our paschal journey to the very end.

O Risen Lord,

make us channels of your peace.

We humbly pray to make us partakers of your eternal peace

in the bosom of God.

We love you and praise you.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

 

 

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.

 

“Peace I leave with you.” (cf. Jn 14:27)

 

 

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

 

When troubled and agitated, make special a effort to focus on the gift of divine peace that is within you. Be a channel of peace for the people around you.

 

 

***

 

 

May 9, 2012: WEDNESDAY – EASTER WEEKDAY (5)

“EASTER: A Time to Remain on the Vine and Bear Fruit”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 15:1-6 // Jn 15:1-8

 

 

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

(By Sr. Mary Cecilia Payawal, PDDM)

 

Once more, let us underline significant words repeated in this part of the Gospel: vine, branch, fruit, and abide. Other words and phrases which may speak to us are: bear fruit, can do nothing, abides in me, can do nothing, thrown away and withers. It may also help if we sit under a tree or vine and watch the connection or relationship between the tree/vine and the branches. We may notice some dead branches that fell on the ground, while others may be attached to the vine/tree and are bearing much fruit with many leaves.

 

This is the invitation of Jesus in the Gospel of today: “Abide in me, and I in you.” Other translations of the Bible say: “Remain in me, as I remain in you.” Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his book “Jesus of Nazareth” that this is the measure of love: “the remaining”. For true and authentic love remains, no matter what and in spite of… My spiritual director, when I was in Spain, once told me that a friendship or any love relationship that did not last is never a true friendship or love. Jesus remained till the end. He remained loving till such love brought him to his death on the cross. More so, he remained after death. He is risen and remains with us, here and now. He manifests true and faithful love that lasts, that remains - till the end. The Gospel announces good news to us: “God’s love that remains in and through the person of the Risen Lord!” It invites us to love, to remain, to abide, in the same way that Jesus has loved, loves and will love till the end of time.

 

 

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

 

Do we respond fully to the abiding presence and the enduring love of Jesus Savior? Do we make an effort to abide in his love?

 

 

 

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

 

O Risen Christ,

you are the vine “pruned” by the Father

in your paschal sacrifice on the cross.

We are the branches that cling to you, the true vine.

Grant us the grace to abide in you

through trials and difficulties.

Cleanse us and “prune” us

from all that impedes acts of love and self-giving.

Make us bear abundant fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Give us the grace to relish the Eucharistic wine in the heavenly banquet,

where you live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

 

 

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.

 

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.” (cf. Jn 15:5)

 

 

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

 

In gratitude for the abiding love of the Risen Lord, do an act of charity for someone who feels “unloved” and broken in spirit.

 

 

***

 

 

 May 10: THURSDAY – EASTER WEEKDAY (5), or SAINT DAMIEN DE VEUSTER, priest

“EASTER: A Time to Abide in His Love and Relish His Joy”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 15:7-21 // Jn 15:9-11

 

 

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

(By Sr. Mary Cecilia Payawal, PDDM)

 

Words like love, abide and commandments continue to resound in today’s Gospel. But a new word comes out: JOY! Jesus’ love is coming from the Father’s love for him. The measure of his love is the measure of the Father’s love for him. We may even say that in Jesus’ love is alive the meaning of the saying: “The true measure of love is to love without measure.” For that is how the Father loves; that is how Jesus loves.

 

However, this love is never static or passive. Jesus presents a challenge, an invitation: “Abide in my love. Keep my commandment.” His love asks for a response, to abide in his love and keep his commandment. And he set an example. He was the first one who lived out what he was asking. He was the first one to keep the commandment of the Father, to abide in his love. In such a way, he experienced joy, the joy that comes from the Father, the joy that the world cannot give, the joy that lasts forever, the joy that comes and enters from/into deep within. In today’s Gospel, we are invited to see the source of our joy. Where is our joy coming from? From persons, things or achievements? From affirmations or recognitions? Or from the Jesus in whom we abide, whom we love? May this source always be Jesus, the one who loves us and cares for us; who always keeps his promise if we abide in his love; the only one who can give us joy in its fullness!

 

 

 

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

 

Do you strive to keep the Lord’s commandments and abide in his love? Do you experience joy in embracing the divine love?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord, how gracious you are in loving us!

You love us with the same love with which the Father loves you.

Grant us the grace to follow the divine saving will

and imitate your total self-giving.

Let us experience the joy that is the fruit of your sacrificial love.

Grant us the joy of eternal life.

You are worthy of thanksgiving and praise.

We love you and adore you, now and forever.

Amen. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

 

 

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.

 

“That my joy may be in you.” (Jn 15:11)

 

 

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

 

Rejoice in the Lord. Make an effort to share the love and joy of Jesus with the people around you. Let “sharing a smile” be your special ministry today.

 

 

***

 

 May 11, 2012: FRIDAY – EASTER WEEKDAY (5)

“EASTER: A Time to Love One Another”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 15:22-31 // Jn 15:12-17

 

 

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

(By Sr. Mary Cecilia Payawal, PDDM)

 

In the Gospel for today, Jesus continues his teachings on love. He underlines again the commandment of love, the basis of which is his love. However, he added a significant point: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Friendship is one of the most beautiful things that can happen in life. A true friend can lift us up when we are down; can brighten our gloomy day; loves us till the end; remains with us even in the midst of failures and weaknesses. A friend, like the branch, is intimately linked to the vine; is in deep communion with the other friend because of love. Thus Jesus did not consider the disciples as servants, but friends for he loves them despite “betrayals and denials”. And he is willing to lay down his life for them, even if such death was the most shameful - on the cross!

 

Jesus has set an example on how to love. A servant is a stranger to the master. He has no intimate relationship, no experience of deep communion with the master. However, a friend is someone to whom everything is revealed by the other. A friend is someone whom we trust, whom we love despite weaknesses and limitations. Jesus loved the disciples not as servants but as friends. He revealed to them what the Father told him. He loved them as the Father loved him. Jesus exhorts the disciples: “… I chose you…Bear fruit….Love one another.” May Jesus’ examples inspire us to follow him that we may truly love one another as friends and radiate his living presence, here and now, in our community, in the Church, in the world.

 

 

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

 

Do we truly love one another? Do we allow Jesus to love us as a “friend”?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

thank you for being a “friend” to us.

Thank you for loving us intimately.

You loved us to the end.

You died on the cross

to save us from ruthless death and unending darkness.

Help us to respond to your love as true “friends”.

Help us to prove our love for you

by loving and serving one another.

Grant that in loving one another,

we may bear fruits that endure to eternal life.

Great and marvelous is your love for us!

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

 

 

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 week. Please memorize it.

 

“Love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12)

 

 

 

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

 

When the act of loving becomes difficult and “sacrificial”, trust in Jesus and beg him for the grace to overcome the difficulties and the pain of the sacrifice.

 

 

***

 

May 12, 2012: SATURDAY – EASTER WEEKDAY (4), or SAINTS NERIUS & ACHILLEUS, martyrs, or SAINT PANCRAS, martyr

“EASTER: A Time to Suffer Persecution in His Name”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 16:1-10 // Jn 15:18-21

 

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

(By Sr. Mary Cecilia Payawal, PDDM)

 

Following Jesus is not an easy task. His preaching, in words and deeds, is like sharp swords that can pierce the heart of persons. In the same way that his teachings caused conflicts in his time, following his teachings would also cause conflicts in our time. The world may hate us, persecute us, “betray and deny” us, as the people of his time did to Jesus. To follow Jesus needs clarity of motivation and direction. We have to be clear that we are preaching not ourselves but Christ; that in our teachings we do not seek recognitions and affirmations, but the “glory of God”; that “in all things, God may be glorified”.

 

However, our human nature needs recognitions and affirmations. It is never easy to go against nature. But with the “grace” of God, everything would certainly be possible. Following Christ is putting on the whole Christ, embracing not only the resurrection but, first of all, his passion and death. May God, in and through the “salvation” brought by the resurrection of our Lord, grant us grace to follow the footsteps of our Lord Jesus. May we remain in him, even if others may hate us, even if everybody may leave us, even if we may be persecuted because of him. For only in and through this are we able to proclaim to the world, “Christ lives! He lives in you and in me!”

 

 

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

 

Are we ready to suffer persecution for the sake of Christ? Do we cling to Christ for life and strength in the midst of adversities?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Savior,

you suffered death and persecution for our sake.

How could we ever repay you!

Grant us the grace to embrace your sacrificial love.

Make us trust in your life-giving word.

When we suffer persecution on account of your name,

teach us to remember how you loved us to the end.

Help us to be faithful and true.

We love you and glorify you, now and forever.

Amen. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

 

 

 

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 they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (Jn 15:20)

 

 

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

Study the social teachings of the Church. Be ready to take a stand for the Christian teaching, especially when the world’s logic and socio-political forces assail it.

 

 

 

***

 

 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang  PDDM

 

 

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