A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.31)

WEEK 12 IN ORDINARY TIME: June 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.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: June 24-30, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

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June 24, 2012: THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

“JESUS SAVIOR: John the Baptist is His Precursor”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 49:1-6 // Acts 13:22-26 // Lk 1:57-66, 80

 

 

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

 

It was June 24th – a hot sunny day - twenty years ago. I was riding in a “jeep”, the most popular form of public transportation in the Philippines. I was on my way to visit my parents and have lunch with them. The route of the “jeep” would take me through San Juan, in Metro Manila, which was celebrating the feast of its patron saint. The town has a unique fiesta tradition – water dousing! When I boarded the “jeep”, I noticed that the plastic window curtains to protect passengers from rain were rolled down. The driver explained: “I don’t want you to get wet. It’s fiesta in San Juan.” When we were there, the “jeep” got stuck in the traffic. We saw some teenagers by the road ready with water ammunition, but they were totally ignoring us. Their attention was focused on passersby. When the vehicle started to move, there was a vigorous splash through the door. An abundant douse of water hit us. After the initial shock, we started to laugh. Thank God! It was clean water. We were wet, but it was fun. The water dousing steeped us in the fiesta spirit – we felt that John the Baptist had baptized us!

 

Today’s Gospel episode (Lk 1:57-66, 80) describes the marvelous circumstances surrounding the birth of John the Baptist. Elizabeth, the wife of the temple priest Zechariah, gives birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives have heard how the Lord bestowed his mercy upon her. They rejoice with her. Their joy is great on account of Elizabeth’s lifelong barrenness and the advanced age of the couple. In the biblical mentality, fecundity is a sign of divine blessing and childlessness is a disgrace, if not downrightly a curse. The name given to the child by God and announced to Zechariah by the angel at the temple is truly significant: “JOHN” – which means “Yahweh has shown favor” … “Yahweh is gracious”. Indeed, the joy brought about by Elizabeth’s motherhood is a foretaste of the messianic joy that the birth of Jesus will bring to the world.

 

Called from birth and given a name from his mother’s womb, the remarkable child will grow and be transformed into an effective prophetic instrument of God’s word. Like a “polished arrow” hidden in God’s quiver, John is to become an incisive weapon to be used at the right time to proclaim the judgment of God. Concealed for a time, the prophet John will appear in the desert to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom and prepare the way for the public ministry of the Messiah. An enigmatic ascetic and a compelling figure in the wilderness of Judea, the Precursor will exhort the people tensed with messianic expectation: “Turn away from your sins and be baptized, and God will forgive your sins.” John will baptize in the Jordan River those who have confessed their sins and opened their hearts to the coming of the Kingdom of God.

 

The baptism of repentance performed by John at River Jordan is a powerful call to turn to God and be reconciled with him, a saving event to be completely achieved in the paschal sacrifice of the Messiah Jesus Christ. Astoundingly, Christ chooses to be baptized by the Precursor at River Jordan. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1224, remarks: “Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus’ gesture is a gesture of self-emptying. The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his beloved Son.” Indeed, the baptism of Jesus at River Jordan by John the Baptist is a messianic consecration. It is a wondrous event in salvation history in which God anoints Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power for his public ministry as the Savior of Israel and all mankind.

 

In bearing witness to the person of Jesus Christ, the true Light that enlightens the world, and in upholding the integrity of moral truth against the malice of King Herod and his partner Herodias, John suffers martyrdom. His death is an intimate participation in the paschal destiny of the Messiah, of whom he is the precursor. In sharing intimately the universal work of salvation of Jesus Christ, the words of Yahweh in the Second Servant Song, can also be applied not only to Jesus but also to John: “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Is 49:6).

 

 

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

 

Do we contemplate devoutly the meaning of the Lord’s baptism and the role of John the Baptist as the precursor of the Messiah? What is the significance for us of John’s baptism of repentance and Jesus’ baptism in the power of the Holy Spirit?

 

 

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

 

We bless and praise you, O Lord, the God of Israel.

You come to help your people.

Filled with tender compassion

you send your Son Jesus to set us free.

Through him you cause the bright dawn of salvation

to rise upon us.

He is the Sun of Justice

who guides our steps into the path of peace.

As we give you thanks for Jesus, the Day Spring,

we also thank you for his cousin John,

the prophet of the Most High.

He prepares the Messiah’s way

and disposes our hearts for the forgiveness of sins.

O loving God,

help us to imitate John’s faithful messianic ministry

and his personal integrity.

As we celebrate today his marvelous birth,

grant us the grace to imitate him

in his courageous witnessing on behalf of truth.

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 hand of the Lord was with him.” (Lk 1:66)

 

 

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

 

Pray that the Christian disciples of today may truly understand the great role of John the Baptist in preparing the way and in giving witness to Jesus Christ. In the very surroundings where you live, endeavor to be like the Baptist in giving witness to truth and in your prophetic stance against the culture of death and falsehood of today’s society.

 

 

***

 

June 25, 2012: MONDAY – WEEKDAY (12)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Tells Us to Stop Judging”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Kgs 17:5-8,13-15a,18 // Mt 7:1-5

 

 

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

 

I was praying the rosary while strolling through the spacious and beautifully tended grounds of our Fresno convent. But I was perplexed when I saw a few trash items on the ground – a styrofoam cup, candy wrapper, empty bag of potato chips, etc. Who could have trashed this place of prayer? I picked them up and disposed them in the garbage bin. Again and again, I would see trashed things here and there, not many, but enough to upset me. I complained how irresponsible and irreverent the “litterbugs” were. It was difficult for me to imagine that some “pious” people coming to our convent for Mass and retreats were actually “litterbugs”. But the “evidence” was there – right? One morning, I observed a flock of crows – busy and noisy. One powerfully swept down from the sky clutching with his beak an empty snack bag that he promptly trashed on the ground. An inner voice pierced my conscience: “Rash judgment! Rash judgment! You have made a rash judgment!”

 

Jesus tells us to stop judging that we may not be judged. Against the backdrop of the hypercriticism of the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus cautions against passing harsh judgment on others and denying them entry to the kingdom of God. To condemn others is not our prerogative. God alone is the true judge. We must leave judgment to the final judge. Instead of “judging” we must imitate the Divine Master’s compassionate stance and his work of healing and salvation. The measure we use to deal with others will be measured out to us. We will be judged on the basis of our own attitude – whether hypercritical or compassionate. Jesus, the son of a carpenter, uses carpentry images to deliver the irony of hypocrisy and false condemnation: the righteous with a wooden beam in the eye wants to remove the sawdust in another’s eye. In the biblical world, the “eye” represents a person’s attitude and understanding. Indeed, our pride obstructs the light of compassionate understanding and blinds us to our own faults and the duty of charity. Jesus warns against exaggerating our neighbor’s faults and minimizing our own. He wants us to remove the “wooden beam” dimension of our hypocrisy and pride that we may be able to remove charitably the “splinter” that hurts our neighbor’s eyes. He does not condemn fraternal correction, but false condemnation. Jesus Master counsels to have true compassion in dealing with our brothers and sisters.

 

 

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

 

Do I give in to a righteous tendency to judge my neighbors and condemn their “faults”? Do I endeavor to remove the “wooden beam” in my eye in order to help my brother remove the “sawdust” in his eye?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

you are the compassion of God and his righteousness.

We thank you for teaching us

about the evil of self-righteousness and false condemnation.

You are the final judge

and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Help us to stop judging harshly

that we may not be judged.

Help us to be compassionate

and deal kindly with us.

Teach us to perceive how futile it is

to remove the “sawdust” in our neighbor’s eye

when a wooden beam is lodged in our own eye,

blinding our spiritual vision and perception.

Grant that with your grace

we may recognize our faults and failures

and be empowered by love

to respond to the cry for help in our brother’s eye.

With true seeing “eye”,

may we perceive the beauty of charity

and embrace our duty to care for our brothers and sisters.

Let your loving eyes be upon us,

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.

 

“Stop judging, that you may not be judged.” (cf. Mt 7:1)

 

 

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

 

Before making a judgmental remark, hold your tongue and pray to God for the spirit of compassion and the grace to stop judging harshly that we may not be judged.

 

 

***

 

June 26, 2012: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (12)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Tells Us to Abide by the Golden Rule”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Kgs 19:9b-11,14-21,31-35a,36 // Mt 7:6,12-14

 

 

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

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus counsels discernment and discretion in dealing with those who are hostile to the message of salvation he brings. When our work for the Good News is rejected by those who impose rash judgment and are averse to the kingdom, he advises us not to get into a dispute. They lack understanding and refusing to understand, they will use what we say to condemn. The kingdom of God and its way of life are holy. They are like pearls of great price. The gift of salvation cannot be squandered and forced on anyone who resists them. It is sheer grace and an act of divine predilection to which we can freely respond.

 

Jesus Master tells his disciples to abide by the Golden Rule: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.” This wisdom saying can be verified in the Jewish tradition. Rabbi Hillel, who died when Jesus was about ten years old, was asked by a scoffer to teach him the whole Torah while he stood on one foot. Rabbi Hillel answered: “What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor; that is the whole Torah; go and study it.” Jesus Master likewise uses the principle of mutuality, but on a higher level: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”; “Stop judging and you will not be judged”; etc. By putting positively the wisdom saying “What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor”, Jesus transforms a prescription of self-preservation into an action of love. A negative counsel becomes pro-active. Jesus’ Golden Rule, “Do to others whatever you would have them to you” is in deep affinity with the great command, “Love your neighbor as yourself” on which depends all the law and the prophets”.

 

Jesus Master exhorts his disciples to enter by the narrow gate. This is an exhortation to become part of the pro-active faithful and not simply to follow the crowd or abide by social pressure. He sets before his disciples the two ways: the broad way that leads to doom and destruction and the narrow way that leads to life. The narrow way is that of the cross. With Jesus, we travel through the way of the cross to eternal life and the light of glory.

 

The following story, circulated on the Internet, illustrates how we can incarnate in our daily life the teachings of Jesus: the Golden Rule, choosing the narrow way, holiness, caring for those in need, etc.

 

One day a man saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her. Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn’t look safe; he looked poor and hungry.

 

He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was that chill which only fear can put in you. He said, “I’m here to help you, ma’am. Why don’t you wait in the car where it’s warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson.”

 

Well all that she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire. But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt. As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was  just passing through. She couldn’t thank him enough for coming to her aid.

 

Bryan just smiled as he closed the trunk. The lady asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way. He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance needed, and Bryan added, “And think of me.” He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed home, disappearing into the twilight.

 

A few miles down the road the lady saw a small café. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn’t erase. The lady noticed that the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan.

 

After the lady finished her meal, she paid with a hundred-dollar bill. The waitress quickly went to get her change for her hundred-dollar bill, but the old lady had slipped right out of the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. The waitress wondered where the lady could be. Then she noticed something written on the napkin. There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote: “You don’t owe me anything. I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you.” Under the napkin were four more $100 bills.

 

Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known, it was going to be hard. She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, “Everything’s going to be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson.”

 

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

Do I believe in the positive value of the Golden Rule? Do I practice the Golden Rule in the spirit of Jesus’ love command?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus,

we thank you for teaching us

about the great value of the kingdom of God.

The heavenly kingdom is a pearl of great price

that must not be lost or squandered.

Thank you for calling us to holiness

and for consecrating us for your service.

Help us to put into practice the Golden Rule:

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”

Give us the grace to enter

the narrow way that leads to life.

Grant us the grace and strength

to be pro-active in our ministry of love.

You are the way, truth and life.

We bless you and adore 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.

 

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”  (Mt 7:12)

 

 

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

 

Living by the Golden Rule, do an act of kindness for a needy person and be patient and kind to one who challenges your patience and provokes your anger.

 

 

 

***

 

 

June 27, 2012: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (12); SAINT CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA, bishop, doctor of the Church

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Tells Us to Beware of False Prophets”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Kgs 22:8-13;23:1-3 // Mt 7:15-20

 

 

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

 

This happened in Antipolo, Philippines in the ‘70s. The Sisters welcomed into our convent a young priest who introduced himself as the Vocation Promoter of the Rogationist Fathers. He was offered a fine dinner and given permission to enter the Sister Superior’s Office to use the only telephone in the house. After the phone call he told us that he needed to go. After he left the Sister Superior discovered that the grocery money for the week was gone. She called up his seminary to investigate. She was told that our “guest” had entered their seminary and stayed with them for a few months. After getting what he wanted, he took off. We were victimized by a bogus priest.

 

Jesus tells us to beware of false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. Their evil sentiments are acted out in deceit – to the detriment of the people they claim to serve. Some of the false prophets in Jesus’ time are those who falsely claim to be spiritual leaders of the people and by their false teachings lead them to destruction. False prophets are like a rotten tree that bears bad fruit. The image of “thornbushes and thistles” represents their grisly sin and the desolation it brings. True prophets are like a good tree that bears good fruit. Their words are true and their lives inspire people to holiness and transformation.

 

Papa Mike, the founder of the Poverello House in Fresno, talks about Fr. Simon Scanlon, the Franciscan priest who led him on the path of conversion, and was for him a true prophet-shepherd (cf. Mike McGarvin, Papa Mike, Fresno: Poverello House, 2003, p. 46-47).

 

Father Simon had once been a businessman. He and his brother owned a medical sponge business in the ‘30s and ‘40s. It was a million-dollar-a year enterprise, which was a huge amount of money back in those days. Then World War II intervened, and Simon went off to Europe. We don’t hear too much about older war veterans suffering the same sorts of symptoms as Vietnam vets, but they did. Many of the men who saw action during World War II witnessed carnage on an unbelievable scale, and Simon was one of them. The war made life as he knew it came to halt, and he returned, not a victorious soldier, but a man whose soul had been ripped out and torn to pieces. Later in life, Father Simon told a newspaper reporter that after seeing so much bloodshed and death, nothing mattered except life. Making money no longer had any allure. He wanted to make a change, a radical change, so he signed over the business to his brother and entered the Franciscan Order of the Catholic Church. Eventually he was ordained a priest.

 

He ended up in a tough parish assignment, St. Boniface Church in urban San Francisco. The area was like a vast bleeding wound. It was populated by people who just barely survived, who had long ago given up on life and were now numbly eking out a daily existence on disability checks, meager old-age pensions, prostitution, or muggings. It was an area full of predators and victims.

 

Father Simon responded by gathering some volunteers and opening the Poverello Coffeehouse. Poverello was a safe haven, a place of refuge. It was a small storefront room where people could find acceptance, hot coffee, and a few smiles. These weren’t earth shaking things, but they were rare commodities on the streets. Father Simon was the driving force behind Poverello, but he had a small cadre of friends who aided him. Always short-staffed, he was constantly on the prowl for help. Providentially, while I was talking to him, a fight broke out between two patrons. I instinctively stepped in and broke it up. Father Simon watched with interest while I enforced peace. When everything had calmed down, I came back to chat with him some more, and he popped the question: Would I like to volunteer there at Poverello?

 

I hesitated. Working and partying were my priorities, and I knew I couldn’t give up work. Volunteering at Poverello would cut heavily into the time I spent smoking weed and dropping acid; but then, it felt good when I broke up that fight. For the first time in quite a while, I felt useful, and I kind of liked it. Besides, something had clicked for me with this priest guy. He intrigued me, and I thought it would be interesting to hang around him for awhile. “Yeah”, I said. “I’ll try it out.” Thus began my career as a Bouncer for Jesus.

 

 

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

 

Do I try to be aware of false prophets and resist their destructive influence? Do I open up myself to the transforming presence of Jesus the true prophet?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Master,

help us to beware of false prophets.

Give us the light of the Holy Spirit

that we may discern what is evil

and detest it.

By the strength of the same Spirit

help us to pursue what is good

that we may bear

abundant fruits of holiness and good works.

O loving Jesus,

you are the true prophet.

Your ways are right

and your words are true.

Engrafted to you,

we bear good fruit for eternal life.

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.

 

“So by their fruits you will know them.” (cf. Mt 7:20)

 

 

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

 

Let your daily actions bear abundant fruit of goodness and holiness to benefit the people around you and the larger society.

 

***

 

 June 28, 2012: THURSDAY – SAINT IRENAEUS, martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Tells Us to Build Upon the Rock”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Kgs 24:8-17 // Mt 7:21-29

 

 

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

 

Outward symbols must correspond to inner reality. Pious practices and confession with the lips are laudable, but are not enough; total obedience to the will of God and right actions are necessary. Using the powerful image of a solid foundation, Jesus tells his disciples that his teaching is the only safe foundation upon which one should build one’s life. Any other foundation spells destruction. The Divine Master calls us to build our lives on the rock of his living word and put it into practice. We must not simply proclaim in words that Jesus is Lord and call upon him as our Lord Savior. We must act in a way that corresponds to the inner strength of our word. Our actions must give witness to the faith we profess.  Our worship of God must be incarnated in the life we live.

 

The following story of Jo Dee Baker from Slidell, Louisiana, whose lovely house and beautiful garden were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, tells of a community of believers whose efficacious faith is founded on a solid foundation (cf. “Angels on the Move” in GUIDEPOSTS, Large Print Edition, March 2006, p. 5-9). Both Jo, the victim of a natural calamity, and the caregivers from the Baptist Church illustrate how wonderful and marvelous is a faith that is put into practice.

 

My beautiful yard was a mess of uprooted trees and debris; the salt water had burned the grass a sickly brown. My lovely white picket fence lay on its side, and shingles from my roof littered the ground like fallen leaves. Inside, slimy mud covered the floors, and water from the storm surge had tossed all my furniture upside down. The walls were caked black with mildew. Practically everything I owned was ruined. How could I ever come back from this? How could anyone? (…)

 

So many people needed help, and help was spread thin. “Lord”, I prayed, “I need some divine intervention here.” The next day, I pulled up to my house just as a man with a pickup truck was slowly passing by. He stopped, rolled down the window and leaned out. “Do you need any help?” he shouted. I laughed halfheartedly. “Help? I need an army,” I said. “I’m Brother Johnny from First Baptist Church of Pontchatoula.” He wrote down my name, address and number. “We’ll be in touch, Ma’am.” Then he drove off. But after two weeks I still hadn’t heard from him.

 

One Monday morning, lugging another bag of my ruined treasures to the curb, I stared down the street at the mountains of trash and destroyed homes. “So many people have lost so much,” I thought. Just then, my cell phone rang. Service was still spotty, but the voice on the other end was loud and clear. “Hello, it’s Brother Johnny. I’ve got some people who want to volunteer to help you. They’ll be calling you.” That was it. He hung up. Then the phone rang again. “Jo Dee? This is Jimmy Brown. I’m from the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Rives, Tennessee. We need to know what you need, exactly.” Where to begin? I told him about the mildewed floors, the torn up roof. “Don’t worry, Ma’am. We’ll be there. See you next Tuesday morning.” (…)

 

Nineteen people had traveled all the way from Tennessee just to help little old me. They spent three days cleaning the rot and grime and putting on my new roof. Two weeks after they left, about 40 more, from an association of 45 churches, came to finish the job! They ripped out and replaced the flooring, repainted the house, put in new shelves and cabinets, installed a stove and a water heater. By the time they were done, the house looked better than ever!

 

 

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

 

Is our faith solidly built on the word of God? Is it efficacious and operative? How do we translate our faith into action?  

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

give us the wisdom of the Holy Spirit

that we may make the right choices

and be faithful to the kingdom value.

Assist us to trust

in the saving word of Jesus.

May our faith be true

and shown by our actions.

When the rains of temptations fall

and the floods of evil come,

let us not yield to despair,

but rather, increase our faith in Jesus.

He is our refuge and stronghold,

our rock of strength and true foundation,

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.

 

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” (Mt 7:21-29)

 

 

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

 

When life trials seem to submerge you, pray to God that he may strengthen your faith. Extend your helping hand and share the Word with those whose faith is wavering.

 

 

***

 

 June 29, 2012: FRIDAY – SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, apostles

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Calls Us to Imitate Peter and Paul”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 12:1-11 // II Tm 4:6-8,17-18 // Mt 16:13-19

 

 

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

 

We celebrate today the solemn feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the two great pillars of the Church. These two great apostles remind us that the cost of Christian discipleship is dear. By their pastoral ministry and self-sacrificing service to the Gospel, they have witnessed to the nations that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God and the Savior of the world.

 

Today’s bible readings underline their intimate participation in Christ’s paschal mystery and his saving power. The Acts of the Apostles narrates that King Herod Agrippa had Peter arrested so that he might be tried before the people after the Passover. On the very night before Herod would bring him to trial, Peter, secured by double chains and sleeping between two soldiers, is rescued by an angel from an imminent death. The Second Reading deals with the apostle Paul, also a prisoner for Christ and an intimate participant in his paschal mystery. He does not allow the specter of death to daunt him, but rather, recognizes the divine saving plan at work in his life. Trusting fully in the Lord Jesus and knowing that he has done all he could to proclaim the Gospel, Paul compares his life to a spiritual sacrifice. He speaks of his upcoming death as a “passage” – a Passover toward the divine kingdom. The Gospel reading depicts Peter’s confession of faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus then entrusts to him the “keys” of the Kingdom. The “keys” symbolize the authority entrusted to him to lead the young church after Jesus’ resurrection. As willed by Jesus Christ, Peter’s ministry as a “rock” foundation of the Church and his service of authority as a recipient of the “keys” would live on through time and space.

 

In our celebration of the God-given gift to the Church of its great apostolic pillars, Sts. Peter and Paul, we are invited to consider anew our vocation and mission as Church and to pray for the Pope and all those who have received the special mission as stewards of the mysteries of salvation.

 

As we celebrate the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, I thank the Lord for the opportunity he gave me to spend several years of my apostolic life in Rome, under the shadows of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican City and Saint Paul’s Basilica on Via Ostiense. I was enrolled at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, but it was a great joy for me to help our Sisters at the souvenir shops in Saint Peter’s Basilica during my free time. I had a chance to meet pilgrims from five continents of the world and savor the “universality of the Church”. The Sisters take daily turns for Eucharistic Adoration at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of Saint Peter’s Basilica and offer special prayers for the Church and the Pope. One Wednesday afternoon, after our work at the Cupola’s souvenir shop and while walking in the courtyard to board our van, we were asked by the Vatican police to stay put. From the other part of the courtyard, there was a tremendous activity as the Pope’s entourage arrived. When we saw Pope John Paul II, we cried out, “Viva il Papa!” Pope John Paul II, who was boarding the Pope-Mobile for his Wednesday audience with the pilgrims, turned and waved to us like a loving father.

 

I likewise remember when I would go to the SSP Provincial House at Via Alessandro Severo, near the Basilica of St. Paul, to pray at the tomb of our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, and the first Pauline priest, Blessed Timothy Giaccardo, who were both beatified by Pope John Paul II. These two great pillars of the Pauline Family were deeply influenced by Saint Paul. The first foundation of the Pauline Family in Rome, at Via Alessandro Severo, received vital assistance from the kind Benedictines at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.  In my prayer, I thank the Lord for the Pauline Family and our father Saint Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.

 

 

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

 

How did Saint Peter and Saint Paul participate intimately in Christ’s Paschal Mystery? How do their life and mission impact me personally?

 

 

 

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

 

O gracious Father,

you fill our hearts with joy

as we honor your great apostles:

Peter, our leader in the faith,

and Paul, the fearless preacher.

Peter raised up the Church from the faithful flock of Israel.

Paul brought your call to the nations,

and became the teacher of the world.

Each in his chosen way

gathered into unity the one family of Christ.

Both shared the martyr’s death

and are praised throughout the world.

Grant us the grace to imitate

Saint Peter’s pastoral ministry to the Church

and Saint Paul’s zeal to proclaim the Gospel to the nations.

We give you glory and praise

and we pledge to 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 week. Please memorize it.

 

“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16) 

 

 

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

 

Meditate on the marvels God has accomplished in the Church through the life witness and ministry of Saints Peter and Paul. By your own life witness and ministry, enable the people of today to experience the edifying spirit of Saints Peter and Paul.

 

 

***

 

 

June 30, 2012: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (12); THE FIRST MARTYRS OF THE HOLY ROMAN CHURCH; BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Heals the Centurion’s Servant”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Lam 2:2,10-14,18-19 // Mt 8:5-17

 

 

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

 

This is a true story. A small Jewish boy realized that his teenage nanny, a Catholic, wills him well. She even accompanies him to the synagogue when his daddy is not around. There she would encourage him to get into the serious business of praying. One day his dear nanny became seriously ill. She was in the hospital dying of pneumonia. The boy requested his dad to accompany him to her parish church so that he could pray there for her healing. The Jewish dad shook his finger at him, but finally relented. They went to the Catholic parish church.  The boy knelt in a pew and poured out his heart to God in prayer. The beloved nanny recovered. She continued to serve at that Jewish household for many, many years.

 

Today’s reading depicts one of the most lovable figures in the Gospel: the Roman centurion who approached Jesus saying, “Lord, my servant is lying home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He is a person of immense compassion for he pleaded for a suffering servant. He is mighty in military power but humble and gentle of heart. He is a foreigner, but sympathetic to the Jews. He is respectful of the Jewish culture for he does not wish Jesus to be defiled by going into his house – the house of a Gentile. Great is his faith in Jesus’ healing power for he humbly said to Jesus: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Jesus expressed surprise and delight at his request. He healed his suffering servant and praised his great faith. The Lord Jesus reminds us that faith – expressed in goodness, compassion and humility - entitles us to share in the promises God made to the patriarchs.

 

 

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

 

Do I manifest the same faith, compassion and virtues as the Roman centurion who cares for a suffering servant?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Master,

we thank you for the sterling character of the Roman centurion.

He is a special model

of compassion, goodness, humility and faith in you.

With him, we cry out to you:

“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,

but only say the word,

and my soul shall be healed.”

We give you glory and praise,

now and forever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Mt 8:8)

 

 

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

 

Show compassion, respect and caring love for the people around you, especially the subordinate, and uphold their dignity.

***

 

 

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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