A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.34)

WEEK 15 IN ORDINARY TIME: July 15, 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: July 15-21, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

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July 15, 2012: 15th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME     

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Begins to Send Them Out”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Am 7:12-15 // Eph 1:3-14 // Mk 6:7-13

 

 

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

  

Rhoel Gallardo, a member of the Claretian missionary congregation, and Raul Ventigan, a member of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM), a missionary congregation founded in Belgium, were my students at Maryhill School of Theology in Metro Manila, Philippines. After his ordination, Fr. Rhoel was sent to work in the predominantly Muslim-populated Basilan Island, in southern Philippines, where he died a martyr’s death. The notorious Abu Sayaf Islamic rebel group kidnapped and tortured him. Fr. Rhoel was ordered to rape the catechists who were captured with him. But he refused to obey their sadistic command. He defied their mockery and brutality by turning to God in prayer. They eventually shot him to death. Fr. Raul was a young medical doctor when he entered the seminary. As part of his missionary training, he worked for four years in Haiti. He then returned to the Philippines to finish the last year of his group’s theology program. After ordination, he was sent back to Haiti, his mission land. His medical expertise helped him greatly in his pastoral ministry to the poor and the sick. A few months after his return to Haiti, he succumbed to a health condition and was found dead on his bed. Fr. Rhoel and Fr. Raul - two young Filipino missionaries sent out by our Lord Jesus to minister to his people – exemplify God’s gift of missionary vocation to the Church and to the world.

 

Jesus chooses prophets and apostles, and he sends them out to continue his saving work in the world. The missionary and prophetic vocation is a divine initiative. Astounding grace is given to those Jesus calls and sends out. Indeed, the missionaries must contend with the possibility of not being welcomed and of not being listened to. In this case, they simply replicate in their life the destiny of Jesus, the sending Lord, rejected even by his neighbors in Nazareth. According to an ancient Church writer, Theophylact (c. 1050-1109): “Jesus told them to shake the dust off their feet when people refused to receive them, to show that they had made a long journey for their sakes and they owed them nothing; they had received nothing from them, not even their dust, which they shook off as a testimony against them – a testimony of reproach.” The action of shaking the dust off one’s feet is to provoke thought among the unwelcoming people and to make them realize that they have rejected their own salvation. The missionaries of all ages will be subjected to all kinds of trials. Their option is not violent reprisal, but humility and kindness. They are to humbly accept the indignities of rejection and the painful process of “birthing” in order that the saving word of the Gospel may reach all the ends of the earth.

 

The apostles and missionaries of today are called to speak Christ’s message of love to his people, heal the sick, care for the weak, summon the erring to conversion and liberate the enslaved from evil. In their very person is a manifestation of divine goodness and compassion. Pope Paul VI, moreover, has this to say: “The Church is a continuation and extension of his presence, called above all to carry on the mission of Jesus and his work of evangelization without ceasing. Never can the Christian community be shut in on itself.” Indeed, as Christian disciples, we are all apostles in the here and now. We are all missionaries in today’s world.

 

 

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

 

Do we believe that we are called and sent by Jesus to preach the Gospel in the here and now? Are we totally free to commit ourselves to the ministry of evangelization? 

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

you call and send us.

You gave us the Gospel with its power to save.

Be near us as we confront the anguish of today’s world

with the good news of salvation.

Help us to touch the wounded

with the healing power of your love.

Empower us to liberate the enslaved from evil.

Grant us compassion for the weak.

Be with us as we care for the needy.

Teach us to live a life of simplicity and renunciation.

Make us your true disciples and zealous missionaries

in a fragmented society that longs for meaning in life.

Jesus, the one Sent by the Father,

we love 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.

 

            “Jesus began to send them out two by two.” (Mk 6:7)

 

 

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

Pray for all missionaries that they may carry out their mandate with absolute trust in God and apostolic zeal. Be a missionary to a person close to you and in need of the healing power of the Gospel.

 

 

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July 16, 2012: MONDAY – WEEKDAY (15); OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Brings not Peace, but the Sword of Division”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 1:10-17 // Mt 10:34-11:1

 

 

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

 

I was in my third year of high school when I came across Leo Tolstoy’s novel, “War and Peace”. I found it so interesting and irresistible. I did not go to school for three days to read it from cover to cover. I am fascinated by this Russian “prophet”. I am awed by his commitment to Christ’s teaching on love, compassion and non-violence. Peter White’s article “The World of Tolstoy” in the June 1986 edition of the National Geographic (cf. p. 758-791) contains interesting insights which I share here.

 

Count Tolstoy was deeply inspired by Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, especially his moral exhortation, “Resist not evil” (cf. Mt 5:39), but instead, “Return good for evil”.  This would be at the heart of Tolstoy’s doctrine on universal love, moral self-improvement and non-violence, as eventually expressed in his work, “The Kingdom of God Is Within You”. India’s Mahatma Gandhi was greatly influenced by Leo Tolstoy. He avowed that, when he read Tolstoy’s work, “The Kingdom of God Is Within You”, he was overwhelmed. Having exchanged correspondence with Tolstoy, Gandhi was cured of his skepticism and became a firm believer in ahimsa, nonviolence. Through Gandhi’s program of nonviolent struggle, India would later be free from British rule.

 

Leo Tolstoy, however, was a “sign of contradiction”. His radical view on non-violence was greatly opposed. While praising Tolstoy as a genius who drew incomparable pictures of Russian life and castigated social falsehood and hypocrisy, the communist leader Lenin considered his advocacy of nonresistance to evil as “crackpot preaching” and deplored his inability to understand the class struggle – that a better life could be achieved through the violent overthrow of capitalism by the proletariat.

 

In his novel, “Resurrection”, Tolstoy indicted the tsarist courts and prison system. The Russian Orthodox Church was angered by his comments in this book against the state religion. The Holy Synod declared Count Tolstoy a false prophet, accusing him of undermining the faith. He was excommunicated, but there was an outpouring of sympathy from other segments of Russian society.

 

Conscience-stricken and upset by the plight of the poor, Count Tolstoy opted for a simplified life and dedicated more greatly his literary pursuits to socio-religious themes. His wife Sonya did not share his zeal for reform and for his new lifestyle, that was simple and austere – for example, making himself a brew of barley and acorns because coffee was a luxury! She was chagrined that he chose to work on pugnacious tracts that put people off, when he could be producing wonderful novels that would bring in lots of money. Tolstoy did not care about money, but she had to, otherwise what would become of their children? Unable to bear any longer the divisive and oppressive situation at home, and detesting the luxury found in his estate, Yasnaya Polyana, the 82-year-old Tolstoy, left home on November 10, 1910, accompanied only by his doctor. He fell ill on a southbound train and died at a stationmaster’s house on November 20, 1910. Indeed, Leo Tolstoy is a fascinating figure – a modern day example of a prophet of contradiction.

 

Today’s Gospel reading presents the divisions that Jesus’ mission creates, even in families. His way catalyzes separations and provokes conflicts between those who have made a radical choice for him and those who have not. Jesus’ gift of peace comes from God. It is a result of his immersion into the bloodbath of paschal sacrifice and is therefore not a facile kind of peace. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 6, explicate: “To welcome the peace of the kingdom which Jesus gives and which is only attained through the cross, places believers in a situation where they are sometimes set in conflict with others. For this peace rests on faith, the choice for Christ and the kingdom, which necessarily involves detachment from, if not rejection of, all that is opposed to Christ and the Gospel or that is incompatible with the choice one makes for it … Every human life is confronted, at some point or another, with choices that in some instances demand real heroism. The situation becomes particularly distressing when one finds oneself torn between faithfulness to God, faith, and the gospel, and on the other hand, to family, friends, and country.”

 

 

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

 

Why does the peace that Jesus brings lead to division? Do we welcome the peace of Christ and his example of total commitment to the kingdom? Are we willing to embrace the detachment, renunciation and opposition that the peace of Christ entails? Are we willing to be fully united with Christ and become, in him, a “sword of division” in today’s world?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus Christ,

you said to your apostles:

“I leave you peace, my peace I give you.”

Look not on our sins,

but on the faith of your Church,

and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom.

Jesus, sword of division,

you take away the sins of the world:

have mercy on us.

Jesus, prince of peace,

you take away the sins of the world:

have mercy on us.

Jesus, Lamb of God,

you take away the sins of the world:

grant us peace.

We love 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.

 

“I have come to bring not peace but the sword.” (cf. Mt 10:34)

 

 

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

 

While avoiding facile compromises and easy tradeoffs, endeavor to bring the peace of Christ to a distressing situation that needs healing and reconciliation. Be courageous to be a “sword of contradiction” when the situation calls for it.

 

 

***

 

July 17, 2012: TUESDAY - WEEKDAY (15)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Reproaches Them”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 7:1-9 // Mt 11:20-24

 

 

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

 

Repentance is a key dimension of Christian discipleship. Those who hear Jesus’ words and witness his mighty deeds, but do not repent, will suffer the same fate as those of Tyre, Sidon and Sodom, the epitome of lack of repentance. The mission of Jesus in Galilee produces only a few disciples. Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum are recipients of his teachings and miracles. But there are those unmoved by his proclamation. Those with hardened hearts refuse to respond to the miracles that reveal his tender solicitude and compassion. Like the inhabitants of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, we are free to make choices and respond to God’s word. But we are ultimately responsible for what we are: our sins, failures, shortcomings, imperfections, the dismal acts that precipitate us to destruction. Jesus calls us to conversion. We must open up to the grace of repentance. Those who have been gifted with much have greater liability and accountability on judgment day.

 

The words of Mother Teresa contain a tinge of reproach for those who have received much spiritual enlightenment, but fail to respond fully to the gift (cf. Mother Teresa: Her Essential Wisdom, ed. Carol Kelly-Gangi, New York: Barnes and Noble, 2006, p. 117-118).

 

How is it that nowadays all over the world so many priests and nuns abandon their calling? Did they not commit themselves to follow him after long and mature reflection? How then can a nun pronounce perpetual vows, and some years later give up the religious life? Are married people not bound to remain faithful to each other until death? Then, why should the same rule not apply to priests and nuns?

 

***

 

Many congregations have discarded this vow of obedience. They don’t have superiors anymore. Each member makes her own decisions. They have discarded obedience completely. Do you know what has happened because of that? In the United States alone fifty thousands nuns have left the religious life. The destruction of religious life comes mainly from the lack of obedience. Sheer negligence destroys religious life completely.

 

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

Do we respond fully to the grace of God in our lives? Are there times when we are unrepentant and unresponsive to the word of God and his miracles in our life?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus,

our disobedient hearts merit your reproach.

Forgive our wicked ways.

Our resistance to grace

could surpass the obduracy

of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum.

Help us to be receptive to your grace

so that we may rejoice in your benediction.

Deliver us from the woes of unbelief.

Teach us to be responsible in making life’s choices

that we may no longer deserve your just reproach.

Be kind to us at the hour of judgment.

We turn to you

and trust in your forgiving love.

We thank you for your life-giving sacrifice.

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.

 

“Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented.” (Mt 11:20)

 

 

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

 

Spend quiet moments with the Scriptures and/or the Blessed Sacrament. Examine your conscience and see what in your life deserves Jesus’ just reproach. Pray for the grace of conversion and let it transform your life.

 

 

***

 

July 18, 2012: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (15); SAINT CAMILLUS DE LELLIS, priest

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Comes for the Little Ones”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 10:5-7,13b-16 // Mt 11:25-27

 

 

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

 

Today’s Gospel reading reinforces the truth that the meek and humble Messiah comes for the “little ones”. Jesus Christ, who exemplifies the anawim, or the lowly ones of God, invites us to assume his basic stance as the meek Servant-Son of Yahweh. He exhorts us to participate in his intimate and loving relationship with God the Father. Those who are childlike and trusting, like Jesus, become the recipients of divine revelation. They are able to relish deeper intimacy with God. Indeed, Christ’s saving message about the Father, the Lord of heaven and earth, could only be grasped by “the childlike” and not by “the wise and the learned”. In order to receive fully the refreshing peace and the restoration of soul that Jesus brings, we need to follow him who is the Servant-Son. We need to learn from him the humble ways of the anawim and the “little ones”. Jesus Christ teaches us how to be receptive to grace and submit to the benevolent plan of God. Through his compassionate ministry we are filled with divine wisdom and experience the joy of being God’s children.

 

The following story illustrates that the grace of God and his benevolent hand surround the “little ones” (cf. “An Extraordinary Daughter” by Mary Kay Kusner in ST. ANTHONY MESSENGER, January 2008, p. 23-26).

 

I knew that something was wrong when I first laid eyes on my newborn daughter. Anna’s tiny forehead looked misshapen, and she was listless. As I held her and scanned her with my eyes, I noticed that her skin looked ashen. Minutes later, she was taken from me, rushed to the intensive care unit and put on a breathing machine. Within four days, the genetic tests were back: Anna had a chromosome abnormality … The doctors weren’t sure what this meant for Anna’s development but told us not to expect much. They predicted her I.Q. would be low – between 30 and 70. I was devastated. God had betrayed me. How could I ever believe again? Through all the sleepless nights and tears, I questioned: “Why? Why would God have kept nudging me to have a disabled child?” It made no sense. Just when I thought I had my life back under control, the rug was pulled out. I felt like a fool. All my life, I had been faithful, trusting. I thought Anna would be an answer to my prayer. Now none of that mattered. (…)

 

When Anna was about six weeks old, a strange incident occurred. She was lying on her back on our bed while I gently massaged her after her bath. Suddenly, I felt as if we were not alone. Anna looked past me, over my shoulder, to Someone who clearly adored her. My daughter smiled and I became almost bashful in the face of such love. I couldn’t see anything but felt the presence melt through me as I realized that Anna was seeing more that I did, that she was inviting me to see more too. After about a minute, the presence left and Anna looked right at me as if to say, “Why do you doubt, Mom?” I promised her to try to be more open after that.

 

Our boys adored their new sister from the start. They loved to make her laugh. David taught her how to burp and Jon wrestled with her on the floor. Matthew insisted that I never cut her curly hair. They didn’t notice her differences. When others stared at Anna, the boys got annoyed. “How do they know she’s different?” they asked me. Even though her eyes bulge and her forehead is flat, they don’t see it themselves. But I did. I was painfully aware of how different Anna looked. Sometimes I was embarrassed to take her out in public. Once, while riding in the van with the boys, I said out loud, “I wonder why God made Anna like she is.” After a few moments of silence, Matthew, who was almost 11, said, “Well, Mom, if God didn’t make her like she is, then she wouldn’t be Anna.” It took my breath away. “You’re right,” I said. “Thank you, Matthew.” It was a lesson of faith that made me begin to think twice. I loved Anna, but not as freely as a mom should. My boys were teaching me how unconditional love can be. (…)

 

One day at church, the fuller meaning of Anna finally hit home. Lorraine, a longtime friend, spotted us and waved from her pew. Anna, who was almost three, waved back, and I saw Lorraine laugh. When church ended, we were walking down the aisle toward the door. Lorraine was making her way toward us. “Hi, Anna, I saw you waved at me,” she said to Anna. Anna smiled and said, “Hi. Hi,” over and over. Then Lorraine looked at me and said with such directness, “Thank you for having Anna for all the rest of us.” Her comment brought tears to my eyes. I realized that Anna is a gift to others. She is her own person with her own worth, her own way of contributing to the world … Anna had taught me to be more open, to allow life to become what it can be, not to force it to be what I think it should be.

 

 

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

 

Do we trust in Jesus as the true revelation of the Father? Are we the “little ones” who are willing to savor the rich and life-giving revelation of Jesus?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

you reveal your great love for Jesus, the anawim

and the other “little ones”

who are meek and humble.

In your Servant-Son,

teach us the way of “littleness”

and complete surrender to your saving will.

Help us to turn to Jesus

when we are heavily burdened

that he may put upon us his comforting yoke of love.

May we trust in you with unwavering faith.

United with Jesus Christ,

we adore and glorify you.

We praise 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.

 

“You have revealed them to the childlike.” (cf. Mt 11:25)

 

 

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

 

Pray meditatively the thanksgiving prayer of Jesus to the Father and make it your own. Alleviate the suffering of a person who is deeply afflicted and ease the burden of the poor and destitute in the local and world community.

 

***

 

 

 July 19, 2012: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (15)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Comes for the Weary and Heavily Burdened”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 26:7-9,12,16-19 // Mt 11:28-30

 

 

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

 

Jesus is meek and humble of heart. He fulfills the Father’s saving plan by “humbly” and “meekly” undergoing the paschal mystery of his passion and death and glorious resurrection. By his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, as the meek and humble Messiah, Jesus inaugurates God’s kingdom of justice and peace. He offers to all – especially to the poor and the lowly - the radical salvation he merited on the cross. Jesus, who comes for the “little ones” to reveal the the truth about the compassionate Father, also comes to refresh the labor-weary and heavily burdened. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” is his compassionate cry. To turn to him is true consolation. Jesus assures us that his “yoke” is easy and his “burden” light. The “yoke” of love that he puts upon our obedient heart becomes “easy”. He gives us the grace and strength to bear it. The “burden” that faithful Christian discipleship entails becomes “light”. He fills us with the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to follow him through the way of the cross to eternal glory.

 

When my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer when I was a teenager, my mother responded fully to Jesus’ invitation, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest”. She turned to Jesus in trusting prayer. Her favorite praying stance was kneeling - arms outstretched in the form of a cross. Her eyes were closed to focus more intently on Christ crucified. In Jesus, meek and humble of heart, she found solace and strength to cope with life’s trials. My father eventually recovered and lived thirty more years.

 

In the PRAYER NOTES series published by the Abbey Press (St. Meinrad, Indiana), Joel Schorn has an article entitled “Comforting Prayers for Times of Pain and Suffering”. He writes: “For Christians, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus testify to the fact that God knows your pain and suffering and promises you relief from your fears.” From the Book of Common Prayer (1979), he cites the following comforting prayer.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, by your patience in suffering you hallowed earthly pain and gave us the example of obedience to your Father’s will. Be near me in my time of weakness and pain. Sustain me by your grace that my strength and courage may not fail. Heal me according to your will. And help me always to believe that what happens to me here is of little account if you hold me in eternal life, my Lord and my God. Amen.

 

 

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

 

Do we give heed to Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest”? Are we ready to take up the yoke of the Father’s saving will and learn from him, who is “meek and humble of heart”? Do we relish and look forward to the gentle promise: “you will find rest for yourselves”?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord, meek and humble of heart,

we turn to you with trusting hearts.

We bring to you the world’s afflictions.

We present to you the sufferings and fears of our loved ones.

We offer you the weakness of the labor-weary

and the helplessness of the heavily burdened.

We languish with sickness.

We are racked with pain.

We run to your embrace

and weep upon your shoulders.

We believe in your words:

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,

and I will give you rest”

Restore our weary souls.

Refresh and console us.

My Lord and my God,

you love us beyond death.

Your wounds bring healing.

You live and reign,

forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:28)

 

 

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

 

That we may appreciate more deeply the promise of comfort of Jesus, the meek and humble of heart, and in view of a more meaningful Year of the Eucharist, make an effort to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration.

 

***

 

 

 July 20, 2012: FRIDAY – WEEKDAY (15); SAINT APOLLINARIS, bishop, martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is Lord of the Sabbath”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 38:1-6,21-22,7-8 // Mt 12:1-8

 

 

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

 

Seeing Jesus’ disciples plucking heads of grain on a Sabbath and eating them, the Pharisees raise the issue of lack of Sabbath observance. According to them, the disciples are harvesting on a holy day and transgressing the law of Sabbath rest. Jesus’ defence of the disciples manifests his compassionate stance. For him, human need takes precedence over the law. People are more important than rigid legal observance. In a case of proportionate necessity, positive law may be rightly dispensed with. The Pharisees have wrongly hedged the Sabbath law with unnecessary prohibitions. Those who have God’s law in their hearts know how to act with compassion, even on the Sabbath. Jesus is the supreme interpreter of the Law and he does so in humanitarian terms. As Lord of the Sabbath, he calls for steadfast love rather than ritualism or false sacrifice.

 

An ex-seminarian committed suicide by hanging himself in the shower room using a bandanna. The parish priest denied him a Christian burial. He belongs to an old tradition that interprets rigidly the canon law concerning “those to whom ecclesiastical funeral rites are to be granted or to be denied”. A priest from the seminary, together with a group of seminarians, went to visit the grieving family and celebrated the Funeral Mass before the coffin of the deceased. He did so in the compassionate spirit of Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath.

 

 

 

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

 

What is our attitude in regard to the law? Do we try to live by the letter of the law or by its spirit? Do we follow the compassionate stance of the Lord of the Sabbath? Do we allow the spirit of love to permeate our legal and religious observance?

 

 

 

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

 

O merciful Jesus,

you are Lord of the Sabbath.

Your spirit of love breathes life

into our legal and religious observance.

Your compassionate ways and fidelity

inspire us to live by divine law,

which seeks to deepen our covenant relationship with God

and our unity as his chosen people.

Deliver us from false piety

and teach us to avoid ritualism.

You embody the Law of love.

You are its supreme interpreter.

We offer you our mind, heart and will.

We serve and obey 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.

 

“For the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath.” (Mt 12:1-8) 

 

 

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

 

Reflect on the meaning of law in the Church. In the law that governs us, e.g. natural law, Decalogue, Church law, national law, state law, etc., try to perceive its significance and abide by the spirit of the law, and not by the letter.

 

***

 

July 21, 2012: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (15); SAINT LAWRENCE OF BRINDISI, priest; BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Mi 2:1-5 // Mt 12:14-21

 

 

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

 

In today’s Gospel, we continue to witness the “meek and gentle” ways of Jesus. He is the chosen and beloved Servant of the Lord, filled with his Spirit. He is destined to proclaim salvation to the nations and bring healing to the bruised and the weak. Jesus is the harbinger of God’s mercy to Jews and Gentiles. Fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the Servant of the Lord, the non-violent Jesus does not “contend or cry out, nor anyone hears his voice in the streets”. He avoids useless confrontations with the Pharisees by withdrawing quietly. He avoids self-aggrandizing publicity by ordering those cured not to make public what he has done. His care for the weak, the discouraged and the marginalized is captured in the beautiful words of Isaiah: “A bruised reed he will not break; a smoldering wick he will not quench.” Far from rejecting sinners and morally weak people, Jesus encourages them to greater efforts and leads them to repentance. He is not a conquering political Messiah, but a Servant Lord who heals and treats mankind with great compassion. His loving heart is open to all. His “meek and gentle” heart can sense the longing for conversion that lies deep in every person.

 

The ministry of Poverello House, founded by Mike McGarvin (“Papa Mike”) in Fresno, gives us a glimpse of how to incarnate the mission of the Servant of the Lord in today’s world. From the incident he relates below, we are challenged not to give up on the “bruised reed” (cf. POVERELLO NEWS, December 2011, p.1-2).

 

People in line for food in our dining room queue up on the southern wall as they come through the door. Here, they wait to move up to the serving window. This places them in close proximity to tables where people are already eating. Often, to pass the time while they wait, those in line exchange pleasantries with friends who are already served. Occasionally, an argument will break out between someone in line and someone seated, but that is, thankfully, a very rare occurrence.

 

One day recently, a “Code Red” call crackled across our walkie-talkies. Code Red is never good news; it means that there is a fight taking place, or that someone is having some kind of medical emergency, and all the available staff need to rush to the scene to assist. Over the years, Code Reds have been invoked for seizures, fainting, one-on-one fights, melees involving many people, car accidents, stabbings, and shootings. A Code Red is guaranteed to make one’s adrenaline start pumping.

 

This time, the Code Red was for a man seated near the line on the south wall. He had tried to swallow something too large, and it became lodged in his throat. He started choking severely, his face turning purple, and the people around him began panicking.

 

The men on security duty knew they needed help, so they immediately put the call out on the radios. Just as they did, a homeless man in the food line observed what was happening. He quietly walked over to the distressed man, and proceeded to do a textbook Heimlich maneuver on him. After a few abdominal thrusts on the choking victim’s diaphragm, the food rocketed out of the victim’s mouth, and he could breathe once more.

 

As nonchalantly as he left the line, the rescuer walked back over and resumed his place. He was a hero, but he nevertheless didn’t seem to want much attention, nor did he want to miss his meal.

 

This action surprised many of us, but it shouldn’t have. Sometimes, we make the mistake of thinking far too negatively about our homeless guests, based on the action of a few. In reality, there is a sense of community and helpfulness among many of the homeless.

 

Around here, the old saying, “There is no honor among the thieves”, sometimes get paraphrased as, “There is no kindness among homeless addicts”. Addictive behavior is often quite predictable, but, because we are dealing with individual human souls, our predictions are never the last word. Even people in the throes of this extremely self-centered affliction are capable of rising above their circumstances and aiding someone else.

 

Those of us who labor trying to help the homeless are also human. That means that, in spite of our good intentions, we sometimes lapse into negative attitudes, stereotyped thinking, and low expectations. Occasionally, God sends a small miracle our way, like the homeless hero described above, to remind us that people are every bit as capable of saintly behavior as they are of selfishness.

 

 

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

 

How does the following description of Jesus impinge on us: A bruised reed he will not break; a smoldering wick he will not quench”? Do we imitate the gentle ways of Jesus and his compassionate stance?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

you are the beloved Servant of Yahweh.

The Lord God delights in you.

He anoints you with his Spirit

for your saving mission to Israel and the nations.

You are meek and gentle of heart.

You are compassionate.

In your peaceful stance as Messiah,

a bruised reed you will not break;

a smoldering wick you will not quench.

Help us to be channels of your peace to the heart-broken

and bearers of grace to the hopeless.

Give us the courage to be peaceful in a violent world

and the faithful love to care for the needs of the weak.

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.

 

“A bruised reed he will not break; a smoldering wick he will not quench.” (Mt 12:20)

 

 

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

 

Manifest the compassionate stance of Jesus to the people around you. Pray for the grace to overcome negative attitudes and prejudices so as to avoid breaking a “bruised reed” and quenching a “smoldering wick”.

 

***

 

 

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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