A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.36)

WEEK 17 IN ORDINARY TIME: July 29, 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 29, 2012 to August 4, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

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July 29, 2012: 17th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME     

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Bread to Be Shared”       

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Kgs 4:42-44 // Eph 4:1-6 // Jn 6:1-15

 

 

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

 

            As I read today’s Gospel reading (Jn 6:1-15), I remember a true story for inspiration that I read in GUIDEPOSTS magazine. A housewife was worried. Some friends from out of town called up for an impromptu visit. She and her husband were delighted to see them, but she was troubled because there was not enough food in the house. They had been working on a shoestring budget and the pantry was practically empty. She went to her bedroom to pray. Then she heard a kindly voice assuring her, “You have food to serve.” She went to the kitchen to check. She found a fistful of ground meat in the freezer; two pieces of withered carrot and some onions in the vegetable bin, and a small box of biscuit mix in the cabinet. She hurriedly prepared a small pot of meat stew from this meager supply and baked mouth-watering biscuits, her specialty. The guests came and sat with them. She dreaded that there was not enough food for all. But as they amiably exchanged stories and the food was passed around, the guests, as well as the hosts, were able to serve themselves. They even treated themselves to a second serving. After dinner, when she was complimented by their guests for the delicious stew and biscuits, she was aghast that there was even leftover. The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves was replicated in their lives!

The Gospel account of the multiplication of the loaves teaches us that personal involvement is needed in carrying out a miracle of love for God’s people.  Although overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation, Andrew does not detach himself from the problem. He says to Jesus: “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Andrew is creatively involved in the pastoral situation of the hungry crowd. Rather than being passive, he explores possible solutions. In the process, he unwittingly points to a basic material for Jesus’ miraculous intervention. From the modest portion offered by the boy, Jesus prepares a banquet for all.

            St. Augustine reflects on this miracle that is meant to lead the human mind through visible things to the perception of the divine: “Christ did what God does. Just as God multiplies a few seeds into a whole field of wheat, so Christ multiplies the five loaves in his hands - for there is power in the hands of Christ. Those five loaves were like seeds, not because they were cast on the earth but because they were multiplied by the one who made the earth. This miracle was presented to our senses to stimulate our minds; it was put before our eyes in order to engage our understanding and so make us marvel at the God we do not see because of his works which we do see.” 

 

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

 

Are we sensitive to the hunger of today’s poor? Do we believe that we are being called to share our modest portion of “five barley loaves and two fish”? Are we personally involved in making the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves happen in our community/society today? 

 

 

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

 

Jesus, bread of life,

help us to perceive

the marvelous “signs” of your love.

Like your disciple Andrew,

let us be personally involved

in caring for your flock.

Teach us to see the potential

of the resources available to us.

Do not let the needs of today’s poor overwhelm us.

Like the self-giving boy who provided you

with the material to feed the hungry crowd,

may we be generous

and share our “five barley loaves and two fish”.

You continue to nourish your flock

by offering yourself  as the bread of life.

We thank and bless 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 took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining … They had their fill.” (Jn 6:11-12)

 

 

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

 

Spend a moment of quiet before the Blessed Sacrament, and ask the Lord to help you acknowledge the “five barley loaves and two fish” that you have. Identify the needs in your community/society and make a practical move to share your “five barley loaves and two fish” with the needy.

 

 

***

 

July 30, 2012: MONDAY – WEEKDAY (17); SAINT PETER CHRYSOLOGUS, bishop

“JESUS SAVIOR: His Kingdom Is Like a Mustard Seed and a Transforming Leaven”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 13:1-11 // Mt 13:31-35

 

 

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

 

Jesus uses the figure of a mustard seed that grows into an enormous “welcoming” tree to symbolize the hidden power of the kingdom of God. The tiny mustard seed, with its dynamic character, represents the kingdom, which has humble beginnings but is destined for universal greatness. Jesus, moreover, depicts the transforming character of the kingdom by using the image of yeast which a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch is leavened. The kingdom of heaven is hidden in the world like yeast and will transform the world with radical newness. We are “leaven” in the world, vibrant and acting as ferment in the society, on account of Jesus who powers our witnessing and activity.

Last Monday, I went to the Sacramento State Fair 2012. It was an awesome experience of America’s noble spirit. I muttered: “How come we always hear the bad, and very little of the good?” I had a great time at the livestock pavilion, horticulture pavilion, county pavilion, etc. At the end of the day I was tired. I found a bench near a plot of beautiful flowers and relaxed. A beautiful lady sat beside me and started a nice chat. Her disabled husband in a wheelchair also came. They introduced themselves as Witnesses of Jehovah. As ministers in their church, they help “at-risk” youth and guide them on the right path. One way is to bring them to the State Fair. When I bid them goodbye, I was full of gratitude to God for the “mustard seed” beginnings of the wonderful works I witnessed that day and greatly aware that the “leaven” of his kingdom continues to be at work in today’s world.

 

 

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

 

Do we treasure the miracle of small beginnings and the transforming power of the kingdom of God? Do we allow ourselves to be a part of the miracle of the heavenly kingdom?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

we thank you for the grandiose destiny of your kingdom.

Help us to embrace the challenge of its “mustard seed” beginnings.

Let us be leaven of transformation in today’s world

and instruments of the radical newness your salvation brings.

We love and adore you;

we praise and bless you, now and forever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed... like yeast that a woman took …” (cf. Mt 13:31,33)

 

 

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

 

Be responsive to the challenge of small beginnings. Use the resources you have, however small, to promote justice and peace in society and the integration of creation.

***

 

July 31, 2012: TUESDAY – SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, priest

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Judge at the Harvest”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 14:17-22 // Mt 13:36-43

 

 

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

 

In response to his disciples’ request, Jesus Master gives them tools to help them understand the parable of the weeds in the field. The “sower” of the good seed is the Son of Man, the judge at the harvest.  The “good seed” are those who have been receptive to the divine word and have borne abundant fruits. The “bad weeds” are the evil ones who reject God’s offer of salvation. The “harvest” is the judgment at the end time. The judgment will determine the final destiny of the righteous and the wicked, and will purify the kingdom entirely. The wicked and the perpetrators of evil will be thrown into the “fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth”. The righteous will shine like the sun in the heavenly kingdom, for God’s brilliant presence will permeate them. Jesus’ parable invites us to be patient with the wicked and likewise assures us that unending doom is the lot of the unrepentant wicked. As Christian disciples in today’s world, we have a duty to catechize people about the “last things”: death, judgment, heaven, hell.

 

George Alford, a 67-year old surfer in New Smyrna, Florida, counts his mission to surfers and beachgoers as a very important ministry. When he goes to the beach, he plants a cross in the sand in front of his SUV to remind beachgoers that God loves them. On special occasions, he will hoist the 12-foot cross on his shoulder and carry it up and down the beaches. He testifies how God makes his ministry fruitful (cf. Kathy Alford, “Surfing for God” in St. Anthony Messenger, July 2012, p. 33).

 

One spring break, while George was carrying the cross down the beach, an inquisitive young man with multiple face piercings came walking toward the cross with a cigarette lighter in his hand. He asked, “Can I burn your cross?” “Why do you want to burn the cross?” George asked him. “He said, ‘Because I worship Satan.’”

 

“The young man wasn’t angry or hostile”, George says. “He just wanted to talk.” “That’s bad news, dude”, George replied. “No, Satan speaks to me in my mind”, the young man said. “Satan hates you. He wants to drag you into hell.” “Oh, that would be great – going to Satan’s house”, the young man responded. “No, hell’s a horrible place, full of anguish and suffering forever. You don’t want to go there.” At that point, the young man started backing away from George, and then he turned and walked away.

 

A year later, George was carrying the cross down the beach again during spring break, and he saw a young man who smiled at George and nodded. “He looked like he wanted to say something. I slowed down to give him a chance to talk, but he just smiled. I noticed that the young man had scars where piercings used to be. Later, as I walked down the beach, it occurred to me: that was the young man with the lighter!”

 

“His look had meant, ‘Look at me; I’ve changed. We’re brothers.’ I’ve prayed for another opportunity to see him again, but it didn’t happen. I still continue to pray that the Lord will bless him and help him grow in his faith.”

 

George pauses, then sums up his passion. “Changing lives: that’s the power of the cross!”

 

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

Do we believe that at harvest time we will be judged? How do we prepare for this deep encounter with God’s grace?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus,

we thank you for your patient love and great justice.

You are the sower of good seed

and the judge at the final harvest.

May we bear abundant fruits

and be counted as precious in your sight.

Bring us into your heavenly kingdom

where the presence of God

will make us shine with splendor and glory.

We pray for those who reject your saving love.

Give them light and show them the way.

Let this interim time

be an occasion of healing and conversion for us all

so that we may be spared from eternal doom.

We love you, Jesus,

for you are kind and merciful.

Glory and praise be yours, 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.

 

“Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Mt 13:43)

 

 

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

 

When the world events tend to depress you, find strength and comfort in the reality of the “last things”. Let the Church teaching on the final judgment be a guidepost on your spiritual journey to God.

 

 

***

 

August 1, 2012: WEDNESDAY – SAINT ALPHONSUS LIGOURI, bishop, doctor of the Church

 “JESUS SAVIOR: His Kingdom Is a Treasure to Be Pursued”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 15:10,16-21 // Mt 13:44-46

 

 

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

Jesus’ parable of the treasure hidden in the field and the parable of the finest pearl underline the absolute value of the kingdom of God, the joy it brings and the total commitment it entails. The response of the treasure finder and the pearl merchant who sold all they had to buy the greatest treasure of their life is an example of how we should pursue the heavenly kingdom. It is the chance of a lifetime. It must be pursued at any cost – without regret or hesitation. The heavenly kingdom deserves our deepest love and concern. It is our utmost treasure and absolute good.

The following story, circulated on the Internet, gives insight into what must be our stance in order to achieve our true treasure.

Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best. He also loved the 3rd wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another. He also loved his 2nd wife. She was his confidant and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem, he could confide in her, and she would help him get through the difficult times. The King's 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her.

 

One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, "I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I'll be all alone." Thus, he asked the 4th wife, "I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No way!" replied the 4th wife and she walked away without another word. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart. The sad King then asked the 3rd wife, "I have loved you all my life. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No!" replied the 3rd wife. "Life is too good! When you die, I'm going to remarry!" His heart sank and turned cold. He then asked the 2nd wife, "I have always turned to you for help and you've always been there for me. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?" "I'm sorry, I can't help you out this time!" replied the 2nd wife. "At the very most, I can only walk with you to your grave." Her answer struck him like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated. Then a voice called out: "I'll go with you. I'll follow you no matter where you go."  The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was very skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect. Greatly grieved, the King said, "I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance!"

 

In truth, we all have the 4 wives in our lives: Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die. Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others. Our 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave. And our 1st wife is our Soul, often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. However, our Soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go. Cultivate, strengthen and cherish it now, for it is the only part of us that will follow us to the throne of God and continue with us throughout Eternity. 

 

 

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

 

Do we pursue the kingdom of God with the creative zeal of the treasure finder and the diligence of the pearl merchant? Do we consider the heavenly kingdom, fulfilled by Jesus Christ, our ultimate treasure and utmost good?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus,

you invite us to pursue the kingdom of God.

Grant us the creative zeal of the treasure finder

and the diligence of the merchant searching for fine pearls.

Help us to make the right choices.

Guide us in our quest for the heavenly kingdom.

It is our utmost treasure and absolute good.

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.

 

“He sells all that he has and buys that field.” (cf. Mt 13:44,45)

 

 

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

 

In your daily choices, be conscious of what brings you closer to the kingdom of God and what draws you away from it.

 

***

 

 August 2, 2012: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (17); SAINT EUSEBIUS OF VERCELLI, bishop; SAINT PETER JULIAN EYMARD, priest

“JESUS SAVIOR: His Kingdom Is Like a Dragnet”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 18:1-6 // Mt 13:47-53

 

 

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

 

The dragnet, hauled by fishermen to shore, brings with it all the fish of the enclosed area. Some of the catch are inedible and some unclean according to Jewish law, and these will have to be thrown back into the sea. The good edible fish will be separated and put into buckets. The parable of the dragnet underlines the same point contained in the parable of the weeds growing among wheat: the good and bad exist together until the end of the age, when the Son of Man will make the final judgment.

 

At the conclusion of his series of parables, Jesus asks his disciples a significant question: “Do you understand all these things?” The disciples answered an emphatic “Yes”. The Divine Master has been helping them delve into the meaning of the kingdom of God with the use of parables. The disciples are like “scribes” who study the divine word. The “storeroom” of their lives contains what is “new” – the teaching of Jesus – and what is old – the law and prophets. They are called to see the radically new act of God in Christ in the light of the Old Testament tradition. They realize that Jesus’ message of the kingdom now takes precedence over the old and gives it new meaning.

 

The following story gives insight into how we will be judged at the end time (cf. Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight: A Book of Story Meditations, New York: Image Books, 1988, p. 137-138).

 

An old woman died and was taken to the Judgment Seat by the angels. While examining her records, however, the Judge could not find a single act of charity performed by her except for a carrot she had once given to a starving beggar.

 

Such, however, is the power of a single deed of love that it was decreed that she was to be taken up to heaven on the strength of that carrot. The carrot was brought to court and given her. The moment she caught hold of it, it began to rise as if pulled by some invisible strength, lifting her up toward the sky.

 

A beggar appeared. He clutched the hem of her garment and was lifted along with her; a third person caught hold of the beggar’s foot and was lifted too. Soon there was a long line of persons being lifted up to heaven by that carrot. And strange as it may seem, the woman did not feel the weight of all those people who held onto her; in fact, since she was looking heavenward, she did not see them

 

Higher and higher they rose until they were almost near the heavenly gates. That is when the woman looked back to catch a glimpse of the earth and saw this whole train of people behind her.

 

She was indignant! She gave an imperious wave of her hand and shouted, “Off! Off, all of you! This carrot is mine!” In making her imperious gesture, she let go of the carrot for a moment – and down she fell with the entire train.

 

There is only one cause for every evil on earth: “This belongs to me!”

 

 

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

 

Do I prepare myself for judgment day with acts of charity so that I may become an object of God’s mercy and saving grace? Do I treasure the radical newness of the Christ event and see it against the backdrop of the Law and the prophets?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

at the end time,

let us be the object of your saving grace.

When the dragnet of our destiny is hauled into the eternal shore,

please count us among the redeemed.

Grant us divine wisdom so that,

as scribes of the kingdom,

we may delight in the radical newness of your saving work

and see the depth of its meaning

against the backdrop of the Law and the prophets.

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 kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.” (Mt 13:47)

 

 

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

 

By your acts of mercy and kindness, prepare for the definitive encounter with God’s mercy and justice at the hour of death and at the end time.

 

 

***

 

 August 3, 2012: FRIDAY – WEEKDAY (17)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Experienced Rejection”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 26:1-9 // Mt 13:54-58

 

 

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

In today’s Gospel episode, we come face to face with the mystery of a resisting and unbelieving heart. One can close one’s heart and mind to the Prophet of truth and Savior of the world. The townsfolk of Jesus are prejudiced by the utter ordinariness of his background. Jesus is amazed by the lack of faith that he found at Nazareth. The popular proverb he cites, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house”, situates him in line with all the prophets who were subjected to rejection by their co-citizens. Jesus is affected by the power of their unbelief and is not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. Jesus respects human freedom. The decision of an unbelieving and resisting heart, which negates the gratuitous offer of his love, is respected.

The Lord’s frustrating experience of “rejection” also surfaces in our daily life, in one way or another. This can be verified in Papa Mike’s ministry to the homeless (cf. Mike McGarvin, POVERELLO NEWS, May 2012, p.1).

When homeless people tell me about the difficulties of their lives, I tend to be a good listener, which is why they talk to me, I suppose. However, I also have a habit of jumping in and giving them my opinion. Sometimes, it’s because I think that I can actually help them; other times, I see someone “stuck on stupid”, and I want to give him a reality check.

Like Rodney Dangerfield, it seems that when I offer my two cents’ worth, I don’t get any respect. It’s a little frustrating, because here I am, freely giving this person bits of McGarvin wisdom achieved through that famous School of Hard Knocks, and he completely ignores my advice. You’d think I’d learn to just shut up, but I guess I can’t help myself.

One woman approached me during a lunch meal and, talking very fast, told me how bad things were getting “out there”. She said she doesn’t drink or use drugs anymore, but she doesn’t seem to get away from those who do. I suggested she stay at Naomi’s House, a suggestion that was quickly rejected. This woman suffers from schizophrenia, which may account for her reluctance to accept help, but it was yet another case where I gave someone a good suggestion that was ignored.

 

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

 

What is our response to experiences of rejection? Are we gracious, or do we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by frustration?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

your co-citizens were scandalized

by your humble “roots”.

They took offense at you.

Your neighbors were prejudiced

because you were a carpenter,

and they knew you as the son of Mary.

You were not able to perform many mighty deeds in Nazareth

for the people’s lack of faith.

O Jesus Master,

be merciful to us for rejecting you.

Help us to have true faith in you.

You are the true prophet who speaks the word of life.

Grant us a receptive heart.

Help us to welcome you into our 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 week. Please memorize it.

 

“And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.” (Mt 13:58) 

 

 

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

In reparation for the rejection suffered by Jesus from his neighbors, do not react negatively to someone who treats you with hostility, but rather, respond to him/her with an act of kindness.

 

***

 

August 4, 2012: SATURDAY – SAINT JOHN VIANNEY, priest

“JESUS SAVIOR: John the Baptist Shared in His Paschal Destiny”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 26:11-16.24 // Mt 14:1-12

 

 

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

 

In upholding the integrity of moral truth against the malice of King Herod and his partner Herodias, John suffered martyrdom. His death was an intimate participation in the paschal destiny of the Messiah, of whom he was the precursor. In sharing intimately the universal work of salvation of Jesus Christ, the words of Yahweh in the Second Servant Song, could 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).

 

The courageous stance of John the Baptist in defense of truth and justice lives on in the Christian disciples of today’s world. This is marvelously illustrated in the lives of Fr. Gregory Schaffer and Fr. Rother (cf. Kayla Ann Smith, “Standing for Guatemalans” in MARYKNOLL, May-June 2005, p. 19-21). Kayla, a Minnesota teen inspired by those who champion oppressed Central Americans, writes:

 

Father Schaffer’s true courage to stand up for the poor of Guatemala was put to the test when, in the 1980’s, there were armed campaigns pointed at the natives of Guatemala. Even though the priest from the New Ulm Diocese knew he could be killed at any time for helping the indigents of Guatemala, he remained with the people he had come to love. He was in an especially dangerous position, since he was aiding the innocent of Guatemala as well as being a Catholic priest. Through his many acts of charity, he spoke plainly and boldly that the poor cannot be ignored, and that we are called to help the less fortunate.

 

Soon Father Schaffer found that he had been put on a death list. Although the fact of possible death would have scared many people to leave the terrorized country, Father Schaffer remained in Guatemala. He barely saved his life by convincing a military commander that he was not an ally of the guerrilla terrorists. Father Rother, who was a priest in the neighboring town, Santiago de Atitlan, was not as fortunate as Father Schaffer. Father Rother was murdered by the death squads. The farmer’s son turned priest from Okarche, Oklahoma, paid the ultimate price for being a soldier of Christ.

 

The loss of Father Schaffer’s fellow priest friend saddened him almost to the point of anger until he realized that Father Rother’s passing would be a powerful event that united all the people.

 

 

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

 

Like John the Baptist, are we prophets of truth and are we ready to undergo sacrifice for the sake of truth?

 

 

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

 

God our Father,

you called John the Baptist

to be the herald of your Son’s birth and death.

As he gave his life in witness to truth and justice,

so may we strive to profess our faith in your Gospel.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.

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.

 

“Herod had John beheaded in the prison.” (Mt 14:10)

 

 

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

 

Pray for Christian disciples who promote God’s kingdom of truth and justice. In your daily life, endeavor to be a prophet of truth.

 

***

 

 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang  PDDM

 

 

PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER

60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314

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