A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.38)

WEEK 19 IN ORDINARY TIME: August 12-18, 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: August 12-18, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

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August 12, 2012: 19th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME  

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Strengthens Us with the Bread of Life”       

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Kgs 19:4-8 // Eph 4:30-5:2 // Jn 6:41-51

 

 

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

 

Here is a news report I read in the Fresno Bee (July 24, 2006) about the rescue of a young boy from India, trapped for two days in a 60-foot deep irrigation shaft. The story broke into international prominence after the private Zee News channel lowered a camera into the pit and captured haunting images of a child crying helplessly in the dark.

 

Prince fell into the freshly dug hole Friday evening when he was playing in Aldeharhi, a village in the northern state of Haryana. The shaft, covered only with an empty jute sack, was just wide enough to fit the boy and too narrow for an adult. When villagers and local police could not pull him out, they sought the help of the army. Over two days, soldiers from an engineering regiment scooped out drums of mud from an abandoned well 10 feet away from the hole, taking care not to use heavy machinery so soil would not cave in on the boy. Oxygen was pumped into the pit and rescuers talked to the boy to keep his morale up. Rescuers and TV viewers alike could watch the boy looking around timidly, munching on chocolate and biscuits and drinking milk from a can that had been lowered in by rope. With their bare hands, soldiers then created a pipe-reinforced connecting passageway to the irrigation shaft. One soldier reached Prince and, along with four others, took him back through the pipe and up the abandoned well. Making a gripping story even better, Prince was rescued on his birthday. Prince turned 5 on Sunday.

 

The drama surrounding the rescue of the five-year old Prince evokes the intensity and power of Elijah’s rescue that we hear in today’s First Reading. The rescue in both cases comes from the loving intervention of those who care, and involves providing food as life-giving sustenance. God sends an angel to the despairing and weakened Elijah to feed him with sconce bread and with a jug of water.  The story of the rescue of the prophet Elijah from imminent death results from divine intervention. It underlines God’s miraculous providence for those who love him.

 

Today’s liturgy helps us to see in the feeding and rescue of Elijah a figure of the Eucharist, “the living bread that came down from heaven” to strengthen the Christian disciples in their journey of faith to God. The Eucharist, in its twofold dimension as bread of the Word (divine revelation and teaching) and Sacrament (real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the form of food and drink), is the source of life and strength of every disciple and of the entire Church. The Eucharist is truly our food and strength for the journey. It enables us to cross the wilderness of trials and difficulties, in union with Christ, toward eternal life.

The “living bread that came down from heaven” is ultimately our benefactor, Jesus Christ. He nourishes us through his teaching. As the bread of the Word and the wisdom of God, he prepares a rich banquet of spiritual nourishment. He is the saving revelation of God’s infinite love for us. Our proper response is “to believe” in him. Moreover, we contemplate not just the “bread of wisdom” offered by Jesus, but the “sacramental” food that he gives of his own flesh and blood. Jesus’ wonderful gift includes the life-giving nourishment provided by his Spirit-filled and glorified body.

 

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

 

What are our experiences of God’s intervention in our life? Do we trust that God is our Savior and will continue to rescue us in our moments of sadness and distress? Do we believe that the Eucharist is the food that strengthens – the “angels’ food” to nourish us in our spiritual journey in the here and now? Do we recognize that the greatest food for the journey is the person of Jesus Christ himself, of which the Eucharist is a limpid and intense sacrament? 

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you are the living bread that came down from heaven.

You feed us with your abundant teaching.

You are the bread of wisdom and revelation

to nourish all who come to you in faith.

Fill our empty hearts with your life-giving Word.

Strengthened at the table of your divine wisdom,

may we share the bread of your Word with the hungry.

We praise and bless you, O Eucharistic Master,

for you are the source of eternal life.

You feed us with your flesh and blood

at the Eucharistic banquet.

Nourished by your sacred body and blood

and united with your paschal sacrifice,

let us be transformed into “bread blessed, broken and shared”

for the life of the world.

We love 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.

 

            “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:51)

 

 

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

 

Pray for those who are experiencing distress and trials, and for those suffering spiritual and physical hunger. Be an instrument of God’s care and love for them. Lead them to the Eucharist that they may experience the strength that Jesus, the Bread of Life, offers to the afflicted.

 

 

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August 13, 2012: MONDAY – WEEKDAY (19); SAINTS PONTIAN, pope & martyr, AND HIPPOLYTUS, martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: His Passion Redeems Us”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ez 2:8-3:4 // Mt 17:22-27

 

 

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

Jesus Master wants to rectify the false adulation that honors him as a political leader, miracle worker, and breadbasket king, and not as the Suffering Servant to redeem the world from sin. The three predictions of the passion that he made on separate occasions are meant to dispel a false Messianic expectation that is based primarily on temporal powers, and not on service to God’s saving will. Today’s Gospel reading contains Jesus’ second prediction of his passion: “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day”. His paschal destiny does not involve constraint on his part, but total union with the Father’s saving will. Jesus freely accepts his passion and death to bring about our redemption. He pays the price for our salvation. His paschal sacrifice is sheer grace. For this we are deeply thankful.

The following story, circulated on the Internet, gives us an insight into the “grace” aspect of Jesus’ saving sacrifice.

There once was a man named George Thomas, a preacher in a small Texas town. One Sunday morning he came to the Church building carrying a rusty, bent, old bird cage, and set it by the pulpit. Eyebrows were raised and, as if in response, the preacher began to speak.

 

"I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming toward me swinging this bird cage. On the bottom of the cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright. I stopped the lad and asked, "What do you have there, son?" "Just some old birds", came the reply. "What are you going to do with them?" I asked. "Take 'em home and have fun with 'em," he answered. "I'm gonna tease 'em and pull out their feathers to make 'em fight. I'm gonna have a real good time." "But you'll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do then?" "Oh, I got some cats," said the little boy. "They like birds. I'll take 'em to them." The preacher was silent for a moment. "How much do you want for those birds, son?" "Huh?” Why, you don't want them birds, mister. They're just plain old field birds. They don't sing. They ain't even pretty!" "How much?" the preacher asked again. The boy sized up the preacher as if he were crazy and said,"$10?" The preacher reached in his pocket and took out a ten dollar bill. He placed it in the boy's hand. In a flash, the boy was gone.

 

The preacher picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot. Setting the cage down, he opened the door, and by softly tapping the bars persuaded the birds out, setting them free. Well, that explained the empty bird cage on the pulpit, and then the preacher began to tell this story.

 

One day Satan and Jesus were having a conversation. Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden and he was gloating and boasting. "Yes, sir, I just caught a world full of people down there. Set me a trap, used bait I knew they couldn't resist. Got 'em all!" "What are you going to do with them?" Jesus asked. Satan replied, "Oh, I'm gonna have fun! I'm gonna teach them how to marry and divorce each other, how to hate and abuse each other, how to drink and smoke and curse. I'm gonna teach them how to invent guns and bombs and kill each other. I'm really gonna have fun!" "And what will you do when you are done with them?" Jesus asked. "Oh, I'll kill 'em”, Satan glared proudly. "How much do you want for them?" Jesus asked. "Oh, you don't want those people. They ain't no good. Why, you'll take them and they'll just hate you. They'll spit on you, curse you and kill you. You don't want those people!" "How much?”, He asked again. Satan looked at Jesus and sneered, "All your blood, tears and your life”.  Jesus said, "DONE!"  Then he paid the price.

 

The preacher picked up the cage and walked from the pulpit.

 

 

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

 

Do we appreciate the meaning of Christ’s passion and its significance for us? How do we respond to this wonderful grace and great act of love?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you suffered for us.

To redeem us you paid a great price.

You suffered the passion and death on the cross

to free us from the clutches of sin and death

and to give us eternal life.

Grant that we may treasure

your sacrificial love for us.

Help us to respond to this grace

in obedient love.

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.

 

“They will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” (cf. Mt 17:23)

 

 

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

 

Make an effort to unite the sacrifices of your daily life with the redeeming passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be present to the people around you in their trials and difficulties and help them in any way you can.

 

 

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August 14, 2012: TUESDAY – SAINT MAXIMILLIAN KOLBE, priest, martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Wants Us to Be Childlike and to Care for the Little Ones”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ez 2:8-3:4 // Mt 18:1-5,10,12-14

 

 

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

            The disciples’ response to the Divine Master’s patient endeavor to help them understand his messianic mission and paschal destiny is disappointing. They fail to understand. They even put a question that is tinged with power struggle: “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Their narrow vision degenerates into an authority issue. Jesus therefore teaches them the meaning of true greatness. He calls a child and puts him in front of them saying, “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

A child represents complete dependence. The heavenly kingdom is for those who are completely dependent on God and, in the spirit of a child, trust fully in him. An authentic Christian follower relies totally on God. The greatest in the heavenly kingdom are those who imitate Jesus in his complete trust and dependence on the Father’s will. Jesus also warns us not to despise the “little ones”, that is, the humble and lowly, all those who put their faith in God with childlike trust. He teaches us that it is not the will of the heavenly Father that any of the “little ones” be lost. By his pastoral ministry, Jesus invites us to promote the well-being and salvation of the poor and vulnerable.

The following inspiring story gives us insight into how to care for the “little ones” in our midst (cf. Rick Hamlin’s reflections in DAILY GUIDEPOSTS 2010, p. 260).

My father gets around with a walker these days, and he doesn’t get around much. But he was there when the whole clan – twenty and counting – gathered for a week at the beach, staying at a rental on the sand. We sailed, we surfed, we rode bikes on the boardwalk, swam out to the buoy and kayaked in the bay. Dad seemed to enjoy having everybody together, but even from under the umbrella on the porch, he got frustrated at not being able to do half of what he once could.

Late one afternoon, I suggested a walk. “I’m not sure how I can do it with this walker on the sand”, he said. “Let’s try”, I said. “You can hold my hand if you need to.” He made his way down the beach, leaning on the walker or me. We stopped to watch some sailors bring their boats to shore and take down their sails. “Hey, Mr. Hamlin!” one of the guys called. “How are you doing?” “Just fine”, he said, his hands on the walker.

We trudged back next to the water, choosing the hard sand. A pelican dipped past us and plunged into the bay, picking up dinner. A kayak cut across the smooth water, a fish leaping in its wake. The shadows of the palms lengthened across the sand in front of us. “The shadows lengthen”, he observed.

They do, I thought. The years go by, and you don’t know where they went. Age brings us struggles. But at the end of the day there are still beauties to be found in a setting sun and a slow walk on the beach, father and son.

 

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

Do we heed Jesus’ teaching that unless we become like children, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven? Do we care for God’s “little ones”?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus,

you revealed to us

that only those who become like children

will enter the heavenly kingdom.

Help us to be childlike in our dependence on God

and teach us to be fully trusting in him.

You exhort us not to neglect the “little ones”

but rather to care for them.

Let our ways be compassionate

on behalf of the poor and vulnerable in our midst.

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.

 

“It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” (Mt 18:14)

 

 

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

 

Show God’s care and compassion for the “little ones” in our midst by your kind words and deeds. With childlike trust, ask God for the grace to be instruments of his pastoral care for the “little ones” in our society today.

 

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August 15, 2012: WEDNESDAY – THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Gives Us a Sign of Our Destiny”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a,10ab // I Cor 15:20-27 // Lk 1:39-56

 

 

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

 

Mary’s faithful discipleship and intimate participation in the paschal mystery of her Son Jesus led to her own glorification. Today’s feast of the Assumption celebrates the fruit of his paschal sacrifice - eternal life and joy in God’s kingdom - bestowed upon her in fullness. The Blessed Mother Mary points to our own glorious destiny with God. The French liturgical scholar Louis Bouyer remarks: “Mary should be looked on as the living pledge of Christ’s promises to the Church: that where he is, we also shall be; then the glory given him by the Father he will give to us, as he received it.” In her Magnificat, she invites us to praise the Lord for the great things he has done for her and to proclaim the final victory of God, of which she is a full recipient. With Mary assumed into heaven, we glorify the Lord!

 

The following story illustrates that “signs” from heaven, akin to the sacred sign of Mary’s assumption, continue to be poured upon the life of believers today (cf. Richard Armstrong, “Hailing Mary” in Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart, ed. Jeff Cavins, et. al. West Chester: Ascension Press, 2004, p. 270-271). This incident happened at the Marian shrine in Knock, Ireland, the same place where Mary appeared to fifteen people on August 21, 1879. That vision lasted for two hours in the pouring rain. While all fifteen of the visionaries were soaked, no rain fell in the direction of the gable of St. John the Baptist Church, where the ground remained dry.

 

My wife, Pat, and I made our first extended visit to Ireland in 1998.  Early in April we took a side trip from Dublin to the small village of Knock. It is here that on August 21, 1879, fifteen people ranging in age from six to seventy-five, watched an apparition of the Blessed Mother with St. Joseph, St. John the Apostle, and the Lamb of God.

 

During our pilgrimage, Pat and I stayed at an old convent run as a bed-and-breakfast by the Sisters of Mercy. On this day, the sky was overcast but the weather was unusually dry. I had just purchased a container for holy water at one of the small shops lining the tiny main road in Knock. While Pat stayed back at our room, I went to collect the holy water from one of the wells set in a row framed by fieldstones and small water taps. As I passed the old church where the apparition of 1879 had taken place, I paused, reflecting on my rich spiritual life that had begun when I converted to Catholicism while attending a Jesuit prep school in California.

 

I had been through life’s proverbial highs and lows for seventy years – hospitalized several times with life-threatening childhood asthma, severely wounded in combat during the Korean Conflict, survived heart attacks and many surgeries. I had a solid, enriching marriage which produced many sons and many grandchildren. Although I was a devout Catholic, confident in our Lord, I suddenly pondered the fact that all my life, I had never had a distinct sign from heaven. My wife, also a convert, had three times received heavenly signs, including a loving, gentle voice that encouraged her to persevere through an especially arduous illness. “Why”, I asked part thinking and part praying, “have I never been privileged to experience such divine confirmation?”

 

When I reached the well for holy water to bring back to share with family and friends, I bent to push the small buttoned tap releasing the blessed water. As I touched the button, I felt a “raining” on my head so I instinctively pulled up my jacket hood. Raising my eyes, my breath caught in my throat. There was no rain – only perfect little white hailstones the size of marbles. I watched them bounce off the well stones in front of me and felt them falling on my head. When I looked on either side of me and across the road I was amazed to realize the hailstones were falling only on me. There were none falling anywhere else in the area. The shower lasted perhaps twenty seconds and then stopped.

 

My thoughts did not crystallize at first other than feeling awe that I was the only one being touched by the unusual hail shower. I hurriedly finished filling the container, crossed the road and walked back to the convent room where my wife was meditating. As I entered the door, she looked up and saw something unusual in my expression. “What is it?” she asked. “Are you okay?” After relating my story, Pat smiled knowingly and said, “Hail, Mary!” It was at that moment that it hit me; I had received my sign.

 

 

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

 

How does the meaning of the Blessed Mother’s assumption into heaven affect you personally? Do you find the sacred sign of Mary’s assumption relevant as well as challenging?  

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

you chose Mary of Nazareth, the anawim,

to be the Mother of Jesus, your divine Son.

In Mary’s assumption into heaven,

body and soul,

we see our own beauty and glorious destiny in Christ.

The Blessed Virgin is also our model

of intimate participation in Christ’s paschal mystery.

She labored to give birth to her Child.

She stood by the cross of her dying Son

at the altar of sacrifice.

Help us to be like Mary, the true disciple,

with her sterling qualities of vigilant faith and self-giving love.

United with Mary assumed into heaven,

we glorify you and exult in your goodness,

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 mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (Lk 1:49)

 

 

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

 

Pray that Mary, assumed into heaven, may intercede for us as we endeavor to spread the “first fruits” of Christ’s redemption to the fragmented humanity of our modern society. By our preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, let us allow the people of today to have a glimpse of our glorious destiny in heaven. 

 

 

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 August 16, 2012: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (19); SAINT STEPHEN OF HUNGARY     

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Asks Us to Forgive Seventy Times Seven”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ez 12:1-12 // Mt 18:21-19:1

 

 

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

(By Mario S. Estrella: Member of the Religious Congregation Opifices Christi, Philippines)

 

            When I was working as one of the training officers of the different training programs of the Department of Education, I had made a decision that was detrimental to the mandate of the Department to provide continuous service to teachers and principals. My immediate superior called it to my attention when he discovered my irresponsibility and incompetence. I thought I would be reprimanded and incriminated for negligence and my conduct, which was unbecoming to a government employee. The superior asked me if I was guilty of the offense and I replied affirmatively. He surprised me when he asked, “If I keep you in your present capacity, can I trust you in the future?” I replied, “I am sorry, sir. I have learned my lesson and you surely can trust me again.” He must have detected the sincerity of my repentance. “I am not going to press charges anymore and you can continue in your present responsibility,” he said. He told me then that he had once succumbed to the same situation, but he was given mercy and was asked to learn from it. His position now in the Department can attest how far he has gone because of the opportunity accorded to him.

 

Truly, according to Steve Goodlier, those who forgive best are those who are forgiven. The story is centered on the fruit of forgiveness. Forgiveness multiplies when freely given to the offender. Whether we like it or not, something good may come out from the experience and could probably change the person for the better.

 

There is another way of looking at why Jesus asked us to forgive seventy-seven times. The number of times we exonerate is most likely equivalent to those who will have a change of heart for the better. The number of recipients who have been rehabilitated as a result of forgiveness is already a great contribution to the continuing proclamation of the Kingdom of God. If the recipients will do the same to their offenders, forgiveness multiplies until it reaches the core number that will make the world a better place to live in.

 

But the world where we live is far different from the world that is supposed to be the replica of the Kingdom of God. If you go around and see, people are full of hatred, vengeance, jealousy and pride. Many people are preoccupied with living a very convenient life to the detriment of other people who are violated and victims of injustices, and are getting poorer and poorer. Many are living in an instant world where they have an easy, but very complicated life. The values of introspection and contrition have become interferences to success, rather than a motivation for building a closer relationship with God. This is why people are unmindful of seeking forgiveness from the people they have offended.

 

This is the problem of our time. People simply ignore it because of pride, hatred, vengeance, and sometimes, because they lack the time to do it. Very few people apologize for their offenses. If there are sinners who confess repentance, people doubt the sincerity of their remorse. As I have been emphasizing, the fruit of forgiveness is the rehabilitation of the penitent and the resolve to become a better person. The goodness resulting from the experience of forgiveness would not be possible unless forgiveness is asked and granted to somebody. How could we build a better world if people do not cooperate by being good?

 

The bigger task for us is how to convince the unrepentant to ask forgiveness. We do not need to look farther for we can start in our family, community, school and offices. In this, we can start asking ourselves when was the last time we asked for forgiveness and granted it to those who have asked for it.

 

 

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

 

Do we ever forgive? Do we set limits and conditions on Christian forgiveness? Do we imitate God in his willingness to forgive? Do we respond positively and fully to God’s healing and forgiving love? In our daily life, do we act like the merciless and unforgiving steward?  If so, what do we do about it?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

thank you for your forgiving love!

We have a duty to forgive

for you have been truly merciful.

Heal us totally of our resentments

that we may be able to forgive seventy times seven.

Let our hearts be open to your saving grace

that we may be instruments of your peace and benediction

to a wounded world in need of healing and reconciliation.

We adore you and glorify 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.

 

            “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times? … I say to you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Mt 18:21-22)

 

 

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

 

Pray for those who have truly been offended and wronged that they may have the grace to forgive. Pray for those who have direly offended others that they may truly seek forgiveness. Seek to extend God’s forgiving love to those who have wronged you. In a spirit of contrition, beg forgiveness from the people you have wronged that you may truly experience God’s forgiving and healing love.

 

***

 

 August 17, 2012: FRIDAY – WEEKDAY (19)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches That What God Has Joined Together, No Human Being Must Separate”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ez 16:1-15, 60, 63 or 16:59-63 // Mt 19:3-12

 

 

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

 

A young couple we know recently divorced. The ex-husband came to visit us at our convent. His eyes were glazed with anguish. We tried to offer consoling words, but the depth of his suffering was beyond understanding. Indeed, divorce inflicts terrible pain on its victims. In his book, Life on the Edge, Dr. James Dobson writes: “A Russian woman who was my guest on the radio talked about her years in a Nazi extermination camp. She had seen mass murder and every form of deprivation. After the war, she came to America and married, only to have her husband be unfaithful and abandon her a few years later. Unbelievably, she said that experience of rejection and loss was actually more painful than her years in a German death camp. That says it all.”

 

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus rejects divorce and underlines the permanence of marriage. When a man and woman become one in marriage, they enter into a covenant relationship that is never to be broken. In the divine plan, marriage is indissoluble and no human agent could end such a union. The sacredness and integrity of marriage could be understood in the context of God’s faithful relationship with his covenant people, whom he has espoused to himself forever. Though the Mosaic Law allows divorce, it is only a concession to human weakness and not really the divine will. The radical nature of Jesus’ teaching on marriage leads his disciples to question whether it is advisable to marry at all. They naively contend that the single state is preferable to an indissoluble difficult marriage. The Divine Master responds by helping them to see celibacy as a gift of God and not an aversive option to a binding marriage. Indeed, it is possible for a Christian disciple to renounce marriage in view of the kingdom. The grace of God enables that person to embrace chastity and celibacy for the sake of the heavenly kingdom.

 

The Catholic Church today is confronted with an increasing number of divorced and remarried persons. Every member of the family suffers when a marriage shatters. Divorce is painful for all those involved. It is thus necessary to state here the Catholic position and the pastoral work concerning divorced and remarried persons.

 

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1650: Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ – “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” – the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was.

 

If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesiastical responsibilities.

 

Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented from having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.

 

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1651: Toward Christians who live in this situation, and who often keep the faith and desire to bring up their children in a Christian manner, priests and the whole community must manifest an attentive solicitude, so that they do not consider themselves separated from the Church, in whose life they can and must participate as baptized persons.

 

They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to the works of charity and to community efforts for justice, to bring up the children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace.

 

 

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

 

Do we try to see the meaning of marriage and celibacy in the context of the kingdom of God?  Do we strive to be faithful to our covenant fidelity with God and reflect his faithful love in whatever we do?  Do help those struggling with the pain of divorce and do we assist the divorced and remarried persons to continue to live their vocation as baptized persons?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you teach the sacredness and integrity of marriage.

Bless all married couples

with the grace of faithful love.

Fill with courage and patience

all divorced persons struggling with loneliness and rejection.

Assist all divorced and remarried persons

to remain united with the Church

and faithful in their Christian duties of charity.

Grant your gift of chastity and celibacy

to those called for a special service of your kingdom.

We love you

and we surrender to your saving will.

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.

 

“What God has joined together, no human being must separate.” (Mt 19:6) 

 

 

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

By your prayers, words and actions, promote the sacredness and integrity of Christian marriage in the society today.

***

 

August 18, 2012: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (19); BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Blesses the Children”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ez 18:1-10, 13b, 30-32 // Mt 19:13-16

 

 

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

 

As Jesus made his way to Jerusalem, teaching and healing, children were brought to him to be blessed. This account precedes the story of the young man who wants to follow Jesus but fails to do so because of his attachment to his possessions. Unlike the rich young man, the children are a symbol of the anawim – of the poor and lowly who depend totally on God. The kingdom of God is meant for the “children” who, in their simplicity and trust, totally rely on God. Jesus delights in them and he wants the children to come to him. The heavenly kingdom belongs to such as them. Jesus lays his hands upon the “little ones”. This gesture signifies his bestowal of the blessings and abundant riches of the kingdom upon them.

 

The following story entitled “Potato Chips”, circulated on the Internet, gives us a glimpse into the child-like quality that enables us to experience the presence of God.

 

A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with a bag of potato chips and a six-pack of root beer and started his journey. When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park, just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry, so he offered her some chips. She gratefully accepted and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a root beer. Again, she smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.

 

As twilight approached, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave; but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old woman, and gave her a hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever. When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy?” He replied, “I had lunch with God.” But before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? She’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”

 

Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face and he asked, “Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?” She replied, “I ate potato chips in the park with God.” However, before her son responded, she added, “You know, he’s much younger that I expected.”

 

 

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

 

Do we believe that the kingdom of heaven belongs to the “little ones”?  How do we prove that we are truly children of God?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus,

you said, “Let the children come to me,

and do not prevent them;

for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

We are your disciples

and within us is the spirit of the “little ones”.

Draw us to you.

Bless us and lay your hands upon us

that we may be filled with the abundant riches of your kingdom.

You are meek and gentle of heart.

You call us to serve God the Father

for we are his own children

and you are our dear brother.

We love 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.

 

“Let the children come to me … He placed his hands on them.” (Mt 19:14-15)

 

 

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

 

Cultivate a child-like attitude that will enable you to perceive the blessings of God and his presence every moment of your life.

 

 

***

 

 

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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