A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.39)

WEEK 20 IN ORDINARY TIME: August 19-25, 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 19-25, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

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August 19, 2012: 20th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME  

“JESUS SAVIOR: His Flesh Is True Food and His Blood Is True Drink”       

 

BIBLE READINGS

Prv 9:1-6 // Eph 5:15-20 // Jn 6:51-58

 

 

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

Here is an interesting conversation between a skeptic and a believer in the Eucharist.

A man came to a priest and wanted to make fun of his faith, so he asked, “How can bread and wine turn into the Body and Blood of Christ? “The priest answered, “No problem. You yourself change food into your body and blood, so why can’t Christ do the same?”

But the objector did not give up. He asked, “But how can the entire Christ be in such a small host?” “In the same way that the vast landscape before you can fit into your little eye.”

“But he still persisted, “How can the same Christ be present in all your churches at the same time?” The priest then took a mirror and let the man look into it. Then let the mirror fall to the ground and broke it and said to the skeptic, “There is only one of you and yet you can find your face reflected in each piece of that broken mirror at the same time.” 

We perceive the miracle of love in the Eucharist through the eyes of faith. With God everything is possible. Today’s Gospel reading invites us to believe in the power of God and his beloved Son Jesus to give us life. Jesus does not answer the cynical “HOW” of the unbelievers, but simply asserts the new presence that he will assume in the sacrament of the Eucharist. A “sacrament” is a sign that contains the reality it signifies. Through the sacramental sign of “bread and wine”, the reality of Christ’s body broken for the life of the world and of his blood poured out to make us God’s covenant people is made present to us in the here and now. Jesus is the point of encounter between God and his beloved people. In the Eucharistic species, he is the true flesh to eat and the true blood to drink that we may have divine life.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1375-1376, asserts: “It is by conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood that Christ becomes present in the sacrament. The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion … By the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the body of Christ of our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood.” 

The Eucharist brings about a true symbiosis, or in other words, a true “living with” the Lord. Those who feed on the flesh and blood of Jesus share intimately in the divine life, thus actualizing his astounding promise: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” The fullness of life that the Father shares with his Son is communicated to us through this marvelous life-giving sacrament, in accordance with his words: “Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.”

 

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

 

What is our response to Christ’s awesome revelation: “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink”?  Do we believe that the Eucharist is communion with the life-giving Christ and the fullness of life shared by Christ and his living Father? How does this realization affect us?

 

 

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

(Prayer composed by Blessed James Alberione, founder of the Pauline Family)

 

Jesus, eternal Truth,

I believe you are really present in the bread and wine.

You are here with your body, blood, soul and divinity.

I hear your invitation:

“I am the living bread descended from heaven”,

“take and eat; this is my body”.

I believe, Lord and Master,

but strengthen my weak faith.

O Jesus Master,

you assure me: “I am the Life”,

“whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood

will have eternal life.”

In baptism and in the sacrament of reconciliation

you have communicated to me this life of yours.

Now you nourish it by making yourself my food.

Take my heart;

detach it from the vain things of the world.

With all my heart I love you above all things

because you are infinite goodness and eternal happiness.

 

 

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.

 

            “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (Jn 6:55-56)

 

 

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

Before you receive communion at the celebration of the Eucharist, recall with intensity Christ’s declaration that his flesh is true food and his blood is true drink. Make an act of faith in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. By your acts of charity to the people around you, manifest in your life that you have been truly nourished by the body and blood of Christ.

 

***

 

August 20, 2012: MONDAY – SAINT BERNARD, abbot, doctor of the Church

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Invites Us to Give God our Possessions”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ez 24:15-24 // Mt 19:16-22

 

 

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

 

The rich young man in today’s Gospel is in pursuit of eternal life. He has kept the commandments. In the Old Covenant, such a response would have been sufficient. But Jesus goes further. He challenges him to sell what he has, give it to the poor and follow him. Christian discipleship involves renunciation. To follow Jesus is to make a radical choice for his very person - the absolute good. It entails leaving behind false security. Jesus therefore invites him to use his possessions to minister to the poor and thus find treasure in heaven. But the rich young man is excessively attached to his possessions. They preempt his priorities and value judgments. They impede him from choosing Jesus as the center of his life. Hence, the would-be disciple fails to respond to Jesus’ invitation and goes away sad. The rich young man’s possessions have actually “possessed” him.

 

Jesus invites us today to give God our possessions. In her book God Will Provide, Patricia Treece remarks: “About surrendering possessions: it isn’t what you have; it’s whether it has you. Or to put it another way, it’s what you do with it. Blessed John XXIII is a great example of not letting what you have, have you. At a certain point in the young priest’s career, he was named to head a student hostel. Suddenly he had to furnish small personal living quarters for himself. John had an artistic bent and discovered he enjoyed “decorating” with the modest financial gift his dad gave him (unlike religious order priests, diocesan clergy take no vow of poverty). But he writes in his Journal that having set up his first home “in a suitable manner”, God let him see more than ever the beauty of the spirit of poverty. He then prays that he will always “keep this feeling of detachment from anything that is mine.”

 

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, whose feast day is today, is a sterling example of those who have renounced everything to follow Christ. The following notes on Saint Bernard, circulated on the Internet, give insight into his life.

 

SAINT BERNARD: Born in 1090 at Fontaines, near Dijon, France; died at Clairvaux, 21 August 1153. His parents were Tescelin, lord of Fontaines, and Aleth of Montbard, both belonging to the highest nobility of Burgundy. Bernard, the third of a family of seven children, six of whom were sons, was educated with particular care, because while yet unborn, a devout man had foretold his great destiny. At the age of nine years, Bernard was sent to a much renowned school at Chatillon-sur-Seine, kept by the secular canons of Saint-Vorles. He had a great taste for literature and devoted himself for some time to poetry. His success in his studies won the admiration of his masters and his growth in virtue was no less marked. Bernard’s great desire was to excel in literature in order to take up the study of Sacred Scripture, which later on became, as it were, his own tongue. “Piety was his all”, says Bossuet. He had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin and there is no one who speaks more sublimely of the Queen of Heaven. Bernard was scarcely nineteen years of age when his mother died. During his youth, he did not escape trying temptations, but his virtue triumphed over them, in many instances in a heroic manner, and from this time he thought of retiring from the world and living a life of solitude and prayer.

 

St. Robert, Abbot of Molesmes, had founded in 1098 the monastery of Citeaux, about four leagues from Dijon, with the purpose of restoring the Rule of St. Benedict in its rigor. Returning to Molesmes, he left the government of the new abbey to St. Alberic, who died in the year 1109. St. Stephen had just succeeded him (1113) as third Abbot of Citeaux when Bernard, with thirty young noblemen of Burgundy, sought admission into the order. Three years later, St. Stephen sent the young Bernard at the head of a band of monks, the third to leave Citeaux, to found a new house at Vallee d’Absinte, or Valley of Bitterness, in the Diocese of Langres. This Bernard named Claire Valee of Clairvaux on the 25th of June, 1115, and the names of Bernard and Clairvaux thence became inseparable.

 

The beginnings of Clairvaux were trying and painful. The regime was so austere that Bernard’s health was impaired by it, and only the influence of his friend William of Champeaux and the authority of the General Chapter could make him mitigate his austerities. The monastery, however, made rapid progress. Disciples flocked to it in great numbers, desirous of putting themselves under the direction of Bernard. His father, the aged Tescelin and all his brothers entered Clairvaux as religious, leaving only Humbeline, his sister, in the world. And she, with the consent of her husband, soon took the veil of the Benedictine Convent of Jully. Clairvaux was becoming too small for the religious who crowded there, it was necessary to send out bands to found new houses.

 

 

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

 

How do we respond to Christ’s radical challenge to make a fundamental option for his person? What do the following words of Christ mean to us personally: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven”?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

like the rich young man

we want to follow you and seek eternal life.

Help us to respond to the challenge of radical discipleship.

Give us the wisdom and courage

to “renounce” our possessions

so that they may not control or possess us.

Help us to use all the resources you have given us

to minister to the poor

and promote your kingdom of love, justice, and peace.

Grant that, in following you,

we may obtain eternal life.

You live and reign,

forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor.” (cf. Mt 19:21)

 

 

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

 

Take stock of your material possessions. Resolve to share your material resources with the needy and give to the poor.  

 

 

***

 

August 21, 2012: TUESDAY – SAINT PIUS X, pope

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Invites Us to Pursue the Kingdom of God”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ez 28:1-10 // Mt 19:23-30

 

 

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

 

The kingdom of God is an incomparable treasure that surpasses all earthly goods. It makes everything else relative and secondary. Jesus Master teaches us to discern what is true, just, and good. He comes to reorient our lives toward God and empowers those with receptive hearts to choose the heavenly kingdom. Those who fail to respond to Jesus’ radical challenge to follow him feel despondent, just like the rich young man who walks away sad - impeded by his possessions from pursuing wholeheartedly the heavenly kingdom.

 

The Danish theologian, Soren Kierkegaard underlines the meaning of Christian discipleship: “To follow Christ means denying one’s self, and hence it means walking the same way as Christ walked in the humble form of a servant – needy, forsaken, mocked, not loving worldliness and not loved by the worldly-minded … He who in self-abnegation renounces the world and all that is the world’s, forsakes every relationship which otherwise tempts and holds captive … He who, if it becomes necessary, certainly does not love his father or mother or sister or brother less than before, but loves Christ so much more that he may be said to hate those others: he walks absolutely alone, alone in the whole world … Eternity will not ask about what worldly possessions you left behind in the world. But it will ask you what treasure you have accumulated in heaven.”

 

Having seen the rich young man walk away from the offer of heavenly treasure, Jesus exclaims: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” But he also asserts that with God all things are possible. The Drexel family illustrates what it means to pursue the heavenly kingdom in today’s world (cf. Patricia Treece, God Will Provide, Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2011, p. 38-39).

 

There are people who live in well-decorated mansions who also never let their enjoyed possessions come between them and God. Consider the parents of St. Katherine Drexel (d. 1985), the American heiress. Katherine’s father, Francis Drexel, and her mother, Emma Bouvier Drexel, were one of the richest couples in America. They used their money to do immense good as philanthropists, while they enjoyed a town mansion (with a chapel), a country estate (where their daughters ran catechism classes for the workers’ children), trips to Europe, and the best teachers for their children’s private education.

 

Reared to do good, the Drexel girls in turn lived exemplary lives, making praiseworthy use of enormous inherited incomes (to ensure that no one married any of his girls for money, Francis Drexel left all his wealth to charities, allowing his daughters to enjoy the interest on the immense sum during their lifetimes). Katherine, becoming a nun, dedicated herself and her riches to helping raise black and native Americans out of poverty through education. She became so detached from her resources – as the longest-lived she inherited from her sisters, each childless – that she never tried to break her father’s will; that upon  his last daughter’s death left the fortune to charities named almost a century earlier, some of which no longer needed help.

 

Katherine’s order founded several schools – elementary, high, vocational, and even a university – that relied heavily on this money. But if God wanted the schools to continue, she believed, God would provide for them. And he did.

 

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

How does the Lord’s challenge to the rich young man affect me? Am I willing to renounce earth’s goods for the sake of the kingdom of God? How do I give witness to my fundamental choice for Jesus Christ? Do I believe that with God everything is possible and that with divine grace we gain eternal life?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

we thank you for the challenge of Jesus Christ,

the wisdom from on high.

Help us to respond fully to Christ’s call

to embrace radically the Kingdom value.

Be with us as we hold on to his words

that with your grace everything is possible.

Make us totally receptive

to your living word at work in our hearts.

Let us enjoy the gift of eternal life in your kingdom

where 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.

 

“They will inherit eternal life.” (Mt 19:29)

 

 

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

 

Make an inventory of your “possessions”, both material and non-material. Make an effort to share them with the poor and the needy.

 

***

 

August 22, 2012: WEDNESDAY – THE QUEENSHIP OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Reveals a Generous God”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ez 34:1-11 Mt 20:1-16

 

 

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

 

Today’s Gospel reading is about a landowner who went out at various hours of the day to the market place to hire laborers for his vineyard. At the end of the day all the laborers, including those who were hired at the last hour, were paid a full day’s wage. The bible scholar Eugene Maly explains: “Jesus was telling a simple agricultural story whose meaning was not in details but in the story itself. In the Father’s kingdom all are equally loved and human standards are not to be used to measure God’s generosity. God forgives and loves as the world does not know how to forgive and love. The Church must do likewise.”

 

The following modern day story by Marc Levy and published in FRESNO BEE (August 17, 2008, p. A3) gives a glimpse into the immense love of God and his generous stance.

 

MARIETTA, Pa: A former tough-on-crime Pennsylvania lawmaker has adopted a new and unpopular cause, taking into his home three sex offenders who couldn’t find a place to live – a stand that has angered neighbors, drawn pickets and touched off a zoning dispute. As cities across the nation pass ever-tighter laws to keep out people convicted of sex crimes, Tom Armstrong said he is drawing on his religious belief in forgiveness and sheltering the three men until he can open a halfway house for sex offenders … Nearly 100 Pennsylvania municipalities have ordinances restricting where sex offenders may live. The ordinances generally bar them from moving in next to schools, playgrounds or other places where children might gather. In early June, Armstrong quietly allowed a rapist and two other sex offenders who had served prison time to move into his 15-room century-old home 75 miles west of Philadelphia after another town blocked his plans for another halfway house … A Republican, Armstrong served 12 years in the Legislature before he was defeated in a primary in 2002. He was known for taking conservative positions on abortion, taxes and crime but also for his role in later years supporting prisoners’ rights. Over the past two decades, he also took in homeless veterans, and more recently he has been a mentor to ex-cons.

 

 

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

 

Have we tried to shrink God to our size and wanted to make our thoughts his thoughts and our ways his ways? Do we avail ourselves of the compassionate love of God that transcends our painfully limited ways and thoughts? Do we ever begrudge God’s generosity? Or instead, do we rejoice with God in his infinite goodness for all his people and creation? 

 

 

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

 

Almighty God,

you are our loving Father.

Your infinite mercy is beyond our feeble thoughts and faltering ways.

Our heart is too narrow to contain your abounding love.

We thank you for you are generous and forgiving.

You showed justice to laborers of the first hour

and kindness to workers of the later hour.

Help us to imitate your benevolence and generosity

so that no one among us would lack the basic necessities of life.

We are laborers in your vineyard

and we need personal dedication as farmhands

in the great field of your kingdom.

In every way and in all our thoughts,

let us live by the spirit of the Gospel

and follow the example of Mary

whom you crowned Queen of heaven and earth.

Like Mary, we glorify you with our whole being.

We commit ourselves to 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 generous.” (Mt 20:15)

 

 

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

 

Pray for greater personal dedication of all laborers in God’s vineyard and a deeper insight into the infinite mercy of God. By your acts of charity and solidarity with those who are experiencing the various hardships in today’s society (unemployment, poverty, insecurity etc.), let them experience the immense love of our generous God.

 

 

***

 

 August 23, 2012: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (20); SAINT ROSE OF LIMA, virgin     

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Invites Us to the Banquet of Salvation”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ez 36:23-28 // Mt 22:1-14

 

 

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

 

Today’s Gospel parable underlines the need of a positive and total response to the feast of the kingdom. The banquet of salvation is abundant and gratuitous, but it demands personal commitment and the daily weaving of the “wedding garment” of integrity and holiness by the way we live. The Church, which has a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, must go to the crossroads in order to invite everyone to the wedding feast. The community of believers has the duty to communicate to all peoples the superabundant riches of the banquet of salvation as well as the demands of the kingdom of heaven. Indeed, the Church needs to help unbelievers realize that it is a great misfortune to reject the bounteous feast of God’s kingdom and that it is a great tragedy to willfully exclude oneself from participating at the end-time “banquet of salvation”.

 

The Eucharist is the celebration and anticipation of the heavenly banquet. The Christian disciples who partake of the Lord’s sacramental meal on earth believe that on “that day” of his definitive coming, they shall take their place at the stupendous banquet of the victorious Lamb. In participating at the Lord’s Supper, they have the serious responsibility of manifesting to others the real nature of the true Church as the Bride of Christ - enrobed in a garment of salvation and covered with a mantle of justice.

 

The Gospel parable’s lesson on the necessity of wearing a “wedding garment” at the Lord’s banquet of salvation inspires me to do little good deeds with deeper meaning and greater spiritual intention. I was assigned in Los Angeles from 2007-2009. Our convent is located in downtown Los Angeles, which is within walking distance from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. When I go for the morning mass, I carry a plastic bag and pick up the trash strewn carelessly along the way. It is perplexing why there is so much litter when the city government provides trashcans in strategic places. Moreover, when I use a public restroom, I clean it up and make it ready for the next user. I feel that through these small acts of service, I am building a better world. Indeed, through little good deeds I am slowly weaving the “wedding garment” that enables me to participate more fully at the Eucharist and at the “banquet of salvation” at the end time. 

 

 

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

 

What is our response to the Lord’s invitation, “Come to the feast”? What is the symbolism of the “wedding garment” mentioned in this Sunday’s parable and its significance for us?

 

 

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

 

O loving God,

we are overwhelmed with joy

and filled with spiritual delight

because you are the Lord of the banquet.

We thank you for the “feast of rich food and choice wines”

you have prepared for us on your holy mountain.

The “banquet of salvation” at the end time

celebrates the definitive triumph of your kingdom

and the glory of your Paschal Lamb.

In our daily celebration of the Eucharist,

we have a foretaste of the eternal joy

and the bounty of that heavenly feast.

Grant us the grace to weave a “wedding garment” of integrity and holiness

that we may be ready to participate fully and joyfully

in the eternal “banquet of salvation”.

We love you and long for you.

We serve 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.

 

            “Many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Mt 22:14)

 

 

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

 

By your small acts of charity and good deeds, strive to weave a “wedding garment” of integrity and holiness that will enable you to participate fully at the heavenly feasting. Endeavor to alleviate the hunger of the world’s poor and to satisfy the longing of impoverished people for a nourishing and bountiful meal. 

 

***

 

 August 24, 2012: FRIDAY - SAINT BARTHOLOMEW, apostle

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Promises Greater Things”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rv 21:9b-14 // Jn 1:45-51

 

 

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

 

Today’s Gospel account is a beautiful example of “vocation recruitment”. When Philip becomes convinced that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah foretold by the Law and the Prophets, he shares this discovery with his friend, Nathanael of Cana. Although Nathanael reacts rather cautiously by commenting “Can anything good from Nazareth?” he does not close himself to Philip’s “Come and see” invitation. When Jesus sees Nathanael coming toward him, he utters a statement of praise about his integrity: “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him”. Integrity and critical open-mindedness are the remarkable attributes of Nathanael, a man in quest of truth.

 

Nathanael is overwhelmed by Jesus’ power to read hearts: “Before Philip called you I saw you under the fig tree.” Jesus knows that Nathanael has been studying the Torah under the fig tree, something that a true and perfect Israelite is expected to do. Nathanael spontaneously proclaims his faith in Jesus as the Son of God and the King of Israel. Jesus responds by promising “greater things than this” to Nathanael, who will see the vision of “angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man”. In Jesus is the embodiment of salvation. In his public ministry and in his paschal mystery of death and resurrection, the glory of God is revealed. Like the angels on Jacob’s ladder, Jesus will join to himself the “above” and the “below”, that is, the heavenly and the earthly. Nathanael, who is also known as the apostle Bartholomew, will be a witness to this.

 

The following notes, circulated on the Internet, give us a glimpse into the remarkable life of Saint Bartholomew, who witnesses to the whole world that Jesus is indeed the point of encounter between God and man.

 

Eusebius of Caesarea’s Ecclesiastical History states that after the Ascension, Bartholomew went on a missionary tour to India, where he left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew. Other traditions record him as serving as a missionary in Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, Parthia and Lycaonia. Along with his fellow apostle Jude, Bartholomew is reputed to have brought Christianity to Armenia in the first century. Thus both saints are considered patron saints of the Armenian Catholic Church.

 

He is said to have been martyred in Albanopolis in Armenia. According to one account he was beheaded, but a more popular tradition holds that he was flayed alive and crucified, head downward. He is said to have converted Polymius, the king of Armenia, to Christianity. Astyagis, Polymius’ brother, consequently ordered Bartholomew’s execution. The 13th century Saint Bartholomew Monastery was a prominent Armenian monastery constructed at the site of the martyrdom of Apostle Bartholomew in the Vaspurakan Province of Greater Armenia (now in southeastern Turkey).

 

 

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

 

Do we believe that, like Saint Bartholomew, we will see the “sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man”?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

we thank you for the apostle Saint Bartholomew,

a man of integrity and a true seeker of truth.

He followed you in your paschal destiny

and witnessed to the nations

that you are indeed the point of encounter

between God and man.

Through his intercession,

may we have the grace to go out to the whole world

and proclaim to all peoples

that you are indeed the Son of God and the Messiah.

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.

 

“You will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (Jn 1:51) 

 

 

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

Pray for the Church in Armenia and India that it may be strengthened in its Christian witnessing. Imitate Saint Bartholomew in his quest for truth and in his integrity.

***

 

August 25, 2012: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (20); SAINT LOUIS; SAINT JOSEPH CALASANZ, priest; BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches to Practice What We Preach”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ez 43:1-7ab // Mt 23:1-12

 

 

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

(By Rodelio F. Paglinawan - Member: Society of Mary Queen of Apostles)

 

            In today’s Gospel, we can learn two things that may be beneficial for our day-to-day living. These are (1) the practice of what we preach and (2) the virtue of humility. Although these two can be taken separately, they are closely intertwined in this gospel.

 

            I remember a story about a teacher who taught her pupils to keep themselves and their surroundings clean and neat at all times. She even taught them how to help clean their houses. She told them how she hated the sight of a dirty house and its filthy surroundings. Her pupils were happy about the lesson, but hated the way it was taught to them. They thought that their teacher was conceited. One day, her pupils visited her in her house. To their disgust, they saw a lot of spider webs in her house. The floors were littered with so many things and a few cats feasted at the table on the leftover food. The teacher was so embarrassed when she saw her pupils’ reaction at what they had witnessed.

 

            This story is told and retold in so many ways in our lives. We may be bragging about something that we have done and keep to ourselves the things that we failed to do. We may be bragging about a noble idea, which we cannot do ourselves. In both cases, traces of the story could be figured out. It will then be very embarrassing for us to face our own challenge and fail to meet the standard we ourselves have set. Humility is the best weapon we could have to counter this. Humility enables us to be what we should be, say only what we must say, and do only what we can, accepting our human limitations in the process. It is better to be humble than to be humiliated.

 

            Trying our best to be Christ-like every day of our lives is the goal of every Christian. Saying what we mean, and meaning what we say could help us a lot. It would be better for us to avoid saying great things, which we ourselves cannot do. Now, I remember how most of my classmates in the seminary would put it: “the more we speak the more mistakes we commit; no talk, no mistake!” I am not promoting a speechless society here though. What I would like to underline is that we should only speak of the things that could add to the glory of God and his Church. Anything that would demean anyone in our community could also hurt the One whose image and likeness resides in them. Practicing what we preach … will make us humbler. Humility makes us nearer to the Almighty.

 

 

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

 

Like some scribes and Pharisees rightly castigated for their vanity and hypocrisy, are we also guilty of these faults? If so, what do we do?

 

 

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

 

O loving God,

deliver us from falsehood and deception.

Free us from the vice of self-seeking and egoism.

Give us the grace to imitate Jesus the Divine Master.

Teach us to follow his humble ways.

May his mind enlighten us,

his will strengthen us,

and his heart enflame us.

We thank and praise you;

we glorify and adore you;

we love and serve you,

now and forever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“You have but one teacher.” (Mt 23:8)

 

 

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

 

Pray for all teachers that they may always be limpid, credible and authentic in the way they teach. Make an attentive daily examination of conscience to help you imitate the Divine Master in his humility and integrity and have the grace to practice what you preach.

 

 

***

 

 

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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