A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.41)

WEEK 22 IN ORDINARY TIME: September 2-8, 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:

September 2-8, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

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September 2, 2012: 22nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME     

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Calls Us to Follow God’s Commands”       

 

BIBLE READINGS

Dt 4:1-2,6-8 // Jas 1:17-18,21b-22,27 // Mk 7:1-8,14-15,21-23

 

 

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

The Gospel reading of this Sunday reminds me of a very amusing story about the Guru’s cat (cf. Anthony De Mello, The Song of the Bird, New York: Doubleday, 1982, p. 63). A prescription that is contingent on a particularly mischievous cat became codified and ritualized. 

When the guru sat down to worship each evening the ashram cat would get in the way and distract the worshippers. So he ordered that the cat be tied during evening worship. After the guru died the cat continued to be tied during evening worship. And when the cat expired, another cat was brought to the ashram so that it could be duly tied during evening worship. Centuries later learned treatises were written by the guru’s scholarly disciples on the liturgical significance of tying up a cat while worship is performed.

Today’s Gospel passage speaks of human traditions and prescriptions that have been codified and made binding for the people of God, for example, ritual washing of the hands, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds, dietary legislation, etc. Last Sunday’s ritornello was Simon Peter’s avowal of faith in Jesus: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). Against this backdrop, the unmitigated legalism of the Pharisees and scribes seems pathetic. They have not adhered to Jesus who has “the words of eternal life”, but have chosen instead to bind themselves to human prescriptions that cannot give life nor refresh the soul. In their rejection of Jesus Christ, the Bread of revelation and the wisdom of God, they have disregarded the life-giving divine Word. They have sought salvation in the rigorous observance of what is merely human invention. Therefore, Jesus’ indicted them vigorously: “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.’ You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition” (Mk 7:6-7). 

Jesus lambasted his opponents for following the letter of man-made laws and not the spirit that animates them. They have lost sight of the Word of God as the true law that refreshes the soul. Indeed, the true meaning of God’s commands is to give life. The sweet yoke of God’s law is meant to focus our attention on the living Word of God, Jesus Christ, the Bread of revelation offered to us by the Father for the life of the world. Jesus, the Wisdom of God and the crystallization of the divine law of love, is the authoritative interpreter of the Law and the fulfillment of the life-giving meaning of God’s commands. 

 

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

 

Do we honor God with our lips and not with our hearts? Do we live according to God’s commands? Do we have a proper understanding of the purpose and meaning of law in the Church? Do we continue to cling to Jesus and avow our faith in him: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” 

 

 

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

(Based on Psalm 15 and John 6:68)

 

Master, to whom shall we go?

You have the words of eternal life.

Lord Jesus,

you incarnate God’s command

and thus give life to our soul.

In you and through you,

we discover that God’s decree is trustworthy.

You are joy for the heart,

wisdom for the simple

and light for the eyes.

God’s law is perfect – refreshing the soul.

It is more desirable than gold,

better than the finest gold.

Lord Jesus,

you are the word made flesh.

You embody the true spirit of God’s love-command

and perfect it.

The words you speak to us are life-giving.

They are sweeter than honey,

even than honey that drips from the comb.

Master, to whom shall we go?

You have the words of eternal life.

 

 

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.

 

“Hear me, all of you, and understand.” (Mk 7:14)

 

 

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

 

Ask the Lord pardon for the times when we have followed the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law, and for the wounds and injuries caused by our legalistic attitude. Pray for our legislators and those in the law practice that they may be imbued with a Christian outlook of the role of the law in human society and the Church.  

 

 

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September 3, 2012: MONDAY – SAINT GREGORY THE GREAT, pope, doctor of the Church

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Was Rejected in His Native Place

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Cor 2:1-5 // Lk 4:16-30

 

 

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

(By Heather Jacobs, Bluff City, TN – U.S.A.)

 

As I reflected on the Gospel reading, the question kept coming to mind, why did Jesus’ relations and countrymen respond to him the way they did?  Even though they saw the miracles and heard His profound wisdom, they still would not accept Him.

 

As I applied this question to my personal experiences, I realized that oftentimes we do the same thing with our own family members and those whom we have known for a period of time. When we’ve grown up with someone and known them through various stages of their life, we often take that person for granted.  There doesn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary about them.  They become another increment of our regular, predictable, everyday life and we can’t imagine that person as anything other than the ideas we’ve formed about them through our limited experiences of that person.

 

Often, we limit our knowledge, respect, and love for a person to the roles they’ve played in our own lives.  For example, when I think about my dad, it’s hard to think of him in any way other than as fulfilling the classic role of the father.  He helped raise me with discipline and love, and worked hard to provide for my needs.  All this is very important, but I must recognize that there’s more to him than just this, much more.  To know him more fully, I have to learn to step outside my own personal experiences of him and try to walk in his shoes.  A few years ago, my dad entered the deacon program.  Now, each time I go home to visit he seems more and more different from the person I grew up knowing.  It can be difficult to readjust and accept change, even when that change is positive.

 

I think a similar thing happened with Jesus’ relatives and countrymen. They helped raise Him, they fed Him, and played with Him. They helped clean Him and change Him when he got dirty as a young one. They helped teach and instruct Him. Suddenly, this man, who they thought they knew so well, returns and has profound wisdom and is working incredible miracles.  They grew up with Him, what’s so special about Him that such a change has occurred?  How and why did this change come about? If Jesus was a stranger to them and they didn’t have such preconceived ideas about Him, they probably would have accepted Him.

 

From this I realize that we need to learn to take a step back and try to view our acquaintances (especially those we know most closely) in a new way, rather than taking them for granted and just settling in our limited perspective of them.  Most of all, we need to step back and ask: how is God working in and through this person?  What is special and unique about this person?  And how can I love and know this person more fully and completely by recognizing who they are as an individual, not just according to the way I’ve chosen to perceive them from my limited experiences of them.

 

 

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

 

Do we allow the adage “Familiarity breeds contempt” to take hold of us negatively and thus diminish our positive response to God’s marvelous actions and prophetic voice?  Are we open to the positive change that occurs in the people around us? Do we welcome the “surprises” that each new day brings to our life?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

you sent prophets

to speak your word of mercy to your erring people.

In their ministry of salvation,

they experienced the agony and the ecstasy

that their proclamation entails.

In the fullness of time,

you sent to us your divine Son, the Incarnate Word.

He is the ultimate prophet and message-bearer,

the radical revelation of your saving love.

Jesus was rejected in his own native place.

As Christian disciples,

we, too, are called to proclaim your word today

and thus experience the agony and ecstasy of prophecy.

Give us the grace to be faithful to our vocation.

We ask this through Christ our Lord,

in unity with the Holy Spirit,

one God 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.

 

“No prophet is accepted in his own native place.” (cf. Lk 4:24)

 

 

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

 

Pray that Christian disciples may be faithful to their prophetic ministry and be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in their task of witnessing to God’s message of truth, salvation and liberation. Offer a helping hand for modern day prophets who are being ostracized, abused and persecuted

 

***

 

September 4, 2012: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (22)

“JESUS SAVIOR: His Word Is Confirmed by His Deed”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Cor 2:10b-16 // Lk 4:31-37

 

 

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

 

Today’s Gospel reading depicts the early phase of our Lord’s public ministry. Jesus is in the synagogue at Capernaum on a Sabbath, speaking the saving word of God and teaching with authority. The evangelist Luke describes the impact of his ministry on the worshipping assembly: “They were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with authority.” Jesus then manifests the power of God’s saving word by performing a healing sign. He cures a man possessed by an unclean spirit. His word is confirmed by his deed. Both word and action manifest that he is truly the Messiah sent from God.

 

Cardinal John Henry Newman remarks: “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. In him God is fully and truly seen, so that he is absolutely the way, and the truth and the life. All our duties are summed up for us in the message he brings … Christ has brought from his Father for all of us the full and perfect way of life. Thus he brings grace as well as truth, a most surprising miracle of mercy.”

 

A contemporary Church mission that is dear to me is the Vladivostok Mission: Reviving the Catholic Church in Eastern Russia. A way of collaborating is to send Mass stipends. I sent $20.00 requesting that a Mass be offered for two special intentions. Fr. Myron Effing’s letter of acknowledgment, dated July 31, 2012, contains an update of their mission and shows that their Gospel proclamation follows the way of Jesus, that is, by word and deed.

 

More good news, Sister Mary Margaret! You remember that our Lesozavodsk parishioner Vladimir needed to fly to Korea for a cancer operation – he came through the operation just fine, but now the extra good news. The two tumors were not cancerous! The doctor said that it was extremely dangerous anyway, and could be fatal if it had burst accidentally. He has returned home. And he says that for the first time in 57 years he feels normal! Most of his life he has lived with fever and a high white cell blood count. He wants to write a personal letter to all those who helped him with the operation. The donations for him from America came to just over $5000. Donations from the Russian side came to $3500. Most of this came from the active work of the parishioners of Visitation Parish in Lesozavodsk. Congratulations to everybody! Thanks be to God!

 

 

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

 

How do we share in Christ’s prophetic ministry? How do we make the voice of truth resound in the world today? In imitation of Christ, are we ready to support our prophetic proclamation with prophetic action?

 

 

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

 

            Lord Jesus,

you are the true prophet.

You teach with authority because you are the Son of God

and the Messiah sent by him.

The words you speak are confirmed

by marvelous signs and healing actions.

We thank you for revealing to us, by word and deed,

the mercy of God.

In you, we have received the vocation to proclaim the Gospel.

Help us to reinforce our proclamation with saving action.

Give us the grace to be limpid witnesses of God’s love

to a wounded humanity that needs healing.

Give us the power of the Holy Spirit

to drive away the various evils that afflict the modern world.

We trust in you, Jesus,

and in your arms we find solace and comfort.

We love you.

We resolve to serve you as our sole Lord and Master,

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.

 

“What is there about his word?” (Lk 4:36)

 

 

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

 

Endeavor to bring the word of God and his healing love to a painful predicament and/or an unjust social situation.

 

***

 

September 5, 2012: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (22)

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Heals, Prays and Proclaims the Gospel”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Cor 3:1-9 //  Lk 4:38-44

 

 

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

The paschal victory of Jesus is prefigured in the healing he carries out on behalf of Simon’s mother-in-law afflicted with a severe fever, the many others suffering with various disease,s and those possessed by demons. The healing ministry of Jesus is a sign that the kingdom of wholeness has come. By his mission of healing, he asserts that sickness, suffering, and death do not have the ultimate word.

At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The “dawn” of Jesus is poised in earnest towards greater intimacy with the loving Father and the proclamation of the Gospel. The saving ministry of the healing Lord is sustained by his life of prayer and personal dialogue with the Father. Hence, the restoring touch of Jesus reaches out more extensively and the Good News is carried even farther, propelled by a life of recollection and prayer. Indeed, the ability to make core decisions for God’s kingdom is made possible by his profound communion with the Father in a relationship of prayer. Jesus’ tryst at the dawn of day and his deeds of healing invite us to sustain our own healing ministry by a life of prayer.

The following story of a consecrated religious, Sister Blandina Segale (cf. Margaret and Matthew Bunson, “Woman of the Wild, Wild West” in OUR SUNDAY VISITOR, March 25, 2007, p. 12) brought a smile to my lips. I find her life of total dedication to the service of God’s people very inspiring and interesting. United with the Lord, she heals, prays and proclaims the Gospel.

 

One of the most intriguing Catholic women serving the people of the United States was Sister Blandina Segale, a Sister of Charity who cared for those who journeyed along the dangerous Santa Fe Trail. In 1872, Sister Blandina was sent alone to Trinidad, Colorado, a Wild West haven for outlaws and renegades. She was 22 at that time. Because she was a Catholic nun bent on aiding the local Native Americans and the poor, Sister Blandina was not welcomed to Trinidad with overwhelming enthusiasm. The residents of Trinidad faced hard lives and did not fancy the sort of concerns that a nun might have. They were not cruel or insulting toward her, but they obviously had little interest in her labors. That changed rather abruptly, however, when her “patron” announced one day that he expected one and all to treat her with respect and courtesy. If any of the good people of Trinidad caused Sister Blandina any problems, he would deal with them personally. Actually, he promised to shoot them down like dogs.

 

The townspeople knew the “patron” well, and some recalled that he had shot a man for snoring too loudly at a campsite, so he was a man to take seriously when he made a threat. The “patron” of Sister Blandina was William Bonney, known in history as Billy the Kid. She had given nursing care to one of Billy’s companions when he was shot and left for dead in an abandoned hut, and the famous outlaw was repaying her for her merciful care of his friend. He also appreciated her efforts for others. The first time they met, actually, Billy the Kid had come to town to scalp the four doctors who had refused aid to his wounded companion. Sister Blandina talked him out of it.

 

She had also saved the life of another man soon after arriving in Trinidad. Caught after fatally wounding a companion in a gun battle, the man was about to be dragged from the jail by an angry mob. Sister Blandina hurried to the bedside of the dying victim and talked him into forgiving his attacker. She and the sheriff then walked the murderer through the streets to the victim, who did forgive his assailant and then died. When Sister Blandina announced the deathbed scene to the angry men standing outside in the street, the mob thought it was all a bit peculiar, but they lost their enthusiasm for a hanging and let justice prevail in a courtroom. (…)

 

Sister Blandina was transferred to Santa Fe in time, where she continued establishing charitable institutions and programs. She labored for 21 years in the American West, becoming famous and respected … In time, Sister Blandina was assigned to Cincinnati, where she continued her labors with her sister, who was also a nun. She died in Cincinnati on February 23, 1941.

 

 

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

 

Do I witness the healing power of the Good News? Do I incarnate the healing compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ today? Do I derive strength and meaning for my healing ministry from deep communion with God in prayer?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, our healing Lord,

people are hurting physically, psychologically and spiritually today,

more than before.

They are weakened by sickness

and by the illness of this world.

Hold the sick in your arms.

Comfort them.

Fill their lives with meaning.

Touch their sufferings with your gentle healing hand.

And though we pray for health and healing,

let us find you in the mystery of suffering.

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 laid his hands in each of them and cured them.” (Lk 4:40)

 

 

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

 

Anointing of the sick is understood incompletely by many as “extreme unction” to be administered to a dying person, with the result that the person no longer has control of his/her faculties and so is incapable of receiving it with complete awareness, faith and devotion. As part of your healing ministry as a Christian, encourage a seriously ill person to receive the Anointing at the proper time. 

 

***

 

 

 September 6, 2012: THURSDAY - WEEKDAY (22)     

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Calls Us to Put Out into the Depths”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Cor 3:18-23 // Lk 5:1-11

 

 

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

 

Some years ago our class at Maryhill School of Theology celebrated the “Misa ng Bayang Pilipino”, the Filipino inculturated form of the Roman Mass, with the barrio inhabitants of Talim Island, located in the middle of Laguna de Bay, a beautiful lake in the Philippines. We lodged there overnight, hosted by several families. The following sunrise, we went to celebrate the Morning Prayer beside the lake. As we sat on the sand, we heard the waves gently touching the shore. We gazed upon small boats, called “bancas”, lying upturned on the sand and fishing nets hanging on bamboo poles and fences to dry. Indeed, the “bancas” and the nets are the life-blood of fishermen. In light of this experience, I can vividly imagine the episode described by the evangelist Luke at the Lake of Gennesaret.  It is easy for me to glean the significance of Simon Peter and the other fishermen renouncing their boats and nets and leaving everything behind to follow Jesus.

 

            The mission of Jesus is to bring salvation to all, in accordance with the Father’s saving plan. Today’s Gospel describes him preaching beside the lake. In order to minister more effectively to the great crowd pressing on him, Jesus gets into Simon’s boat and asks him to put out a short distance from the shore. Jesus then sits down and teaches the crowd from the boat. Seated on that improvised pulpit, his voice as true Teacher resounds as the people listen attentively to his saving word.

 

            The next scene portrays the power of the word of God. After proclaiming to the crowd on the shore, Jesus commands the boat owner, who has worked all night without a catch: “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”  If the night fishing has been unprofitable, the daytime fishing would be even more so. Hence, it seems preposterous for a village carpenter-turned-prophet to command that to a professional fisherman.  Simon, however, acts upon the Master’s word. As a result, they catch such a great number of fish that the nets begin to tear. They signal to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. All are “awed” by the catch. Simon falls at the knees of Jesus saying, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Jesus assures Simon and gives him a mission: “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”

     

            The reading concludes with an image of a dynamic response: “When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.” The Lord who proclaimed the saving word of God to the eager crowd at Lake Gennesaret and challenged Simon and his companions to put out into the depths is the same Lord who calls us today to discipleship. The response of Peter and his companions inspires us to make a total commitment to Jesus and follow him into the depths of his paschal destiny. Like them, we too must be willing to launch into the deep waters and thus share in the bounty of salvation.  

 

 

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

 

What is our personal response to the Master’s command: “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch”? Do we ever allow our human unworthiness and insufficiency to daunt us? Do we imitate the faith-response of Peter and his companions: “When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him”? Are we ready to let go of “everything” in order to follow our Lord and Master through his paschal service and destiny? Are we committed to our Christian vocation of being “fishers of men”? 

 

 

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

 

Lord and Master,

you challenged Simon Peter with your powerful command:

“Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”

The hard-working fisherman answered with faith and trust:

“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,

but at your command I will lower the nets.”

May we imitate Simon Peter’s faith response

and experience with him the mystery of the bountiful catch,

especially when our toil seems fruitless and futile.

May poverty and insufficiency never daunt us.

May our lack of success not discourage us.

Help us to listen to your all-powerful word.

May we trust in your words: “Do not be afraid!”

May we be faithful to our mission to be fishers of men.

Lord, we leave everything and follow you

for you are our saving Lord,

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.

 

            “Put out into deep water.” (Lk 5:4)

 

 

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

 

Pray for all Christians that we may realize the greatness of our vocation as “fishers of men”. Offer special prayers and acts of charity for the increase and perseverance of priestly and religious vocations.

 

 

***

 

 September 7, 2012: FRIDAY – WEEKDAY (22)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Bridegroom-Messiah”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Cor 4:1-5 // Lk 5:33-39

 

 

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

Jesus is the Bridegroom-Messiah. He invites us to a new relationship that transcends mere legal observance and superficial piety. A loving relationship with the Bridegroom entails a radical transformation and infuses new meaning into such religious practices as fasting, an issue raised by some people when they observed that John’s disciples and the Pharisees fast, while Jesus’ disciples did not. Jesus answers them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, they will fast in those days.” The reference to the Bridegroom being taken away is an allusion to the death of Jesus that led to his saving glory. 

Indeed, in the new dispensation that resulted from the paschal event of the death and resurrection of Jesus, his disciples would fast, but not in the meaning given to this religious practice by the disciples of John and the Pharisees. Following a new lifestyle based on the radical salvation won for us by Christ’s saving death on the cross, the Christian disciples would also fast, but for the right reason. An erroneous notion of fasting has no place in the messianic kingdom ushered in by Christ. Indeed, the followers of Jesus would exercise various forms of salutary asceticism, in a spirit of receptivity to the coming of the Kingdom. They would carry these out in anticipation of the full joy that is prepared for them by the victorious Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, in the nuptial banquet in heaven. 

The radical newness of our relationship with Christ can be compared to a piece of new cloth which should not be sewn into an old cloak, for it will make the tear even greater. It can also be compared to new wine which should not be poured into an old wineskin for it will cause the skin to break and spill the wine. Indeed, the love-relationship with Christ, the Bridegroom, demands an exhilaratingly new vision and life-style, symbolically portrayed by Luke as “new wine” poured into fresh wineskins.

The Redemptorist John P. Fahey Guerra gives insight into Christian fasting as an opportunity to gauge our cooperation with God’s plan (cf. LIGOURIAN, A Redemptorist Pastoral Publication, February 2012, p. 11).

We have formed attitudes, feelings, and beliefs about the poor and about poverty in our lives that are simply not in accord with our faith in the God of Jesus Christ. Many of these attitudes have become so habitual that they appear “natural” to us, and, as a consequence, we don’t see the need to reflect on them.

Fasting is a spiritual exercise that seeks to break the power these habits of mind and heart have over us. It is not deprivation for deprivation’s sake, but rather a distancing of ourselves from our present worldview so that our faith in God’s view of the world might take hold of us.

Our encounter with the poor family in Mexico was disconcerting to us; it broke the pattern of our comfortable view of the world. It questioned our way of living. It showed us that we were far from where we were called to be. Fasting is a way for us to intentionally bring into question our present way of living.

 

 

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

 

Are our hearts gracious enough to respond to God’s eternal and faithful love crystallized in the paschal offering of Christ, the messianic Bridegroom? Do we cherish the radical newness that God’s forgiving and renewing love brings to us through his Son Jesus Christ? Are we ready to share the tenderness of God’s love with the forlorn and abandoned of today’s world?

 

 

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

(Cf. Commission Francophone Cistercienne, La nuit, le jour, 31 // Days of the Lord, vol. 5, Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1993, p. 78)

 

Lord, Bridegroom of the Church,

speak to our hearts.

We are listening to you.

In the mirror of your Word,

you fill us with your image

and we live by your light.

 

Jesus, handed over for the Church,

show us the way.

We are following you.

On the way of suffering

your freedom renews us

and our strength is in the Spirit.

 

O Christ, you are the portion of the Church.

May your Day come.

We are waiting for it.

By longing to encounter you,

we are advancing in the mystery;

here you unveil your face.

 

 

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.

 

“When the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” (Lk 5:35) 

 

 

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

 

Pray for those whose marriage bond has been adulterated and shattered. Offer your contribution to promote the healing of nuptial relationships and the integrity of the sacrament of matrimony. 

 

 

***

 

September 8, 2012: SATURDAY – THE NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

“JESUS SAVIOR: His Mother’s Birth Is a Prelude to Salvation”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Mi 5:1-4a or Rom 8:28-30 // Mt 1:1-16,18-23

 

 

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

 

Today we celebrate the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her birth means that the coming of Jesus Savior is near. Her coming into the world is the dawn of salvation. Saint Andrew of Crete, bishop, remarks: “This radiant and manifest coming of God to men most certainly needed a joyful prelude to introduce the great gift of salvation to us. The present festival, the birth of the Mother of God, is the prelude, while the final act is the foreordained union of the Word with flesh. Today the Virgin is formed, tended and formed, and prepared for her role as Mother of God, who is the universal King of the ages … Therefore, let all creation sing and dance and unite to make worthy contribution to the celebration of this day … The creature is newly prepared to be a divine dwelling for the Creator.”

 

Just like the Christ Child, the Child Mary is a promise of salvation. The birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary is likewise a sign of salvation. In view of the redemptive mission of the Christ Child, Mary’s birthday ushers in the fulfillment of the divine promise. The following story narrated by Sue Monk Kidd in an old issue of GUIDEPOSTS magazine gives us an idea of the redemptive role not only of the Christ Child, but also of the Mother of God, who also became a child for us.

 

In 1977, the Baptist Church in Melba, a rural American town, was about to close its doors forever. Over the years, churchgoing had dropped off alarmingly. Some hurts and misunderstandings had divided and shattered the congregation. All that remained was about a dozen people on the verge of giving up. That handful of people gathered in the church one Sunday to vote whether to continue services or close down for good. Their meeting was interrupted when a child appeared – a child of only seven years – who wanted to join the Sunday school and the church service. Angela, for that was her name, returned the next Sunday, and the next and the next. That child became the reason for the Melba Baptist Church to go on. They struggled to live in order to nurture a young spirit from one Sunday to the next. Angela was their glimmer of hope. She was their future. The child’s appearance saved the congregation from extinction and sure death. The Melba Baptist Church has become renovated and increased in membership. As far as they are concerned, the little girl who came alone to the church that long-ago Sunday was sent by God. 

 

 

 

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

 

What is the meaning of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary? Why is her birth a sign of salvation? Just like Jesus and Mary, are we willing to be “signs” of God’s love and compassion in today’s world?

 

 

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

(Cf. Opening Prayer of the Mass “Birth of Mary”) 

 

Father of mercy,

give your people help and strength from heaven.

The birth of the Virgin Mary’s Son

was the dawn of salvation.

May this celebration of her birthday

bring us closer to lasting peace.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, 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.

 

            “This child has been conceived in her.” (Mt 1: 20)

 

 

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

 

To celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary’s birthday, thank God immensely for her deep collaboration in salvation history and offer acts of mercy and kindness in her honor.

 

 

***

 

 

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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