A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.43)

WEEK 24 IN ORDINARY TIME: September 16-22, 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 16-22, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

***

 

September 16, 2012: 24th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME   

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Suffering Servant-Messiah”       

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 50:5-9a // Jas 2:14-18 // Mk 8:27-35

 

 

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

 

An impressive story I read is “To Live Again” by Harold Koenig, M.D. (cf. “To Live Again” in GUIDEPOSTS, September 2006, p. 20-24). The psychiatrist Dr. Koenig, who is the coordinator of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University in North Carolina, suffers from a crippling disease that racks him with vicious pain. Here is the inspiring personal account of how he was to deal with his sickness and suffering.

 

I had been diagnosed with psoriatic inflammatory arthritis. My immune system was attacking my tendons and joints. Any part of my body I used repetitively – legs, knees, ankles, hands, shoulders, back – could become inflamed. The disease could be progressive. There was no cure. Part of me was relieved to have a diagnosis – no more mystery pain. But then I saw the fear in Charmin’s eyes. I knew she was already mourning our walks together, our hiking vacations. I looked at Jordan. “What kind of father will I be? Will we play baseball together? Can we even roughhouse?” That night, I lay in bed, unable to sleep. My back was throbbing. But it wasn’t just the pain keeping me awake. Why? I asked, cycling through thoughts of patients, research, all that I felt God had called me to do. “Is all this work for nothing? Is it all going to get swallowed up in some disease? What am I supposed to do?”

 

The bedroom was dark, the pain relentless. Finally, I got up and limped to the sofa in the living room. I lay on it and found the soft cushions eased the ache. Thank you, God, I prayed. And then it hit me. It was such a simple movement, from bed to sofa. God didn’t snap his fingers and make the pain go away. He didn’t promise to cure me. But he did show me how to adapt, how to live instead of giving up. “Maybe that’s what I’m supposed to do, learn to follow God with the pain – and then help others do the same. Lord, that sounds hard. But if you’re with me, I’ll try.”

 

God showed Dr. Koenig how to live with pain and how to help others cope with it. In embracing the mystery of suffering, and in trusting the divine saving will, he was able to experience that God works through our weakness and our strength. Indeed, Dr. Koenig is a sterling example of how a disciple could participate fully and intimately in the paschal destiny of Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant-Messiah.

 

In today’s Old Testament reading (Is 50:4c-9a) we hear the confessions of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh, whose faith in God is unflinching despite tremendous opposition and persecution. Taken from the third poem of the “Suffering Servant”, this Sunday’s passage is a poetic reflection on suffering in the service of God. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 5, comment: “In this poem, the Servant himself speaks. He evokes the ill treatment that his torturers have inflicted on him, resorting to blows in order to crush him by physical pain, and to insulting actions in order to overwhelm him under their contempt … But the way in which these torments are spoken of shows us a man of extraordinary grandeur and dignity: physically reduced to nothing in his body, he has not been injured in his soul. What is more, he remains serene beyond what we can imagine. No violence has succeeded in altering in the slightest his nonviolence. The Suffering Servant indicates from what sources he draws the strength of his nonviolence and his serenity in the worst of tribulations: The Lord GOD opens my ear that I may hear. And I have not rebelled; have not turned back. Therefore, this man has heard God revealing both his plan and mission to which he calls his servant in view of accomplishing his work. At the same time, this man learned of the difficulties he would have to face. God never deals with anybody in a disloyal manner. But he expects a complete trust and a total commitment of being, soul and body, from those he calls … Then, in spite of their weakness, humans become able to do anything. The servant experiences this certitude again and again: The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

 

Christian tradition has seen the Suffering Servant, persecuted unjustly by his enemies but then glorified by God, as one of the most striking figures of Jesus Christ. It was Jesus who remained true to his mission in spite of opposition and persecution. It was Jesus who suffered cruel torments with unflinching courage. Abandoned and rejected, Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant-Messiah, relied on God alone for strength and vindication.

 

The prophetic image of the Suffering Servant can also be applied to any Christian disciple who stands for principle against all odds. The Servant of Yahweh who suffers in the service of God is a model of Christian discipleship, which involves denying oneself, taking up the cross, and losing one’s life for the sake of Christ and his Gospel. Such radical discipleship is made possible by the Lord God who comes to the aid of the suffering servant, who is totally surrendered to the divine ineffable love. Indeed, suffering is integral to Christian faith. The following of Jesus involves redemptive sacrifice.

 

 

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

 

Are we faithful to God’s commands and rely on him for strength and vindication? Have we tried to negate, resist or repel the various trials and sufferings that come our way? Have we let ourselves be overwhelmed with despair in the midst of pain and suffering? Do we look to Christ as the fulfillment of the Suffering Servant song? How does the life of Christ, the Suffering Servant-Messiah, touch us and give us strength? Do we trust that the Lord comes to the aid of his Suffering Servant who suffers in the service of God and for his glory?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus,

you are our Master.

You show us the depths of human suffering

and perfect submission to the Father’s will.

You are our help and strength.

Together with you

we taste the bitterness of suffering

and the dregs of human pain.

Teach us how to suffer

and embrace the life-giving cross.

Give us strength to take up our cross daily

and follow you on the road to Mount Calvary.

Thank you, Lord Jesus,

for transforming our suffering into saving grace,

for the glory of God and the good of our souls.

We love 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.

 

“The Son of Man must suffer greatly.” (Mk 8:31)

 

 

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

 

Pray for those who are afflicted and overwhelmed by sufferings. Offer your own sufferings in union with Christ as a priestly sacrifice. Endeavor to help people live through their pain and loneliness, to unite their sacrifice with that of Christ, and to embrace the mystery of the cross with courage and trust.

 

 

***

 

September 17, 2012: MONDAY – WEEKDAY (24); SAINT ROBERT BELLARMINE, bishop, doctor of the Church

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Heals the Centurion’s Servant”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Cor 11:17-26, 33 // Lk 7:1-10

 

 

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

(By Bishop Joseph Mukala, India)

 

The centurion had to face certain challenges when he decided to request him to heal his servant. His own friends must have ridiculed him for seeking the assistance of a so-called Jewish preacher. His own authority over his subjects could prevent him from having recourse to a so-called preacher with magic powers. In any case we can count on his deep faith in the authority of Christ, to whom he pleaded for the cure of his servant … We are in need of healing, both spiritual and mental. The Lord is ever ready to come under our roof and heal us. He gently tells us that he is ready to come and heal us if only we open ourselves to him and his healing power. The centurion knew that Jesus has power and authority to heal from a distance, as he himself has power and authority to command and get things done. Hence, he humbled himself before Jesus and requested him to exercise his power and authority to heal his servant, without coming to his house … As the centurion acknowledged the power and authority of Jesus in healing his servant, let us also be conscious of our need for the presence of the Lord in our lives – that he may heal us of our spiritual, psychological and mental agonies and wounds. In the same measure, let us also be conscious of people who need our presence for their healing, especially those who are close to us, like the servant who was very close to his master, the centurion. 

 

 

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

 

Like the centurion, do we have such faith as to seek healing from our Lord Jesus?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

we thank you for the compassionate centurion

who begged you to save the life of his dear servant.

We also thank you for the people

whose lives the centurion’s goodness has touched

and who now intercede with him.

Help us to imitate the centurion’s care for the lowly ones

and for your own people.

Fill us with the same great faith

that inspired him to trust in you.

As you healed the centurion’s dying servant,

touch us anew with your healing power.

Lord Jesus,

we are not worthy that you should enter under our roof,

but only say the word and our souls will be healed.

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.

 

“Not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (cf. Lk 7:9)

 

 

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

 

Pray not only for healing, but also to be a healer. Do something kind and comforting for a sick relative, or friend, or a subordinate.

 

***

 

September 18, 2012: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (24)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Raises the Widow’s Son”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Cor 12:12-14, 27-31a // Lk 7:11-17

 

 

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

 

I was born before Vatican II and the Mass that I attended when I was a little girl was in Latin. I could not make out what was being done by the priest, nor could I understand what was being said. But I knew, from strict discipline, that inside the church I was supposed to behave. One day, during the Mass, after the parish priest had read in Latin, he took a special book and began to read a story in the vernacular – in our Bicol dialect. I was only five years old, but I listened with rapt attention about a man Jesus raising a widow’s son to life. I was fascinated and loved that story, which I never forgot.

 

The raising of the dead in Naim depicts Jesus responding compassionately to a tragedy. Death has taken away, with a wicked hand, the only son of a widow, who is in a pitiable condition. Not only has she lost her only son, but as a widow she is most vulnerable and defenseless in the Jewish society. Just as he responded benevolently with miraculous power to the good centurion’s request to heal his faithful servant, Jesus manifests in Naim his compassion and efficacious power. Seeing the bereaved mother, he is moved with pity for her and tells her not to weep. He touches the coffin and commands, “Young man, I tell you arise!” The dead man sits up and begins to speak. Jesus gives him back to his mother. The miracle elicits the marvel of the people, who give glory to God. Jesus thus manifests anew his power over life and death.

 

The miracle of life over death lives on in today’s world. When I was teaching confirmation class in Fresno, one of my students – Ian Flores – was involved in a vehicular accident. The car in which he and three high school classmates were riding was hit by a school bus. The girl driving the car was killed; one classmate was seriously injured and was fighting for her life at the ICU – she eventually recovered; one remained unscathed; and Ian was in coma. His mom told me, “He keeps on sleeping… sleeping … sleeping!” On the eighth day, our pastor Msgr. Pat McCormick said to the comatose boy, “Ian, if you want to spend Christmas at home, you better wake up!” The following day, Ian woke up and made it so impossible for the nurses that the doctor gave in to his desire to go home. When Msgr. Pat and I visited Ian at their ranch, he was limping a little and using a crutch, but otherwise he was okay. The sense of gratitude that pervaded the family was akin to the marvelous feeling that filled the widow of Naim when Jesus raised her dead son to life and gave him back to her.

 

 

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

 

Do we truly love Jesus and trust in his mercy and compassion? How do we share his benevolence with the people around us?

 

 

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

 

            Lord Jesus,

the sight of tragedy moves you to pity.

The grief of the widow of Naim

fills you with compassion.

You therefore raised her dead son to life

and gave him back to her.

We thank you for your loving mercy.

We glorify you for your gift of life

and the triumph of life.

We bless your mighty power over evil and death.

You live and reign,

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.

 

“Young man, I tell you arise!” (Lk 7:14)

 

 

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

 

If there is any occasion to participate in a funeral liturgy, do so with a conscious spirit of love and compassion for the bereaved.

 

 

***

 

September 19, 2012: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (24); SAINT JANUARIUS, bishop, martyr

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Does Not Square Up to Their Expectations”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Cor 12:31-13:13 //  Lk 7:31-35

 

 

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

 

This happened in Rome many years ago. It was summer and the weather was sultry. Instead of using a black habit (that is, the Sister’s dress), I wore white for hygienic reasons. Several Sisters commented that I look better in black. A few days later, I changed again to a black habit for a practical purpose - because I was making a long trip from Rome to north Italy by train and a black dress is less messy. Some Sisters remarked that I look better in white. I was chagrined! I could not please them either in black or in white.

 

Jesus is likewise chagrined by the whims and capriciousness of the people of his generation. They are like children playing in the market who call to one another: “We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge for you and you did not weep.” The spoiled brats are not happy because their expectations are not met. Similarly, the religious leaders of Israel are difficult to satisfy. Neither John nor Jesus has squared up to their standards and expectations. They find fault with John because he is too ascetic. They are unhappy with Jesus because he is lax and gluttonous. They are indecisive. Their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah reveals their stubbornness and foolishness. They lack wisdom of heart and have negated God’s plan and his gift of salvation through his Son Jesus Christ.

 

 

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

 

How do we respond to God’s offer of salvation in Jesus Christ? Are we indecisive and obstinate, or are we open and receptive to divine grace?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus,

you are the Father’s gift of salvation.

But we are full of whims and caprices

like the spoiled brats in the marketplace.

We refuse to let you enter into our lives.

We are filled with false expectations

and dream empty dreams.

We are fickle, feckless and indecisive.

Forgive us, Lord Jesus,

for we are foolish and stubborn.

Grant us wisdom of heart

so that we may receive divine grace.

Help us to commit ourselves to you as 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.

 

            “To what shall I compare the people of this generation?” (Lk 7:31)

 

 

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

 

Today follow through with your decision to imitate the goodness and kindness of Christ to others, especially the needy and the unfortunate.

 

 

***

 

 September 20, 2012: THURSDAY – SAINT ANDREW KIM TAE-GON, priest, PAUL CHONG HA-SANG, and companion martyrs

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Forgives Our Sins”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Cor 15:1-11 // Lk 7:36-50

 

 

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

 

 When I was old enough to understand, my mother told me this beautiful story of forgiveness. I was about two years old and the youngest in a brood of three when my father got sick of tuberculosis. Three-fourths of his lungs were gone and my mother had to take care of him full time. My mom felt she could not afford to have another baby, and when she conceived, she tried to abort the pregnancy by taking some pills. One night she had a terrible nightmare. She dreamed that two children were pursuing her with long stemmed, deadly sickles in their hands. My mom woke up trembling and sweating. The following morning she went to church and confessed to a priest. The priest, however, protracted the sacramental absolution. He advised her to do all what she could to make the baby live. My mother went directly to her friend, a nurse practitioner and asked for help. The nurse gave her vitamins and medications to promote the pregnancy. She also gently chided my mother for her lack of faith in Divine Providence. The baby in my mother’s womb survived and was brought forth.  A strong, healthy and handsome boy, and very fair! Highly energetic, he would grow up and become a dentist. My mother, who was truly sorry for her lack of faith in God’s loving care and for her sinful action against life, received forgiveness for her sins. She was blessed with other children. Moreover, my father recovered from his illness and would live serenely and fruitfully for 82 years.

 

Today’s Gospel reading helps us to see the intimate relationship between forgiveness and the gift of love. The sinful woman who bathes Jesus’ feet with tears of repentance, dries them with her hair, kisses them with devotion, and anoints them with precious ointment, expresses her profound love for Jesus, who is the font of forgiveness. She is overwhelmed with love for the one who forgives – for the one who understands – for the merciful Love in person. The divine forgiveness is always present – we just have to welcome it, respond to it and own it – for Jesus is always present to us. The loving and tender actions of the woman prove that her many sins are forgiven. Because she has embraced Jesus - God’s forgiving love made incarnate - her many sins are forgiven. Indeed, loving deeds and works of charity are indicators that we have really opened ourselves up to the divine gift of forgiveness.

 

 

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

 

What insights can we derive from the “sinful woman” who had greatly loved Jesus, the forgiving Love made flesh? Do we endeavor to approach Jesus, wash his feet with tears of repentance and anoint them with the balm of love and spirit of contrition? Do we allow Jesus’ merciful love to transform us? Do we allow his compassion to make us zealous apostles of his healing love?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you forgave the sinful woman

who washed your feet with tears of repentance

and anointed them with the balm of love and spirit of contrition.

Listen to my prayer:

forgive all my sins,

renew your love in my heart,

help me to live in perfect unity with my fellow Christians

that I may proclaim your saving power to all the world.

You are the forgiving Love of God in the flesh

and you live 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.

 

            “Her many sins have been forgiven” (Lk 7:47)

 

 

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

 

Pray that God’s merciful love may be experienced by those who have sinned against him and that they may open themselves up to his gift of forgiveness. Be an instrument of God’s forgiving love in the various sinful situations that challenge the Christian disciples of today, especially where there is hatred, violence, injustice, oppression, exploitation and abuse. Endeavor to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation more meaningfully and worthily. 

 

 

***

 

 September 21, 2012: FRIDAY – SAINT MATTHEW, apostle, evangelist

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Calls Matthew to Follow Him”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Eph 4:1-7,11-13 // Mt 9:9-13

 

 

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

 

 The Fresno-based Poverello House is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization whose mission is to enrich the lives and spirits of all who pass their way, to feed the hungry, offer focused rehabilitation programs, temporary shelter, medical, dental and other basic services to the poor, the homeless, the disadvantaged, without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex or disability through Providential and community support. Its founder is Mike McGarvin, a man who had experienced God’s mercy and transforming compassion through a saintly Franciscan priest, Fr. Simon Scanlon. They met at the “Poverello Coffee House” which Fr. Simon opened in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, notorious for its poverty, prostitution and violence. Mike narrates: “Gradually my life of self-indulgent destruction was being replaced by a life of service … I began seeing people through Father Simon’s eyes. He, in turn, saw people through Christ’s eyes, and he deeply believed that Jesus walked among the poor and the outcast. It was a revelation to me. The more I got to know the people who came to Poverello, the more compassion I felt for them.”

  

Today’s Gospel reading (Mt 9:9-13) is not only a concise presentation of Matthew’s vocation story, but also a powerful theology of the Christ, as full of compassion and mercy. The liturgical scholar, Adrian Nocent explains: “St. Matthew records his own calling in a simple, straightforward way … Christ chooses and calls; the person chosen and called immediately leaves everything and follows Jesus … Jesus comes to dine with Matthew and the other disciples in Matthew’s house at Capernaum; they are joined at table by many tax collectors and sinners, to whose ranks Matthew belonged until now.  It is easy to see the point Matthew wants to make, namely, that Jesus has come into the world to save not only the Jews but others as well, including sinners. When Jesus is challenged for eating with sinners, we observe that he does not justify himself but simply speaks of himself as a physician. A physician does not have to justify his presence among the sick; neither does Jesus. Matthew is thus, once again, offering us a theology of the Christ. Jesus is characterized by mercy, because his Father is mercy itself and he, Jesus, has been sent in order to communicate God’s mercy.

 

 

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

 

What is our response to Jesus’ call addressed personally to each of us, “Follow me”? Are we willing to welcome fully into our hearts Jesus and the gift of divine mercy that he brings? 

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you are kind and merciful.

In calling Matthew,

and in dining with sinners and tax collectors,

you reveal that you are truly the divine physician

who comes to heal our sickness and infirmities.

Help us to cling to your words:

“I desire mercy, not sacrifice.

I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

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.

 

“Follow me.” (Mt 9:9) 

 

 

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

 

By your vocation, ministry and compassionate acts of mercy, resound in today’s world God’s call to Matthew and to us all: “Follow me!” 

 

 

***

 

September 22, 2012: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (24); BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Sows the Seed”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Cor 15:33-37, 42-49 // Lk 8:4-15

 

 

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

 (By Dr. Eleanor Ronquillo, Member: ASSOCIATION OF PAULINE COOPERATORS – Friends of the Divine Master, Antipolo Unit, Philippines)

 

Here is the story of three people:

 

1.      A mother of a young boy, an only son, served her parish well. Then her young son got sick and died of dengue fever. She transferred to the Born Again Movement.

 

2.      A father of four young children, two boys and two girls, had been a devout Catholic, a humble servant. His eldest child, one of his daughters, suddenly died in a car accident. Then within a few months, his other daughter died of a lingering heart disease. He has remained steadfast, in fact more busy with his apostolate, so that people admire his courage and great faith.

 

3.      A fifty-year old man had several medical illnesses, many physical pains and fears. He often fought with neighbors and relatives. Then he began to study the Bible and claimed he had found God. Now, he goes about criticizing priests, scrutinizing the works of parish workers, largely becoming disgusted by the way people behave.

 

Three lives, three different levels of faith. Which seed fell on good ground and bore fruit? Which seed started to grow on rock, but was scorched by the sun? Which seed grew among thistles and weeds, ready to be choked by them?

 

Our lives are constantly challenged by weeds, thistles, rocks, the heat of the sun … Can we say we are founded on good ground? Such are the pains of life that some may reach their breaking poin,t at which they break away. Others are strengthened in faith by their intense crises. Quite honestly, I am afraid. Like the plant that grows on good ground, I want to grow and bear fruit. But there are just times when strong forces of heavy rains, strong winds, intense heat, and being trampled upon might weaken the plant. Those are the times I need to cling, I need to hold on, I need to anchor, to be nurtured. Like the plant, we all need to be nurtured. And we must be nurtured in our faith in order to grow.

 

 

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

 

With eagerness and humility, do we endeavor to be the rich, welcoming soil that will make the seed of the Kingdom grow and bear abundant fruit to be shared with those who long for the blessings of God? When we are not receptive to grace, what do we do to surmount this spiritual resistance and difficulty?

 

 

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

(A prayer by Nerses Snorhali in Jesus, Fils unique du Pere in Sources chretiennes 203, Paris: Cerf, 1973, p. 133)

 

I hardened myself like a rock;

I became like the path;

the thorns of the world have choked me

and have made my soul unfruitful.

 

But, O Lord, Sower of good,

make the seedling of the Word grow in me

so I may yield fruit in one of these three:

Hundredfold, sixtyfold, or even thirtyfold.   

 

 

 

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 bear fruit through perseverance.”  (Lk 8:15)

 

 

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

 

Pray that the seed of the Kingdom may find rich soil to nourish it, and make it grow and be fruitful. Pray for Christian disciples-apostles who broadcast the seed of the word of God in today’s field of human concerns and affairs that they may be strengthened in their endeavors. Pray for those who will proclaim and preach the word of God in this Sunday’s liturgical assembly. 

 

 

***

 

 

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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