A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.44)

WEEK 25 IN ORDINARY TIME: September 23-29, 2012 ***

 

(N.B. The pastoral tool BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD: A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY LITURGY includes a prayerful study of the Sunday liturgy of Year B from three perspectives. For reflections on the Sunday liturgy based on the Gospel reading, please scroll up to the “ARCHIVES” above and open Series 1. For reflections based on the Old Testament reading, open Series 4. For reflections based on the Second Reading, open Series 7. Please go to Series 10 for the back issues of the Weekday Lectio.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY:

September 23-29, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

***

 

September 23, 2012: 25th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME   

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Son of Man Handed Over and Killed”       

 

BIBLE READINGS

Wis 2:12,17-20 // Jas 3:16-4:3 // Mk 9:30-37

 

 

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

 

I was born in a small Philippine town near the picturesque Mayon Volcano that is renowned for its beauty and its perfect cone. When I reminisce about my hometown, I also remember our hardworking houseboy named Julian. A no-nonsense orphan, it was his dream to go to school. My parents made arrangements so that he could be a working student. One day, when he was going to school to enroll and pay his tuition, his half-brother accosted him, asking for money. The half-brother grew up with bad companions and was addicted to gambling and drinking. He detested Julian’s clean character and resented that he was the “good boy”. Though threatened with a gun, Julian refused to give up his hard-earned money. His half-brother shot him to death. Our quiet neighborhood was convulsed by the injustice suffered by an innocent boy.

 

The conflict between good and evil is verified again and again in human experience. The life of Julian replicates that of the “just one” referred to in today’s Old Testament reading and the paschal destiny of the “Son of Man” mentioned in the Gospel reading. The life of the “just one” is a reproach to those who do evil. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 5, comment on the Old Testament reading: “Those who do evil are intolerant of contradiction, whatever its form. They strive to silence it. But nothing is more unbearable to them than the living reproach and permanent challenge of the life of just persons in their midst … Through their very lives, led in conformity with God’s law, the just denounce the misconduct of the impious … This passage from the Book of Wisdom applies to a multitude of men and women of all times, persecuted, tortured, put to death because they stood, by their mere presence, unshakable witnesses to right and justice.”

 

Jesus Christ is the “just one” par excellence. The unmerited injustice suffered by the “just one” mentioned by the Book of Wisdom adds poignancy and intensity to the figure of the Suffering Servant-Messiah delineated in the Gospel reading: “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” Ironically, while Jesus embraces his paschal destiny, his uncomprehending disciples compete for greatness. Ever sagacious, the Divine Master Jesus utilizes the occasion to instruct them. The way of the just is a life of service to the “poor ones of Yahweh”, a symbol of which is the little child around whom Jesus wrapped his arms. In order to be the first in the heavenly kingdom, ushered in by the Suffering Servant Jesus, we must become the last and the servant of all.

 

 

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

 

How do we respond to Christ’s paschal destiny: “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise”? Do we engage in power games and authority struggles? Do we entertain the temptation of worldly power and ambition? Is our Christian discipleship marked by the sterling quality of service to “the poor ones of Yahweh” – the needy and the helpless?  

 

 

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

 

O Jesus Master,

we are afraid of our own paschal destiny.

Help us to catch a glimpse of its glorious end.

We struggle for primacy and engage in power games.

Help us to be the “last”

and seek the true greatness that lies in service.

We ignore the cry of the poor

and fail to care for “the little ones”.

Touch our hearts

that we may serve them with compassion.

Lord Jesus,

you are the crucified Messiah who comes to our aid.

You live and reign forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him.” (Mk 9:31)

 

 

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

 

Pray for our civil and religious leaders that they may be animated by a true sense of Christian service. Contribute in some way to alleviate the sufferings and respond to the needs of “the little ones of Yahweh”.     

 

***

 

September 24, 2012: MONDAY – WEEKDAY (25)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Calls Us to Radiate the Light of God’s Word”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Prv 3:27-34 // Lk 8:16-18

 

 

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

 

Today’s Gospel helps us to understand the role of Christians in the world. We are to shine and manifest to others, by the way we live, the light of God’s word. Just as a lamp is intended to give light, so the word of Jesus is to be received and become a light for our soul and be irradiated to others. We are the light of the world. Our Christian discipleship involves public witnessing of the spiritual light received from God. We reflect the light of Christ in the same way that a glowing bride reflects the radiance that comes from love. In order that those who are entering God’s kingdom may continue to see the light and be channels of that light, we need to be receptive to his word. Jesus exhorts us: “Take care, then, how you hear.”  When we open our hearts to the word of God, we become richer and richer in the life it engenders and nourishes. When we do not listen to the word of God and fail to act upon it, the spiritual life that has earlier germinated withers away.

 

The following article illustrates the beauty and power of spiritual light that fills our heart and the tremendous value of personal receptivity that enables us to experience the true “gift of sight” (cf. Marilyn Morgan King in DAILY GUIDEPOSTS 2010, p. 387).

 

As highly as I value the faces of the people I love, vibrant colors, the beauty of the mountains and the mystery of night, there is one thing I love more. It’s an un-nameable splendor, a mystery far greater than I, not personal to me, and it lives in the heart of every being. Now and then I’ve caught glimpses of it in silent prayer, and I’ve come to know it as vast and boundless, all-loving and ablaze with the light of the Spirit.

 

Though I may someday lose my physical sight, I’ll be okay, because I’ll remind myself of Helen Keller’s words: “The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen or touched. They must be felt with the heart.”

 

And I’ll pull up some of the many inspiring images I’ve stored in my heart to feed my soul when it’s hungry for beauty. Often, as I’m falling asleep or waking up, images appear behind my closed eyelids- of wisteria flowers, or the sad-glorious stained glass window by Marc Chagall; or a twenty-foot-high rhododendron bush with my love smiling in front of it; or of a sometimes flaming, sometimes softly glowing Nebraska sunset.

 

Sometimes I have even seen an image of Jesus holding a little lamb snuggled against His cheek. That’s when I remember my Aunt Alta’s words as she was dying: “Oh! He is beautiful!” Now I think I know Who she saw with her blind eyes.

 

 

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

 

How do we respond to the light of God’s word? Do we allow this light to fill our hearts and allow its radiance to enlighten the morbid shadows around us? Are we channels of God’s light for others?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

we thank you for the light of God’s word.

Your light shines in the world’s darkness,

but the darkness has not overcome it.

Help us to light the lamp of truth

so that those seeking to enter your kingdom

may see your life-giving light.

Teach us to listen to your word,

to be receptive to the light from above

and responsive to the fire of the Holy Spirit

that burns within us.

At the end of our spiritual journey,

let us experience the joy of eternal light.

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 places the lamp on a stand so that those who enter may see light.” (cf. Lk 8:16)

 

 

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

 

By our daily acts of charity and compassion let us help overcome the shadows of sin and death that darken our world.

 

***

 

September 25, 2012: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (25)

“JESUS SAVIOR: His Family Hears and Acts on God’s Word”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Prv 21:1-6,10-13 // Lk 8:19-21

 

 

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

 

Today’s Gospel continues to challenge us to respond fully to the word of God. The mother of Jesus and other relatives come to see Jesus, but are prevented by the thick crowd. They stand outside and call for him. The Divine Master wisely uses the occasion of their visit to assert that the fundamental relationship to him lies not through blood ties or other earthly connections, but through hearing and acting upon the word of God. While his kin are waiting, Jesus delineates what constitutes his spiritual family – those who hear and obey the divine word are the authentic family members. In light of Mary’s response at the Lord’s annunciation, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word”, the mother of Jesus passes the criterion with passing colors. Mary is the supreme model of one who hears and acts upon the word. Mary is the exemplar of receptivity to the divine word. In her womb, the word of God becomes flesh and she brings forth the Savior of the world. Mary is truly the mother of Jesus and is thus the most privileged member of the “family of God”.

 

The following story illustrates how we can live up to our vocation as “family” and support each other in our needs (cf. Karen Valentin in DAILY GUIDEPOSTS 2010, p. 357).

 

When my parents moved from New York City to Florida, they left me their spacious rent-controlled apartment a block from Central Park. I was living in the Bronx at the time and the lease on my apartment had a while to go, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to live in Manhattan.

 

A young woman whom I knew and trusted was interested in subletting my Bronx apartment, and I wrote an enthusiastic letter to the landlord, who agreed to the arrangement with no problem. I breathed a sigh of relief and moved to Manhattan worry-free.

 

Some months later I was shocked to learn that the woman whom I thought I could trust owed thousands of dollars in rent and, without a word, had fled to another state. Since the lease was under my name, I was left holding the bill. I felt betrayed, foolish and terrified by the thought of having to pay back the rent. Because I didn’t want my family to worry, I kept the problem to myself. Most of all, I felt alone.

 

The one place I did turn to was my church. I needed a shoulder to cry on and lots of prayer. As I expected, my friends listened to my troubles and prayed with me to repair the damage done. What I didn’t expect was that by the next day my church had cleared the debt. I couldn’t believe it.

 

Grateful is a pale reflection of how I felt. By lifting my burden, they showed me that I was family. I had no need to feel alone.

 

 

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

 

Do I truly hear the word of God and act upon it? Do I look upon Mary as the model of hearing and acting upon his word?

 

 

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

 

            Lord Jesus,

we thank you for giving us

the true criterion of kinship with you.

Help us to look upon Mary

as the supreme model of hearing and acting upon the word

so that we may truly belong to your family.

In your name,

let us be brothers and sisters to one another.

We bless and thank you

for making us a part of the family of God.

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.

 

“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” (Lk 8:21)

 

 

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

 

By your prayers and concrete acts of charity, be a brother or a sister to those in need.

 

 

***

 

September 26, 2012: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (25); SAINTS COSMAS AND DAMIAN, martyrs

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Sends Them to Proclaim the Good News and to Heal”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Prv 30:5-9 //  Lk 9:1-6

 

 

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

Today’s Gospel reading is about the Lord who sends, and the mission of those he sends. Jesus sends them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He summons his disciples and selects the Twelve. Tutored by Jesus, and present with him as he heals many from sickness and evil, the Twelve go out into the world with tremendous power bestowed upon them. Luke narrates: “They set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.” The task of those sent by Jesus is to bring the healing balm of forgiveness to those wounded by the virulence of sin and to denounce evil wherever its presence is obvious, openly confronting it by appealing to the power of Christ. Pope Paul VI remarks: “The Church is a continuation and extension of his presence, called above all to carry on the mission of Jesus and his work of evangelization without ceasing. Never can the Christian community be shut in on itself.”

The following inspiring story illustrates that the apostolic spirit lives on in the world today (cf. Debbie Macomber in DAILY GUIDEPOSTS 2010, P. 340).

A few years back I was on a plane, seated next to a teenage boy who was the talkative sort. We struck up a conversation and chatted for a good part of the flight. I talked to him about my work and then showed him my current knitting project. Both are passions of mine, and so, of course, my family.

Although we’d been talking the entire flight, I hadn’t really discovered what his passions were. He was a rather cheerful young man and, like one of our sons, he was a runner. I knew he was active in his school and church, but little else about him. So I asked him what his passion was.

He turned and looked at me and didn’t answer for a moment. “I only have one real passion”, he told me. I sat up to take notice. “Jesus Christ”, he said. “I want to share what Christ did for me with everyone I meet.”

I learned a valuable lesson from that young man. My life may be filled with passions, but none are as important as my relationship with my Savior.

 

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

As Christian disciples today, do we trust in the loving God who is totally involved in our lives? What is the specific apostolic mission addressed to us by Christ today? Do we believe in the Gospel’s power against the forces of evil? 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

you summon us and entrust to us the Gospel

with its power of action against evil.

You send us to overcome

the death-dealing situations of today’s world

with the life-giving realities of your kingdom.

You send us to touch the wounded world

with the healing power of your love.

Grant us the grace we need

to proclaim the Good News and cure diseases.

Teach us to trust in the providence of God.

Let us realize deeply the hope that belongs to our call.

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 proclaim the Good News and cure diseases everywhere.” (Lk 9:6)

 

 

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

Pray for all missionaries that they may carry out their mandate with absolute trust in God and apostolic zeal. Be a missionary to a person close to you and in need of the healing power of the Gospel.   

 

 

***

 

 September 27, 2012: THURSDAY – SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL, priest

“JESUS SAVIOR: Herod Wants to See Him”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Eccl 1:2-11 // Lk 9:7-9

 

 

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

 

 In India I was struck by a powerful image given to us by a priest in a retreat conference. A stone is submerged in the bottom of a river – for days and days, for months and months, for years and years, for ages and ages – but never soaked and drenched. It is impervious. At the core it remains dry and lifeless. The impenetrable stone surrounded by clear waters is a pathetic image of Herod Antipas who is resistant to grace. He is licentious and feckless. He lives in incestuous union with Herodias. John the Baptist censures him severely for taking his brother’s wife. Herod retaliates by having him arrested and imprisoned. On account of a senseless oath to a stepdaughter who delighted him with a sensuous dance, he has John the Baptist beheaded. Herod is also superstitious. The wild news about Jesus of Nazareth being John the Baptist raised from the dead baffles him. He keeps trying to see Jesus. But when he finally sees Jesus in a mock trial before the latter’s passion and crucifixion, he wants to see him perform some miracle and hopes to be entertained with religious prodigies. Jesus does not respond to his frivolous questions and requests. The Son of God remains silent. Too sated with self-centered pleasure seeking, Herod is not to recognize the presence of grace that stands before him. The word of God does not move him to repentance and conversion. The incarnate love has difficulty penetrating his heart wholly taken up by frivolity and corruption.

 

The following story illustrates the tragedy of making evil choices and of being impervious to divine grace (cf. David Schantz, DAILY GUIDEPOSTS 2010, p. 22).

 

My minister-father was a storyteller, and the best part of Sunday was listening to his stories from the pulpit. One of my favorites was about an exceptional contractor who built beautiful homes. There was always a long waiting list of customers.

 

One day the contractor told his foreman, “I need to go East for a few months, and while I’m gone I want you to build this house for me.” He showed the foreman the plans. “I want this to be the best house you’ve ever built for me. Spare no expense. I want it done right.”

 

When his boss left, the foreman got to thinking, “This is a big project. I could make some extra money in it by substituting grade-B materials where they won’t show. I could pocket the difference.”

 

When the boss returned, he was impressed. “The house is beautiful!” He put his arm around the foreman’s shoulders. “The reason I wanted you to make this house special is that I want you to have it as an expression of my gratitude for your years of service to me.”

 

The foreman’s face fell, knowing that he had cheated only himself.

 

 

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

 

Do we make habitual and chronic evil choices so that we become impervious to God’s grace? Are we like Herod Antipas in our behavior and choices?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you preach the Good News

and call people to conversion.

Please help us to listen to your voice

and make a fundamental choice for you.

Help us to avoid the tragic choices of Herod.

Teach us to respond to divine grace

and let us be filled with the love and blessings of God.

You are our glorious Savior,

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.

 

            “And Herod kept trying to see him.” (Lk 9:9)

 

 

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

 

Pray that our daily choices might be responsible and in accordance to the will of God. Make an effort to enlighten the people around you in making the “right” choice for our Savior Jesus.

 

 

***

 

 

 September 28, 2012: FRIDAY – WEEKDAY (25); SAINT WENCESLAUS, martyr; SAINT LAWRENCE RUIZ and companions, martyrs

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Predicts His Passion and Glorification”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Eccl 3:1-11 // Lk 9:18-22

 

 

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

             I visited the California State Fair for the first time on August 29, 2003. I had a great time at the Fine Arts section of the Expo Center Building where I saw a painting entitled “Napping in the Garden”. The body of Christ, stretched in the form of a cross, is sleeping peacefully in a cosmic garden of incredible beauty. Jesus Christ is surrounded by ministering angels and created beings. The artist’s message for me is incisive. The one “napping in the garden” is the Servant of Yahweh, who offered his ultimate service on the cross. The “Messiah of God” is now at the center of adoration and ministry of the entire cosmos.

Jesus, acknowledged by Peter as the “Messiah of God”, presents himself to his disciples as the Suffering Servant. He predicts his passion and glorification. The Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. He will be put to death, but three days later he will be raised to life. Although Jesus speaks of suffering and death, what triumphs ultimately is the power of life. There is redemption in his total self-giving.

The following story gives us a glimpse of the saving glory that comes in living out our paschal destiny (cf. Roberta Messner in DAILY GUIDEPOSTS 2010, p. 27).

 

For forty years I suffered with head and mouth pain from tumors caused by an incurable disorder. I lived from moment to moment and went to great lengths to get my mind off the relentless pain. Then a curious thing happened: I began to notice that whenever I turned my thoughts to others instead of dwelling on myself, I experienced an incredible sense of well-being. Whether I was planning to give, anticipating the act of giving or doing the giving myself, I could feel my entire body change.

 

One of the most difficult aspects of living with intractable pain is getting started in the morning. So before turning in each night, I placed a gift for someone at work alongside my car keys. It might be as simple as an article clipped from a magazine or coupons for laundry detergent or a tea bag in a new herbal flavor. Or it might be a pair of earrings I really wanted for myself that God nudged me to give away.

 

I mentioned my newfound approach to my physician, Dr. Brownfield. He told me that my discovery was supported by both the Bible and medical science. “Giving releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, Roberta. Studies have actually shown that volunteers, some of the most devoted givers of all, lead happier, healthier and longer lives.” He closed our time together that day with a prayer that God would continue to bless me with the abundant life He promises in His Word, the giving life.

 

Since that day I’ve continued to give in the ways God directs. And I hadn’t needed a single dose of breakthrough pain medicine. I’ve come to understand that giving is a God-given tool – like exercise and a balanced diet – that helps us to live the full life He has in mind for us.

 

 

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

 

How does Jesus’ pronouncement of his passion impinge on us? Do we see the intimate connection between Jesus’ self-giving passion and his glorification?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

we thank you for Jesus Christ,

the Suffering Servant who is totally self-giving.

We thank you for his courage and faithfulness to his messianic mission.

Give us the grace to be Christian disciples marked by self-giving.

May our living “faith” be manifested

in concrete works of charity,

especially to the poor, the marginalized and the needy.

May our compassionate works of love

for our vulnerable brothers and sisters

be a sign of our participation

in Christ’s redemptive passion and his saving glory.

In Jesus’ name,

bless us with love, joy and peace,

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 week. Please memorize it.

 

“The Son of Man must suffer greatly … and on the third day be raised.” (Lk 9:22) 

 

 

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

 

Through concrete acts of charity to those experiencing fears and difficulties, manifest your intimate participation in the paschal destiny of Jesus, our self-giving Lord and the “Messiah of God”.

 

***

 

September 29, 2012: SATURDAY – SAINTS MICHAEL, GABRIEL AND RAPHAEL, archangels

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Promises a Vision of Angels”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Dn 7:9-10,13-14 // Lk 1:47-51

 

 

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

 

Jesus promises Nathanael a vision of angels: “You will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” The angelic revelation that Jesus proposes to his would-be disciple Nathanael evokes the vision of Jacob in the Book of Genesis. In a dream, the patriarch Jacob sees a stairway to heaven and God’s messengers going up and down. There is an interchange between heaven and earth. Like the angels on Jacob’s ladder, Jesus will join the above and the below, the heavenly and the earthly. Since Jesus Christ is supreme over all the angels, his unifying function surpasses that of the angels. The Son of Man is the shekinah, the dwelling place of God and the locus of divine glory. Jesus is thus the connecting point of heaven and earth. In his very person, God is revealed and in Jesus we have access to God.

 

The angels are at the service of God and his saving plan. Today’s feast of the archangels helps us to contemplate their role in salvation history. The homily of Saint Gregory the Great that is read at the Office of the Readings gives interesting insight into the ministry of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

 

The word angel denotes a function … They can only be called angels when they deliver some message … Those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels. And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages.

 

Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform … Thus Michael means “Who is like God?”; Gabriel is “The Strength of God”, and Raphael is “God’s Remedy”.

 

Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power. So also our ancient foe desired in his pride to be like God, saying: “I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High.” He will be allowed to remain in power until the end of the world when he will be destroyed in the final punishment. Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: “A battle was fought with Michael the archangel.”

 

So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle.

 

Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy.

 

 

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

 

Do we thank God for the ministry of the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, and do we invoke their protection and assistance in our needs? Do we imitate the goodness of the angels and their function to connect the earthly and the heavenly?

 

 

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

(cf. Concluding Prayer – Liturgy of the Hours, September 29: Feast of the Archangels)

 

God our Father,

in a wonderful way

you guide the work of angels and men.

May those who serve you constantly in heaven

keep our lives safe from all harm on earth.

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.

 

            “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

 

Imitate Saint Michael in his ministry to manifest the supreme power of God. Imitate Saint Gabriel in his ministry to proclaim the good news about Christ. Imitate Saint Raphael in his ministry of healing and providing remedy to the afflicted.

 

***

 

 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang  PDDM

 

 

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