A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.51)

WEEK 32 IN ORDINARY TIME: November 11-17, 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: November 11-17, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

***

 

November 11, 2012: 32nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME         

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Invites Us to a Total Self-Giving”       

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Kgs 17:10-16 // Heb 9:24-28 // Mk 12:38-44

 

 

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

 

One grace I have experienced as a missionary and consecrated person is the opportunity to see inspiring acts of self-giving everywhere in the world. When I was enrolled at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome, I used to volunteer to help our Sisters working in the souvenir shops at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Pilgrims from all parts of Italy and from all over the world would come to our place for religious objects and souvenirs to bring back home to their loved ones. In carrying out this service to the pilgrims, I had a chance to witness memorable acts of goodness, generosity, and self-giving. During a Jubilee year celebration when I was assisting a group of pilgrims from Bergamo, I met a pleasant-looking, elderly peasant from the hometown of Pope John XXIII. His resources were very limited, so he bought only two small holy cards worth 500 liras. I wrapped his purchase in a nice little paper bag and gave it to him with a warm smile. After receiving it with gratitude, he fell into deep thought. Then he dipped into his pocket and handed me 10,000 liras as a donation for candles. What an act of kindness and generous giving!

 

Our bible readings for this Sunday give us a lesson on total and wholehearted giving. The Old Testament reading is about the woman who gave all - the little she had. The story of the poor widow of Zarephath delineates the depth and power of faith that is the font of total giving. The poor widow - a pagan - did not hesitate to part with her remaining meager provisions of flour and oil for the benefit of a needy stranger – Elijah, God’s prophet. Her act of generosity reminds us of all those who accomplish the acts of mercy in accordance with the divine will. The Old Testament backdrop of the impoverished, but faith-filled and generous widow of Zarephath reinforces and vivifies the fascinating figure of the destitute but extremely generous widow of this Sunday’s Gospel reading. Observing the devout act of the poor widow, who put two small coins into the temple’s treasury, Jesus calls the disciples to himself in order to let them see the profound contrast between complete and incomplete giving.

 

Jesus Christ surpasses the generous gift-giving of the widow of Zarephath and the widow at the treasury of the Jerusalem temple. The Servant-Son of God is the ultimate self-giving Lord – the only true Poor One who gives everything back to God, including his very own life upon the cross. Christ offers his life “once and for all” in order to redeem us. In union with him, our lives become capable of total self-giving. In the footsteps of the Divine Master, the true Anawim of Yahweh, our lives are transformed into a totus tuus – a wholehearted gift to God.

 

The following story shared by my cousin, Belen Papina Villaluz, illustrates that the act of selfless giving is alive in today’s world

 

A few years ago, our parish church, in Guinobatan, Albay in the Philippines, was down for a major renovation. The condition of the church was so bad that, except for the walls and the belfry, everything had to be torn down. This big undertaking was in anticipation of the centennial foundation of our parish. Solicitation letters were sent out to parishioners, who were deemed able to contribute, to make the project successful. Donations poured in from within the parish and beyond, that is, from town-mates living abroad. Some gave a good portion of their salaries or bonuses. Others willingly shared their retirement benefits, while some found ways and means to convince other people to contribute. Those who could not give in kind or cash, rendered their services.

 

In a matter of two or three years, the church renovation project was accomplished, and it was a complete success. During the feast day in honor of our patroness, Our Lady of the Assumption, a grand celebration was held to thank everybody and most especially those who have supported in making the endeavor a success. People from everywhere came to celebrate with us on that most special day. A bountiful feast and a sumptuous meal were prepared for everyone to enjoy. Certificates of recognition and plaques of appreciation were given to all those who had given much of their time, talent, and treasure. And their names were posted on the bulletin board for everyone to see.

 

However, during that time when the church was being renovated, and even until I left for the States, I always saw this man who, during the offertory, went up to the altar to offer, what I found out later, was a handful of coins wrapped in newspaper. He heard Mass almost every day and without fail continued his practice, come offertory time. I came to know that this man is a baggage boy who works in the public market. He makes a living by carrying anything and everything anybody could not carry. For his service he is given whatever amount his clients find appropriate … which most of the time is a few coins. He could not afford to buy anything for himself for he went to Mass in a very old t-shirt, short pants and a pair of worn-out rubber slippers. Every time I saw him, I could not help but admire and envy him for his selfless giving.

 

I was one of the recipients of a plaque of appreciation, but seeing this man, I realized that he gave more than I did.

 

When judgment day comes, who will be the first to enter the Kingdom of God? Will it be the person who gave a big amount, with his name announced to everyone, or the man who gave everything he had without even first thinking of his needs?

 

 

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

 

How do we react to situations of extreme vulnerability, insecurity, and poverty? Do we take the generous stance of the faith-filled widows of Zarephath and of the Gospel? Do we allow ourselves to be configured into the self-giving Lord Jesus, the true Anawim – the ultimate Poor One of Yahweh? Do we trust that in the act of total self- giving and surrender to the divine will we shall experience the true beatitude and the fullness of life?  

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

the generosity of the poor are known to you.

Your Son Jesus sees the heart of the poor widow

who offers two little coins – her “everything”.

You embrace those who have “nothing”

according to the world’s standards,

but are rich in faith.

Your eyes look kindly on the lowly

who, like Jesus, are capable of total self-giving.

Help us to be poor in spirit

but abundant in the gift of grace.

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.

 

“She,  from her poverty, has contributed all she had.” (Mk 12:44)

 

 

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

 

Pray that the spirit of totus tuus or total giving may animate our life of Christian discipleship and service. Pray also that the unjust structures that lead to destitution and greater abuse of the poor and needy in today’s society may be rectified. Strive to offer the gifts you have received from the Lord for the good, and at the service of the community.

 

 

***

 

November 12, 2012: MONDAY – SAINT JOSAPHAT, bishop, martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us Responsibility for Little Ones”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ti 1:1-9 // Lk 17:1-6

 

 

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

 

In the previous episodes, Jesus was addressing the “outsiders” – those outside the intimate circle of disciples - the crowds, the scribes and the Pharisees. In today’s Gospel setting, he focuses his attention on his disciples and delineates their responsibility for the “little ones”, that is, the members of the faith community. Jesus acknowledges that things that cause sin will inevitably occur because of Satan’s interference and the human misuse of freedom. But he issues a strong warning to his disciples not to lead others to sin. They must take care lest their actions cause others to stumble or lose faith in God. Such scandal-causing disciples will be severely punished.

 

The Divine Master continues to form his disciples in the way of responsibility and leadership. They must be able to correct and forgive.  They must rebuke those who sin and bring them on the right path. They must also forgive unceasingly those who truly repent of their sins. Jesus exhorts them to forgive the truly repentant person for his repeated sins – expressed exaggeratedly as committing wrong “seven times” in one day.

 

This is a tall order. How can the disciples live up to such a standard of integrity and generosity? Jesus therefore underlines the power of faith. If the disciples truly have “faith”, even the size of a mustard seed, they will be able to command a mulberry tree to be uprooted and planted in the sea. They must have faith to avoid misleading others by sinful actions, and that they may offer the gift of forgiveness to repentant sinners “every time”. The power of faith will enable them to rise to the task and challenge of Christian witnessing and ministry.

 

In the context of today’s sex-abuse scandal, the words of Jesus resound ominously upon those who abuse the “little ones” and sin against them. The following experience of a survivor illustrates not only the pain he suffered, but also the grace-filled attitude he showed as a victim of offense and scandal (cf. Rachel Zawila, “Survivors Speak” in Saint Anthony Messenger, June 2012, p. 20-25).

 

Peter Isely is a survivor. Growing up in a devout Catholic family, Isely envisioned maybe becoming a priest himself. While at St. Lawrence, a seminary high school in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, he was assaulted by a priest from age thirteen to seventeen … It took him more than a decade to publicly acknowledge it. And publicly he did. After reading an opinion piece by Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in November 1992, in which the archbishop stated too much attention was being given to a priest sex-abuse case, Isely could stay silent no longer. His open-letter response to Archbishop Weakland ran on page 1 of the newspaper the following Sunday. In it, he shared his story, calling on the need for correction not only of offending priests, but also of the entire culture that allows such abuse to occur.

 

Since then, Isely has remained in the public eye. A cofounder of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) he now serves as Midwest director in Milwaukee. Isely can be seen around the country, joining in protests, giving speeches, and meeting with bishops, cardinals and priests. (…)

 

Fighting a public struggle is not the only battle survivors face. For many, an internal conflict of faith also wages on. Survivors struggle mightily with their faith”, says Isely. “That’s a major element.” (…) “Even when victims are angry, you can hear their deep attachment to their spiritual homeland”, says Isely, including himself in the statement. “Many of us came from the most devout and loyal Catholic parents and families. That was given to me as a child before I even understood most of it. This truth was given to me, and I can’t betray it.” (…)

 

The sex abuse crisis is not over. Further investigations have revealed it is a worldwide problem, and the Church continues to meet and form measures to address the situation. “That we’re now talking about this as a global issue, that is a huge success”, says Isely; “that there’s a conversation about the Vatican and how authority is structured around this and what is happening. So at least that’s being talked about now; that’s where the conversation is. Even getting there is something of a miracle … I’ll tell people I’ve been at this at least fifteen years, and we’ve made more progress in fifteen years than in fifteen centuries.”

 

 

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

 

Have we ever wronged the “little ones”? Do we recognize our responsibility and culpability? Do we choose the way of forgiveness and repentance? Do we trust in God and have faith that he is loving and forgiving?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Master,

you teach us the meaning of integrity and responsibility.

Help us to care for the “little ones”

Never allow us to wrong them

or cause them to sin.

Let our words and deeds be irreproachable.

Give us the courage to correct those who are culpable

and the grace to forgive, “every time”, the repentant sinners.

Let our mustard-size faith sustain us

in the task of Christian witnessing

and in our ministry to the “little ones” of today’s world.

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.

 

“Things that cause sin will inevitably occur; woe to the person through whom they occur.” (Lk 17:1)

 

 

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

 

Pray for the victims of sex-abuse and those who are guilty of this crime. Do what you can to help the “survivors” of clergy sex-abuse.

 

***

 

November 13, 2012: TUESDAY – SAINT FRANCES XAVIER CABRINI  , virgin (USA)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Calls Us to a Total Dedication”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ti 2:1-8, 11-14 // Lk 17:7-10

 

 

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

 

In my brother’s home in Cebu (Philippines), there are three domestic helpers. Each one has a particular task, but all can multi-task. Hence, the gardener can also clean the house if the cleaning boy is not around. The helpers have a food allowance in addition to their monthly salary and are not expected to join the family at table. At meal time at least one of them has to wait at table. They are very dedicated and are treated respectfully and justly. But I suppose none of them would expect to be thanked or praised every time for the work they do since they are paid workers.

 

Today’s Gospel speaks of the personal dedication expected of a multi-tasking servant who can plow the field, tend the sheep and wait at table. A servant must not indulge in self-gratification nor give in to arrogant presumption that the master owes it to him. A servant is expected to carry out his duties humbly and faithfully. If such faithful service and total dedication are expected of a domestic servant, how much more Jesus Master demands them from his followers. The Christian disciples are wisely reminded that they can never stop and rest in the belief that they have worked enough. Immersed into the life of Christ, the Servant of Yahweh, they are “servants” for the kingdom. They are called to be totally, and devotedly, at the service of the Father’s saving will. True servants do not seek themselves. Their humble attitude makes them avow: “We are merely servants and we have done merely our duty!”

 

 

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

 

What is our attitude as servants of the Lord? Do we fully commit ourselves to the task of building up God’s kingdom? Are we fully configured to Jesus, the Servant of Yahweh?

 

 

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

 

O Jesus, Divine Master,

you are the Servant Yahweh

and in you, we are “servants” for the kingdom.

Help us to be faithful cultivators of the seed of the kingdom,

loving shepherds of God’s flock and

humble waiters at the Eucharistic banquet.

We love you and praise you.

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.

 

“We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we are obliged to do.” (Lk 17:10)

 

 

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

 

Pray that the spirit of service may live on intensely in the Church. By your personal dedication to your daily tasks, let the work you do be a means of sanctification and building up of God’s kingdom.

 

 

***

 

November 14, 2012: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (32)

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Object of Thanksgiving”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ti 3:1-7 // Lk 17:11-19

 

 

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

 

Today’s Gospel story of the healing of the Ten Lepers acquires deeper meaning when seen against the sinful reality of human ingratitude that warps our filial relationship with God. In his book, Ode to Joy (New York: Alba House, 1997, p. 237), Harold Buetow observes that too often we’re like the doting grandmother who was walking with her young grandson along the shore in Miami Beach when a huge wave appeared out of nowhere, sweeping the child out to sea. The horrified woman fell to her knees, raised her eyes to heaven, and begged the Lord to return her beloved grandson. And, lo, another wave reared up and deposited the stunned child on the sand right in front of her. The grandmother looked the boy over carefully. He was fine. But then she stared up angrily toward the heavens. “When he came,” she snapped indignantly, “He had a hat!” Like the ingrate grandmother, we presume that God is the service-giver and that he owes it to us. We, therefore, fail to acknowledge our debt of gratitude to God. 

 

Jesus Master responds compassionately to the ten lepers who call out to him with an intense invocation. The Old Testament cry of despair, “Unclean, unclean” is transformed into a new “prayer” in the presence of Jesus, who is on his paschal journey to Jerusalem. Instead of warning, “Unclean, unclean” to isolate their wretched selves from the society, the ten lepers boldly appeal to him for mercy and compassion. They shout a new “prayer”: “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” Jesus Master orders them to show themselves to the priests. On their way they realize they have been healed.

  

The grateful Samaritan, healed of his infirmity, returns to Jesus Master, the font of compassion and healing. The return of the grateful Samaritan marks a new life of faith and worship centered in the person of Jesus, the true object of praise and thanksgiving. The healed Samaritan glorifies God, not in the Jewish temple, but in the person of Jesus. The Gospel account of the healing of the Ten Lepers presents us not only with another benevolent ministry of Jesus, but also an example of a faith that is transformed into glory and praise. The return of the Samaritan illustrates the intimate connection between faith and “thanksgiving”. Faith becomes “Eucharist” - an act of thanksgiving and worship in Jesus Master.

 

 

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

 

What are the occasions in our life when we pray most intensely, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”? In what way are we the grateful, healed Samaritan leper? In what way are we the healed lepers who did not return to Jesus? Do we allow ourselves to be heartened by Jesus’ words: “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you”?  

 

 

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

 

We cry out to you, Jesus,

the font of compassion.

Have pity on us and take away our infirmities.

Restore us to health

and take away the leprosy of sin.

We thank you for your healing word.

In you is true wholeness.

Let us rejoice in you and obey you.

Teach us to be truly grateful

for your acts of mercy

and marvelous saving deeds.

By being instruments of your healing love in today’s world,

may the triune God be glorified,

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.

 

            “He fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” (Lk 17:16)

 

 

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

 

Pray for all the marginalized and distressed people in today’s world. By your acts of charity, alleviate their suffering and help them to be grateful to God “no matter what”.

 

 

***

 

 November 15, 2012: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (32); SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT, bishop, doctor of the Church

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches that the Kingdom of God Is Among Us”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Phlm 7:20 // Lk 17:20-25

 

 

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

 

The Pharisees ask Jesus when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus answers, “The kingdom of God is among you.” The messianic kingdom has been ushered in by Jesus and is deeply palpable in his compassionate ministry to the poor and suffering. It is silently growing and flourishing, but it cannot be perceived by those who reject the person of Jesus. Hence, for the unbelieving Pharisees it is futile to search for the kingdom here and there and presumptuous to demand spectacular “signs” to know when and where it will come.

 

Jesus then speaks to his disciples about the definitive fulfillment of the Kingdom that is already at work among them. But before this happens, Jesus must first undergo great suffering and rejection. During the ad interim time, even the disciples will be desperate for the glorious coming of the Son of Man, and this could lead them to succumb to follow false prophets and devious theories about his definitive coming. If only they would give their full attention to the kingdom that is already at work in them, then they will be ready for the glorious return of the Son of Man at the end time. Jesus assures his disciples that his day of glory is unmistakable - it will be as vivid and powerful as the lightning that flashes and lights up the sky. 

 

This happened in 1984. After attending a memorial Mass in Bombay (now Mumbai) for the deceased Italian soldiers who died during World War II, Mother Dorothy and I hitched a ride. Also hitching a ride were two Italian youths - members of the Focolare Movement founded by Chiara Lubich. The two young men were residing in the slums of Bombay and ministering to the poor. A Sister who was with us in the car was reciting a litany of woes. She demanded: “Now tell me: where is the kingdom of God?” The Focolare missionary answered: “The kingdom of God is within you!” The Sister sobered up. When we promote justice and peace in today’s world, when we lovingly care for poor and needy, and when we zealously build a more harmonious world – then we can perceive the kingdom that is within us. Indeed, the kingdom of God is an “already but not yet” reality which we must nurture and treasure.

 

 

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

 

Do we believe that the kingdom of God is within us, and is growing towards completion? What do we do to hasten the definitive advent of the kingdom of God?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Master,

we truly believe your words:

“The kingdom of God is among you.”

When we dedicate ourselves

to works of justice, peace and compassion,

we feel the kingdom power within us.

Give us the grace to be faithful

so that at your glorious coming at the end time,

we may rejoice with you in the heavenly kingdom.

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 kingdom of God is among you.” (Lk 17:21) 

 

 

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

 

By your works of mercy and compassion, by your peace-making efforts, hasten the definitive advent of the kingdom of God.

 

 

***

 

 

 November 16, 2012: FRIDAY – WEEKDAY (32); SAINT MARGARET OF SCOTLAND; SAINT GERTRUDE, virgin

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Be Ready for His Final Coming”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Jn 4-9 // Lk 17:26-37

 

 

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

            Many years ago I saw a movie entitled “The Bad Seed” about a young girl who was very wicked. Twice she committed murder without compunction. One evening she put on a raincoat and, with a flashlight, calmly walked into the rain towards the river to fish out some evidence of her crime. While she was doing that a powerful lightning bolt struck and killed her. That was a brutal end to a “bad seed”.

Jesus talks about his Second Coming as an encounter either with destruction or salvation. For those who have trusted in him and have prepared for his coming, it will be an event of salvation. For those who have rejected him and have been preempted by earthly concerns, it will be an ominous condemnation and self-destruction. Jesus mentions Noah and Lot as examples of those prepared to encounter the divine judgment with integrity. Around them were people who were not prepared for the flood, and the threat of destruction. Worldly pursuits and sinful deeds have prevented them from welcoming the judgment of the Lord as a gift of salvation. Lot’s wife failed to experience the divine offer of salvation because she kept turning back toward the sinful city Sodom.

In his lesson on preparedness, Jesus depicts the opposite fortunes of two people in one bed and of two women grinding meal together: one is taken, the other left. This impressive imagery illustrates the suddenness of the coming of Christ and the readiness, or un-readiness, he will find at his “coming”. Those who are ready to sacrifice even their life for the Lord Jesus are most ready to welcome him at his coming. The call to readiness is reinforced by the image of vultures gathering where there are carcasses: for the impious and the wicked, the coming of the Lord is their destruction.

 

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

 

What do we do to prepare ourselves for the Second Coming of Christ? Do we live in a spirit of detachment, and endeavor to focus on doing the divine saving will?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you will come again on the last day.

Help us to be ready

so that our final encounter with you

will be an experience of salvation,

and not of condemnation.

Give us the grace to nurture the kingdom of God

that is already within us.

We look forward to the end time

when you will restore all things

and you will be the king of all nations

and the Lord of all creation.

We give you glory and praise,

now and forever.

            Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.” (Lk 17:30)

 

 

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

Especially in this month of November, make an effort to focus your attention on the “last things” and let the thought of the Lord’s Second Coming shape your daily life.

***

 

 

November 17, 2012: SATURDAY – SAINT ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Does Justice”

 

BIBLE READINGS

III Jn 5-8 // Lk 18:1-8

 

 

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

 

At times, the power of evil is so overwhelming that even persons of faith begin to falter. This is evident in the following account:

 

Archbishop Romero offers her a chair. Marianela prefers to talk standing up. She always comes for others, but this time she comes for herself. Marianela Garcia Vilas, attorney for the tortured and disappeared of El Salvador, does not come this time to ask the archbishop’s solidarity with one of the victims … This time she has something personal to say to him. As mildly as she can, she tells him that the police have kidnapped her, bound, beat, humiliated, stripped her – and they raped her. She tells it without tears or agitation, with her usual calm, but Archbishop Romero has never before heard in Marianela’s voice these vibrations of hatred, echoes of disgust, calls for vengeance. When Marianela finishes, Archbishop Romero, who always gives advice and comfort, is weeping like a child without mother or home. He who always gives assurances, the tranquilizing assurance of a neutral God who knows and embraces all – Archbishop Romero doubts. He weeps and doubts.

 

Against the backdrop of today’s painful human realities experienced by those whose faith is severely tested, today’s Gospel becomes relevant and meaningful. Jesus comforts those in distress with the following truth: God secures the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him in faith. The evangelist Luke explains that the parable of the unscrupulous judge and the importunate widow, which Jesus addresses to his disciples, is about the need to pray always and never lose heart. The widow pursues relentlessly the dishonest judge and pesters him to render a just decision on her behalf. To get rid of the importunate widow, he finally grants her request.

  

In the Gospel parable, the perverse judge acts as a foil for God, who will, at the end-time, see to it that justice is done speedily for those who persist in faith and prayer. The loving and compassionate God does justice for the poor and the oppressed. Indeed, if the persistent pleading of the helpless widow triumphs over the unjust judge, guided by neither divine nor human law, how much more will the persistent praying of Christian disciples achieve true justice! If an unjust judge yields to the entreaties of a pestering widow, how much more will a gracious God come to the help of his disciples who cry out to him for help. The decisive question, therefore, is the one raised by the Lord Jesus: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Will the disciples remain faithful to Jesus during the long haul caused by the delay of his return? The true issue is faith, which must always be reawakened in us without losing heart.

 

 

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

 

What is our attitude towards the Lord’s exhortation about the necessity of persevering prayer and the need to pray without losing heart? In light of today’s situations and the unmitigated cry of Yahweh’s anawim for justice, do we truly believe that he will secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him in faith? What is our personal response to the Lord Jesus’ decisive question: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth” (Lk 18:8)? 

 

 

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

 

Loving Father in heaven,

at times the force of evil is so strong

that our faith is shaken.

We doubt and falter.

We lift up our hands in supplication

for justice in today’s fragmented world.

Together with the importunate widow we pray for justice.

Strengthen our faith and hope

so that when our Savior comes at the end-time,

he will find us engaged in promoting your kingdom

and fighting for the cause of justice and right.

We love and glorify you,

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 will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.” (Lk 18:8).

 

 

 

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

 

Pray for the victims of violence and injustice in today’s world, and for those who fight for the cause of justice and right. Read your diocesan paper and/or parish newsletter, and see how you can respond to the appeal of the poor and needy and do justice as part of the diocesan-parish community.  

 

***

 

 

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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