A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.4)

FOURTH WEEK OF ADVENT: December 19-24, 2011 *

 

(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.

 

Series 10 presents A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE WEEKDAY LITURGY: December 19-24, 2011. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

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December 19, 2011: ADVENT WEEKDAY (IV) – Monday

 “Advent: A Time When the Barren Becomes Fertile”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jgs 13:2-7,24-25a // Ps 71:3-6,16-17 // Lk 1:5-25

 

 

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

(By Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF, Director: Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia)

 

The elderly Elizabeth became pregnant. The all-powerful and empowering God makes the barren fertile. God’s loving and liberating Son makes the blind see, the mute speak, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the captive free, the hungry satisfied, the lowly exalted…. Elizabeth’s giving birth to John is part of the story of God’s salvation that culminates in the Incarnation. In Jesus, God is in our midst, making everything new and fruitful, bringing about justice, leading us all into the fullness of life and love.

 

The annunciation of John’s birth points to the annunciation of Jesus’ birth. While Zechariah doubted, Mary readily believed. Today, many of us do not seem to feel really part of the salvation story: the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed, the suffering, the sick … Like Mary, let us trust and put all our hopes in the Word. Let us be truly part of God’s story in believing, hoping, loving, and serving. Christ has never left us. The Holy Spirit is always among and in us. Advent awakens us into this reality. All we need to do, to be truly part of God’s story, is live in and according to this reality, that God – who makes the barren fertile – is Emmanuel.

 

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

 

Do we truly participate in salvation history, in which God the “Emmanuel” transforms, making the barren fertile and everything new and fruitful?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, you are the Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people. In you the barren becomes fertile. Everything is made new and fruitful. Let us work with you in the blooming of the desert. Help us to proclaim the Good News to the poor and hasten the advent of your kingdom. Maranatha! Come, O Christ the Lord!

 

 

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.

 

“Elizabeth was barren … Elizabeth conceived.” (cf. Lk 1:7,24)

 

 

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

 

Pray that the Advent season may bring renewed hope to those whose hearts are like a barren desert and are without life. By your works of justice on behalf of the marginalized, be a part in the blooming of the desert and of making the barren fertile.

 

***

 

December 20, 2011: ADVENT WEEKDAY (IV) – Tuesday

 “Advent: A Time to Share in His Mission”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 17:10-14 // Ps 24:1-6 // Lk 1:26-38

 

 

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

(By Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF, Director: Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia)

 

The Spirit of God was hovering over the cosmos at the time of creation. The Spirit of God overshadowed Mary at the conception of Jesus. The Spirit of God descended upon the Apostles at the birth of the Church. The Holy Spirit is creative, the source of all life - the mother of all. The Incarnation has transformed the cosmos. It is the birth of a new heaven and a new earth. The mission of the Son is to bring fullness of life to all: to humankind, to all created beings, to mother earth, to the universe.

 

The human being is Adam. The human being is earth. Indeed, the human and the earth are radically bound together. We live on the fruits of the earth. In turn the earth needs us to care for it, cultivate it, and make it fruitful. The season of Advent invites us to contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation. At the same time, it invites us to assume the mission of the Incarnate Son: to bring fullness of life to all. Like Mary, let us be handmaids of the Lord; servants of the Lord; co-workers of the Lord. Today, a very urgent task of all handmaids of the Lord is the care of our mother earth.

 

 

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

 

Do we imitate Mary in her openness to grace and in her total availability to share in the mission of the Son to bring fullness of life to all?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, you are the Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom. Like Mary, we say “Fiat” to the Father’s saving will. Make us share in your mission to free prisoners from the darkness of sin and to bring the fullness of life to all. Maranatha! Come, O Christ the Lord!

 

 

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.

 

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (cf. Lk 1:38)

 

 

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

 

In the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparation, make sure that you will have some quiet moments to listen and ponder the word of God. Include in your acts of justice care for the earth, e.g. recycling, composting, waste management, reduction of consumption, etc.

 

***

 

 

December 21, 2011: ADVENT WEEKDAY (IV) – Wednesday

“Advent: A Time for Blessing and Consecration”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Sg 2:8-14 or Zep 3:14-18a // Ps 33:2-3,11-12,20-21 // Lk 1:39-45

 

 

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

(By Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF, Director: Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia)

 

Mary is “the most blessed among women”. She is blessed because she “believed that the Lord’s word would come true”. These words of Elizabeth correspond to those of Jesus himself: “My mother, my brothers and my sisters are those who receive the word of God and fulfill it.” Shema Israel… Listening (= hearing and obeying) is a central theme in the whole Judaeo-Christian Tradition. Listening to the Word is intrinsically linked to blessedness or holiness. Only God is Holy – the three times holy. Being blessed is sharing in the holiness of God.

 

The other biblical term used to refer to the sharing in God’s holiness is consecration. All of us – members of the Church – are consecrated by virtue of our baptism. We all share in the holiness of God. We are blessed. We live our consecration according to our form of life in the Church: as lay, as religious, as ordained. To live our consecration fundamentally involves discernment, meditation and responding to the word of God which comes to us through the Scripture, the Tradition, our contemporary experiences, the signs of the times, the needs of our neighbors. Advent is a special invitation for us to live and bear witness to our consecration to God in Christ.

 

 

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

 

Do we realize how greatly blessed are we by God and that he has consecrated us to his saving will? How do we witness God’s blessing and how do we live out our consecration?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, you are the Emmanuel, our King and giver of the Law. In you we behold the holiness of God and participate intimately in his life. Help us to rejoice in the blessing you bring and to live fully our consecration to your saving mission. Maranatha! Come, O Christ the Lord!

 

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.

 

“Blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (cf. Lk 1:42b)

 

 

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

 

Pray for all Christians that they may value their blessing and consecration. Let our blessing and consecration be made manifest in our acts of justice and charity for the people around us, especially those who have lost their jobs and/or homes and are feeling extremely vulnerable.

 

 

***

 

 December 22, 2011: ADVENT WEEKDAY (IV) – Thursday

“Advent: A Time to Sing the Magnificat

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Sm 1:24-28 // I Sm2:1,4-7 // Lk 1:46-56

 

 

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

(By Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF, Director: Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia)

 

The Magnificat reveals three significant traits of Mary: her historical memory, social consciousness, and covenantal perspective. In the depth of her heart, Mary remembers the origin and identity of her people: a people chosen, loved, formed, cared for, guided by God. Mary knows the consistent infidelity of her people vis-à-vis the uninterrupted fidelity of God. Far from being a plain housewife, indifferent to the situation outside her own household, Mary is profoundly aware of the plight, the struggles, and the dreams of her people. Now Mary understands everything from the perspective of the Covenant. Thus she bursts into song upon Gabriel’s annunciation of the birth of the Messiah. The Incarnation is the decisive and definitive fulfillment of God’s part of the Covenant: the salvation of all characterized by liberation, healing, justice, peace, and joy.

 

Advent is a time of repentance for our infidelity, renewal of our faith in the Covenant, renewal of our commitment to Christ and his mission of integral salvation, and thanksgiving for God’s constant fidelity.

 

 

 

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

 

Do we sing Mary’s Magnificat in the daily events of our life, deeply conscious of God’s presence and activity on our behalf, the responsibilities of our covenant relationship with him, and our social duties to promote the common good?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, you are King of all nations and keystone of the Church. We sing with Mary her Magnificat and let the Spirit of God animate our daily lives. We commit ourselves to the covenant and the service of the most needy and vulnerable among us.  Maranatha! Come, O Christ the Lord!

 

 

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 soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” (cf. Lk 1:46-47a)

 

 

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

 

Pray that our Marian devotion may deepen our covenant fidelity and social responsibility. Do something for indigent children and share with them the joy of Christmas.

 

***

 

 December 23, 2011: ADVENT WEEKDAY (IV) – Friday

“Advent: A Time to Recognize the Hand of the Lord”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Mal 3:1-4,23-24 // Ps 25:4bc-5ab,8-10,14 // Lk 1:57-66

 

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

(By Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF, Director: Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia)

 

The birth of John, the Precursor, preceded the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. The “Voice in the Wilderness” prepared the way of the “Lamb of God”. John’s message of conversion opens our heart to receive Jesus’ good news of the Reign of God. All this took place by “the hand of the Lord” and according to His plan of salvation. All this shows God’s unfailing fidelity to His Covenant with His People.

 

Our response to God is to be – like that of Mary, Zechariah, and Elizabeth – gratitude and praise. Our gratitude and praise are to take active and concrete form in – like that of Mary, Zachariah, Elizabeth, and John – discerning and accepting our particular role in the plan of salvation and committing our whole life to it. This means taking active part, according to the vocation and charism we have received from the Holy Spirit, in the mission Jesus Christ has entrusted to the Church.

 

 

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

 

Are we able to recognize the “hand of the Lord” that directs our glorious destiny and do we allow ourselves to be guided by it?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, you are the Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice. Bathed in your glorious light, we walk in the path of life. Guided by the “hand of the Lord”, we spread Christmas joy to all. Help us to prepare worthily for the celebration of your birth. Maranatha! Come, O Christ the Lord!

 

 

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 hand of the Lord was with him.” (cf. Lk 1:66)

 

 

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

 

Pray that we may spend this forthcoming Christmas season guided by the “hand of the Lord”. By our acts of self-giving and personal witnessing, let the people who are heart-broken and grieving experience the “hand of the Lord” that works on our behalf.

 

***

 

December 24, 2011: ADVENT WEEKDAY (IV) – Saturday

“Advent: A Time to Hail the Dayspring”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Sm7:1-5,8b-12,14a,16 // Ps 89:2-5,27,29 // Lk 1:67-79

 

 

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

(By Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF, Director: Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia)

 

Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, greeted Mary. Mary, filled with the Holy Spirit, broke into song, magnifying the Lord. Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, sang a canticle of praise to the Lord. The Spirit dwells among the People of God. The Spirit dwells in everyone chosen by God to be his son or daughter. Indeed, every baptized Christian is pneumatoforo, bearer of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit in our heart who makes us pray to God. It is the Spirit in our heart who makes us listen to the Word. It is the Spirit in our heart who makes us offer ourselves to the service of the Reign of God.

 

Like Mary’s Magnificat, Zechariah’s Canticle recounts the Covenant God made with Abraham and his descendants, God’s uninterrupted fidelity to His promise, the definitive fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation in Christ. John, prophet of the Most High, played a decisive part in the realization of the plan, preparing the way for Jesus, the Savior. John played his role in perfect humility, considering himself unworthy even just to untie Jesus’ sandals, desiring to decrease so that Jesus might increase. Participating in the mission Christ has entrusted to the Church, we too must proclaim the greatness of God, the primacy and absoluteness of the Kingdom in all humility, making Jesus and his Gospel always the center, never us or our works. Through dedicated and humble service to our brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit will “guide our feet into the way of peace”.  

 

 

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

 

Like Zechariah, do we hail the “dawn from on high” that breaks upon us – Jesus our Savior? What do we do to make the celebration of Christmas, the birth of our Savior, more meaningful and life-transforming?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, we hail you as Dayspring. We welcome you as the Sun of justice and rejoice in the splendor of divine light. Help us to live our life in holiness and service, animated by the strength of the Holy Spirit. Guide our feet into the way of peace. Maranatha! Come, O Christ the Lord!

 

 

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 dawn from on high shall break upon us.” (cf. Lk 1:78b)

 

 

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

 

Pray that your family, relatives and friends may have a grace-filled Christmas. By your acts of charity, let the Christmas joy flow to all, especially those who are distressed and burdened with many trials.

 

 

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Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang  PDDM

 

 

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