A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.5)

OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS: December 25-31, 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 25-31, 2011. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

***

 

December 25, 2011: CHRISTMAS – Sunday

 “Christmas: A Time to Celebrate the Gift of Love”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 62:11-12 // Ps 97:1,6,11-12 // Ti 3:4-7 // Lk 2:15-20

 

 

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

 

The Christmas season is a privileged opportunity to contemplate the awesome sign of God’s love for us: his own beloved Son Jesus Christ. The Son of God made flesh, born as a child, is the most powerful sign of the Father’s will to bring us salvation: UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN! UNTO US A SON IS GIVEN!

 

When we give anything, we give part of ourselves. When we give ourselves, we give everything we have – past, present, and future. Indeed, in becoming man just like any of us, Jesus became personally involved in our suffering, in our human lot and destiny. Satan cannot impeach God’s integrity. No one can doubt the quality of the Lord’s self-gift … of his unconditional love for us.

 

Because God has loved us, we too must become lovers – lovers of one another. Only if we love the visible neighbor can we love the invisible God. This gift of love is exemplified in the self-giving act of a five-year old boy on behalf of his little sister. After the blood transfusion, he asked the doctor with a trembling voice, “Say, doctor, when do I start to die?” He thought that by giving his life-blood to his kid sister, he would die.

 

The child Jesus lying in a manger, symbol of God’s nourishment for his people … the Lord Jesus who, on the night when he was given up, offered us the Eucharistic bread and the chalice of life … the Lord Jesus, gentle shepherd and king, who laid down his life for us on the cross – the altar of sacrifice … HE IS STILL PRESENT IN OUR MIDST! He is Emmanuel, God-with-us. In our Christmas celebration, he invites us to be a “gift of love” for others.

 

 

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

 

Do we endeavor to delve into the Christmas mystery of God’s self-giving? Do we endeavor to be a “gift of love” for others?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, you are Love-incarnate, the sacrament of the Father’s self-giving. We celebrate your birth and your dwelling among us. You are God’s “gift of love” to us, the Emmanuel, God-with-us. Help us to be a “gift of love” for others. With the choirs of angels, we acclaim: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will!

 

 

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.

 

“So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.” (cf. Lk 2:16)

 

 

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

 

Pray that in this Christmas season we may understand more deeply the depths of God’s self-giving to us. By your acts of goodness and compassion to the people around you, enable them to savor the joy of Christmas and the warmth of the “gift of love” for others.

 

***

 

 

December 26, 2011: SAINT STEPHEN,

THE FIRST MARTYR – Monday

 “Christmas: A Time to Celebrate the Gift of Witnessing”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 6:8-10;7:54-59 // Ps31:3cd-4,6,8:1,6,11-12 // Ti 3:4-7 // Mt 10:17-22

 

 

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

 

On the day after Christmas, the liturgy invites us to contemplate the awesome “gift of love” of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr. His total self-giving exemplifies the best Christmas gift we can give to Jesus – our very self. In the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, we also have a glimpse of the glory that Christ’s paschal sacrifice would bring. The proto-martyr testified that the Father’s “gift of love” to us, Jesus Christ, is the ultimate value.

 

According to Saint Fulgentius (+ 533), the martyrdom of Saint Stephen is intimately connected with the Christmas mystery. He remarks: “Yesterday, my dear brethren, we celebrated the birth in time of our timeless king, today we celebrate the victorious sufferings of a soldier … Yesterday the angels sang joyfully: Glory to God in the highest. Today, Blessed Stephen is clothed by Christ with the garment of immortality. Yesterday the narrow crib contained the Infant Christ. Today the boundless heavens receive the triumphant Stephen.”

 

Today’s Christmas liturgy is a call to witness Christ in the midst of persecution. Saint Stephen ushered in a train of Christian witnesses who loved him to the point of death and utmost sacrifice. They have breathed in the myrrh’s “bitter fragrance of gathering gloom”. The good Christian couple of Przemysl, like Jesus and Saint Stephen, are examples of modern martyrs who became a gift of love for others. Here is their remarkable story.

 

Przemysl was a Polish city under the total control of the Nazis when Hitler’s armies came sweeping into eastern Poland on the way to invading Russia in June 1941. The Nazis erected a high barbed-wire fence that encircled the ghetto where most of the Jews lived. Then the Jews from the ghetto were ordered sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Much of the ghetto was set on fire by the German soldiers who plundered and brutalized people as they dragged away screaming men, women and children. The Jews were herded onto trucks and driven to the rail yard, where they were loaded into freight cars bound for Auschwitz. Some mothers and fathers - frantic to save their children - dropped them into the streets as the trucks rolled through the city. Many of those children were picked up by the Poles who stood watching in horror as their Jewish neighbors were taken away.

 

A few were lucky enough to have escaped into the woods. But the severe winter cold forced them to come out of the woods. Around midnight, they knocked at a window of a farmhouse. The farmer opened the door and let them in. His wife offered them some warm milk and bread. Then the farmer led them into the barn where he put down some dry straw where they could rest comfortably.

 

But a few days later, somebody reported that the farmer and his wife were helping Jewish people from the underground. Inevitably, the Nazis came and arrested the couple. They tortured them mercilessly. Despite what the Gestapo put them through, they refused to reveal any information. The Gestapo took them to the middle of the city and publicly hanged them both. Left to fend for themselves were their four children; ages 10 to 16. But the Jews that the couple helped survived. They lived to tell this beautiful story of self-giving.

 

 

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

 

Do we resolve to be faithful to Christ even in the midst of persecution and difficulties? Do we imitate Saint Stephen who lovingly ministered to the needs of the poor and witnessed to Christ to the point of death?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, how intimately connected is the Christmas mystery of your birth with your saving passion. You were born in Bethlehem as man that you may become a pleasing sacrifice on the cross at Calvary. You called Saint Stephen to participate intimately in your paschal mystery of passion, death, and resurrection. Give us the grace to imitate Saint Stephen in caring for the needy and the heroic witnessing of our faith. Let our Christmas meditation lead us to participate more intimately in your redeeming passion. With the choirs of angels, we acclaim: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will!

 

 

 

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.

 

“Whoever endures to the end will be saved.” (cf. Mt 10:22)

 

 

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

 

Pray that our Christmas celebration may lead us to realize the intimate connection between the birth of our Lord and his paschal mystery. By your care for the poor and needy, imitate the ministry of the deacon Stephen. When your Christian faith is challenged in today’s secular world, learn to imitate Saint Stephen in his courageous witnessing.

 

 

December 27, 2011: SAINT JOHN APOSTLE,

EVANGELIST – Tuesday

 “Christmas: A Time to Celebrate the Word-Made-Flesh and the Easter Glory”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Jn1:1-4 // Ps 97:1-2,5-6,11-12 // Jn 20:1a,2-8

 

 

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

 

Two days after Christmas we celebrate the feast of the apostle and evangelist Saint John - the great contemplative of the Incarnate Word and a privileged witness of the Easter event. In yesterday’s feast of the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, we saw the intimate connection between the Christmas mystery and the saving passion of Christ, which we are called to share and witness to others. In today’s feast of Saint John, we perceive the deep rapport between the Christmas mystery of the Word-made-flesh and the Easter glory. Saint John proclaimed that the Word of God became flesh for our salvation and that we beheld his glory – manifested marvelously in Christ’s rising from the dead.

 

Totally steeped in the life-giving wisdom of the Word of God, when the beloved disciple saw what occurred at Jesus’ tomb on the first day of the week and, though he did not understand, he believed! With Mary, the mother of Jesus, Saint John stood at the foot of the cross and participated intimately in the passion of Christ. Though spared from the blood bath of martyrdom, Saint John proved the equally tremendous value of “white martyrdom” that is carried out in our daily life of self-giving. Saint John, in his ripe old age, continued to exhort, “My little children love one another.” Indeed, the Christmas mystery of the Love-incarnate and the Easter glory of the Risen Lord become ours when we follow the Lord’s command, “Love one another!”

 

Kevin Felt, in his article “First Printing” (cf. GUIDEPOSTS 2011, p.18-21), narrates how his family was freed from anxieties after years of struggling. Wishing to pass his blessings along, he anonymously slipped a hundred dollars under a struggling stranger’s door at Christmas. He had no idea that he was helping Paul Young, the author of “The Shack”, which would become a best seller. Paul wrote the book for his children to show them the redemptive power of faith. He did not intend for it to be published, but he printed up 15 copies at Office Depot and gave them as Christmas gifts to family and friends. Eventually it was picked up by a major publisher and would sell 14.5 million copies worldwide. Paul narrated: “When I finished writing The Shack, I didn’t think I’d have the money to print the copies I needed for Christmas. I used those hundred dollars to help print the original 15 copies. And without that first printing, word about the book would never have gotten out.” Indeed, the fascinating experience of Kevin and Paul illustrates that the miracle of Christmas and the beauty of Easter live on in today’s here and now.

 

 

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

 

Like Saint John, do we see the intimate connection between the Christmas event and the Easter glory? Do we open ourselves to the beautiful Christmas-Easter mystery that enfolds our daily life?

 

 

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

 

Jesus, son of Mary, you are the Word incarnate and Love made flesh. When we participate in the mystery of your saving passion, we rise with you from the tomb of sin and death into life and glory. We thank you for the beauty of the Christmas morn and the power of Easter glory. Grant that we may continue to manifest the Christmas-Easter miracle through our life of loving and serving. With the choirs of angels, we acclaim: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will!

 

 

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 saw and believed.” (cf. Jn 20:8)

 

 

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

 

Pray for those who are having a very difficult time and are losing hope that the power of Christmas-Easter mystery may touch their life. During this Christmas season, carry out a concrete act of charity on behalf of a struggling neighbor.

 

***

 

 

December 28, 2011: THE HOLY INNOCENTS,

MARTYRS – Wednesday

“Christmas: A Time to Celebrate the Sacredness of Life”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Jn 1:5-2:2 // Ps 124:2-5,7b-8 // Mt 2:13-18

 

 

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

 

Three days after Christmas, we celebrate the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents, the infant boys ordered killed by King Herod who reigned in Palestine and Judah from 37 B.C. to 4 B.C. In the final years of his reign, he was extremely ruthless and brutal in defending his throne. The bishop, Saint Quodvultdesus, in a sermon remarked: “A tiny child is born, who is a great king. Wise men are led to him from afar. They come to adore one who lies in a manger and yet reigns in heaven and on earth. When they tell of one who is born a king, Herod is disturbed. To save his kingdom he resolves to kill him, though if he would have faith in the child, he himself would reign in peace in this life and forever in the life to come. Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil. But because you do not understand this you are disturbed and in a rage, and to destroy one child you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of so many children.”

 

The Holy Innocents were witnesses for Christ though they were not aware of it. Their martyrdom evoked the passion and death of the Son of God, the Savior of the world. Indeed, our world, marred by sin and death, desperately needs the saving Christ. The feast of the Holy Innocents reminds us that human life is sacred. Every human being has a right to life. Let us pray for the protection of all human life, including the unborn.

 

The following story, circulated through the Internet, challenges us to assert the right to life of millions of children who are annually killed under the cover of laws permitting abortion, an abominable crime.

 

A worried woman went to her gynecologist and said: “Doctor, I have a serious problem and desperately need your help! My baby is not even one year old and I’m pregnant again. I don’t want kids so close together.”

 

So the doctor said: “OK and what do you want me to do?” She said: “I want you to end my pregnancy, and I’m counting on your help with this.” The doctor thought for a little, and after some silence he said to the lady: “I think I have a better solution for your problem. It’s less dangerous for you, too.” She smiled, thinking that the doctor was going to accept her request. Then he continued: “You see, in order for you not to take care of two babies at the same time, let’s kill the one in your arms. This way, you could get some rest before the other one is born. If we are going to kill one of them, it doesn’t matter which one it is. There would be no risk for your body if you choose the one in your arms.”

 

The lady was horrified and said: “No, Doctor! How terrible! It’s a crime to kill a child!” “I agree”, the doctor replied. “But you seemed to be OK with it, so I thought maybe that was the best solution”. The doctor smiled, realizing that he had made his point. He convinced the mom that there is no difference in killing a child that’s already been born and one that’s still in the womb. The crime is the same!

 

 

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

 

Like Herod, are we guilty of violence and brutality against the weak and vulnerable? Are we guilty of irresponsible actions that seek to kill Life itself? How do we overcome our sinfulness and rectify our evil acts?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, you are the Son of God and the source of life. The Holy Innocents shared in your paschal destiny and unknowingly gave witness that you are the Christ. Their martyrdom was a prophetic sign of your death on the cross for the world’s saving. Forgive us for our acts of negligence and brutality against the weak and vulnerable. Help us to reach out to the victims of today’s Herod. Give us the strength to promote the dignity of the human person. Help us to protect the right to life of every human being. Together with the Holy Innocents, who are in the glory of heaven, we acclaim: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will!

 

 

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 would not be consoled, since they were no more.” (cf. Mt 2:18)

 

 

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

 

Pray for the weak and vulnerable, and for all the children of the world, especially the victims of violence and exploitation. By your acts of charity, alleviate the suffering of today’s “Holy Innocents” and enable them to experience the joy of Christmas.

 

***

 

 December 29, 2011: THE FIFTH DAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS – Thursday

“Christmas: A Time to Celebrate the Fulfillment of the Promise”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Jn2:3-11 // Ps 96:1-3,5b-6 // Lk 2:22-35

 

 

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

 

As Christmas liturgy unfolds, we continue to delve into the meaning of the birth of Jesus, the Son of God. We have seen that Christmas is marked with a sacrificial character (cf. feast of St. Stephen) and Easter glory (cf. feast of St. John) and that the incarnation of the Word is God’s compassionate response to our dire need of salvation from evil and sin (cf. feast of the Holy Innocents).

 

On the fifth day within the octave of Christmas, we contemplate the presentation of Jesus in the temple and his encounter with Simeon, a good and God-fearing man waiting for the consolation of Israel. Deeply receptive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, Simeon took the child in his arms and recognized in him the Lord’s promised Messiah. With praise and thanksgiving, Simeon avowed that the Lord God has kept his promise. Simeon felt ready to die and, with the Savior of all peoples in his arms, he exclaimed: “Lord, now let your servant go in peace, your word has been fulfilled.” Indeed, Simeon’s encounter with the child Jesus was a joyful celebration of God’s benevolence and faithfulness.

 

Mr. Ledesma, the father of Sr. Mary Noelle, pddm, and Piesy, who worked closely with me in the World Youth Day ’95 in Manila, was one of the kindest and most generous persons I have ever met in my life. Sr. Mary Noelle’s account of her dad’s passing to eternity makes me think of Simeon’s beautiful encounter with Jesus, the Savior of the world.

 

Thank you, Sr. Margaret. I must have missed communicating to you RE our dad’s passing last October 26. Well, thanks be to God! Daddy had a happy and holy death. We were with him during his suffering and last hours and last breath.

 

Death is such a mystery and a beautiful passage to eternity. I’ve experienced how dad encountered the presence of the Lord and we were all around him. We prayed for him and we also listened and talked to him. How I wish I could tell all dad’s beautiful words and exchange of conversations with Jesus. Some of his last words after he asked and kissed the Crucifix were: “Do I have a place there?” [PAUSE] “Let us now all rest.” Then he looked at mommy and his gaze transcended beyond mom’s face towards the light. He smiled and then expired. Mom closed his lips and eyes.

 

 

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

 

Do we allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit and so recognize the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ in our life? Do we deeply yearn for the salvation that Jesus brings?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, you were presented by Joseph and Mary in the temple. Simeon, who had waited for the consolation of Israel, had waited for you. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, he took you in his arms and recognized that you are the promised Messiah. With Simeon, we celebrate the fulfillment of the messianic promise and extol the Father’s benevolence and fidelity. Help us to live a holy and devout life and let us relish the joyful mystery of your coming as our Savior. Grant that in our final encounter with you at the hour of death, we may be able to resound Simeon’s words: “Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled.” With the holy servants of God, we acclaim: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will!

 

 

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.

 

“Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled.” (cf. Lk 2:29)

 

 

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

 

Pray that the community of disciples may truly live a holy and devout life that will make them responsive to the coming of Jesus Savior in our lives. In your ministry to the elderly and the dying, let your acts of charity and sharing of the word of God bring them peace and consolation.

 

***

 

 December 30, 2011: THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS,

MARY, AND JOSEPH – Friday

“Christmas: A Time to Celebrate the Holy Family’s Faith Journey”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Gn 15:1-6;21:1-3 or Heb 11:8,11-12,17-19 // Ps 105:1-6,8-9 // Lk 2:22-40

 

 

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

 

The traditional “Noche Buena” or Christmas midnight meal of our family, that year of 1966, was unforgettable. A week earlier, a medical team in Manila subjected my father to an exploratory operation and diagnosed him with advanced liver cancer. The situation of my father was so bad and the risk of bleeding so high that the doctors could not even perform a biopsy. My mother was told that, at most, my father would have only three months to live. The cloud of sorrow hung over each one of us as we partook of the Christmas meal, with the much loved “pater familias” notably absent. My father came home from the hospital on December 28, a few days before my birthday. As the veil of sadness fell on our family that Christmas holiday, we embarked on a journey of faith and dedicated ourselves to a ministry of prayer for the healing of my father. Fortunately, we were strengthened by the compassion of relatives and friends who supported us morally, spiritually and financially. Seven months later, my father, who had lost 50 pounds and was experiencing terrible discomfort and itchiness from head to foot, was brought to another hospital where he was subjected to a second exploratory operation. To the surprise of the medical team, they discovered that my father’s malady was tuberculosis of the liver, and not cancer. The biopsy confirmed the doctors’ finding. My father was given the proper medication and he lived for thirty more years. When he died on August 31, 1977 he was fulfilled and blessed like father Abraham, the man of faith. Indeed, our family’s journey of faith evokes the pilgrimage of faith of Israel’s first family: Abraham, Sarah and Isaac and that of the Holy Family of Nazareth: Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

 

The feast of the Holy Family is part of the Christmas festivity; when family members and loved ones come together to celebrate the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior. On this day we not only celebrate the creation of the Holy Family at the birth of Jesus, but also recall its inspiring journey of faith. Indeed, the shadow of the cross fell across the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as they traveled on the road of faith.

 

As part of the Christmas mystery, the feast of the Holy Family helps us to contemplate the faith experience of persons who are influential models for all families today. According to Carlo Carretto, “God didn’t soften the path of those whom he put beside his Son. He asked of them a faith so pure and uncompromising.” Indeed, the life of the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph – and prefigured by Israel’s first family: Abraham, Sarah and Isaac – is a paradigm of what it means to journey in faith today.

 

 

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

 

In our personal journey, and as members of a natural family and the community of believers, do we respond with faith to God’s saving plan for us? Do we look at the Holy Family as a paradigm of what it means to journey in faith today?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, you became a part of the Holy Family in Nazareth. In that family, you were nourished and formed. Together with your mother Mary and your foster father Joseph, you journeyed in faith and fulfilled the divine saving plan. We thank you for all the families in the world. We pray that the family may truly be a sanctuary for the creation and nurturing of children. Bless all Christian families that they may be a wellspring of faith, hope and love. With the family of nations and the entire creation, we acclaim: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will!

 

 

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 took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.” (cf. Lk 2:22b)

 

 

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

 

Pray for the needs of families all over the world, especially those experiencing trials and difficulties. Reach out with any form of assistance to families devastated by natural and man-made calamities and those suffering from broken relationships.

 

***

 

December 31, 2011: THE SEVENTH DAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS – Saturday

“Christmas: A Time to Celebrate God’s Word”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Jn 2:18-21 // Ps 96:1-2,11-13 // Jn 1:1-18

 

 

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

 

On the seventh day in the Octave of Christmas and on New Year’s Eve, we hear the deeply evocative Prologue of Saint John (Jn 1:1-18), which perceives the incarnation of the Word as God’s utmost revelation of love and glory. Christmas is a celebration of God speaking to us his most beautiful word – Jesus Christ! The Word made flesh is God’s “I love you” to us. The Word that the saving God spoke in the birth of Jesus manifests his deep compassion for us.

 

Saint Bernard asserts: “God’s Son came in the flesh so that mortal men could see and recognize God’s kindness … The incarnation teaches us how much God cares for us and what he thinks and feels about us. We should stop thinking of our own sufferings and remember what he has suffered. Let us think of all the Lord has done for us, and then we shall realize his goodness appeared through his humanity. The lesser he became through his human nature the greater was his goodness; the more he lowered himself for me, the dearer he is to me.”

 

The compassionate God continues to speak to us in the here and now through Scripture as the following testimony would show (cf. Brian Keilty, “It’s Not All About You” in The WORD Among Us (April 24 - May 31, 2011), p. 67-68).

 

We had just visited my wife’s oncologist, and the dreaded news he delivered initially left us quiet, reflective, and heart-broken. The doctor felt that Marybeth’s long and painful fight with cancer was, for all intents and purposes, over. The disease had progressed to the point where aggressive treatment was no longer advisable; the only remaining option was palliative care delivered through hospice. We had been married for nineteen years.

 

The bad news was not unique to us. Countless times that day, many thousands of other people throughout the world heard a similar message. But this diagnosis was ours. What made the trip home so extraordinary was that we talked not about the prognosis, not about our fears and anxieties, not about a future denied our young children, but about God and his speaking to us through Scripture.

 

Marybeth began the conversation (I remember the exact spot on the highway) by telling me of the joy, peace, and comfort she had received from God while reading Psalm 62 that very morning. She knew God was addressing her through its opening verses: “My soul rests in God alone from whom comes my salvation. God alone is my rock and salvation, my secure height; I shall never fall.”

 

Those words of comfort gave Marybeth peace and direction. It was God, not good health, who was to be the center of her life. His salvation was more important to her than her healing. During her final two months, those words also empowered her every day to guide and care for her children, as well as love and support her husband.

 

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

 

Are we awed by the tremendous saving event of the incarnation of the Word? How do we respond to this awesome saving mystery?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, you are the most beautiful Word spoken by God the Father. In your birth, we hear the voice of the compassionate God speaking to our heart, “I love you … I will save you!” In you is the fullness of grace and truth. In this forthcoming New Year 2012, help us to become courageous heralds of your saving Gospel and to share with all your healing word of love and forgiveness. With all peoples and creation and all the choirs of angels we acclaim: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will!

 

 

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 Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (cf. Jn 1:14)

 

 

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

 

Pray that people may truly perceive the meaning and implication of the Word made flesh. Resolve to spend more time to read the Scripture and break the bread of the Word. By your word and deed, enable the people around you to experience that the divine Word is truly incarnate.

 

 

***

 

 

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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