A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 10, n.8)

WEEK 2 IN ORDINARY TIME: January 15-21, 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.

 

Series 10 presents A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: January 15-21, 2012. The following reflections are based on the weekday liturgy’s Gospel reading.)

 

***

 

January 15, 2012 (Sunday): 2ND SUNDAY

IN ORDINARY TIME

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Says Come and See!

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Sm 3:3b-10,19 // I Cor 6:13c-15a,17-20 // Jn 1:35-42

 

 

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

 

Jesus Christ initiates the dialogue of discipleship: “What are you looking for?” The response of Andrew and his companion is not totally an answer, but a question pregnant with meaning: “Where are you staying?” The Benedictine Demetrius Dumm comments: “Jesus does not give a pat answer; he offers instead an invitation to walk with him and to learn what living in hope means, what the journey means – to learn of its pain but also of its joy, and most of all of its happy ending, its true homecoming.” Indeed, the positive and ready response of the disciples to the Incarnate Word’s invitation is extremely inspiring: “They went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him.” As the Word made flesh dwelt among us and stayed with us through his eternal healing presence, so the first disciples remained with Jesus, the incarnate Word and divine Teacher.

 

Having experienced the life-giving intimacy and power of Jesus, the Word of life, the disciple Andrew became a sharer of the Word. His inevitable response is to find someone else to share the joy of his personal encounter with the Messiah. His mission of sharing the Word bore fruit. Basil of Seleucia remarks: “Andrew was the first to become an apostle … Taking Peter with him; Andrew brought his brother to the Lord, thus making him his fellow-disciple. This was Andrew’s first achievement: he increased the number of apostles by bringing Peter to Christ, so that Christ might find in him the disciples’ leader.”

 

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

 

What is my personal response to Jesus Savior who invites, “Come and see”? How do I share my personal experience of him and his life-giving Word with others?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father, we thank you for Jesus Christ, the most beautiful word you have spoken. Jesus turns to us and as we ask him, “Where do you live, Master, he invites us, “Come and see”.  We have experienced the beauty and joy of being with him and we wish to introduce others to him. Grant that we may abide with Jesus Master 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 said to them, Come, and you will see.” (cf. Jn 1:39)

 

 

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

Please invite three persons to visit the PDDM WEB site “BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD: A LECTIO DIVINA Approach to the Sunday-Weekday Liturgy” (cf. www.pddm.us) as a way of introducing others to Jesus and the power of his Word.

 

***

 

 

January 16, 2012 (Monday): WEEKDAY (2)

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He is the Bridegroom”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Sm 15:16-23 //  Mk 2:18-22

 

 

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

Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, invites us to a new relationship that transcends mere legal observances and superficial piety. A loving relationship with the Bridegroom entails a radical transformation and infuses new meaning into such religious practices as fasting. The Christian disciples would fast, but for the right reason. Indeed, the followers of Jesus exercise various forms of salutary asceticism, in a spirit of receptivity to the coming of the Kingdom. They carry these out in anticipation of the full joy that is prepared for them by Christ-Bridegroom in the heavenly wedding feast.

The radical newness of our relationship with Christ can be compared to a piece of new cloth which should not be sewn onto an old cloak, for it will make the tear even greater. It can also be compared to new wine which should not be poured into an old wineskin for it will cause the skin to break and spill the wine. Indeed, the love-relationship with Christ, the Bridegroom, demands an exhilaratingly new vision and life-style, symbolically portrayed by Mark as “new wine being poured into fresh wineskins” (cf. Mk 2:22).

The following story is charming and funny, but it gives us an idea of what “fasting” from evil thoughts and unkind words means (cf. Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight: A Book of Story Meditations, New York: Image Books, 1988, p. 125).

There was once a priest so holy that he never thought ill of anyone. One day he sat down at a restaurant for a cup of coffee which was all he could take, it being a day of fast and abstinence, when, to his surprise, he saw a young member of his congregation devouring a massive steak at the next table. “I trust I haven’t shocked you, Father”, said the young fellow with a smile. “Ah! I take it that you forgot that today is a day of fast and abstinence”, said the priest. “No, no. I remember it distinctly.” “Then you must be sick. The doctor has forbidden you to fast.” “Not at all. I’m in the pink of health.” At that, the priest raised his eyes to heaven and said, “What an example this younger generation is to us, Lord! Do you see how this young man here would rather admit his sins than tell a lie?”

 

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

Are we faithful to our covenant with Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church? How?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, when you took on flesh, you made a marriage of mankind with God. Help us to be faithful to your word. Give us the grace to persevere until you call us to the heavenly marriage feast. Teach us to fast from sin and reject evil ways that we may worthily share in the supper of the Lamb. You are the Bridegroom of the Church and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. You call us to drink the new wine that is poured out from the fresh wineskins. We love you and adore you; we praise and serve you, now and forever. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“New wine is poured into new wineskins.” (cf. Mk 2:22)

 

 

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

 

When you attend a wedding ceremony, pay attention to the text and rituals used in the celebration, and see how they evoke the nuptial relationship between Christ and his Body, the Church.

 

***

 

January 17, 2012 (Tuesday): SAINT ANTHONY, abbot

“JESUS SAVIOR: He is Lord of the Sabbath”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Sm 16:1-13 // Mk 2:23-28

 

 

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

 

The wind was howling when I opened the gate. The village head asked shelter for women and children from an impending typhoon. I presented the urgent request to the Superior. She acted promptly with good judgment and compassion. We prepared a place for the evacuees. This happened in the 1970s when rules for convent enclosure were strictly enforced. Indeed, we felt that in a crisis situation charity takes precedence over cloister rules.

 

Today’s Gospel presents Jesus as Lord even of the Sabbath. Like David, who disregarded the sanctity of the tabernacle to feed his men, Jesus manifested the same freedom and sensitivity to the needs of others. He showed that genuine human need subsumes norms governing human life and conduct. Rules are meant for the total good of the human person and the spirit of charity must prevail over all. Wisely guided by the principle – The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath – Christians cannot be too-rigid or too-lax in the in the observance of rules that promote the individual and common good.

 

 

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

 

What is our attitude towards the rules and norms in the society and in the Church?

 

 

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

 

O loving Father, teach us the wisdom and compassion of Jesus that we may grasp the meaning of the law and norms in the society and the Church. Rules are meant for the well-being of the person and to promote the common good. Grant us the freedom of the spirit and the charity that never fails. Give us true understanding of what Jesus said: The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. We love you and surrender to your all-embracing care. We thank and bless you, now and forever. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (cf. Mk 2:28)

 

 

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

 

Make an effort to understand, memorize and put into practice the Ten Commandments and the precepts of the Catholic Church.

 

 

***

 

 

January 18, 2012 (Wednesday): WEEKDAY (2)

“JESUS SAVIOR: His Healing Love Transcends Barriers”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Sm 17:32-33,37,40-51 // Mk 3:1-6

 

 

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

 

Jesus was angered and grieved at the hardness of heart of the Pharisees who objected to his healing ministry on a Sabbath. Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, declared that the Sabbath is made for man and not the other way around. He performed healings even on a Sabbath for he felt it is better to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, and to save life rather than to destroy it. His saving love is totally inclusive and greatly transcending. His saving works could not be restricted by a narrow-minded view of Sabbath observance. There is no time or day when Jesus felt restricted to heal the sick and serve the needy. Jesus breaks down false restrictions and man-made barriers with regards to human well-being and dignity.

 

The following story illustrates the need to follow the non-restrictive stance of Christ and the necessity of overcoming barriers of alienation in our community (cf. Bill Zalot, “I Belong!” in THE WORD AMONG US, Advent 2011, p. 62-65).

 

You Don’t Belong: Until I was twelve, I felt like a valued member of the church. This had a lot to do with the fact that my home parish was founded just before I was born and that for years, until a church could be built, we had Mass in the gymnasium of the parish school. The place was easily accessible to people like me who needed wheelchairs. I felt an intimacy and closeness to God there that I will never forget. There was no barrier, no silent sign telling me I didn’t belong.

 

Everything changed with the opening of our new church in 1988. Suddenly, the place where I always felt accepted became the place where I felt most rejected. This building had no way for me to get inside. There was no wheelchair ramp – just two flight of steps that said, You don’t belong.

 

Our pastor’s attitude affirmed my sense of rejection. “There’s no need to bring him here”, he would tell my parents. Thankfully, they ignored his advice and found ways to get me to Sunday Mass. Still his words angered me. I became determined to attend Mass – both to defy him and to obey a God who I thought would condemn me if I missed. Inside, though, I grew increasingly bitter and withdrawn.

 

Unbound! It took the help of other priests – a college chaplain, as well as those who succeeded our founding pastor – to reverse my attitude. These men were more like one of my heroes, St. Lawrence. He is the third century Roman martyr who saw the lame, the blind, and the poor members of the church as its true treasures. With their encouragement, I began to participate in parish life and to discover a God of mercy who loves me and welcomes me as I am.

 

In the process, I came to realize that I couldn’t let physical barriers dictate my mood. It was my responsibility to determine whether I would be positive and caring or negative and bitter. It was something I could choose to do. Just as I could freely choose to use my wheelchair to get around, I didn’t have to let anger and resentment keep me from moving forward with the Lord.

 

This realization made a huge difference in my life. For one thing, it helped me to forgive the pastor who had caused me so much pain. And as my bitterness slipped away, I felt myself grow. No longer was I content with being a Catholic who simply “follows the rules”. I wanted to embrace my faith and live it fully everyday! I wanted to be near Jesus and get to know his word and his love for me – regardless of whether I felt welcome at church or was physically able to do the things that everyone else could do.

 

It has been a pleasant surprise to discover how many things I can do. Over the years, I have used my gifts to serve the parish as a lector, sponsor, religious-education teacher, and outreach committee member. I wrote a series of parish bulletin articles on the role of people with disabilities in the church today. I have represented our parish at archdiocesan conferences. All of this has been truly healing for me. (…)

 

 

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

 

Is our love for our brothers and sisters all-inclusive or do we give in to legalism, prejudices and other attitudes that create barriers and limit our care for them?

 

 

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

 

Thank you, loving Jesus, for your courage to do good in spite of opposition. You healed the man with the withered hand even though the “legalistic mind” of the Pharisees considered it improper and irreverent. Give us the grace to overcome “barriers” so that your healing love may touch the afflicted at any moment and at any place. Fill us with your all-inclusive compassion and love that knows no seasons. We love you, we praise you and we serve you, now and forever. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” (cf. Mk 3:4)

 

 

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

 

Endeavor to help the disabled and other people who are physically challenged to experience the healing power of God.

 

***

 

 January 19, 2012 (Thursday): WEEKDAY (2)

“JESUS SAVIOR: They Pressed About Him to Touch Him”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Sm 18:6-9;19:1-7 // Mk 3:7-12

 

 

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

In January of last year I was in Cebú Island in the Philippines to attend the Santo Nino celebration. I had a chance to participate at the vigil novena in Saint Joseph’s Cathedral in Mandaue City. I was awed by the thousands of people who lined up in snake-like formation and were patiently waiting to touch the Santo Nino. At the fluvial parade the following morning, a great crowd was lined up on the seashore. Many thousands more were on the bridge. Hundreds of boats with thousands of devotees accompanied the transfer of the Santo Nino from a wharf in Mandaue to a pier in Cebu City. The number of devotees waiting by the seaside to welcome the Santo Nino was unbelievable. They want to “touch”, even if only with their gaze, the beloved Nino, who is the font of blessing and healing.

In today’s Gospel, a great crowd was seeking Jesus not only from his native Galilee, but also from Judea and the border regions to the south (Idumea), east (Transjordan) and north (Tyre and Sidon). They were pressing upon Jesus to touch him, yearning to be healed. Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, made the paralytic walk and forgave his sins, cured Simon’s mother-in-law of fever, liberated the demoniac, and cleansed the leper with his “touch”. Jesus had cured so many that those who were sick were crowding about him to touch him. There was power in his touch. The sick and the needy, through time and space, would continue to seek Jesus and touch even the edge of his cloak, for all who touch him are made well.

 

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

 

Do I seek Jesus and yearn to “touch” him?

 

 

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

 

Jesus, your touch heals and your power drives the evil that threatens us. You are always there for us. We extend our hand to touch you and you allow yourself to be touched. We praise and bless you for you are our 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.

 

“He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing about him to touch him.” (cf. Mk 3:10)

 

 

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

 

By your act of care and charity to the sick and the marginalized, let the healing touch of Jesus come to them.

 

***

 

 January 20, 2012 (Friday): SAINT FABIAN, martyr, optional memorial, or SAINT SEBASTIAN, martyr, optional memorial

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Summoned and Sent Them”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Sm 24:3-21 // Mk 3:13-19

 

 

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

 

In yesterday’s Gospel episode we hear of the crowd pressing about Jesus, wanting to touch him and be healed. Jesus had to withdraw into a boat to avoid being crushed by them. Against that rather chaotic setting, today’s episode of the call of the disciples seems so refreshing and peaceful. Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted. And they came to him. He designated the “Twelve” and symbolically founded the twelve tribes of the new Israel, the Church – the new people of God. Their mission is to be with Jesus. The blessed intimacy with Jesus was a formative moment in which they learned the mysteries of the kingdom and the demands of discipleship. But the life of intimacy was in view of mission: that he may send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.

 

Jesus Christ lives on in the Church. He continues to call his disciples that he may send them to preach the Gospel and exorcise evil powers. In 2003, I was in our convent in Staten Island to give a liturgy course to our novices. After the course, we went to a nearby parish to attend the concert of John Michael Talbot. His beautiful music manifests a deep spirituality and reveals his intimate communion with God. As God’s troubadour, he spreads the Gospel through his songs. During the concert, while John was singing and playing a guitar, the sound system squealed diabolically. The malfunction caused a great disturbance. John stopped singing and put down the guitar. He prayed. He invoked God to cast out the spirit of disorder and to restore the order needed to sing his praise. Immediately peace and order were restored. John continued his songs undisturbed. It was awesome. The power to cast out evil is given to Christian disciples even today.

 

 

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

 

Do we treasure our vocation of intimacy with the Lord and faithfully respond to the mission we have received to preach the Gospel and cast out the power of evil?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, we thank you for calling the “Twelve” and for summoning us to a life of intimacy with you. Teach us, form us, mould us and consecrate us to your service. Give us the grace to share the Gospel with the nations. Grant us the power to cast out the power of evil in today’s world. We love you and we put our trust in you. We praise you and glorify you now and forever. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“Jesus summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him.” (cf. Mk 3:13)

 

 

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

 

Pray for greater fidelity to the Christian vocation and mission. By your spiritual, moral and material help, promote and assist the priestly and religious vocations in the Church.

 

 

***

 

January 21, 2012 (Saturday): SAINT AGNES, virgin, martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: They Did Not Understand Him”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Sm 1:1-4,11-12,19,23-27 // Mk 3:20-21

 

 

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

 

Jesus came down from the mountain with his twelve disciples. As before, people sought him for healing and crowded around him. Responding compassionately to their needs, he performed healings, especially exorcisms. The crowd was so great that Jesus and his companions could not even manage to eat. The situation was alarming to his over-protective relatives. They falsely interpreted Jesus’ intense preoccupation with the sick as madness. They tried to take control of the situation and intended to protect him from further folly. The relatives were appalled by his exaggerated ways and perceived his behavior as bordering on insanity. Thus Jesus was misunderstood and falsely perceived by his very own. In the same way, Christian disciples would experience rejection and misunderstanding as they proclaim the Gospel and carry out the ministry they have received from Christ.

 

The following charming story is about a Buddhist monk who, like Christ, was totally misunderstood and despised (cf. Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight: A Book of Story Meditations, New York: Image Books, 1988, p. 120-121).

 

Gessen was a Buddhist monk. He was also an exceptionally talented artist. Before he started work on any painting, however, he always demanded payment in advance. And his fees were exorbitant. So he came to be known as the Greedy Monk.

 

A geisha once sent for him to have a painting done. Gessen said, “How much will you pay me?” The girl happened to be entertaining a patron at that time. She said, “Any sum you ask for. But the painting must be done right now before me.” Gessen set to work at once and when the painting was completed he asked for the highest sum he ever charged. As the geisha was giving him his money, she said to her patron, “This man is supposed to be a monk, but all he thinks of is money. His talent is exceptional, but he has a filthy, money-loving mind. How does one exhibit the canvas of a filthy, money-loving man like that? His work is good enough for my underclothing!”

 

With that she flung a petticoat at him and asked him to paint a picture on it. Gessen asked the usual question before he started the work: “How much will you give me?” “Oh, any sum you ask for”, said the girl. Gessen named his price, painted the picture, shamelessly pocketed the money, and walked away.

 

Many years later, quite by chance, someone found out why Gessen was so greedy for money. Devastating famine often struck his home province. The rich would do nothing to help the poor. So Gessen had secret barns built in the area and had them filled with grain for such emergencies. No one knew where the grain came from or who the benefactor of the province was.

 

Another reason why Gessen wanted money was the road leading to his village from the city many miles away. It was in such bad condition that oxcarts could not move on it; this caused much suffering to the aged and the infirm when they needed to get to the city. So Gessen had the road repaired.

 

The final reason was the meditation temple which Gessen’s teacher had always desired to build but could not. Gessen built this temple as a token of gratitude to his revered teacher.

 

After the Greedy Monk had built the road, the temple, and the barns, he threw away the paint and brushes, retired to the mountains to give himself to the contemplative life, and never painted another canvas again.

 

 

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

 

What do we do when, like Jesus, we are misunderstood and rejected?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, you are the most caring and compassionate person. You gave yourself totally on our behalf. You were misunderstood, rejected and despised. Help us to realize that suffering is part of our discipleship. When we are rejected, we cling to you. When we are misunderstood, we trust that in God’s time, our accusers will see light. Bless us, 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.

 

“They said, ‘He is out of his mind’.” (cf. Mk 3:20)

 

 

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

 

When you are misunderstood and falsely criticized, stand firm and unite your sufferings with Christ.

 

***

 

 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang  PDDM

 

 

PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER

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