A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 18, n. 11)

Week 5 in Ordinary Time: February 9-15, 2020

 

 

(The pastoral tool BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD: A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY & WEEKDAY LITURGY includes a prayerful study of the Sunday liturgy from various perspectives. For the Lectio Divina on the liturgy of the past week: February 2-8, 2020 please go to ARCHIVES Series 18 and click on “Ordinary Week 4”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: February 9-15, 2020.)

 

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February 9, 2020: FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

N.B. Today is WORLD MARRIAGE DAY.

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Calls Us to Be the Light of the World and the Salt of the Earth”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 58:7-10 // 1 Cor 2:1-5 // Mt 5:13-16

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 5:13-16): “You are the light of the world.”

          

With powerful images, today’s Gospel reading (Mt 5:13-16) depicts the intense demands of Christian discipleship. Just as insipid salt is of no use in flavoring or preserving food, so too the so-called “disciples” are of no use if they fail to live as Christ teaches. The corruption of the best is the worst. Those called to be the greatest constitute the worst tragedy if they fail. The liturgical scholar Adrian Nocent asserts: “We have become the salt of the earth by reason of our baptism; we must continue to be the salt for the world and develop the power given us and the dynamic, outgoing energy that in principle is at our disposal. Christ still stands before us with the example of his life, and we are forced to ask ourselves to what extent each Christian in the Church is truly salt for the world.”

 

Moreover, the Christian disciples – as light of the world - are personally called to bring the light of salvation to others. In order to be a light in the darkness, we must proclaim the Messiah who has come and saved the world. Adrian Nocent explains: “Christians must remember that while they may be legitimately proud of sharing in Christ’s work and his Spirit-inspired activity in the world, they must not communicate their own light but that of Christ, who has come to enlighten every man. The Christian’s activity should lead all men to praise the Father for what he has done. The basis for praising God is the marvelous deeds he has done, and the Christian should be one of these deeds that leads men to the wonder and praise of the Lord. When men thus glorify God, it is a sign of their conversion. Thus the Christian is really called to shed a light that will lead to the salvation of his fellowmen.”

 

The image of the city set on a mountain reinforces the ecclesial nature of our Christian vocation. We must fulfill our mission of salvation together as Church. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, elucidate: “A town built on a hill appears from afar at night only because of all the lamps burning in the houses. One isolated candle does not produce much light, but many little lamps together show the way. One Christian holding high his or her lamp can encourage the others, perhaps more timid, to also place their lamps on stands. Thus preached by a handful of people wholeheartedly given to Christ, the gospel sets the world ablaze.”

 

World Marriage Day, an observance sponsored by American organization Worldwide Marriage Encounter and associated with the Catholic Marriage Encounter movement, is observed on the second Sunday of February each year and is linked with Valentine’s Day (February 14). World Marriage Day honors husband and wife as the foundation of the family, the basic unit of society. It salutes the beauty of their faithfulness, sacrifice and joy in daily married life. It honors and affirms the vocation of husbands and wives and the positive impact of their dedicated example on our society, families, communities, Church, and nation. Through their faithful and serving love for one another, the husband and wife become “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”. The following article, “My Promise to Muriel”, reprinted in Concord, January 2014, p. 13-15 (SSP Canfield, Ohio) from Marriage Magazine, gives an insight into the beauty of a faithful married love.

 

Care of Muriel – who has Alzheimer’s – was not only challenging when we reached our destination. It was equally challenging en route. I began to empathize with those young fathers you sometimes see in an airport, accosting perfect strangers who emerge from the women’s restroom: “Did you see a little six-year-old girl in there?” Airline attendants watched with well—guarded bemusement as I crowded with Muriel into the tiny cubicle that houses the in-flight toilet. I knew what they didn’t; if she ever got the door shut, unlikely that might be, she never could have gotten it open again.

 

Once our flight was delayed in Atlanta and we had to wait a couple of hours. Now that’s a challenge. Every few minutes the same questions, the same answers about what we’re doing here and when are we going home? And every few minutes we’d take a fast-paced walk down the terminal in search of … what? Muriel had always been a speed walker. I had to jog to keep up with her.

 

An attractive woman executive type sat across from us working diligently on her computer. Once, when we returned from an excursion, she said something, without looking up from her papers. Since no one else was nearby I assumed she had spoken to me or at least mumbled in protest of our constant activity. “Pardon?” I asked. “Oh”, she said, “I was just asking myself, “Will I ever find a man to love me like that?”

 

For years I struggled with the question whether my job or Muriel should be sacrificed. Trusted, lifelong friends – wise and godly – urged me to put her in professional care. “She will quickly become accustomed to the new environment.”

 

Would she? Would anyone love her at all, let alone love her as I do? Would she not miss that love? I had often seen the empty, listless faces of those lined up in wheelchairs along the corridors of such places, waiting, waiting for the fleeting visit of some loved one. In such an environment Muriel would be tamed only by drugs or bodily restraints. Of that I was confident.

 

Eventually I approached my supervisor with the request that he begin to look for my successor and decide what my financial future looked like. He said he understood, but I’m not sure. I had been twenty-two years with the firm and how do you say goodbye to colleagues you don’t wish to leave?

 

My dear wife, Muriel, has been in failing mental health for about 12 years. So far I have been able to meet her ever-growing needs and my job responsibilities. But recently it has become apparent that Muriel is contented most of the time I am with her and almost none of the time I am away from her. It’s not just “discontent”. She is filled with fear – even horror – that she has lost me.

 

Perhaps it would help you understand if I put it this way; my decision was made, in a way, 42 years ago when I promised to care for Muriel “in sickness and in health till death do us part”. As a man of my word, integrity has thus much to do with it. But so does fairness. She has cared for me fully and sacrificially for all these years and if I cared for her for the next forty years I would not be out of her debt. Duty, of course, can be grim and stoic. But there is more. I love Muriel. She is a delight to me with her childlike dependence and confidence, her warm love, occasional flashes of that wit I used to relish, her happy spirit and tough resilience in the face of her continual distressing frustration. I don’t have to care for her. It is rather a high honor to care for such a wonderful person.

 

I have been startled by the response to the announcement that I had left my job. Husbands and wives have had long, serious talks about their relationship. Pastors are telling my story to their people. I was puzzled by this until a distinguished doctor who lives constantly with dying people told me: “Almost all women stand by their men, but very few men stand by their women.” Perhaps people sensed this contemporary tragedy and somehow were helped by a simple choice I considered the only option.

 

It’s more than keeping promises or keeping fair, however. As I watched her brave descent into oblivion, Muriel is the joy of my life. Daily I discern new manifestations of the kind of person she is, the wife I always loved.

 

 

B. First Reading (Is 58:7-10): “Your light shall break forth like the dawn.”

 

Against the backdrop of the Old Testament reading (Is 58:7-10), our Christian vocation to be “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” impels us to social responsibility. In response to the word of God communicated through the prophet Isaiah, we need to care for the physical needs of the hungry, the oppressed, the homeless and the vulnerable. Indeed, we can make a difference to the world only if we become a community of justice. In our ministry to the poor and the lowly, our light shall break forth like the dawn. Through us, God’s covenant people, the glory of the Lord will shine to all nations.

 

Stephen Mills, who directs the Sierra Club’s international programs, makes an important observation: “Migration happens when freedom, disaster, economic opportunity, environmental degradation, and desperation are distributed so unevenly across the globe that people are forced to make difficult choices: stay and barely survive, or move and possibly thrive.” The issue on population and immigration and their environmental impact rages. Marilyn Berlin Snell, in her article “A Tale of Two Immigrants” (cf. Sierra, November-December 2004, p. 36-44) presents the opposing stance of two first-generation immigrants: one wants to build walls, the other endeavors to build bridges.

 

Yeh Ling-ling believes that immigration-driven population growth is harming America’s environment, workers, infrastructure, and social coherence. In the battle to protect America’s natural bounty, she advocates increased militarization of the U.S. border. Yeh Ling-ling argues: “We must assure that illegals can’t work in the United States, that their children can’t go to school.” Harvard graduate Hugo Morales, who spent his childhood picking fruit on a farm, is impatient with what he considers “the current green-washed, anti-brown argument that immigration-fueled population growth is one of the greatest threats to America’s environment”. Morales remarks: “It’s not that people want to leave their homelands. Why risk your life? They don’t do it because they like blue jeans, but because they need jobs. They’d rather stay, but globalization dynamics make border crossing inevitable; it’s a phenomenon around the world.” He responded compassionately to the problem by founding a noncommercial radio station that is meant to be a forum for ideas among immigrants so they can improve their lives. Morales also works to keep pesticides from poisoning laborers, regardless of their nationality.

 

In light of these two opposing view on immigration, I find the article of Robert Rodriguez on the De Alba Family, our co-parishioners, very interesting (cf. The Fresno Bee, Dec. 25, 2004, p. A11). Remembering its roots in the fields, the family has fed farm workers in the central San Joaquin Valley for many years. It is their way of thanking them for their hard work in harvesting the region’s fruits and vegetables. It is also a reminder of how far this family of twelve has come from their own days of picking cherries, tomatoes and grapes in Valley fields and orchards. The De Alba Family also has held very successful canned food drives for the poor and strongly supports St. Mary Queen of Apostles Church, to which they belong. Msgr. Pat McCormick, a former pastor, testifies: “They have really been a unifying factor for the church. They are a great family.”

 

Indeed, this wonderful De Alba family of Fresno is an inspiring example of what it means to be “the salt of the earth … the light of the world”. They also exemplify the zealous response to the prophetic challenge: “If you bestow your bread to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness …” (cf. Is 58:10).

 

 

C. Second Reading (1 Cor 2:1-5): “I have announced to you the mystery of Christ crucified.”

 

The Second Reading (1 Cor 2:1-5) also helps us understand more profoundly the meaning of our Christian vocation as “light of the world”. Adrian Nocent remarks: “The light we are to bring is light concerning the central object of our faith, namely, Christ crucified. It is for this that the Spirit fills us with his power. To bring light to others, then, means to enable them to meet Christ, the crucified Messiah who is now the risen Lord of glory. True faith is not grounded in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. For a man to receive the gift of faith, the light, is for him to encounter the mystery of Christ or Christ himself in his paschal mystery.”

 

The following story, circulated through the Internet, is dreamlike and fanciful. But it gives us an insight into how we can radiate the saving light of Christ Crucified and how in our suffering, helplessness and loving we can be light for others, especially the despondent and grieving.

 

She jumped up as soon as she saw the surgeon come out of the operating room. She said: “How is my little boy? Is he going to be all right? When can I see him?” The surgeon said, “I’m sorry. We did all we could, but your boy didn’t make it.”

 

Sally said, “Why do little children get cancer? Doesn’t God care anymore? Where were you, God, when my son needed you?”

 

The surgeon asked, “Would you like some time alone with your son? One of the nurses will be out in a few minutes, before he’s transported to the university.”

 

Sally asked the nurse to stay with her while she said goodbye to her son. She ran her fingers lovingly through his thick red curly hair. “Would you like a lock of his hair?” the nurse asked. Sally nodded yes. The nurse cut a lock of the boy’s hair, put it in a plastic bag and handed it to Sally.

 

The mother said, “It was Jimmy’s idea to donate his body to the University for study. He said it might help somebody else. “I said no at first, but Jimmy said, ‘Mom, I won’t be using it after I die. Maybe it will help some other little boy spend one more day with his Mom.” She went on, “My Jimmy had a heart of gold. Always waiting to help others if he could.”

 

Sally walked out of Children’s Mercy Hospital for the last time, after spending most of the last six months there. She put the bag with Jimmy’s belongings on the seat beside her in the car. The drive home was difficult. It was even harder to enter the empty house. She carried Jimmy’s belongings and the plastic bag with the lock of his hair to her son’s room. She started placing the model cars and other personal things back in his room exactly where he had always kept them. She laid down across his bed and, hugging his pillow, cried herself to sleep. It was around midnight when Sally awoke. Lying beside her on bed was a folded letter. The letter said:

 

Dear Mom,

 

I know you’re going to miss me; but don’t think that I will ever forget you, or stop loving you, just ‘cause I’m not around to say ‘I love you’. I will always love you, Mom, even more with each day. Someday we will see each other again. Until then, if you want to adopt a little boy so you won’t be so lonely, that’s okay with me. He can have my room and old stuff to play with. But, if you decide to get a girl instead, she probably wouldn’t like the same things us boys do. You’ll have to buy her dolls and stuff girls like, you know. Don’t be sad thinking about me. This really is a neat place. Grandma and Grandpa met me as soon as I got there and showed me around some, but it will take a long time to see everything. The angels are so cool. I love to watch them fly. And, you know what? Jesus doesn’t look like any of his pictures. Yet, when I saw Him, I knew it was Him. Jesus himself took me to see GOD! And guess what, Mom? I got to sit on God’s knee and talk to Him, like I was somebody important.

 

That’s when I told Him that I wanted to write you a letter, to tell you goodbye and everything. But I already knew that wasn’t allowed. Well, you know what, Mom? God handed me some paper and His personal pen to write you this letter. I think Gabriel is the name of the angel who is going to drop this letter off to you. God wants me to give you the answer to one of the questions you asked Him ‘Where was He when I needed him?’

 

God said He was in the same place with me, as when His Son Jesus was on the cross. He was right there, as He always is with all His children. Oh, by the way, Mom, no one else can see what I’ve written except you. To everyone else this is just a blank piece of paper. Isn’t that cool? I have to give God His pen back now.  He needs it to write some more names in the Books of Life. Tonight I get to sit at the table with Jesus for supper. I’m sure the food will be great.

 

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I don’t hurt anymore. The cancer is all gone. I’m glad because I couldn’t stand that pain anymore and God couldn’t stand to see me hurt so much, either. That’s when He sent the Angel of Mercy to come get me. The Angel said I was a Special Delivery. How about that?

 

Signed with love from God, Jesus and me

 

 

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

 

Are we “the salt of the earth … the light of the world” and in what way? Is the heavenly Father being glorified by our daily acts of Christian witnessing? Do we have purity of intention and an immense “candle power” as we carry out our works as Christian disciples? What happens if our vocation-mission to be “the salt of the earth … the light of the world” seems to wane? What do we do personally to revive this vital Christian vocation-mission?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you call us to become “the salt of the earth … the light of the world”.

Help us to treasure the beauty of this vocation.

As “the salt of the earth” and by our zestful Christian witnessing,

help us to improve the quality of human existence

and enable our brothers and sisters to relish the joy of salvation.

Let the light of your grace guide us.

Moved by the Holy Spirit

to participate more fully in the paschal mystery of your saving love,

may we be truly “the light of the world” … “the city on the mountaintop”.

In sharing the heart-warming radiance of your compassion

may God the Father 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.

 

“You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world .”  (Mt 5:13a, 14a)

 

 

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

 

Pray for married couples that by their faithful love they may be “the salt of the earth … the light of the world”. By your acts of charity let the people around you experience the zest and the radiance of Gospel joy.

 

 

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February 10, 2020: MONDAY – SAINT SCHOLASTICA, Virgin

N.B. Today is the anniversary of the foundation of the PDDM congregation.

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is God’s Healing Power … We Come

to Worship Him”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Kgs 8:1-7, 9-13 // Mk 6:53-56

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 6:53-56): “As many touched it were healed.”

(Gospel Reflection by Fr. Steve Coffey, OSB, San Luis Obispo, CA-USA)

 

Today’s Gospel story (Mk 6:53-56) follows upon the weekday lectionary’s omission of St. Mark’s narratives of Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand and walking on the water.  The story of the feeding is most probably omitted because on Saturday we will hear the similar story of the feeding of the four thousand.  However, there is a big difference in these two feeding stories.  The feeding of the five thousand takes place on the Western shore of the Sea of Galilee, that is, in Jewish territory, while the second feeding takes place on the opposite side in Gentile territory.  This section of Mark’s Gospel beginning with the Jewish feeding and culminating in the Gentile feeding forms a typical Markan “sandwich,” and is often referred to as the “Bread Section.”  So this week we feed on the bread of God’s Word while contemplating the words and actions of Jesus, the Bread of Life.

 

Today’s story of the healings at Gennesaret, on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, is intimately connected to the story of the feeding of the five thousand.  The bounty first exhibited in the feeding is now exhibited in the lavish gift of healing that takes place not only at Gennesaret, but in whatever “villages or towns or countryside he entered.”  Gennesaret, and its environs, is totally unlike Nazareth, where lack of faith caused major interference in the healing process.  Nazareth’s stance is even unlike the faith of the hemorrhaging woman who reaches for the tassel of Jesus’ cloak.  Here in Gennesaret “as many as touched it were healed.” In the story of the healings at Gennesaret, the Lord of the new covenant enters into the place of his activity, the activity of unbounded mercy which affords rest to the multitude.     

  

 

B. First Reading (1 Kgs 8:1-7, 9-13): “They brought the ark of the covenant into the holy of holies and a cloud filled the temple of the Lord.”

 

The reading (1 Kgs 8:1-7, 9-13) describes the dedication of the Temple built by King Solomon. The principal element of the dedication ceremony is the entrance of the Ark of the Covenant into the Temple. Solomon and all the people of Israel assemble in front of the Ark to sacrifice countless number of sheep and cattle. Then they watch the priests march in procession with the Ark to bring it to its resting place in the
“Holy of Holies” of the Temple. As the priests are leaving the Temple, it is suddenly filled with a “cloud” shining with the dazzling light of the Lord’s presence. The cloud of glory symbolizes God taking possession of the Temple and indicates divine pleasure in Solomon’s initiative to build the Temple for the worship of the Lord God. Thus the Lord’s promise to David, “Your son, whom I will make king after you, will build a temple for me” is fulfilled. Moreover, the Lord has also promised that if Solomon would obey his laws and commands, God will live among his people Israel in the Temple that he us building and will never abandon them.

 

A sacred space or a sacred building is a special place of encounter with the Lord’s presence. The following article shows how students in today’s various Catholic universities connect with the sacred through the help of sacred space and sacred building (cf. Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller, “Students Connect with the Sacred” in Our Sunday Visitor, September 22, 2013, p. 25).

 

Students find quiet spaces on campuses for meditation, prayer and inspiration in candlelit chapels and tree-lined paths leading to grottoes. They can sit on benches near a statue of Mary, kneel before a tabernacle surrounded by sacred art or pause to pray at an outdoor crucifix.

 

The following four college students share what those opportunities for quiet prayer on campus mean to them.

 

Alyssa Terry, 20: “Sacred spaces allow me to grow in my experience and understanding of who God is and who God is calling me to become. I have discovered that my sacred spaces are not always going to be churches and they might always be changing. Being able to expand my prayer in different places is just a small way I can come to know a small slice of the diversity the Divine brings.” (…)

 

Vince Roach, 20: “I go to Mass at the Chapel of St. Basil as often as I can, whenever I feel I could use a recharge, when I need to pray or reflect on my day. Whenever things get too hectic, I will head over there to clear my head and have some peace. The chapel is shaped like a tent, and you enter through the tent flap. Inside, the Stations of the Cross are carved into the wall, and there is a large bronze statue of Our Lady recessed into the opposite wall. There are no lights inside the chapel, so it is lit by lights shining through the outside windows at the top of the dome. I love the solitude. Every time I visit, there is a reverential silence that draws you to prayer. The tabernacle (and monstrance, when present) is directly in front, so God is always there with me.” (…)

 

Kathryn Smolko, 19: “I also like the Mini Quad, which is right in front of campus. It’s usually quiet, and although there are usually people walking, no one really stops. There are benches, grass and some really beautiful trees. I love being outdoors and feeling the sun on my skin. It really helps me appreciate what God has given me, and when I’m there, I want to give thanks to him. As a student, life gets really hectic and I forget that God is there to help me through it all. It is really important for me to have a sacred space to remind me that I’m not alone, and to know I have somewhere specifically where I can remember God and feel close to him. Sacred spaces are important to my faith because faith is something that needs to be practiced, and those spaces make it so much easier and more convenient to get that practice in.” (…)

 

Michael Peyko, 20: “I like to go to the Chapel of De La Salle and His Brothers. The ceiling and pillars are all white and beautifully hand crafted and designed. From the very moment the sun comes up to when it sets, there is constant sunlight pouring through the stained-glass windows, which gives a very warm and welcoming feeling. I often go there when I want to get away from everything … It’s very important for students to have sacred places. Having a place to go when things get tough is comforting.” (…)

  

 

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

 

1. Do we have faith in the healing power of Jesus? Do we reach out to him to touch him and be healed?

 

2. Do we see and experience the importance of sacred space/sacred building/sacred objects in our life as a believer?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

we thank you for your unbounded mercy

and the healing power you bring to us.

We lay before you the sickness of our heart,

the misery of our people

and the fragmentation of today’s society.

We beg you to allow us to touch you

– even just the tassel of your cloak –

knowing that we will be healed.

You bring us wholeness, joy and comfort.

Let us enter into the place of rest and quiet

where your loving comfort reigns forever and ever.

Amen.

 

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Lord Jesus,

you are the true temple radiant with divine glory.

We enter into your courts singing your praise.

Let us give you glory and praise by the life that we live.

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.

 

“As many as touched it were healed.” (Mk 6:56) //“The cloud filled the temple of the Lord.” (1 Kgs 8:10)

 

  

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

 

Pray that the sick may find strength and healing in the Lord. Like the caring people of Gennesaret, and by your ministry on their behalf, bring the sick closer to Jesus, the ultimate healing. // Be aware of the positive role of sacred space/structures/objects in connecting us with the sacred and utilize them to deepen your relationship with God.

 

 

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February 11, 2020: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (5); OUR LADY OF LOURDES

N.B. Today is WORLD DAY OF THE SICK.

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Means to Communion … He Shows How to Pray and Worship”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Kgs 8:22-23  // Mk 7:1-13

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 7:1-13): “You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”

(Gospel Reflection by Fr. Steve Coffey, OSB, San Luis Obispo, CA-USA)

 

The connection between today’s Gospel story (Mk 7:1-13) and yesterday’s (Mk 6:53-56) may not be immediately apparent until we view it in the context of Mark’s whole “Bread” section on which we are feasting this week.  The geographic movement from one shore to another represents more than a sail across the lake.  It represents Gentile inclusion in the Eucharistic feast.  Today’s Gospel addresses what, in Jewish tradition, represents an obstacle to this communion at the table. 

 

Thus today we see Jesus embarking on a mission that has this unity in Eucharistic communion in mind.  The Pharisees and scribes in this story represent those who would be opposed to eating with Gentiles based on what Jesus clearly categorizes as “human tradition.”  The scribes and the Pharisees here “nullify the word of God in favor of tradition.”  They do this specifically here in their neglect of parents by declaring something has been set aside for God.  What has ultimately been set aside, however, is the very word of God which calls Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians into communion at the table of the Lord.  So the prophet Isaiah’s maxim is invoked against them: “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.”

 

 

B. First Reading (1 Kgs 8:22-23, 27-30): “You have said” My name shall be there to hear the prayers of your people Israel.”

 

The reading (1 Kgs 8:22-23, 27-30) presents Solomon’s prayer to the Lord at the dedication of the Temple. King Solomon extols the singularity of the Lord God. He thanks him for the blessings bestowed on the chosen people, especially for the covenant of mercy granted to them. He then prays for the Temple and for those who pray in the Temple: “Watch over this Temple day and night, this place where you have chosen to be worshiped … Hear my prayers and the prayers of your people when they face this place and pray.” God is transcendent. Even the highest heaven cannot contain God. But God, in his goodness, chooses the Temple built by Solomon to be a special place where the people can connect with him. The Lord is determined to hear the prayers of those who worship in that sacred place, of which he promised, “My name shall be there!”

 

The omnipotent and omnipresent God continues to manifest his saving power through time and space. Though not bound to any physical space/place, by divine will, there are some “sacred” places of intimate encounter with divine grace. One of these special places is the Marian sanctuary in Lourdes, a haven where people can experience healing through Mary’s intercession. The following article on the Internet is very inspiring.

 

In 1858 in the grotto of Massabielle, near Lourdes, France, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared 18 times to Bernadette Soubirous, a 14-year old peasant girl. She identified herself as “The Immaculate Conception”. She gave Bernadette a message for all: “Pray and do penance for the conversion of the world.” The Church investigated Bernadette’s claims for four years before approving devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. Lourdes has since become one of the most famous shrines, attracting more than a million pilgrims each year. There had been thousands of miraculous cures at this shrine. (…)

 

No one leaves Lourdes without a gain in faith. Moral and spiritual cures are more marvelous than physical cures. Some go to Lourdes with lifetime prejudices, yet their minds are cleared in a sudden manner. Frequently skepticism gives way to faith; coldness and antagonism become whole-hearted love of God. Again and again those who are not cured of bodily pain receive an increase of faith and resignation – true peace of soul …

 

The Story of Gabriel Gargam: The case of Gabriel Gargam is probably one of the best known of all the thousands of cures at Lourdes, partly because he was so well known at the Shrine for half a century, partly because it was a twofold healing, spiritual and physical. Born in 1870 of good Catholic parents, he gave early promise of being a clever student and a fervent Catholic. The promise was not fulfilled in the most important respect for, at 15 years of age, he had lost his faith. He obtained a position in the postal service and was carrying out his duties as a sorter in December of 1899, when the train on which he was traveling from Bordeaux to Paris collided with another train, running at 50 miles per hour. Gargam was thrown fifty-two feet from the train. He lay in the snow, badly injured and unconscious for seven hours. He was paralyzed from the waist down. He was barely alive when lifted onto a stretcher. Taken to a hospital, his existence for some time was a living death. After eight months he had wasted away to a mere skeleton, weighing but seventy-eight pounds, although normally a big man. His feet become gangrenous. He could take no solid food and was obliged to take nourishment by a tube. Only once in twenty-hours could he be fed even that way. (…)

 

Previous to the accident Gargam had not been to Church for fifteen years. His aunt, who was a nun of the Order of the Sacred Heart, begged him to go to Lourdes. He refused. She continued her appeals to him to place himself in the hands of Our Lady of Lourdes. He was deaf to all her prayers. After continuous pleading by his mother, he consented to go to Lourdes. It was now two years since the accident, and not for a moment had he left his bed all that time. He was carried on a stretcher to the train. The exertion caused him to faint, and for a full hour he was unconscious. They were on the point of abandoning the pilgrimage, as it looked as if he would die on the way, but the mother insisted, and the journey was made.

 

Arrived at Lourdes, he went to confession and received Holy Communion. There was no change in his condition. Later he was carried to the miraculous pool and tenderly placed in its waters – no effect. Rather a bad effect resulted, for the exertion threw him into a swoon and he lay apparently dead. After a time, as he did not revive, they thought him dead. Sorrowfully they wheeled the carriage back to the hotel. On the way back they saw the procession of the Blessed Sacrament approaching. They stood aside to let it pass, having placed a cloth over the face of the man they supposed to be dead.

 

As the priest passed carrying the Sacred Host, he pronounced Benediction over the sorrowful group around the covered body. Soon there was a movement from under the covering. To the amazement of the bystanders, the body raised itself to a sitting posture. While the family members were looking on dumbfounded and the spectators gazed in amazement, Gargam said in a full, strong voice that he wanted to get up. They thought that it was a delirium before death, and tried to soothe him, but he was not restrained. He got up and stood erect, walked a few paces and said that he was cured. The multitude looked in wonder, and then fell on their knees and thanked God for this new sign of His power at the Shrine of His Blessed Mother. As Gargam had on him only invalid’s clothes, he returned to the carriage and was wheeled back to the hotel. There he soon dressed, and proceeded to walk as if nothing had ever ailed him. For two years hardly any food had passed his lips but now he sat down at table and ate a hearty meal.

 

On August 20th, 1901, sixty prominent doctors examined Gargam. Without stating the nature of the cure, they pronounced him instantly cured. Gargam, out of gratitude to God in the Holy Eucharist and His Blessed Mother, consecrated himself to the service of the invalids at Lourdes. He set up a small business and married a pious lady who aided him in his apostolate for the greater knowledge of Mary Immaculate. For over fifty years he returned annually to Lourdes and worked as a brancarrier … His last visit to the Shrine was in August 1952: he died the following March, at the age of eighty-three years.

  

 

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

 

1. Are we guilty of disregarding God’s commandments but clinging to human tradition?

 

2. Do we trust in the power of prayer and in the importance of prayer and the sanctuaries for prayer?

 

 

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

 

O Jesus, Divine Master,

you are the way, the truth and the life.

Forgive us for the times we have disregarded God’s commands

in order to cling to mere human traditions.

You are the teacher of communion and true tradition.

You revealed to us the Father’s saving plan

that includes all peoples and cultures,

all nations and creation.

Help us to overcome our prejudices and misconceptions

that we may share fully in the infinite expanse

of your Father’s all-inclusive love.

We love you, adore you and serve you,

now and forever. Amen. 

 

***

O Jesus Divine Master,

you teach us the meaning of prayer.

You are the true Temple

through which we offer worship and praise to the Father.

Let our prayers rise up through you

and be blessed by the heavenly Father.

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.

 

“You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” (Mk 7:8) // “Listen to the petitions of your servant and of your people Israel which they offer you in this place.” (1 Kgs 8:30) 

  

 

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

 

Pray that we may overcome our unhealthy parochialism and vicious legalism. By your acts of justice and charity, promote unity in diversity and the Church’s true tradition of universal love. // Be thankful for the sacred space/place of prayer and use it wisely to deepen your personal relationship with God.

 

 

*** *** ***

February 12, 2020: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (5)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches with Wisdom … He Is Greater than Solomon”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Kgs 10:1-10 // Mk 7:14-23

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 7:14-23): What comes out of the man that is what defiles him.”

(Gospel Reflection by Fr. Steve Coffey, OSB, San Luis Obispo, CA-USA)

 

Today’s Gospel passage (Mk 7:14-23) concludes yesterday’s discussion between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees concerning “the tradition of the elders” and concludes with his characteristically Markan private conversation with his disciples.  Whereas Jesus half expects the scribes and Pharisees not to “get it,” he hopes his disciples will.  But such is not the case as he exasperatingly remarks:  “Are even you likewise without understanding?”  And the attentive reader at once realizes that s/he is being personally addressed.  We are all responsible for promoting communion and “not getting it” is no excuse, especially for a disciple of any century.

 

And what is it that scribe, Pharisee, and even disciple fail to comprehend?  It’s not about the ritual purity of eating and digestion.  As a matter of fact, it’s not about ritual purity at all.  The major obstacle to communion is nothing external, but it’s a matter of the heart.  “From their hearts come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.  All these evils come from within and they defile.”  These are obstacles to Eucharistic communion that cut both ways.  It’s not simply Jewish purity vs. Gentile impurity; it’s about the interior impurity of both that makes such communion impossible.

     

 

B. First Reading (1 Kgs 10:1-10): “The Queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon.”

 

The reading (1 Kgs 10:1-10) depicts King Solomon as an international celebrity. Foreign dignitaries seek his renowned wisdom. Foremost of them is the Queen of Sheba. She is overwhelmed and breathless by what she sees. Solomon explains everything the Queen asks about. Indeed, the wisdom and wealth of Solomon are much greater than what she has heard. The Queen of Sheba praises the ever-loving God who has made Solomon a king to maintain law and justice among the people. In this idyllic picture, King Solomon is portrayed as pleasing to God. Wisdom flows out of him because the law of God is in his heart. As long as he is with God, he is truly wise.

 

The following story gives us insight into true wisdom that comes from the heart of God (cf. Elaine McDonald, “From the Mouth of a Small Boy” in A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul, ed. Jack Canfield, et. al., Deerfield Beach: Health Communications, Inc., 1996, p. 223-224).

 

Our friends, Reimund and Toni, live in a city in the industrial Ruhr area of Germany, which suffered heavy bombing during World War II. One evening during their week-long stay with us, my husband, who is a history teacher, invited them to tell us what they remembered about being children in Germany during the war. Reimund proceeded to tell us a story that moved us to tears.

 

One day not long before the end of the war, Reimund saw two airmen parachuting out of an enemy plane that had been shot down. Like many other curious citizens who had seen the parachutists falling through the afternoon sky, 11-year-old Reimund went to the city’s central square to wait for the police to arrive with the prisoners of war. Eventually two policemen arrived with two British prisoners in tow. They would wait there in the city square for a car that would take the British airmen to a prison in a neighboring city where prisoners of war are kept.

 

When the crowd saw the prisoners, there were angry shouts of “Kill them! Kill them!” No doubt they were thinking of the heavy bombings the city had suffered at the hands of the British and the allies. Nor did the crowd lack the means to carry out their intent. Many of the people had been gardening when they saw the enemy fall from the sky and had brought their pitchforks, shovels and other gardening implements with them.

 

Reimund looked at the faces of the British prisoners. They were very young, maybe 19 or 20 years old. He could see they were extremely frightened. He could also see that the two policemen, whose duty it was to protect the prisoners of war, were no match for the angry crowd with its pitchforks and shovels.

 

Reimund knew he had to do something, and do it quickly. He ran to place himself between the prisoners and the crowd, turning to face the crowd and shouting to them to stop. Not wanting to hurt the little boy, the crowd held back for a moment, long enough for Reimund to tell them: “Look at these prisoners. They are just young boys! They are no different from your own sons. They are only doing what your sons are doing – fighting for their country. If your sons were shot down in a foreign country and became prisoners of war, you wouldn’t want the people there to kill your sons. So please don’t hurt these boys.”

 

Reimund’s fellow townspeople listened in amazement, and then shame. Finally, a woman said, “It took a little boy to tell us what is right and what is wrong.” The crowd began to disperse. Reimund will never forget the look of tremendous relief and gratitude he then saw on the faces of the young British airmen. He hopes they had had long, happy lives, and that they haven’t forgotten the little boy who saved them.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we endeavor to achieve integrity and purity of heart? Do we yearn for true holiness that leads to communion with our brothers and sisters?

 

2. Do we seek for true wisdom that comes from obedience and faithfulness to God? Do we allow the wisdom of God to guide us and show us the way of righteousness?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

teach us integrity of heart and interior purity.

Cleanse us from evil thoughts and wicked desires.

The awful things that ferment within us

make us “unclean” and incite us to do evil.

Loving Lord,

teach us true wisdom that we may reject the wickedness

that draws us away from you and to disobey our gracious God.

We trust in your forgiveness and bounteous mercy.

You are our kind Savior, now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

Lord Jesus,

your wisdom is greater than Solomon.

Grant us the wisdom of a loving heart.

that we may serve and honor God all the days of our life.

You are our merciful 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.

 

“What comes out of the man that is what defiles him.” (Mk 7:20) //“The queen of Sheba witnessed Solomon’s great wisdom.” (1 Kgs 10:4)

 

  

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

 

Make the examination of the heart a regular practice to enable you to detest what is contrary to the will of God and pursue his saving will. // Make an effort to exercise daily the wisdom of heart, for your own good and the good of others.

 

*** *** ***

 

February 13, 2020: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (5)

  “JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Bread of Life for All … He Is God’s Faithful Love”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Kgs 11:4-13 // Mk 7:24-30

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 7:24-30): “The dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”

(Gospel Reflection by Fr. Steve Coffey, OSB, San Luis Obispo, CA-USA)

 

In today’s Gospel story (Mk 7:24-30), Jesus, Wisdom incarnate, recognizes the wisdom of a Gentile woman.  This latter woman is not the Queen of Tyre, but a simple mother with a very sick daughter who recognizes something different about this Jewish man who has crossed boundaries and set foot in her Syrophoenician city on the Mediterranean coast.  So different that she falls at his feet in an act of worship.  She clearly understands worship in a way the scribes and Pharisees of yesterday could not. 

 

His more-than-meets-the-eye rebuff to her request is not couched in delicate language.  He refers to the Jewish community as children who have first access to the food.  And that food is not to be thrown to Gentile pups.  But what a comeback!  She addresses him with the full-force of the Jewish divine title LORD.  And then she drops the bomb:  “Even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”  How wise a saying!  How unlike the scribes and Pharisees, who set up roadblocks to sharing the bread of life at one table. She found her daughter “lying in bed and the demon gone.”  Really both demons were gone:  the demon of sickness and the demon of division and separation.  The same bread feeds both children and pups.  And it is Jesus himself.

 

Jesus’ crossing of boundaries led him to a mission of inclusion that brought those who were excluded to the table.  The desire of the woman resulted not only in the answer to her own prayer but contributed to the clearer revelation of the mystery of union in Christ.

   

 

B. First Reading (1 Kgs 11:4-13): “Since you have not kept my covenant, I will deprive you of the kingdom, but I will leave your son one tribe for the sake of my servant David.”

 

The reading (1 Kgs 11:4-13) describes King Solomon’s corruption and his breach of the covenant with God. His heart is no longer like that of his father David, fully faithful to the Lord. Solomon’s relentless acquisition of wealth and military power manifests signs of indulgence and greed. His liking for foreign wives and his possession of an excessive large harem (seven hundred princesses and 300 concubines) gradually draw him away from God. By the time he is old, his foreign wives have led him into the worship of their gods. He who has dedicated himself to building the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem now builds altars to idols. God’s response to Solomon’s idolatry is condemnation. The Lord thus speaks to Solomon personally and declares the future dissolution of his kingdom.

 

The following article gives insight into the mystery of personal degradation (cf. Poverello News, February 2014, p. 1-2).

 

Jimmy H. was one of those guys who had become a fixture around Poverello House. Sometimes, he’d disappear for a while, but you always knew he’d be back. That’s why it was such a shock when he was hit by a truck and killed last November. It happened on G Street, less than a block away.

 

In the words of Marlon Brando in the movie, On the Waterfront, Jimmy “could have been a contender”. Jimmy passed through our Resident Program a couple of times. The first time, back in the 1990s, he seemed genuinely ready to make a change. He graduated, and then stayed on for several months. He had become very involved in A.A. and was starting to get back on his feet. He had a good-paying job that utilized the skills he possessed, and he had begun a relationship with a woman who was sober and successful. He seemed destined for a better life.

 

He had a quick wit, an infectious laugh, and a smile that would light up a room. He was one of those guys who sometimes would hustle you, and even though you knew you were being hustled, you didn’t mind. He had something wrong with one eye, and when he smiled, that eye would squint like Popeye’s, which just added to his charm.

 

Unfortunately, he also possessed the seed of self-destruction that is so common with the homeless. Maybe the lure of alcohol and crack cocaine was overwhelming; or perhaps after so many years of addiction and failure, success and sobriety was just too strange and uncomfortable. Whatever the reason, the day came when Jimmy drank and used again, and the results were predictable.

  

 

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

 

1. Do we make an effort to share the healing power of Jesus, the bread of life for all?

 

2. Do we recognize our human weakness and beg God to assist us to overcome our personal weakness?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

you are the bread of life

to be shared with all peoples of the earth.

You are the divine power that drives away the demon of sickness

and the demon of division and separation.

Help us to overcome the ugly forces of alienation.

Let us be united with you as you cross boundaries of division

in your mission to include all peoples at the table of life.

Your power is awesome

and we love and adore you, now and forever.

Amen.

 

*** 

Jesus Lord,

Deliver us from following false idols.

Help us to follow you unreservedly.

Let us love and serve you unconditionally,

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 dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” (Mk 7:28) //“He did not follow him unreservedly.” (1 Kgs 11:4b)  

 

  

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

 

Pray for the unity of Christians and all the peoples of the earth. Let your acts of justice and peace surmount artificial barriers and be totally inclusive. // Pray to God for the grace to follow him unreservedly especially when the attraction of false idols is strong. Make an effort to spend some quiet moments of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

 

 

*** *** ***

 

February 14, 2020: FRIDAY – SAINT CYRIL, Monk, AND METHODIUS, Bishop

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Heals the Deaf-Mute … He Overcomes Alienation and Division”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Kgs 11:29-32; 12:19 // Mk 7:31-37

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 7:31-37): “He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

(Gospel Reflection by Fr. Steve Coffey, OSB, San Luis Obispo, CA-USA)

 

In this week’s Gospel stories, Jesus, the boundary crosser, is on the road.  Yesterday he was in Gentile Tyre on the Mediterranean.  Today he is on the Eastern Gentile shore of the Sea of Galilee in the Decapolis, the heart of Gentile territory.  He encounters a Gentile deaf-mute who begs him “to lay his hand on him,” the same hand that was laid on so many of the sick in Jewish Gennesaret.  Pope Benedict XVI, in a homily on Christian Unity, took advantage of the fuller sense of this passage.  He said:  “Is not being deaf and mute, that is, being unable either to listen or speak, a sign of a lack of communion and a symptom of division?”

 

Just as Jesus removed obstacles to unity on the Jewish side of the lake, today’s Gospel (Mk 7:31-37) has him removing more obstacles on the Gentile side.  He “put his finger into the man’s ears, and, spitting, touched his tongue.”  As God created the first human so tactilely in the second chapter of Genesis, so Jesus is recreating this Gentile, endowing him once again with the organs of speech and hearing, the organs of communion that overcome division and disunity.  The action culminates in typical Markan fashion:  “He has done all things well.  He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”  And not just in Gentile Galilee.

 

 

B. First Reading (1 Kgs 11:29-32; 12:19): “Israel went into rebellion against David’s house to this day.”

 

The reading (1 Kgs 11:29-32; 12:19) underlines the alienation and division caused by sin. The Lord God has talked personally to King Solomon of the future dissolution of his kingdom. With a symbolic gesture, the prophet Ahijah communicates this prophecy to Jeroboam, an able and hard-working young man whom Solomon has put in charge of the forced labor. Tearing his new cloak into twelve pieces, he gives ten pieces to Jeroboam to symbolize the ten tribes of Israel that he will rule. Solomon now sees him as a threat and pursues him. Jeroboam escapes to Egypt and stays there until Solomon dies. After the death of Solomon, his kingdom disintegrates. His son-successor King Rehoboam’s brash self-confidence and authoritarianism lead to the revolt of the northern tribes. To the people of the northern tribes who ask for clemency and more humane treatment, he speaks harshly: “My father placed heavy burdens on you; I will make them even heavier. He beat you with whips; I’ll flog you with bullwhips!” The people see that King Rehoboam will not listen. So they rebel against him and choose Jeroboam, son of Nebat, from the northern tribe of Ephraim, as king.

 

The unfortunate consequences of sin and abuse can be verified in the following story (cf. Susan Call, “You Don’t Have to Cry Anymore” in Guideposts, October 2013, p. 53-54).

 

I couldn’t believe I had been trapped in an abusive marriage, a woman like me. I had a good job with a good company. Good education. I’d come from a loving family, my parents happily married. I’d connected with a church and was no stranger to prayer, but lately all my prayers had been, God give me strength to get through the day.

 

Joe had swept me off my feet with his flamboyant charm, flattering me, giving me presents, doting on me. It was only later, after we were married, that I discovered his other side. The drinking, the cruel verbal abuse, the threats, the affairs. He had been abused as a child and I wanted to make excuses for him, but when he told me what he’d do to me if I left him, I was terrified. I couldn’t hide my tears from my children anymore.

 

My faith gave me courage to seek a counselor and admit to her what was happening. I talked to an attorney and made an appointment with a private investigator. On a lunch break I stayed in the office and found a website for domestic violence, looking over my shoulder as I read, as though Joe would be right behind, staring at every word.

 

“Are you in an abusive relationship?” the site asked. “Does your spouse put you down? … Stop you from seeing your friends or family members? … Tell you that you are a bad parent? … Act like the abuse is no big deal? … Threaten to kill you?” I said yes to everything. With each answer, my denial crumbled. It was impossible to ignore what my life had become. I felt as though the site knew me, Joe, and knew the hell I was living. I clicked the header Get Help.

 

The site mapped out all the steps to take. How to escape. How to protect yourself. How to make a file with all the necessary documents: birth certificates, passports, tax returns. I created a folder at work and drew a purple ribbon on the upper right-hand corner, purple because that was the color of domestic-violence awareness.

 

I went to the private investigator and confided what Joe had said he’d do to me and how he’d get away with it all. The investigator took notes and promised to look into the threats. Two weeks later I returned and sat across the desk from him. He didn’t mince words. “You are in serious danger for your life”, he told me. “You need to get away and you need to take the children with you.”

 

How would I do it? Where would I go? I prayed for wisdom, prayed for guidance, prayed for strength, a strength stronger than fear. I consulted the website. I would have to share my story with others in order to build a team, but I had to be very careful. Anybody who helped me would be taking big risks themselves. And some would probably not even believe.

 

I called an associate who lived 1,000 miles away. We worked closely together in the same department, only in different cities, and we were often in touch. I knew she was a woman of faith and I felt I could take her into my confidence. She listened patiently, then said, “Bring the kids here and stay with me as long as you like, as long as you need to. You’ll be safe here.” I was stunned. I never expected a reaction like that.

 

I had my destination and I’d gathered my team angels in secret. All the documents were ready. I’d done it. Now it was just the three of us. Jennifer, Ryan and me. Leaving. Leaving for good. I couldn’t know what the future would hold, but I knew too well what it could have been if we had stayed. I pulled out a stapled set of papers that had been tucked in my purse, my legal request for divorce, and put it on the kitchen table.

 

I said a prayer for protection and prayed too that my children would understand. Then we headed out to the car. Jennifer pulled herself up into her car seat. Ryan sank into his, looking up at me with big, brown, searching eyes. I buckled my belt around him with trembling hands. How much did they really know? How much would they ever understand? “Mommy”, Ryan said, “now you don’t have to cry anymore.”

 

I got into the front seat and pulled out of the driveway. I turned the corner and our house quickly disappeared from view.

  

 

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

 

1. Are we spiritually deaf by refusing to listen to the Word of God? Are we spiritually mute by refraining from proclaiming the Word of God?

 

2. How do we deal with the alienation and painful consequences of human frailty and sin? Do we seek help from God and others?

 

  

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

 

O loving God,

open the ears of our hearts to listen to the Word of God.

O Lord, open my lips,

and my mouth will proclaim your praise.

 

***

O Lord Jesus,

look kindly upon us in our trials.

Heal our afflictions.

Help us to overcome the wounds of division

caused by human frailty and sin.

You are our Savior.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (Mk 7:31-37) //“For the sake of David, my servant …” (1 Kgs 11:32)

 

  

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

 

Pray that people may understand the importance and necessity of Lectio Divina. Introduce your friends and loved ones to this beautiful life-giving practice of the Church. // To help us overcome the alienation and division caused by sin and human frailty, let us commit ourselves to the practice of Lectio Divina and the Eucharistic Adoration.

 

 

*** *** ***

February 15, 2020: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (5); BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Fed Them and They Were Satisfied … He Guides Us in the Path to Life”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Kgs 12:26-32; 13:33-34 // Mk 8:1-10

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 8:1-10): “They ate and were satisfied.”

(Gospel Reflection by Fr. Steve Coffey, OSB, San Luis Obispo, CA-USA)

 

There in the very same Gentile district where Jesus healed the deaf-mute, in today’s Gospel (Mk 8:1-10) we have a quasi-replay of the feeding story on the Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee.  There is a striking similarity of details:  “a great crowd without anything to eat”; the compassionate heart of Jesus “moved with pity”; the lack of compassion and even understanding on the part of the disciples who witnessed and participated in the previous feeding.  Of capital importance is the repetition of the fourfold Eucharistic action:  “Taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute.”

 

However, there are subtle differences in the two stories.  In the first they picked up “twelve wicker baskets full of fragments,” while in the second “they picked up the fragments left over – seven baskets.”  Why twelve baskets in the first story?  It is precisely to evoke the Jewish image of the twelve tribes of Israel.  And similarly the seven baskets on the Gentile side evoke the universal number of the Gentile nations.  And notice Gentiles did not insist on wicker baskets as did the Jewish community.  However, despite these differences in both stories, “they ate and were satisfied.”

 

How favored we are in being recipients of the Eucharistic gift, the real gift that keeps on giving.  In a sense, all of this week’s reflections were Eucharistic.  Eucharist is the gathering of the Body of Christ in rich diversity.  At Eucharist with ears wide open, we listen and feast at the table of the Word.  In the Liturgy of the Eucharist we take, bless, break and distribute bread that has been transformed by the Spirit into the Body of Christ.  And like the crowd in today’s Gospel, we are dismissed to go and announce the reconciling Gospel of the Lord.

  

 

B. First Reading (I Kgs 12:26-32; 13:33-34): “Jeroboam made two golden calves.”

 

In the reading (I Kgs 12:26-32), we hear of Jeroboam’s disappointing response to God’s conditional offer to make him ruler of the northern tribes of Israel. Through the prophet Ahijah of Shiloh, God has made a promise to Jeroboam: “If you obey me completely, live by my laws, and win my approval by doing what I command you as my servant David did, I will always be with you. I will make you king of Israel and will make sure that your descendants rule after you, just as I have done for David.” Once installed king, however, Jeroboam is overreaching and unfaithful. He tries to make his northern kingdom secure through political-social-religious manipulation. Instead of covenant fidelity, he resorts to religious innovation. Jeroboam creates false idols – “two calves of gold” – and designs a system of worship that will draw the Israelites away from the Jerusalem temple. Jeroboam causes Israel to sin and brings about the ruin and total destruction of his dynasty.

 

Jeroboam’s fatal sin is tragic and teaches us to surrender to God’s ways. The following story, in a humorous vein, gives an insight into what it means to be led by God (cf. Anthony De Mello, Taking Flight: A Book of Story Meditations, New York: Image Books, 1988, p. 126).

 

The Master was in an expansive mood, so his disciples sought to learn from him the stages he had passed through in his quest for the divine.

 

“God first led me by the hand”, he said, “into the Land of Action, and there I dwelt for several years. Then he returned and led me to the Land of Sorrows; there I lived until my heart was purged of every inordinate attachment. That is when I found myself in the Land of Love, whose burning flames consumed whatever was left in me of self. This brought me to the Land of Silence, where the mysteries of life and death were bared before my wondering eyes.”

 

“Was that the final stage of your quest?” they asked.

 

“No”, the Master said. “One day God said, ‘Today I shall take you to the innermost sanctuary of the Temple, to the heart of God himself.’ And I was led to the Land of Laughter.”

  

 

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

 

1. Are we truly grateful for the gift of the Eucharist?  Do we share it with a hungry world that yearns for the bread of the Word … the life-giving bread? 

 

2. Do we truly trust God and feel secure in his ways or do we design our own “security” and “idols”?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you are the “Eucharist” – the bread of the Word

… the life-giving bread … the real gift that keeps on giving.

We thank you for the multiplication of the loaves

and for being bread broken and shared for the life of the world.

You are the Eucharistic gift that builds the Church,

so radiant in beauty and rich in diversity.

Help us to celebrate your paschal sacrifice

by the power of the Holy Spirit.

At the Eucharistic feasting,

we partake of the bread of compassion

and the wine of messianic joy,

which make us fully satisfied and deeply grateful.

Lead us into the eternal banquet of your kingdom

where you live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

Loving God,

we detest our sin

and loathe its tragic consequences.

Our idolatry is self-destruction.

Give us the grace to turn away from false idols

and to embrace you, the one true God,

the God of our life, the font of all good.

Let us serve you faithfully, 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 ate and were satisfied.” (Mk 8:8) //“This was a sin on the part of the house of Jeroboam for which it was to be cut off.” (I Kgs 12:26-32)

 

  

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

 

Pray for the peoples of the world that their various hungers may be satisfied. By your acts of compassion to the hungry poor, let the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves come alive again. // Today make an act of reparation for the many people who prefer false security and refuse to trust in God’s ways.

 

***

 

 

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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