A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 18, n. 26)

The Seventh Week of Easter: May 24-30, 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: May 17-23, 2020 please go to ARCHIVES Series 18 and click on “Easter Week 6”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: May 24-30, 2020.)

 

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May 24, 2020: THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Commands Us to Go and Make Disciples of All Nations”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 1:1-11 // Eph 1:17-23 // Mt 28:16-20

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 2*;16-20): “All power in heaven and earth has been given to me.” 

          

A person who has inspired me greatly is Fr. Ary A. Roest Crollius, a Jesuit missionary based in Lebanon and the former Dean of the Missiology Department at the Gregorian University in Rome. He presided at a mission-sending ceremony in our General House. It was Ascension Sunday when we celebrated in Rome this beautiful rite to send off Sr. Maria Carla to her mission in Taiwan. The Gospel reading Fr. Ary used was Mt 28:16-20 and his homily touched me to the core. In a simple and limpid way, he shared with us beautiful insights about this Gospel passage on the apostolic commission. That ritual service made me experience more deeply the power of the Risen and Glorified Lord at work in our midst, helped me hear more clearly the baptismal call to mission and assured me more fully of Christ’s abiding presence until the end of time.

 

The Scripture readings of Ascension Sunday are very emphatic. The words of today’s celebration have power to move the Christians of today into deeper communication with the Lord and assist them to go forth and proclaim the good news that Jesus lives. The final appearance of the Risen Lord to the eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee is a very important scene in Matthew’s overall plan of the Gospel. On the mountain of the ascension, Jesus reveals himself to his disciples in a new way and gives them an apostolic mandate to go and make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:16-20). Jesus is revealed as the Christ – the ruler of the universe – with all authority in heaven and on earth. By the power of that authority he issues the great missionary challenge to his disciples. Impelled by the final instruction of Jesus, the disciples leave the mountain of the ascension, cross the borders of Galilee and go to “all nations”, i.e. to the Gentiles living outside Israel.

 

The powerful and irresistible apostolic mandate of Jesus is buttressed by his promise: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). The biblical scholar, Daniel Harrington, comments: “The promise of Jesus’ continuing presence with the disciples and their successors brings to fulfillment the name Emmanuel (“God is with us”) given to Jesus at conception, in accordance with Is 7:14. The promise assumes a ‘time of the Church’ between the inauguration of God’s kingdom through Jesus and its fullness at the end of the world. The spirit of the Risen Jesus will guide and protect the Church during this time. In light of the above, we can affirm that the feast of the Lord’s Ascension is not a commemoration of his departure, but a celebration of the living and lasting presence of Jesus, the Emmanuel – the “God with us”.

 

In many nations the World Day of Social Communication is celebrated on Ascension Sunday. Let us pray that these modern means may be used wisely and propitiously to spread the Gospel. Through the mass media, we can more efficaciously follow the command of Jesus to make disciples of all nations. By utilizing and maximizing the means of social communication, let us make the saving presence of the Risen Christ felt, known and received by the people in the here and now.

 

The following excerpt from an article I wrote, which I have updated, shows how our PDDM Congregation, especially dedicated to prayer and contemplation, responds to the challenge of “new evangelization” using the digital media (cf. Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang, PDDM, “Lectio Divina on the Internet” in Pauline Cooperator Magazine, 2010 Issue One, p. 10-11).

 

Aware that the Internet is a new forum for proclaiming the Gospel, the Pious Disciples inaugurated on their website the pastoral tool, “Breaking the Bread of the Word: A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy” (http://www.pddm.us/LectioDivina.htm). This liturgy study guide includes biblical-liturgical reflections (LECTIO), points for the examination of the heart (MEDITATIO), praying with the Word of God (ORATIO), interiorization of the Word (CONTEMPLATIO), and some proposed action plans in view of life transformation (ACTIO).

 

The first posting was a Lectio Divina on the Gospel reading for the First Sunday of Advent, Year B (December 1, 2002), prepared with much effort, difficulty, and indeed, with some anxiety over the project’s viability and continuity. At the beginning there were a handful of visitors to our website, but week by week the number of readers increased. Fr. Tom Fogarty, SSP, made mention of this liturgical tool in the Holy Family Institute newsletter CONCORD (December 2006): “Only now am I learning of the Sister Disciples’ website with an extremely thorough commentary on the current Sunday Readings. Great!”

 

In the first three years, we dedicated our efforts to the Lectio Divina on the Gospel readings of the Sunday liturgy, while in the following three years we focused on the First Reading and the next three years on the Second Reading. Starting Year 10 up to the present we offer tools for the Lectio Divina of both the Sunday and the Weekday Liturgy. The documents of the past twelve years have been filed in the website’s “ARCHIVES” and any reader can have an access to any of them.

 

We now have over 165,000 visitors to our website who share the Lectio Divina with us – from all over the United States, Australia, India, Taiwan, Philippines, etc. One reader from St. Lawrence Parish in Bronx, New York called to thank us for the story “The Life Cycle of the Egg Salad Sandwich” that we used to illustrate a Gospel reading and to inform us that they have a parish Lectio Divina group and they are using the pastoral tool we have prepared. In 2007 and 2008 our Sunday Lectio Divina was used as a part of the vocation kit for the National Vocation Week in Australia.

 

Indeed, our Lectio Divina is becoming a more and more welcome pastoral tool. Deacon Del J. DeSart from St. Henry Parish in Gresham, Oregon, wrote: “When I volunteer to preach on a given Sunday – I like to see what wisdom I can get from your reflections for the Sunday writings.” People are discovering that the Lectio on the Internet is “a nice help to a deeper appreciation of the liturgical readings for homilist and lay persons alike.”

 

Since the Lectio helps the readers encounter the living Word of Christ more intimately, it has also become a means of healing. A reader from Taiwan commented: “You are bringing healing to thousands of people out there by breaking the bread of life for them.” One reader from North Carolina gave meaning to our apostolic toil. He wrote: “I found your website a couple of weeks ago and have been reflecting on your Lectio Divina. I was baptized into the faith at Easter Vigil 2007. Our Deacon at the time always credited (and our Lord) a disciplined period of about a year and half of Lectio with overcoming his anger and rage problem. By the grace of God I am a recovered alcoholic 3-21-2005. I have been on silent Ignatian retreats but I have never been able to quiet myself enough to fully participate in Lectio Divina. Your website has given the tools to make a good start. Thank you.”

 

Moreover, our Lectio visitors acknowledge, “This is indeed a great contribution for evangelization.” A priest from San Jose (CA-USA) wrote: “I visited the website. I was the 98,000th visitor! What a powerful apostolate that you do using the present day technology. You are truly giving witness to your charism – bringing the Gospel to all!”

 

 

B. First Reading (Acts 1:1-11): “As the apostles were looking on, Jesus was lifted up.”

 

In today’s First Reading (Acts 1:1-11) Jesus gives instructions to the apostles he has chosen through the Holy Spirit. While meeting with them, he enjoins them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit – the promise of the Father – who will give them power to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. The Holy Spirit who has anointed Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan for his messianic task of preaching and healing is the same Spirit who would anoint his disciples with power on the day of Pentecost for their mission of preaching and healing to the ends of the earth.

 

Jesus’ Ascension confers the power of the Holy Spirit upon all those who would follow him. The new presence of Christ through his power-filled and life-giving Spirit impels his disciples to go out into the whole world to preach the Gospel. The biblical scholar Eugene Maly asserts: “The power that Jesus has given to us so that we might indeed lead the victorious life of grace must eventually become vocal. This way of life must lead to a proclamation of the word of life. The same holds true for the Church herself; through the power of God the entire Church must be evangelized and evangelizing. The Church and each member need not only be faithful and dedicated to the glorified Christ, but must also be seen and heard by those who do not yet know Christ. The ascending Christ has given us this charge.”

 

Our celebration of the Lord’s Ascension and of the World Communications Day inspires us to use the most efficacious means to proclaim the Gospel. Today’s Christian disciples are getting more and more “hi-tech” in their work of evangelization. The following story, circulated on the Internet, will tickle your funny bone for it imagines how it would be when heaven itself goes “hi-tech”.

 

Heaven Gone Hi-Tech”: We have all learned to live with voice mail as a necessary part of modern life. Have you ever wondered what it would be like if God decided to install voice mail? Imagine praying and hearing something like this: “Thank you, for calling my Father’s house. Please select one of the following options: Press 1 for requests. Press 2 for giving thanks. Press 3 for complaints. Press 4 for all other inquiries.”

 

What if God used the familiar excuse: “I’m sorry; all of our angels are busy helping other sinners right now. However, your prayer is important to us and will be answered in the order it was received; so please stay on the line.”

 

Can you imagine getting these kinds of responses as you call God? “If you would like to speak to Gabriel, press 1; Michael, press 2; for a directory of other angels, press 3; if you would like to hear King David sing a psalm while you hold, press 4. To find out if a loved one had been assigned to heaven, press 5. Enter his or her Social Security Number then press the # key. If you get a negative response, try area code 666. For reservations at my Father’s house, enter JOHN followed by 3:16. For answers to nagging questions about dinosaurs, the age of the earth, and where Noah’s Ark is, please wait until you arrive in heaven.”

 

What about getting responses like these? “Our computers show that you have already prayed once today. Please hang up and try again tomorrow. This office is closed for the weekend to observe a religious holiday. Please pray again Monday after 9:30 A.M. If you need emergency assistance when this office is closed, contact your local pastor.”

 

 

C. Second Reading (Eph 1:17-23): “God seated Jesus at his right hand in the heavens.”

 

Today’s Second Reading (Eph 1:17-23) helps us to delve into the meaning of the Lord’s Ascension into heaven and its significance for Christian disciples. The liturgical scholar Adrian Nocent explains: “The Second Reading gives a more doctrinal vision of the ascension, showing us Christ as the sign of God’s strength and wisdom. The passage is one of enthusiastic praise for the victorious Christ. He is the Christ of glory, whom God raised from the dead, set at his own right side, and made Master of all things. Above all, God has made him Head of the Church, which is his Body and fullness. (…) The Church is here called the fullness of Christ, his pleroma … The Church is his fullness because in her the saving action of God is seen in a maximum degree. The Church is the privileged locus of the action of God and Christ. The victory and glory of Christ, now Master of all things, is the source of hope for us, because what belongs to Christ belongs also to his followers. We can see in the heavenly Christ the inheritance that shall someday be ours.”

 

The presence and power of the glorified Christ continues to be felt in today’s world, especially in the Church. The following report gives insight into this (cf. “Evangelical Megapastor Converts” in Alive! May 2014, p. 9).

 

Ulf Ekman, until recently one of Sweden’s leading and most dynamic Protestant pastors, and his wife Birgitta have been received into the Catholic Church. Ekman, the founder of a 3,300-member megachurch stunned his congregation when he announced shortly before Easter that he was becoming a Catholic. He had stepped down from leading the community last spring.

 

The course he and his wife had followed, he told the community, was in four parts: discover, appreciate, approach and unite, and he had begun in the late 1990s. “This may seem a very radical step” he said, “but we have found great joy, great peace.”

 

In an opinion piece for a Swedish national newspaper, Ekman explained: “I have come to realize that the movement I represented for the last 30 years, despite successes and much good that has occurred on various mission fields, is part of the ongoing Protestant fragmentation of Christendom.” He told how, over the past decade, he and his wife had undergone a slow transformation as they came to know practicing Catholics, including many charismatic Catholics. “It really challenged our Protestant prejudices, and we realized that we in many cases did not have any basis for our criticism of them”, he said. “We needed to know the Catholic faith better.”

 

In their meetings with Catholics, he explained, “we have seen a great love for Jesus and a sound theology, founded on the Bible and classic dogma. We have experienced the richness of sacramental life. We have seen the logic in having a solid structure for priesthood that keeps the faith of the Church and passes it on from one generation to the next.” He continued, “We have met an ethical and moral strength and consistency that dares to stand up to the general opinion, and a kindness towards the poor and the weak.”

 

Asked after the announcement if the Catholic Church had anything to learn from Protestants he replied, “Yes … there are things within Protestant Christianity that they can learn from – not least bold, personal evangelization.”

 

Ekman was ordained a minister in Sweden’s Lutheran Church in 1979 and served as a chaplain in Uppsala University for several years. In 1983 he founded the charismatic Word of Life organization, going on to construct the largest free church building in Scandinavia and to found a university and a bible school. In 2002 he began to focus on global ministry and through Word of Life he sent missionaries to various parts of the world, including Bangladesh, Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Afghanistan, Israel and India.

 

Receiving news of Ekman’s decision, the head of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance wished him and his wife well. “Ulf Ekman, despite all the controversies along the way, is undoubtedly the most dynamic and influential Christian leader we have had in Sweden during the past half century”, said Stefan Gustavson. “His international significance goes far beyond what most Swedes understand; countless people around the world thank God for his ministry.” He noted that for some years, Ekman had been enthusiastic both in books and articles about a clear Catholic theology and had written about the necessity of a Magisterium which the Pope claims to possess.”

 

 

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

 

1. How do we realize the apostolic command, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations …” (Mt 28:19)? Do we firmly believe in the assurance of Jesus’ abiding presence: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of time” (Mt 28:20)?

 

2. What is our response to Christ’s command to go out to the ends of the earth to be his witnesses? Do we allow ourselves to be invested with the power of the Holy Spirit for the task of witnessing, healing and evangelizing?

 

3. How do we witness to the glory and power of the Risen Lord who was exalted by the Father as the Master of all creation in the heavens and on earth? How do we manifest the fullness of Christ’s power at work in the Church?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

we contemplate the mystery of the ascension

of our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven.

He is present to us in a “new presence”

through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Easter gift.

Christ passed beyond our sight,

not to abandon us, but to be our hope.

Instructed by Jesus through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit,

we allow ourselves to be filled with spiritual power

for today’s task of healing and preaching.

Make us signs of the newness of life.

Help us to give glory to Jesus

by the witness of our life

and by our service to the poor and the weak.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen. Alleluia.  

 

 

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.

 

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations …” (Mt 28:19)

 

 

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

 

To help us experience more deeply the “new presence” of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, make an effort to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration. Invite your friends to visit the PDDM website: www.pddm.us and avail themselves of the spiritual-pastoral tool, “A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy”.

 

 

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May 25, 2020: MONDAY – EASTER WEEKDAY (7); SAINT BEDE THE VENERABLE, Priest, Doctor of the Church; SAINT GREGORY VII, Pope; SAINT MARY MAGDALENE

DE PAZZI, Virgin

MEMORIAL DAY (USA)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Take Courage … His Holy Spirit Came Upon Them”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 19:1-8 // Jn 16:29-33

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Jn 16:29-33): “Take courage, I have conquered the world.”

 

In the Gospel reading (Jn 16:29-33), we hear that the disciples unwisely presume they have totally understood Jesus. The Divine Master exposes their misunderstanding and confronts their presumption by predicting their failure to stand by him to the end. The disciples are to desert him in the hour of trial. But Jesus will not be alone because God the Father is with him. During the paschal “hour” the disciples will scatter. Jesus thus exhorts them to take courage for he has already overcome the world. Their victory is assured in his own victory. His saving love triumphs over our weaknesses, trials and sufferings. In Jesus we find peace and strength to endure.

 

The following incident narrated by Archbishop Van Thuan shows how Christian disciples of today take courage in the Lord and experience the Easter peace he brings (cf. Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, Testimony of Hope, Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2000, p. 65-66).

 

The Catholics in the prison of Phu Khanh had secretly brought in a copy of the New Testament. They divided the book into small pieces and distributed these pieces among the Catholics who began to learn the passage by heart. Since the cells had floors of sand, when they heard a guard’s footsteps, they would hide the Word of God by burying it in the floor.

 

In the darkness of night, the prisoners would recite in turn the part of the New Testament each had already memorized. It was an impressive and moving experience to hear the Word of God proclaimed in the silence and darkness of the prison … to be in the presence of Jesus the “living Gospel” spoken by the prisoners with all strength of soul; to hear the priestly prayer and the passion of Christ …

 

The non-Christians also listened with respect and admiration to what they called the “Sacred Word”. Many said they felt the Word of God to be “spirit and life”.

      

 

B. First Reading (Acts 19:1-8): “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?”

 

In the reading (Acts 19:1-8), we hear that Saint Paul returns to Ephesus, led by the Spirit, and meets “believers who were baptized with the baptism of John”. Their faith is inchoative and they have not even heard that there is the Holy Spirit. True to his vocation, Paul takes every opportunity to proclaim the radical character of Christian faith to all peoples of the earth. He reminds them that John the Baptist urged people to believe in Jesus, “the one who is to come after him”. The Ephesian “believers” open their hearts fully to the apostle’s Gospel proclamation and are baptized “in the name of the Lord Jesus”. Paul lays his hands upon them and they receive the gifts of tongues and prophecy. Like the “twelve” apostles that are the nucleus of the Christian community in Jerusalem, there are about “twelve men” who constitute the nucleus of the Christian community in Ephesus.

 

The role of the apostle Paul and the vitality of the Church in Ephesus give insight into the role of Pope Francis and the vitality of the Church in Korea today (cf. “Church in Korea” in Alive! April 2014,  p. 4).

 

Pope Francis will visit South Korea from August 14th till the 19th to participate in a Catholic youth festival, preside over a beatification ceremony for 124 Korean martyrs, and bring a message of peace to the war-divided peninsula.

 

South Korea is a truly incredible place for the Catholic Faith. Consider the statistics.

 

Every parish has from 200 to 400 baptisms of converts from Buddhism each year. Most of the converts are city dwellers. Each year there are 130-150 new priests, one for every 1,110 of the baptized.

 

In 2009, the number of people baptized reached 157,000 and 149 priests were ordained, 21 more than in 2008. More than two-thirds of the priests are under the age of 40.

 

Over the past 10 years the Catholic Church in Korea has gone from three to five million faithful. In 1960, there were 250 Korean priests; today there are 5,000.

 

 

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

 

1. When we experience trials and adversities, pain and suffering, do we take courage in the Lord?

 

2. What role does Saint Paul play in leading the “believers” in Ephesus closer to Christ? What role do you play to help increase the vitality and deepen the faith of your community?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you are our Savior.

You are victorious over the unbelieving world

and in your decisive victory on the cross

our own victory over sin and death is assured.

We take courage in you.

Help us to challenge the desperate and the hopeless

with your words: “Take courage. I have conquered the world.”

Give us the grace to promote the growth and vitality of the Church.

You live and reign, now and forever.

Amen. Alleluia.

 

 

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

           

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

 

“Take courage. I have conquered the world.” (Jn 16:33) // “The Holy Spirit came upon them.” (Acts 19:6)

 

  

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

 

Resolve to share the Good News with a people that, in this secularized world, tend to live without faith and hope. Pray for the pastoral ministry of the Pope in the Church and in the world.

 

 

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May 26, 2020: TUESDAY – SAINT PHILIP NERI

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Prays, Father Glorify Your Son … His Apostle Paul Bears Witness to the Gospel of God’s Grace

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 20:17-27 // Jn 17:1-11a

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Jn 17:1-11a): “Father, glorify your Son.”

 

The Priestly Prayer of Jesus (Jn 17) is an important element of our daily Eucharistic adoration as Pious Disciples of the Divine Master. Because of its importance, I wanted to memorize the prayer, but never succeeded. In 2005, however, during a monthly retreat, the Belgian missionary Fr. Luke presented the main structure of the Priestly Prayer: Jesus’ prayer for his glorification, his prayer for the disciples-apostles, and his prayer for the Church of all time. With this structure to guide me, I was finally able to memorize the Priestly Prayer of Jesus!

 

Today’s Gospel (Jn 17:1-11a) contains Jesus’ prayer for his glorification. The “hour” of his “passing over” to the Father has come. As a priest, he makes the offering; as a victim, he is offered in sacrifice. The cross is the vehicle of his “exaltation” and the font of benediction for the people he came to save. The total gift of his very life on the cross is the true sacrifice; it is also the new priesthood that excels all others. Exalted on the cross, Jesus Priest-Victim radically reveals the nature of God as self-giving and life-giving Love.

 

The following account of Archbishop Van Thuan illustrates how the love of Christ, exalted on the cross, can change hearts and triumph over evil and adversities (cf. Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, Testimony of Hope, Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2000, p. 72-74).

 

In the beginning, the guards did not talk to me. They only answered me with yes or no. I was terribly sad. I wanted to be kind and polite with them, but it was impossible. They avoided speaking with me. One night a thought came to me: “Francis, you are still very rich. You have the love of Christ in your heart; love them as Jesus has loved you.”

 

The next day I started to love them even more, to love Jesus in them, smiling and exchanging kind words with them. I began to tell stories of my trips abroad, of how people live in America, in Canada, in Japan, in the Philippines … about economics, about freedom, about technology. This stimulated their curiosity and they began asking me many questions. Little by little we became friends. They wanted to learn foreign languages, French, English … And my guards became my students!

 

On another occasion, on the mountain of Vinh Phu and in the prison of Vinh Quang, I had to cut wood on a rainy day. I spoke to the guard. “Can I ask you a favor?” “Tell me. I’ll help you.” “I would like to cut a piece of wood in the shape of a cross.” “Don’t you know it’s severely forbidden to have any religious signs whatsoever?” “I know”, I answered, “but we are friends, and I promise to keep it hidden.” “It will be really dangerous for us.” “Close your eyes. I’ll do it now and I’ll be really careful.”

 

He went away and left me alone. I cut the cross and kept it hidden in a piece of soap – up until the time of my release. This piece of wood, later placed within a metal frame, became my pectoral cross. (…) It is love that prepares the way for the announcement of the Gospel. Omnia vincit amor. “Love conquers everything!”

 

 

B. First Reading (Acts 20:17-27): “I am finishing my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus.”

 

In the First Reading (Acts 20:17-27), we hear that from Miletus, Paul sends for the elders of Ephesus to come to him. Like Jesus, who made a Farewell Discourse to his disciples at the Last Supper, the apostle Paul now makes a long address of farewell to the leaders of the Church in Ephesus. Paul’s speech is personal, a bit somber, but full of affection and tenderness. Paul points to his own mission and testifies that he has not failed in his duty. He has done his work as the Lord’s servant even in hard times and persecution. He has not held back anything that would be useful. Indeed, the apostle Paul has finished the work that Christ has given him to do: to declare the Good News about the grace of God.

 

The sterling example of Saint Paul in fulfilling his mission on behalf of the Church in Ephesus evokes the apostolic stance of the newly canonized Pope John Paul II (cf. “St. John Paul II” in Alive! May 2014, p.9).

 

In a recent interview Pope Emeritus Benedict highlighted several aspects of John Paul II’s life and ministry. First was his holiness, his constant striving to be close to God.

 

This was evident in his prayer and in his fearless teaching of the truth. “He did not ask for applause nor did her ever look worried about how his decisions would be received”, said Benedict.

 

He added: “The courage of the truth is to my eyes one of the main requirements for being a saint.” It was a telling remark from a man who, in his own life, has faced much hostility because of his fidelity to Gospel truth.

 

 

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

 

1. What is the personal implication of the truth that God glorifies his Son Jesus on the cross?

 

2. Are we able to declare with Saint Paul that we have done our duty as God’s servants and that we have done the work that Jesus has given us to do on behalf of the Gospel?

 

 

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

 

O loving Jesus,

on the night of Passover you prayed to the Father,

“Father, the hour has come.

Give glory to your Son so that your Son may glorify you.”

You so totally committed yourself to the divine will

that the almighty Father exalted you on the cross

as Priest and Victim of sacrifice.

Grant that in the sacrificial aspects of our daily life,

we may be sanctified and glorified.

United with you,

let us continue to reveal in today’s world

the depths of the Father’s love.

Give us the grace to declare the Good News

about the grace of God.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen. Alleluia.

 

 

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.

 

“Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your Son so that your Son may glorify you.” (Jn 17:1) // “The ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus is to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24).

 

 

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

 

Unite consciously and lovingly the sacrifices and difficulties you experience in daily life with Jesus glorified on the cross. Be strengthened by him in your daily witnessing to the Gospel.

 

 

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May 27, 2020: WEDNESDAY – EASTER WEEKDAY (7); SAINT AUGUSTINE IF CANTERBURY, Bishop

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Prays Father, Consecrate Them in the Truth … He Builds the Church Up

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 20:28-38 // Jn 17:11b-19

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Jn 17:11b-19): “May they be one just as we are one.”

 

Jesus’ perfect love for the disciples and his deep concern for their fate after his departure are contained in the Priestly Prayer. In today’s Gospel (Jn 17:11b-19), he prays the Father to take care of his disciples that they may be delivered from the evil one. The evil one is real and will tempt them to lose their faith in Jesus when faced with trials and persecutions. Hence, they will need the divine protection in a special way. Jesus thus asks the Father to consecrate the disciples in the “truth”. By the power of the Holy Spirit, they will be confirmed in their faith. They will put their trust in the word of God given to them by Jesus and imitate his sacrificial and healing love on the cross. Consecrated and strengthened, the disciples will be able to continue through time and space the saving mission of Jesus.

 

The following article, written by Amy Goodman and circulated on the Internet, gives us insight into the life of one who is “consecrated in the truth”.

 

The body bag marked “Victim 0001” on Sept. 11, 2001, contained the corpse of Father Mychal Judge, a Catholic chaplain with the Fire Department of New York. When he heard about the disaster at the World Trade Center, he donned his Catholic collar and firefighter garb and raced downtown. He saw people jump to their deaths to avoid the inferno more than 1,000 feet above. At 9:59 a.m., the South Tower collapsed, and the force and debris from that mass of steel, concrete, glass and humanity as it hit the ground is likely what killed Father Mychal. His was the first recorded death from the attacks that morning. His life’s work should be central to the 10th anniversary commemorations of the Sept. 11 attacks: peace, tolerance and reconciliation.

 

One of the first vigils held this year was in honor of Father Mychal. About 300 people gathered Sunday in front of the St. Francis Church where Judge lived and worked, just down the block from the Ladder 24/Engine 1 Firehouse. The march followed Father Mychal’s final path to Ground Zero. The man behind the annual remembrance is Steven McDonald, the former New York police detective who was shot in 1986. He was questioning 15-year-old Shavod Jones in Central Park. Jones shot McDonald, leaving him paralyzed for life.

 

I caught up with McDonald as he led the procession, rolling down Seventh Avenue in his wheelchair. He talked about what Father Mychal meant to him: “He, more than anything ... reaffirmed my faith in God, and that it was important to me to forgive the boy who shot me. And I’m alive today because of that.” Father Mychal had managed to get Jones on the phone with McDonald and his wife. He apologized from prison. Taking the lessons of reconciliation, McDonald joined Judge in a trip to Northern Ireland, where they worked together to try to help end the violence there.

    

 

B. First Reading (Acts 20:28-38): “I commend you to God who has the power to build you up and give you inheritance.”

 

In today’s First Reading (Acts 20:28-38) we continue to hear the apostle Paul’s Farewell Discourse to the leaders of the Church in Ephesus. He charges them to watch over themselves as well as over the flock which the Holy Spirit has entrusted to their care. He bids them to be watchful and to be faithful to the true message about Jesus. Finally, Saint Paul commends the elders to God. Indeed, the word of God is the font of blessing and grace for the building up of the Church. The apostle Paul is truly a model for what a Christian bishop or presbyter should be. Like Paul, who feels that death is imminent, they must care for the flock generously and perseveringly to the point of sacrifice.

 

The spirit of intimate communion with God and pastoral care can be verified in the life of the Sicilian priest Father Pino Puglisi (cf. Katia Di Roucco, “Father Pino Puglisi Embodies in Himself the Word and Death of Christ”, in Il Rosario e la Nuova Pompei, September/October 2012, p. 8-11).

 

Giuseppe Puglisi was born on September 15, 1937, in Palermo, in the infamous neighborhood of “Brancaccio”, characterized by poverty, high moral degradation and organized crime. He himself was of humble origins, the son of a cobbler and a dressmaker. He was ordained a priest on July 2, 1960, and on the stampita-souvenir he condenses his program: “O Lord, that I be a valuable tool in your hands for the salvation of the world.” Since then his life has been a continuous commitment: collaborator of various parishes, chaplain of the Roosevelt orphanage, parish priest in Godrano, a village ravaged by a fierce battle between Mafia families, where Don Pino can bring reconciliation and peace by practicing the power of forgiveness, addressing himself especially to the wives, the mothers, to the children. (…)

 

He is interested in the social problems of the most marginalized districts of the city. He follows closely the proceedings of Vatican II and spreads quickly its documents among the faithful, with special regard to the renewal of liturgy, the role of the laity, the values of ecumenism and of the local churches. His desire was always that of embodying the message of Jesus Christ in the territory.

 

In 1990, he was entrusted with the parish of St. Gaetano, within the Brancaccio quarter where he himself was born. That area was then controlled by the Mafia. (…) A few months after taking over in the parish of St. Gaetano, Don Pino opened the Our Father center entrusted to the Sisters of the Poor, whose primary purpose is that of human promotion and evangelization … When going against the tide, Don Pino was aware that he was being required the sacrifice of his life to follow Christ. (…)

 

The Mafia decided to eliminate him. And in 1993, on the day of his 56th birthday, he was murdered with a bullet in his nape … His pastoral work was the only motive for the killing. For this, many voices were raised to seek the recognition of martyrdom and, five years after his assassination, Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi established the ecclesiastical Court to start the investigation that ended in 2001, and the dossier is now under review by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican.

 

Here is the motivation of the crime in the written judgment of the Court of Assises: “The figure of a priest emerges who worked tirelessly in the territory, out of the shade of the bell-tower … The work of Don Puglisi became a snare and a thorn on the side of the emerging criminal group that dominated the area, because it was an element of subversion in the context of the conservative, oppressive Mafia order which had been imposed in the area, against which the priest appeared to be one of the most tenacious and brave opponents. All projects and initiatives started by the priest, which have been reported in detail by his collaborators and people close to him, crown the figure of an austere and rigorous religious man, not a contemplative one but fully inserted in the social field, immersed in the difficult neighborhood reality, lucid and disenchanted but not bitter and disillusioned, defeated or weakened by threats, intimidations and open conflicts with the men of the local Mafia establishment. Don Puglisi had chosen not only to “reconstruct” the spiritual and religious sentiments of his faithful, but also siding, concretely, without veils of ambiguity and complicit silence, on the part of the weak and marginalized.”

 

 

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

 

1. What is the implication for you of Christ’s prayer, “Father, consecrate them in the truth”?

 

2. Do we realize that God wants us to participate in the pastoral care of the Church? What do we do to help the ordained ministers in their special ministry to God’s flock?

 

 

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

 

O loving Jesus,

you prayed to the Father

to guard us from the evil one.

You begged him to consecrate us in the truth.

We believe in the power of your prayer.

We trust in the love that triumphs over all.

In the hour of trial,

we cling to your life-giving word.

In adversities and persecution,

we find strength in divine protection.

Help us to live fully

our consecration and mission in today’s world.

Help us to shepherd and nourish your flock,

and to lay down our life for your sheep.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen. Alleluia.

 

 

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.

 

“Consecrate them in the truth.” (Jn 17:17) // “I commend you to God and to that gracious word of his that can build you up.” (Acts 20:32)

 

 

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

 

When faced with trials and difficulties, be strengthened by Christ’s prayer of intercession for all his disciples. By your words and deeds of charity, endeavor to be a vital part of the Church’s pastoral care. 

 

 

*** *** ***

 

May 28, 2020: THURSDAY – EASTER WEEKDAY (7)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Prays Father, May They All Be One … His Apostle Paul Bears Witness to Him in Rome

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 22:30; 23:6-11 // Jn 17:20-26

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Jn 17:20-26): “May they all be one.”

 

In the Gospel (Jn 17:20-26) we hear that after praying for his first disciples, Jesus’ Priestly Prayer now focuses on future disciples – on the Church of all time. He prays to the Father for Christian unity: “May they all be one.” It is a unity based on the shared life and love of the Father and the Son. Without Christian unity, the Church is unable to carry out its mission in the world efficaciously. When there is clearer evidence of unity, the world is more disposed to believe. Indeed, the only Gospel some people will read is the way Jesus’ followers live. There are many divisions then and today, but the unity that Jesus wills us to have surpasses all barriers and fragmentation and brings about healing and grace. By virtue of this unity, the pilgrim Church can live the mission entrusted to her so that the world may believe in the Son and in the Father who sent him.

 

Our Lord Jesus greatly desires Christian unity. Hence, we too must work toward the attainment of this goal. The spirit of mutual respect and charity can lead us toward the path of unity. My personal experience illustrates this.

 

Gisbert was almost 12 years old when I left home and entered the convent in 1970. I had very little contact with him since then. In 1981 I was assigned abroad. When I returned to the Philippines in 1990, he had married Veron, a “Born Again Christian”. Gisbert had also become a “Born Again”. It was understandable that we would have fiery discussions on some elements of Catholic faith that he contested.

 

One day we went on an excursion. While Gisbert and I were relaxing in the cool shade of a mango tree, we finally had a cordial and mature faith sharing. He listened attentively when I explained to him about the role of saints as models of those who have participated fully in Christ’s paschal mystery of passion, death and resurrection. From that day on, we focused on what unites us in our Christian faith, that is, the Word of God that is purifying and life-giving.

 

Eventually Gisbert, with his wife and children, immigrated to Canada. When Gisbert was diagnosed with cancer in September 2008, I would call almost every day from the States to strengthen him. By phone I would cite a Bible passage and pray over him. I had the grace to be with him during his last days at the Palliative Care Unit in Brampton Hospital in Toronto. He passed away on May 20, 2009. When he breathed his last, he was enveloped with prayers and the Word of God both from me – a Catholic nun – and the pastor of their community. His death became a beautiful ecumenical event for us all.

 

 

B. First Reading (Acts 22:30; 23:6-11): “You must bear witness in Rome.”

 

The prediction about the sufferings that the disciples would endure for the sake of Jesus is realized in Saint Paul. Jesus told his disciples: “You will be arrested and persecuted; you will be handed over to be tried in synagogues and be put in prison; you will be brought before kings and rulers for my sake. This will be your chance to tell the Good News” (cf. Lk 21:12-13). In today’s First Reading (Acts 22:30; 23:6-11), after escaping the near-lynching in Jerusalem and the flogging from the Roman guards in the fort, Paul is brought to the Sanhedrin by the Roman commander. He wants to know why Paul has stirred up a riot. True to his vocation, Paul proclaims his faith before the Council: “I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.” This is not a ploy to extricate himself from a difficult situation. Paul simply declares the truth about the resurrection of the dead, of which the Risen Lord Jesus is the “first fruits”. A near riot ensues between the Sadducees, who do not believe, and the Pharisees who do. Paul is rescued by the Roman troops and brought back to the fort.  That night the Lord appeared to him with an assurance and a command to continue the witnessing that he gives in Jerusalem in Rome as well. This dream of consolation is very important in the life of Saint Paul. He must move on from Jerusalem to the ultimate witnessing that he will give at the center of the Roman Empire. Saint Paul’s martyrdom in Rome is foreshadowed.

 

The importance of Rome in Saint Paul’s apostolic ministry is likewise felt by Blessed James Alberione, Founder of the Pauline Family. Here is an account of the beginnings of the Pauline Family’s house in Rome (cf. Luigi Rolfo, James Alberione: Apostle for Our Times, New York: Alba House, 1987, p. 193-194).

 

The trip to Rome for the Holy Year in 1925 hastened the Founder’s resolve to open the first masculine and feminine branches of the Pauline community in the capital. And, with the rapidity with which he used to go from the idea of some project to its execution, Father Alberione entrusted the finding of a house suited for this purpose to Father Desiderio Costa, considered the most able negotiator not only because he had already traveled throughout Italy from top to bottom, but also because of his calm, clever way with words and his imposing figure. He found a place for the Paulines on the Ostien Way and for the Daughters and the Disciples some 1500 feet away on the Via Porto Fluviale.

 

News of the new foundation spread through the community in Alba around the end of 1925, and it excited a great deal of enthusiasm. Thereafter the Founder’s predictions quickly began to translate themselves into facts. Following that of Rome, there would soon rise other houses: there could be no doubt about it. And to go to Rome, a stone’s throw from the Pope, was an honor that many of the young Paulines would have paid for voluntarily with several years of their lives.

 

Father Joseph Giaccardo, whom all the Paulines were calling the “Teacher”, the man whom they all considered the most authentic interpreter of the thought of the Founder, was given the direction of the new house. And Father Giaccardo accepted the job with the docility and simplicity with which he would have accepted any other charge, from the most honorific to the humblest and least significant.

 

The house of Rome came into being almost as an extension of the Mother House, from which it took not only the personnel – Father Giaccardo and fourteen boys from the sophomore year of high school – but also the printing machines, type cases, parish bulletins to be printed monthly, the refectory tables, and the benches and books for study.

 

On the evening of the 14th of January 1926, in a brief function in the chapel of the community, Father Alberione said a few words, noting in a special way that he had chosen Father Giaccardo as the leader of the house of Rome because of his great love for the Pope … Father Alberione, truly moved, embraced his disciple, hastily made a gesture of farewell to the boys who accompanied them and reentered his office. The others remained there yelling and waving their good-byes until those leaving had disappeared around the corner.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we contribute to the realization of the prayer and great longing of Jesus, “Father, may they all be one”?

 

2. Are we willing to give witness to the Risen Lord in every time, place, and situation? Do we look to Saint Paul as model of true Gospel proclamation and witnessing?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

you prayed for Christian unity

and you died on the cross to gather your flock.

Help us to overcome our divisions and fragmentation.

Make us whole

and let us be united in your love.

Let us be courageous in witnessing.

Save us from the hour of trial

and deliver us from evil.

You are our Savior whom we love and adore,

now and forever.

Amen. Alleluia.

 

 

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.

 

“I pray …that they may all be one.” (Jn 17:20-21) // “You must also bear witness in Rome.” (Acts 23:11)

 

 

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

 

Be a promoter of Christian unity and compassionate acts of charity in our confused and divided world. Take notice of the universal character of our faith community and thank God for it.

 

 

*** *** ***

 

May 29, 2020: FRIDAY – EASTER WEEKDAY (7); SAINT PAUL VI, Pope

(N.B. Saint Paul VI, obligatory memorial in the Pauline Family)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Asks Us to Tend the Sheep … The Apostle Paul Bears Witness to His Resurrection”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 25:13b-21 // Jn 21:15-19

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Jn 21:15-19): “Feed my lambs; feed my sheep.”

 

Today’s Gospel reading (Jn 21:15-19) depicts a lovable portrait of Peter as a reconciled disciple and as a Christ-designated community shepherd. By the shore of the Sea of Tiberias where he initially received Jesus’ call: “Come, follow me; I will make you a fisher of men”, Peter is given a chance to redeem himself. The Risen Lord evokes a threefold protestation of love from him to nullify his threefold betrayal at the “hour” of trial. Peter’s weakness and failure, having made him more compassionate and humble, could now be positively integrated into his total destiny as Christ’s follower and in his apostolic mission as Church shepherd. The Risen Lord, who has sought his love and forgiven him, asks him in a threefold manner and with greater intensity to take care of the sheep. Bereft of braggadocio and trusting no longer in himself but in the grace of God, Peter will be able to follow Jesus Christ all the way – even to the point of laying down his life for the sheep.

 

The following account by Archbishop Van Thuan illustrates what true pastoral ministry means today (cf. Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, Testimony of Hope, Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2000, p. 56-57)

 

When under house arrest in the village of Cay Vong, I was under police surveillance day and night, and this thought became obsessive: “My people! My people that I love so much: a flock without a shepherd! How can I contact my people at a time when they have most need of their pastor? The Catholic bookstores have been confiscated, the schools closed, the religious dispersed. Some have gone to work in the rice camps and others find themselves in the ‘region of new economy’ in the midst of the general population, in the villages. This separation is a shock that destroys my heart.”

 

I told myself, “I will not wait. I want to live in the present moment, filling it with love, but how?” One night a light came to me: “Francis, it is very simple. Do as St. Paul did when he was in prison. Write letters to the different communities.”

 

The following morning while it was still dark, I signaled to Quang, a seven-year old who returned from Mass at 5:00 A.M. I said to him: “Tell your mother to buy old calendars for me.” That night, once more in the dark, Quang brought me the calendars. Every single day in October and November of 1975, I wrote messages to my people from prison. Each morning Quang came to take the papers and bring them home so that his brothers and sisters could recopy the messages. That is how the book, The Road of Hope, came to be written and has since been published in eleven languages.

 

When I was finally released from prison in 1989, I received a letter from Mother Teresa. It contained these words: “It is not the number of our works that are important, but the intensity of the love that we put into every action.”

     

 

B. First Reading (Acts 25:13b-21): “Jesus was dead whom Paul claimed to be alive.”

 

In the reading (Acts 25:13b-21), after the near-lynching in Jerusalem and the violent argument that he created between the Pharisees and the Sadducees at the Council meeting, Paul is kept in custody at the Roman governor’s headquarters in Caesarea. After two years have passed, Portius Festus succeeds Felix as governor. Under the instigation of the chief priests and Jewish leaders, Festus orders Paul to be brought to court in Caesarea and face the Jews who have come from Jerusalem to accuse him. Paul defends himself from false accusations. However, to gain favor with the Jews, Festus asks Paul to go to Jerusalem and respond to the charges of his enemies there. Paul wisely refuses and makes an appeal to Caesar. Governor Festus needs to make a written report in accordance with the Roman law before he could send Paul to Rome. In view of this, Festus takes the opportunity of the visit of King Agrippa and Bernice to Caesarea to present Paul to them. King Agrippa is intrigued to meet this man who claims that Jesus, once dead, is alive.

 

The prediction of Jesus about his disciples being brought into synagogues and before governors and kings, on account of his name, is accomplished in Saint Paul. The faithful apostle follows closely in the suffering footsteps of Jesus. Before King Agrippa and Governor Festus, Paul makes his last public defense in which he underlines the meaning and identity of Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. He narrates to them his experience of conversion and his mission to open the eyes of others and to bring them from darkness to light. Hearing his defense, they realize that he is innocent and conclude that Paul could have been freed if he has not appealed to Caesar.

 

Saint Paul is the model witness to Jesus’ resurrection. The famed naturalist John Muir has, in a sense, a conversion experience like Saint Paul. Having experienced a kind of “resurrection”, Muir dedicates himself to opening the eyes of people to the wonders of creation (cf. Linda Lawrence Hunt, “The Wild Places” in Guideposts, May 2013, p. 32-36).

 

Muir was the founder of the Sierra Club and best known as the father of our national parks, most notably Yosemite and Yellowstone. His eloquent words inspired Americans to visit those places. Hobnobbing with Teddy Roosevelt and congressional leaders, he succeeded in getting them to protect these great unspoiled lands. (…)

 

Muir studied botany in college, but figured his love of nature could only be a hobby, something to do on weekends. He pursued a career as a machinist and inventor. Then one evening Muir was tightening a new belt drive when sharp filings sprang up, blinding him in his right eye. Eventually he lost sight in the left eye as well. He feared being “closed forever on all God’s beauty”, as he lamented in his journal.

 

His sight did return – “It felt like a resurrection”, he wrote – and he was determined to leave his inventions behind and “devote the rest of my life to the study of the inventions of God”. At age 29, John Muir planned a pilgrimage to see the tropical plants of the southern United States, hoping to continue on to South America and Africa. (…)

 

“Led by the Spirit”, he wrote and began his journey. He walked 18 to 20 miles a day, rejoicing in the “splendid vision of pines and palms and tropic flowers in glorious array, not however without a few cold shadows of loneliness.” (…) Humbled by his own limits, still recovering from malaria, Muir detoured from his original plan to go to South America. Instead he traveled to the drier and milder climate of Yosemite Valley, where he found his true home. For the next 30 years he wrote persuasively about the need to preserve our wilderness, places where people could find inspiration and renewal, as he had. “Nothing can take the place of absolute contact, of seeing and feeding at God’s table for oneself”, he wrote … The hand of God is never more evident than in the splendor of nature.

 

 

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

 

1. Are we willing to follow Christ’s commission to Peter, the Church and to each disciple: “Feed my lambs … Tend my sheep … Feed my sheep”?

 

2. Are we willing to give witness to Jesus as the Risen Lord in every aspect of our life? Do we open our hearts to the many signs of “resurrection” and the wonders of God around us?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

when you rose from the dead

and appeared to Peter by the Sea of Tiberias,

you commissioned him to care for your flock

and to nourish your sheep.

We fully embrace the pastoral task

you have given to Peter,

and through him, to the whole Church.

Give us the grace

to care lovingly and tenderly for your flock

even to the point of self-sacrifice.

Make us faithful witnesses of your resurrection.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen. Alleluia.

 

 

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.

 

“Feed my lambs … Tend my sheep.” (Jn 21:15-16) // “Paul claims Jesus is alive.” (Acts 25:19)

 

 

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

 

Pray for the Pope, bishops, priests, deacons, etc. who are directly involved in Church pastoral ministry. In the context of the culture of death that afflicts our society, endeavor to promote the message of life, and to imitate Saint Paul in his mission to proclaim the Good News about the Risen Christ. 

 

 

*** *** ***

May 30, 2020: SATURDAY – EASTER WEEKDAY (7)

(N.B. In the Pauline Family, the Feast of Mary Queen of Apostles is observed.)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Word of Life … The Apostle Paul Proclaims His Kingdom”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 28:16-20, 30-31 // Jn 21:20-25

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Jn 21:20-25): “This is the disciple who has written these things and his testimony is true.”

 

The Gospel reading (Jn 21:20-25) depicts Peter and John, the Beloved Disciple of Jesus, as the embodiment of two aspects of Church ministry. Peter embodies the pastoral ministry in response to the Risen Lord’s commission: “Feed my lambs … Tend my sheep.”  The Beloved Disciple embodies the ministry of the proclamation of the Word and asserts: “This is what we proclaim to you; what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked upon and our hands have touched – we speak of the word of life” (I Jn 1:1). As the Son of God can reveal the Father, since he is at the bosom of the Father, so the Beloved Disciple can reveal the Son since he rested at the Son’s bosom on the night of the Last Supper. The special mission of John is to give witness to the Word of God made flesh. The evangelist wrote his eyewitness accounts that those who read them may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through faith in him they may have life. The Gospel according to John is meant to lead people to a deeper faith in Christ.

 

Like the apostle-evangelist John we proclaim and give witness to the Word of Life in the here and now. The Maryknoll missionary, Fr. Joseph Fedora, narrates an experience from his AIDS ministry in Lima, Peru (cf. Maryknoll, March 2007, p. 34-35).

 

Olga, her body ravaged by HIV, is in mourning. So much loss in such a short life – 28 years old, going on 82. Gone is the luster in her long black hair, and her cheeks, deep craters surrounded by bony ridges, no longer blush. Too anemic for that. Her dark eyes, made darker by shadows and dimmed by pain, glow less brightly. Gone too are her once full lips, now stretched thin by chronic malnourishment, her teeth impossibly large in a face wasting away.

 

Olga smiles when she sees me approaching her bed. I bend down and kiss her forehead. “How are you?” I ask. “My back hurts,” she says. “Could you turn me on my side?” It seems easier than it should be; she weighs so little. “Hmmm,” she purrs, “much better.” Blessed respite, I think, but just then a coughing fit – like a spiteful taskmaster – cuts the respite short. Her body convulses, and with each cough one can almost hear her bones rattle. When the attack subsides, Olga moans. I gently rub her back, feeling every contour of every vertebra. Within moments she begins to purr once more. “That feels so good,” she says. She closes her eyes and smiles. We don’t talk for a while, comfortable in the silence and in the healing touch – healing for her, healing for me. No simple massage this, I think. Something much greater is afoot – something holy. After a moment, with eyes still closed, Olga invites me to apply more pressure, “but only if you’d like,” she says. “My pleasure,” I respond …

 

I close my eyes and pray my touch – like Jesus’ – comforts and heals this wounded woman now sleeping. She’s at peace, as I am.  I savor the moment silently, then open my eyes. “No need for holy oils now,” I muse. “Better she sleeps. Besides, was not that backrub a sacrament?” I kiss Olga on her forehead and whisper goodbye. There’s a spring in my step as I make my way to another patient in mourning, to another encounter with the Word Made Flesh wasting away. It pains me to see pain, but, oh, the comfort in comforting others.

 

 

B. First Reading (Acts 28:16-20, 30-31): “Paul remained at Rome, proclaiming the Kingdom of God.”

 

Today’s concluding episode from the Acts of the Apostles (28:16-20, 30-31) presents Paul as having reached Rome, where he continues to proclaim the kingdom of God and to teach about the Lord Jesus Christ. Although he is under house arrest and “bound in chains”, the great apostle preaches and teaches with boldness and freedom. He welcomes all who come to see him in the place he rents for himself. He is always there for them. He has proclaimed Jesus the Messiah to the leaders of the Jews in Rome. Some of them believe in his words, while others would not believe and leave. Saint Paul has given witness to the Risen Christ, both to Jews and Gentiles, in Rome, the symbolic capital of the inhabited world. The Acts of the Apostles ends on a high note, that is, the ongoing proclamation of the Kingdom of God and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ … in Rome … and from Rome to the ends of the world!

 

Like Saint Paul, we too are called to preach about the kingdom of God and to teach the nations about our Lord Jesus Christ. A modern-day example of one who imitates Saint Paul in teaching and in witnessing about Jesus Christ is Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (cf. Dr. Scott Hahn, “Forward March: in Breaking the Bread, March 2013, p. 1 & 3).

 

Pope Benedict XVI: He has always been there for us. He has always been present. At the Second Vatican Council, he was there, and he played an active role, not as a bishop, but as an expert adviser to one of Europe’s most influential bishops. Young Joseph Ratzinger played an important role in the drafting of two key council documents. Through the 1960s he was present as one of the world’s leading theologians. It was Joseph Ratzinger who emerged as the most articulate voice of the authentic teaching of the Council.

 

He never tried to steal the spotlight, but he was always there for us. As a professor, he was there for his students, too. He was a theologian who raised a generation of brilliant theologians. And he has remained a fatherly presence in their lives, extending his influence through their work, and now through the work of their students as well.

 

It was a life he loved, but he gave it up when Pope Paul VI called him to be bishop and then created him a cardinal. While he had been a powerful presence to his fellow theologians, in the 1970s and 1980s, he became a universal churchman – a presence for the whole Church, speaking plain sense at a time when nonsense abounded. He was there for all of us, speaking up, with the gentleness of true authority.

 

He was always there for Blessed John Paul II. He was that pope’s most trusted adviser and his dear friend. Repeatedly the Polish pope refused the German cardinal’s resignation. When John Paul went to glory, the identity of his successor seemed self-evident to the cardinals who met in conclave. Since then, Pope Benedict has been a presence in the world – a witness, a judge, a counselor, a father. Our Holy Father.

 

When I awoke on February 11, the thought that he would no longer be there seemed unbearable. Yet he will be there … He’s retiring to a monastery to give the rest of his days to prayer – for us. For you and me … How can I begrudge the man his decisive movement into the contemplative life, which is an anticipation of life in heaven? He will be there for us. He will be there for me.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we value the Gospel accounts written to deepen our faith and help us share in Christ’s gift of eternal life?

 

2. Do we imitate Saint Paul in proclaiming and teaching the Gospel of Christ freely and courageously?

 

 

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

 

O Risen Lord,

we thank you for the various ministries in the Church.

We thank you for Peter

who exemplifies the pastoral ministry.

We thank you for the Beloved Disciple John

who exemplifies the ministry of the Word.

Grant us the grace

of truly savoring the rich fare of the Gospel.

Help us to translate into life your life-giving word.

Let us be efficacious like Saint Paul

in the work of evangelization in today’s world.

As an Easter people,

make us limpid witnesses of your gift of eternal life.

You live and reign, now and forever.

Amen. Alleluia.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them.” (Jn 21:24) // “He proclaimed the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 28:31)

 

 

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

 

By your acts of charity and kindness to the people around you, enable them to experience the beauty and power of God’s life-giving word.

***

 

 

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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