A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 18, n. 28)

Trinity Sunday – Week 10 in Ordinary Time: June 7-13, 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 31 – June 6, 2020 please go to ARCHIVES Series 18 and click on “Pentecost – Ordinary Week 97”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: June 7-13, 2020.)

 

*** *** ***

 

June 7, 2020: THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

“JESUS SAVIOR: In Him the Blessed Trinity Is Revealed”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9 // 2 Cor 13:11-13 // Jn 3:16-18

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Jn 3:16-18): “God sent his Son that the world might be saved through him.” 

          

In 1983 when I presented my thesis proposal to the Pontifical Liturgical Institute where I was enrolled in Rome for my licentiate degree, my Moderator objected that my object of study was too vast and wisely suggested that I delimit the topic. In the proposed outline that I submitted to him, he noticed an item that he found interesting. Taking heed of his wise counsel, I then set myself to the task of investigating “The Trinitarian Aspect of the Biblical Readings of the Sundays of Lent, Year A, in the Vatican II Lectionary”. I did not have any problem with the liturgical hermeneutics of the biblical texts. What was formidable and daunting, however, was to delineate how these biblical readings could be used to prepare baptismal candidates for their immersion into the life of the Trinity.

 

Every evening after I had finished my work in the sacristy, I would sit in front of the tabernacle asking for light and guidance. The Eucharistic Master heeded my prayer. One afternoon, Sr. Mary Salome, who was also enrolled in the Liturgical Institute, kindly showed me an entry on the Trinity in a voluminous theological dictionary stacked in our community library. She rightly guessed that it might be useful for my work. When I read the article, I was astounded at the remarkable insight presented by the author. He asserted that the Paschal Mystery is the basis of Trinitarian revelation. According to him, from the experience of the Paschal Mystery, the Church had come to a profound understanding that the one God, in his most intimate nature, is Trinitarian: as a loving Creator Father, the source of redemption; as the obedient Son who accomplished the Father’s saving plan by his death on the cross; and as the Spirit of love, proceeding from the Father and the Son, who witnesses to our being God’s children and enables us to call him, “Abba, Father”.

 

That insight became the key to my thesis on how the biblical readings of the Sundays of Lent, Year A, could prepare candidates for baptism, called by St. Isidore of Seville the “sacrament of the Trinity”. Once I had approached the Lenten readings from the Paschal-Trinitarian perspective, my thesis went smoothly and it was successfully completed in a short time.

 

Aelred Rosser corroborates the insight that the Paschal Mystery of Christ is the basis of Trinitarian revelation: “God’s self-revelation as a trinity of persons came very gradually through the centuries. God has not changed, of course, but our limited understanding of God’s nature has continually developed thanks to God’s grace. The revelation came most fully, we Christians believe, in Jesus, in whose life and death we glimpse enough to know that God is all-good, all-loving and has shown us how to be creatures worthy of our Creator.”

  

The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 2, underline the dynamic aspect of today’s feast: “The liturgy, like the New Testament, like all the Greek and Latin Fathers before Augustine, has a very concrete and dynamic conception of the three Persons of the Trinity: everything comes from the Father and returns to him through the Son in the Spirit. Celebrated on the Sunday after Pentecost, it is a great doxology to the Father who raised his Son and brought him into the glory where he reigns with the Holy Spirit he has sent to us. When the sequence of the Sundays in Ordinary Time is about to begin again, this feast sheds light on the face and true nature of Jesus, the Son of God, who, by his teaching and his acts, reveals the Father and leads humankind to himself in the Spirit.” 

 

In our celebration of the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, we are invited to a greater response to the incredible love shown to us by God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Augustinian friar, Francis McGowan, exhorts us to pay the triune God the homage of a loving heart: “We owe the Blessed Trinity the homage of grateful love … What happiness was breathed into our souls! The Father adopted each one of us as his child, the Son embraced us as his brother, and the Holy Spirit chose us for his temple. Could the triune God have done more for us? … Yes, we have abundant reason to be thankful to the Holy Trinity for its love and mercy toward us; we have forcible reason to love and honor the ever-blessed Three to offer them the best homage and sincerest worship of our lowly hearts.”

 

 

B. First Reading (Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9): “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God.”

 

The Old Testament reading (Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9) enables us to glean the exquisite quality of God the Father, who is full of forgiving love and benevolence. The Lord God is merciful and gracious; slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity. He reveals his inmost self by his actions in the world and by his deeds in favor of mankind. He is the all powerful Savior of those who trust in him and walk in his ways. In the fullness of time the depth of his merciful love is fully revealed in the paschal mystery of his Son Jesus Christ. The evangelist John affirms: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). The glorified Son sends from the Father the Holy Spirit, the font of unity and fellowship of believers.

 

I was a teenager when I went with my cousin Virgie for vacation in a small fishing village by the Pacific Ocean in the Philippines. After breakfast, we walked to the beach and spent the whole day swimming, walking on the sand, resting under the shade of the upturned fishing boats, and snacking on boiled bananas and fried “camotes” (sweet potatoes). As we celebrate today the feast of the Blessed Trinity, the leisurely experience of being immersed in the waters comes back vividly. I did not try to fathom the immensity of the ocean. I simply allowed the ocean to envelop me. In the process I experienced its benevolent movements and had a glimpse of its unfathomable riches. The saving mystery of the One and Triune God is not something that could be fathomed or conquered by the human mind. We experience its beauty and grace by humbly surrendering to infinity and by immersing ourselves into the mystery.

 

Immersed into the life of the Blessed Trinity, we – the baptized Christian believers – experience the ineffable goodness of God and are called to mirror in our lives the divine benevolence. As the human image of the Blessed Trinity, we are called to mirror in our lives the benevolent workings of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. By our efforts to awaken and cherish new life, to fashion and mold the environment, to preserve the integrity of creation, to promote the culture of life and beauty, etc., we participate in the Father’s work of creation, generation, and maintenance. By our human works of healing, reconciling, serving, promoting the cause of justice and right, etc., we reflect the divine Son’s own work of reconciliation and redemption. By pursuing the wisdom of heart and good inspiration, by responding to the call of holiness, by promoting community-communion, etc. we give witness to the animating movement of the Holy Spirit. The functions of the three persons of the Blessed Trinity intertwine, influence and complement each other.

  

 

C. Second Reading (2 Cor 13:11-13): “The grace of Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.”

 

“The grace of Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Cor 13:13). Saint Paul’s conclusion to his second letter to the Corinthians is a masterpiece. It would be difficult to find a better expression of what the Trinity is than Paul’s concluding blessing that summarizes the characteristics of the one and triune God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 

The biblical scholar Eugene Maly comments: “In his valedictory blessing, Paul gathers together the characteristics of the God who revealed himself in history. The characteristics are really those of the one God, and so of all three Persons. But in a way they are seen in our world view as appropriated by the three in a distinctive manner. To God the Father belongs love, the principle of all he wills and does. The result of this love for us is the gift - the grace - that is the Father’s Son, Jesus Christ. That love and grace, through the power of the Spirit, brings us together in fellowship and union. This is the feast of God we celebrate, the feast of love and grace and fellowship. They are Holy Trinity.”

  

The following daughter’s personal account of her dad, written on the occasion of Father’s Day, is very charming and insightful. It could also give us a glimpse of the fathering, generating and nurturing quality of God the Father and of the one-triune God (cf. Lisa Krieger, “Thanks for Shaping Me” in San Jose Mercury News, June 20, 2010, p. B1, B5).

 

Dear Dad: It was 35 years ago on a sleet-gray December when I was making my first big solo road trip, on a long and rural drive home from college. My VW was aged and packed full with suitcases and a dog. I was tired. It was dusk. Snow started to fall. And then the car died. I don’t remember how I found a payphone to call you, or where I spent the next long hours waiting. All I remember is that you drove 150 miles to get me, arriving with a hug, a credit card and this lesson: It’s OK, you said. We’ll fix it. You can try again. I’m proud of you.

 

Much is said of the legacies left by mothers’ wedding dresses, recipes, photo albums and heirloom furniture. But you, like fathers everywhere, gave me something less tangible but just as important: resiliency. It’s OK – you can do it, you said. Try harder. You’re just as good as they are. Get up, get going. Try again. When I suffered a broken heart, Mom was ready with Kleenex; you were ready with a tennis game. When I almost flunked chemistry, you didn’t doubt my intelligence – just my study habits. When I headed overseas, with only a backpack, Mom pleaded with me to be safe. You said, “Send me a postcard!”

 

Through you, I learned how to navigate the real world. You showed me how to file a tax return. Pay bills on time. Fix a flat. Pour a drink. Invest intelligently. Buy a house. Travel the world. You led by example. A quiet man, you didn’t talk much about the importance of research – but I recall how you undressed in the basement because your clothes smelled so strongly of the lab. Then you went to night school to earn an MBA; I still remember the hasty Swanson dinners. You endured a long commute so I had a green yard and a strong school system.

 

Accountability was important; you lent me money to buy the VW, then created a ledger where we recorded each monthly repayment. So was planning; my friends always seemed to have lots of fancy clothes and spare cash, but we saved up for adventurous family trips. I remember skiing together in Switzerland, in dense fog, when we both stopped at the edge of a precipice to catch our breath and laugh. Then we discovered we were standing atop a snow-covered chalet roof, mere inches from an 8-foot fall.

 

Patiently, you showed me how you built a Heathkit radio. You saved me souvenirs from astronaut John Glenn’s historic tickertape parade. You parked your car in the driveway, so I could raise an opossum in the garage. One night, we set up a tripod to photograph the stars; then we developed the film in mom’s laundry sink. Like magic, they emerged as white streaks across an inky sky.

 

Give things a try, you said. Take your time, but take a chance. It’s OK to make a mistake. If something doesn’t work out, try it a different way. And always: I’m proud of you. You sent me out into the world, not with fragile self-esteem, but real skills. Most male animals contribute nothing to their progeny’s welfare, beyond a big dose of DNA. Some father-free species, such as fish, must spawn millions of offspring to ensure the survival of just one or two. “Breeding like bunnies” is essential for rabbits, because males flee, post-coitally, with not even a thanks. But through parental investment, our species flourishes.

 

Nor is it a surprise that fatherless neighborhoods turn feral, careless and violent. Maybe mothers are hesitant to confront a sullen 6-foot-tall 16 year old son about a truancy report. A good dad steps up to fill the gap between potential and performance – by taking away the PlayStation and sending him back to school.

 

Dad, at 87, your days of rescue and advice are long gone. You can’t drive anymore. You don’t remember that cold December night, or even our conversation this morning. But you were right: Things are OK. I took my chances, learned the lessons and passed them on to my daughter. Now it’s my turn to be proud, and so grateful.

 

Happy Father’s Day! Yours always, Lisa

 

 

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

 

1. What is our personal response to this magnanimous, compassionate and gracious divine act: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16)?

 

2. How do we open our hearts to receive the following Trinitarian benediction: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you” (2 Cor 13:13)?

 

3. Is our life a Trinitarian doxology, “Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit”? How?

 

 

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

 

O divine Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

we adore you, we thank you and we love you.

We open our hearts anew

to your benediction of love, grace and fellowship.

O heavenly Father, bless us and keep us.

O Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer,

let your face shine upon us.

O Holy Spirit, font of holiness and the Easter gift,

grant us your peace.

O blessed Trinity,

consecrate us to yourself so that we may be

a “Glory be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”,

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 grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (II Cor 13:13)

 

 

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

 

Pray that all Christians may give glory to the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit by replicating the creative and compassionate love of God in their lives. Today, make the sign of the cross and pray the “Glory Be” with greater solemnity and devotion.

 

 

 

*** *** ***

 

June 8, 2020: MONDAY – WEEKDAY (10)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Shows the Way of Beatitudes … He Shows the Power of God’s Word”

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Kgs 17:1-6 // Mt 5:1-12

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 5:1-12): “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”

 

In today’s Gospel episode (Mt 5:1-12) Jesus proclaims the Beatitudes which are a “summary” of the meaning of Christian discipleship. In the Beatitudes, Jesus – the new Moses teaching on the new mountain of revelation - offers us the foundations of the law of the Kingdom. He shows us the path of Christian perfection. The Beatitudes are a description of Christ as well as a portrait of the ideal Christian. In order to experience fully God’s beatitudes, the Christian disciples are called to live intensely the life of Jesus, as one who is poor, lowly, merciful, single-hearted, peaceful, persecuted, sorrowful, hungry and thirsty for holiness.

 

The following story illustrates the spirit of the Beatitudes in a modern setting (cf. Dale Galloway in Stories for the Heart, ed. Alice Gray, Sisters: Multnomah Publishers, Inc., 1996, p. 65).

 

Little Chad was a shy, quiet young fella. One day he came home and told his mother he’d like to make a valentine for everyone in his class. Her heart sank. She thought, “I wish he wouldn’t do that!” because she had watched the children when they walked home from school. Her Chad was always behind them. They laughed and hung on to each other and talked to each other. But Chad was never included. Nevertheless, she decided she would go along with her son. So she purchased the paper and glue and crayons. For three whole weeks, night after night, Chad painstakingly made thirty-five valentines.

 

Valentine’s Day dawned, and Chad was beside himself with excitement! He carefully stacked them up, put them in a bag, and bolted out the door. His mom decided to bake him his favorite cookies and serve them nice and warm with a cool glass of milk when he came home from school. She just knew he would be disappointed … maybe that would ease the pain a little. It hurt to think that he wouldn’t get many valentines – maybe none at all.

 

That afternoon she had the cookies and milk on the table. When she heard the children outside, she looked out the window. Sure enough here they came, laughing and having the best time. And, as always, there was Chad in the rear. He walked a little faster than usual. She fully expected him to burst into tears as soon as he got inside. His arms were empty, she noticed, and when the door opened she choked back the tears. “Mommy has some warm cookies and milk for you.” But he hardly heard her words. He just marched right on by, his face aglow, and all he could say was: “Not a one … not a one.” And then he added, “I didn’t forget a one, not a single one!”

 

 

B. First Reading (1 Kgs 17:1-6): “Elijah stands before the Lord God of Israel.”

 

Today’s Old Testament reading (1 Kgs 17:1-6) depicts a prophet named Elijah, from Tishbe in Gilead, confronting King Ahab of Israel with the power of God’s word.  Ahab is one of the most notorious kings of the Northern Kingdom. His father King Omri aroused the anger of the Lord God by his sins and by leading the people into sin and idolatry. But his son, King Ahab, surpassed him in wickedness. Ahab sinned against the Lord more than his predecessors. He married the Baal-worshipping Jezebel of Sidon. He built a temple to Baal in Samaria and made an altar for the idol and put it in the temple. He did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than all the kings before him.

 

The prophet Elijah suddenly appears and announces to King Ahab the coming of a drought. Speaking in the name of the Lord, he tells the idolatrous king that there will be no dew or rain – so vital for the fertility of the parched land of Israel – for the next two or three years until he says so. Elijah’s claim is a challenge to Ahab and Jezebel who follow Baal as the god of fertility. Elijah asserts that the word of God he proclaims will be fulfilled. The prophet Elijah is depicted, moreover as faithful to God’s word. He obeys God’s command to take refuge by Cherith Brook where there is water and ravens bring him bread and meat every morning and every evening.

 

The drought experienced in various parts of the world evokes the image of the drought that plagued Israel during the time of King Ahab, who reigned from 874 B.C. to 853 B.C. Instead of being defiant and recalcitrant like Ahab, we need to present ourselves humbly before God in the face of this natural calamity. The following prayer is very significant (cf. “Prayer for Rain” from the National Catholic Rural Life Conference: Rural Life Prayer Book)

 

Almighty God, we are in need of rain. We realize now, looking up into the clear, blue sky, what a marvel even the least drop of rain really is. To think that so much water can really fall out of the sky, which now is empty and clear!

 

We place our trust in you. We are sure that you know our needs. But you want us to ask you anyway, to show you that we know we are dependent on you.

 

Look to our dry hills and fields, dear God, and bless them with the living blessing of soft rain. Then the land will rejoice and rivers will sing your praises, and the hearts of all will be made glad. Amen.

  

 

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

 

1. What are our experiences of joy and difficulty in living out the Beatitudes? Among the Beatitudes mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, which ones challenge us with greater intensity today?

 

2. What is our response when confronted with the challenge and power of the word of God? Are we defiant and resistant; or do we respond with grace and humility?

 

 

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

 

Jesus poor,

help us to be poor in spirit

and to trust in your divine assistance and strength

that the kingdom of Heaven may be ours.

Jesus, man of sorrows,

help us to mourn and to surrender to the divine will

that our grief may be transformed into joy and consolation.

Jesus, most gentle,

help us to be meek and humble

that peace may reign in our hearts and upon the earth.

Jesus, yearning for love,

help us to hunger and thirst for holiness

that we may satisfy our deepest longings.

O most merciful Jesus,

help us to be merciful

that we may relish your mercy and compassion.

Jesus, chaste and loving,

help us to be pure and single-hearted

that we may see God in the daily events of our life

and be admitted into his eternal Kingdom.  

 

Jesus, our peace,

help us to be peacemakers

that we may build a world of harmony and beauty

and be called children of God.

Jesus Savior,

help us to welcome persecution for the sake of justice

that we may be rewarded greatly in heaven.

Jesus, Risen Lord,

make us the people of the beatitudes.

Help us to trust in the power of your Word.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

Loving Father, Creator God,

your word is refreshing, life-giving and efficacious.

We long for your word to take root in our hearts

and bear abundant fruits.

Let our thirst for eternal life be quenched by the living water

that gushes from the wounded side of your Son Jesus Christ.

We give you glory and praise, 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 week. Please memorize it.

 

“Your reward will be great in heaven.” (Mt 5:12) // “He did as the Lord had commanded.” (I Kgs 17:5)

 

  

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

 

Give thanks to the Lord for the gift of the Beatitudes in the Church. Choose a Beatitude as a moral-spiritual program and try to live this out in a more intense way this week. // Pay special attention to the word of God proclaimed in the liturgy. See what you can do for the victims of drought in various parts of the world.

 

 

*** %%% *** %%% *** %%% ***

 

 

June 9, 2020: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (10); SAINT EPHREM, Deacon, Doctor of the Church

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Calls Us to be the Salt of the Earth and the Light of the World … We Trust in His Word”

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Kgs 17:7-16 // 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.”

 

Today’s Gospel reading (Mt 5:13-16) presents the role of the disciples of Jesus using the images of salt and light. The biblical scholar, Daniel Harrington, gives a concise, but insightful explanation: “In Jesus’ time, salt was used not only to improve the taste of food but also to preserve meat and fish. When Jesus compares his followers to salt, he says that they improve the quality of human existence and preserve it from destruction. In Jesus’ time, the only lamps available were small dish-like devices in which oil was burned. By our standards these lamps did not give off much light, but in the time before electricity their light must have seemed very bright. When Jesus calls his disciples the light of the world, he says that their actions serve as a beacon of light in a dark world. The disciples are challenged to let their light shine as a witness to their fidelity to Jesus and his heavenly Father.”

 

Against this backdrop, I find the article of Robert Rodriguez on the De Alba Family, the co-parishioners of our PDDM Sisters in Fresno, 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. Rev. Pat McCormick, a former parish priest, 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” in today’s world.

  

 

B. First Reading (1 Kgs 17:7-16): “The jar of flour shall not go empty as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.”

 

The reading (1 Kgs 17:7-16) narrates that the prophet Elijah obeys the word of the Lord and goes to Zarephath of Sidon. The Cherith Brook, where he used to drink, has dried up because of the lack of rain. God commands him to stay in Zarephath, assuring him that a widow will feed him there. The widow, who is preparing the last meal for herself and her son, gives Elijah water to drink and shares with him the little and the last resources she has. The prophet speaks to her the divine promise that the jar of flour and the jug of oil will not be empty until the day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth. Indeed, as the Lord has promised through Elijah, the flour and the oil are not depleted.

 

The miracle of the multiplication of the flour and oil underlines the power of God and the efficacy of his word. King Ahab’s sin brings suffering for the people of Israel. In contrast, Elijah’s fidelity to the word and the faith of the widow enable them to experience God’s providence and loving care. It is significant that the prophet lodges in Zarepahth of Sidon that is the territory of Baal, the god of Ahab’s ruthless wife Jezebel. In the perilous homeland of Baal and in the face of death-dealing situations, God preserves the life of the faithful and the “anawim”.

 

Like the generous widow of Zarephath, we too are called to share our resources and to be instruments of God’s providence. The following testimony gives insight into this (cf. Tim Anderson, “My Momma Always Knew” in Coutry, August-September 2013, p. 12).

 

When I was growing up in Nathalie, Virginia, everyone was friendly with the neighbors. And if someone was in need, it seemed that my Momma always knew. I especially remember a single mother who had cancer and no way to provide for her little daughter. So Momma, who was a great baker, got busy. She baked two cakes and decorated them beautifully.

 

There are two large country stores in town, and Momma asked permission to place one cake at each store. She raffled them off at 50 cents a chance. Now, you may not think that would add up to much, but there were 1,000 chances taken on those two cakes. Momma collected $500 for this mother and her child.

 

Momma and Daddy, the three sisters and I went down to where the woman lived, and Momma gave her the envelope of money. I still remember the happiness and gratitude that shone on her face. She and her daughter thanked Momma and hugged her, and we all had tears in our eyes.

 

Momma taught us many lessons at our country home and farm through the years. We learned that no matter how little anyone had, they could still help out a friend or a family in need. A little sometimes means a lot.

  

 

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

 

1. Are we “the salt of the earth … the light of the world”? Is the heavenly Father being glorified by our daily acts of Christian witnessing?

 

 2. Are we afraid that the little we have is too “little” to share? Are we ready to trust and obey the word of God? Are we ready to be instruments of the divine providence?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

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

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

we strive to uplift human dignity

and help our brothers and sisters relish the joy of salvation.

Moved by the Holy Spirit

to proclaim your saving love,

we wish to be “the light of the world … the city on the mountaintop”.

Amen.

 

***

Loving and merciful Jesus,

make us instruments of God’s compassion.

Help us trust that “the jar of flour” and “the jug of oil”

will never be empty.

Give us the courage to share

especially when what we have is too little.

Grant us the grace to surrender

to the divine providence.

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 are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world.”  (Mt 5:13a, 14a) //“The jar of flour did not go empty.” (1 Kgs 17:16)

 

 

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

 

By aiding the poor, the marginalized and the suffering members of the local and world community, strive to be “the salt of the earth … the light of the world”. // Do not be afraid to share with others the resources and talents you have, no matter how “little”.

 

 

 

*** *** ***

June 10, 2020: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (10)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us the Meaning of the Law … He Shows that God Alone Is Our God”

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Kgs 18:20-39 // Mt 5:17-19

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 5:17-19): “I have come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.”

(Gospel Reflection by Richard Noack, St. Christopher Parish, San Jose, CA-USA)

 

Sweating the Small Stuff in Faith: In his 1996 book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” Psychologist Richard Carlson writes that we spend too much time, energy, and stress focused on minutiae.  The “small” stuff, suggests Carlson, will take care of itself if only we focus on the big stuff, such as our lives, relationships, and families.  But in today’s Gospel, Matthew 5:17-19, Jesus tells us that He has come as the fulfillment of the law and the prophets, not to abolish them.  Not only must we love God and follow Jesus, the “big” stuff from our Christian perspective, we must also abide by all of the law and prophets, to the smallest part of the smallest letter, careful not to break the least of these commandments.  When it comes to our faith, it seems, we must sweat the “big” stuff and the “small” stuff.

 

Over time, we Christians have gradually marginalized many of the strict Jewish laws in Deuteronomy, as well as those given by the prophets, as “small” stuff.  Some of those laws such as circumcision, dietary restrictions, and Sabbath observance, were viewed as anachronistic, often as an accommodation for the assimilation of non-Jewish converts.  But that legacy of not sweating the “small” stuff extends to the present day.  There are those in our communities who view some of our faith practices, disciplines, and doctrines as “small” stuff that need not be sweated, such as regular Sunday Mass attendance, appropriate and respectful attire while attending Mass, arriving on time for Mass and staying until the end of the closing hymn, participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, meatless Fridays during Lent, and respecting the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. 

 

But these things aren’t “small” stuff.  They are a part of who we are as a faith community and they define us as the People of God.  As Catholic Christians, we consider our call to love God with our entire beings and to love our neighbors as ourselves to be our “big” stuff.  Our faith practices, disciplines, and doctrines are signposts that point the way to the “big” stuff and that sustain, strengthen, support, nourish, guide, prepare, and affirm us along the Way.

 

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” (Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta)

     

 

B. First Reading (1 Kgs 18:20-39): “Let it be known this day that you, Lord, are our God.”

 

The reading (1 Kgs 18:20-39) highlights that the Lord alone is God and that Elijah is God’s faithful prophet. Today’s episode tells us that in the third year of drought, a showdown on Mount Carmel between the prophets of Baal and Elijah, the prophet of the Lord God occurs. In obedience to God’s prompting, Elijah encounters the idolatrous King Ahab and arranges with him a contest that will oblige the fickle Israelites to choose between Yahweh and the idol Baal. Through the miracle of fire from heaven (a “lightning”), the prophet of the Lord triumphs over the 450 prophets of Baal. The power of the Lord God is revealed and the authority of Elijah as God’s prophet is confirmed. The people thus assert their choice for the one true God over the “non-god” Baal. The false prophets are punished in accordance with the Dt 13:5 injunction: to put to death a prophet who teaches the people to rebel against the Lord and leads them astray  from the life that God has commanded them to live.

 

The following article gives insight into marvelous works that the Lord God continues to carry out in today’s world through his modern day prophets and on their behalf (cf. “A Sign from Heaven” in Maryknoll, September/October 2015, p. 30-31).

 

As some 300,000 faithful crammed the Divine Savior of the World plaza in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, for the beatification of Archbishop Romero in May, the overcast sky suddenly opened and the sun appeared surrounded by a circular rainbow. For many, it was a sign from God. Maryknoll Father Roberto Rodriguez and Maryknoll Sister Norma Pocasangre, both Salvadorians, were present for the beatification liturgy concelebrated by 1,400 priests from around the world. Following are the two Maryknoll missioners’ reflections.

 

Roberto Rodriguez, M.M.: The beatification of Oscar Romero was beautiful, solemn and filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit. A special blessing occurred right after Archbishop Romero was proclaimed “blessed in the altars of God” when a rainbow appeared around the sun in the sky overhead. People fell to their knees; others began to cry from emotion at seeing this sign from heavens. For me, it affirmed the correctness of recognizing the sanctity of Oscar Romero. He was a good-hearted, humble and simple man, a priest of profound faith and prayer, selfless in service of others. Romero fought for the poor and the most needy in my country during one of the darkest periods of her history. Oscar Romero is a martyr and a saint in the strictest Christian sense of these words. (…)

 

Norma Pocasangre, M.M.: There were people from all over the world, young and old and some in wheelchairs. I felt that God was saying, “It is not only in antiquity that I had such faithful followers, but in modern times too there are people like Romero and like you, who can be faithful servants.” The most moving part was when they read Pope Francis’ letter announcing Archbishop Romero as Blessed. Incredibly, a great halo appeared in the sky! The people stared, surprised at what I call confirmation that God was celebrating with us. (…) We have the archbishop as an example of service to God, especially among the most marginalized and forgotten people.

 

 

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

 

1. Do I strive to act in accordance with the spirit of love that animates the law and the prophets? Do I value and carry out the “small” stuff that leads to the “big” stuff?

 

2. Do we resolve to choose the Lord God over the false idols of today’s world? Like the prophet Elijah, do we trust that God will prove his holiness and will manifest his power and truth?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

you form us into a covenant people

through the law and the prophets.

Let your spirit of love animate us.

Help us to transcend the letter of the law

and to act by the love of the Spirit.

With Christ in the Spirit,

let us perceive the meaning of the law and the prophets

and lovingly fulfill it with devotion.

We bless and praise you, now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

O most powerful Lord,

you alone are God!

We resolve to renounce the false idols

that tantalize and seduce us.

Let your power and truth shine forth

and give us the courage to follow you

as the one true God.

We give you glory and praise, 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.

 

“I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” (Mt 5:17) // “Let it be known this day that you are God.” (I Kgs 18:36)

 

 

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

 

Carry out your duties to God as well as the greater society, e.g. social service, paying taxes, etc., with personal dedication. // In your daily witnessing to truth and in your life of integrity, let is be known that our compassionate Lord is God.

 

 

 

*** *** ***

 

June 11, 2020: THURSDAY – SAINT BARNABAS, APOSTLE

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Manage Anger … He Sets Apart Barnabas and Saul for a Specific Mission”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Acts 11:21b-16; 13:1-3 // Mt 5:20-26

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 5:20-26): “Whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”

(Gospel Reflection by Bong Tiotuico, ASSOCIATION OF PAULINE COOPERATORS- Friends of the Divine Master, Antipolo Unit, Philippines)

 

Anger, Hatred and Reconciliation: According to the Jews at the time of Jesus, righteousness is equated to one's ability to follow the law. Scholars of scripture describe the attitude of Jesus regarding the law. He rejects erroneous interpretations of the law while he holds firm to its original intent, i.e. the practice of a greater justice which is love. In this gospel, Jesus teaches a higher standard of adherence to the law that is more stringent than the "Thou shall not kill; whoever kills will be liable to judgment" commandment handed down through Moses. 

 

Jesus denounces murderous anger and hatred as immoral. From this, the Church teaches, if anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity although it is also praiseworthy to impose forms of restitution to correct vices and maintain justice. Yes, there is such a thing as righteous anger when we face oppression, greed, corruption and other forms of injustice. But most people are not righteously angry: most of the time they are "sinfully" angry. We experience deliberate hatred toward other human beings because of wounded pride. We want to get even from a perceived hurt.

 

Husband: When I get mad at you, you never fight back. How do you control your anger?

Wife: I clean the toilet.

Husband: How does that help?

Wife: I use your toothbrush.

 

We always need to teach the usual suspects a lesson they will never forget. Like when you get seriously angry with that colleague who, due to a misunderstanding, starts spreading lies behind your back. And there were moments when you secretly wished that neighbor down the corner bad fortune because you were simply envious of his brand new red Porsche.

 

From human experience we learn that anger, like sin, grows like a seed in our hearts, then becoming like a weed that chokes and displaces love, kindness, patience and other virtues, ultimately leaving no room for God. It is likewise compared to an acid which does more harm to the container in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. What is the antidote to these commonly occurring but overpowering feelings? Long before anger management therapy was invented, St. Paul (Eph. 4:31-34) advises, "Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander and malice of every kind. In place of these, be kind to one another; be compassionate and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you in Christ." With our human weaknesses and limitations, how do we follow these prescriptions? With God's grace, nothing is impossible. We pray for patience, humility and for God to fill our hearts with love and forgiveness so we can better deal with that obnoxious next-door neighbor. In the same light, as they say in another part of the world: "If you are right, there is no need to be angry. If you are wrong, you have no right to be angry. Jesus tells us not only to reconcile with the subject of our anger but to do it without delay so that we can proceed to an authentic and perfect form of worship. Furthermore, to paraphrase St. James (Jas 1:19-20) "Let every person be quick to hear and listen, slow to speak, slow to anger like the heavenly Father, for anger does not fulfill God's justice."

 

 

B. First Reading (Acts 11:21b-26; 13:1-3): “Barnabas was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith.”

 

Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Barnabas, apostle. Born in Cyprus and named Joseph, he was converted shortly after Pentecost. He gave up all his possessions and was nicknamed Barnabas (“Son of Consolation”) because of his helpful, optimistic nature. In today’s reading (Acts 11:21b-26), he is described in glowing terms as “a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith”. Sent by the mother Church in Jerusalem to Antioch to verify the phenomenon of conversion there, he is true to his optimistic nature. He sees the grace of God at work in this nascent Church of Antioch. He rejoices and encourages them to remain faithful to the Lord. He brings many people to the Lord. He even goes to Tarsus to look for Saul to help him teach and nourish the fledging Christian community in Antioch. Together with Saul of Tarsus, Joseph Barnabas of Cyprus is chosen by the Holy Spirit for a special missionary journey to proclaim the Gospel to the nations.

 

Saint Barnabas is faithful to his apostolic mandate even unto death. The following, circulated on the Internet, is an account of his martyrdom.

 

Church tradition developed outside of the canon of the New Testament describes the martyrdom of many saints, including the legend of the martyrdom of Barnabas. It relates that certain Jews coming to Syria and Salamis, where Barnabas was then preaching the gospel, being highly exasperated at his extraordinary success, fell upon him as he was disputing in the synagogue, dragged him out, and, after the most inhumane tortures, stoned him to death. His kinsman, John Mark, who was a spectator of this barbarous action, privately interred his body.

 

According to the History of the Cyprus Church, in 478 Barnabas appeared in a dream to the Archbishop of Constantia (Salamis, Cyprus) Anthemios and revealed to him the place of his sepulcher beneath a carob tree. The following day Anthemios found the tomb and inside it the remains of Barnabas with a manuscript of Matthew's Gospel on his breast. Anthemios presented the Gospel to Zeno at Constantinople and received from him the privileges of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, that is, the purple cloak which the Greek Archbishop of Cyprus wears at festivals of the church, the imperial scepter and the red ink with which he affixes his signature.

 

Anthemios then placed the venerable remains of Barnabas in a church which he founded near the tomb. Excavations near the site of a present day church and monastery have revealed an early church with two empty tombs, believed to be that of St. Barnabas and Anthemios. St. Barnabas is venerated as the Patron Saint of Cyprus.

  

 

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

 

1. What do I do to manage my anger and to seek healing for sinful attitudes that lead to violence and acted-out anger?

 

2. Do we believe that like Saint Barnabas and Saint Paul, we too have been set apart for a special mission in the Church? How does Saint Barnabas, described us “a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith”, inspire us?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

heal us of sinful attitudes and unbridled emotions

that disturb our peace, harmony and dignity.

Give us the grace to pacify vengeful anger.

Let your Holy Spirit anoint the violent

with the balm of peace.

Give us the grace to choose God and life.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

(Cf. Opening Prayer – Mass of the Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle) 

God the Father,

you filled Saint Barnabas with faith and the Holy Spirit

and sent him to convert the nations.

Help us to proclaim the Gospel by word and deed.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, 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.

 

“Whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.” (Mt 5:22) // “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2)

 

 

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

 

By putting greater trust in Jesus, meek and humble of heart, strive to manage anger whenever it surfaces from your heart. Be a peacemaker to the people around you. // Spend some quiet moments before the Blessed Sacrament to thank God for the Church in mission, as exemplified by the work of Saint Barnabas and Saint Paul. Do what you can to promote priestly and religious vocations in today’s world. Pray for the Barnabite missionaries that they may have a more efficacious ministry.

 

 

 

*** *** ***

 

 

June 12, 2020: FRIDAY – WEEKDAY (10)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Integrity … He Gently Comforts Us”

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-16 // Mt 5:27-32

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 5:27-32): “Everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

 

In today’s Gospel reading (Mt 5:27-32) Jesus continues to interpret the Law and the Prophets. He delves into the meaning of the command “Do not commit adultery” and asserts that as anger is at the root of murder, so lust lies at the root of adultery. It is not just the act of adultery that breaks the Law, but also thoughts and desires that lead to it. Deeply aware of our frail and fallen humanity, Jesus exhorts us to eliminate what corrupts our personal integrity and vitiates our covenant relationship with God. The salvation of the whole person is of more value than anything or anyone that could lead to sin. Lust is an “implicit” adultery that compromises our eternal beatitude with God. Divorce is a “legalized adultery” that militates against faithful husband-wife relationship, the basis of a healthy family life and society.

 

Lust leads to crime and death. Faith in God leads to life. The following article gives insight into how to embrace Jesus’ teaching on the total integrity of the person and our need to trust God who has covenanted himself to us (cf. “God Put Me Here To Do Great Things” in Alive! April 2014, p. 9).

 

An American Beauty queen has hit the headlines by revealing that she was conceived as a result of a violent rape. But strong in her faith and despite her far from promising start in life, Valerie Gatto is immensely grateful for her existence and believes that God has put her on earth “to do great things”. (…)

 

Gatto’s mother was a 19-year-old student when she was raped at knife-point. The assailant intended to murder her but was distracted by a strange bright flash of light. “He got scared and didn’t want any onlookers to see her and what he was doing to her.” This gave the young woman the opportunity to break free and escape. “I like to think of that light as my mother’s and my guardian angel”, said the beauty queen.

 

Some weeks later the assault victim realized that she was expecting the rapist’s child. She decided to keep her pregnancy a secret and to put her baby up for adoption when it was born. But after the birth her mother encouraged her to keep her baby daughter, explaining to her that “God does not give us more than we can handle.”

 

Relying on family support and on her strong faith, the young woman put aside her plans to attend law school so that she could mind her baby. It was a decision she never regretted. Gatto was told as a child about the assault on her mother but was able to deal with it thanks to her faith.

 

She explained: “I’ve always been a positive person, and I went to church all the time when I was little. I think it was more about having religion and Christianity a lot of my life. So I knew that God put me here for a reason and, although my circumstances weren’t the same as a traditional family with the perfect white-picket fence, he gave me to my family and my mother for a reason.” (…)

 

As Miss Pennsylvania 2014 she hopes to inspire people and to show them that “no matter where you come from, you can achieve your dreams. But you need to make sacrifices, work hard and stay positive.”

      

 

B. First Reading (1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-16): “Stand on the mountain before the Lord.”

 

Today’s Old Testament reading (1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-16) is fascinating. The Lord God manifests his saving presence to Elijah, a persecuted and fugitive prophet. Elijah is in full flight from the enraged Jezebel, the wife of Israel’s King Ahab. Queen Jezebel vows to kill Elijah for publicly embarrassing her and her pagan god Baal and for the killing of Baal’s prophets. The fearful, despondent Elijah escapes southward to Judah where he begs God to take his life. An angel of God appears to nourish and protect him. Just as the Israelites wandered forty years in the desert, Elijah journeys through the desert forty days and forty nights toward Mount Horeb (also known as Mount Sinai, the place where Moses had an intimate encounter with God and where the covenant with the Israelites was sealed). The Lord God reveals his loving presence to the beleaguered prophet, not in the fiery manifestation of heavy winds, earthquake or fire, but in a “tiny whispering sound” – in the soft voice of a gentle breeze. The perils and dangers of his prophetic vocation seem less foreboding and menacing in the context of the gentle and reassuring presence of God. Indeed, the soft whisper of the almighty God is more powerful than the ferocious threats of wicked Jezebel. The saving God, who called Elijah to proclaim his word, energizes him anew for his prophetic ministry.

 

The gentle comfort that Elijah experienced from the loving God evokes the various memories of goodness and kindness in daily life (cf. “Whew, It’s Hot!” in Country, June/July 2011, p. 14-15).

 

“Exhaustion Almondine” by Charlotte Huenergardt: Years ago we lived on a 20-acre farm in Ceres, California, with 15 acres planted in almonds. At harvest time, machines swept and blew the almonds into rows. It got most of them, but there were always plenty of stray nuts for us to rake and shovel into rows for the machines to pick up. And temperatures often exceeded 100 degrees! After one particular day of raking and shoveling, my husband and I were so hot and tired we could hardly move. Filthy from head to toe, we grabbed a foam rubber mattress and an old sheet and collapsed on the patio in exhaustion. Our daughter brought us drinks while we cooled off in the shade.

 

“Sip and Smile” by Kathy Smith: It took a lot of hay to fuel our 100-acre Wisconsin dairy farm, and even with 12 of us, haying still took several weeks of long, hard days. What I remember most is when dad called a break and we’d gather under a shade tree for a drink of Coca-Cola. Two would share a bottle, carefully making sure each got the same amount. It tasted like pure heaven going down our dusty throats. This was such a special treat that I’ll remember it always. Soda has never tasted as good as it did then.

 

“Sheets to the Wind” by Norma Cook: In the 1930s, when I was a child in hot, dry, dusty western Kansas, we did as everyone else around us did and opened windows for cross ventilation to cool our old farmhouse. But when the south wind got hot enough to make us miserable by lunchtime, Mother pulled a trick from her sleeve. She pinned bed sheets to the curtain rods, then sprinkled water from a pan to dampen the sheets. We cooled off in no time with the wind blowing through those wet bed sheets. I thought that it was magic, and that Mother was the smartest woman in the world!

 

 

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

 

1. Do we endeavor to be chaste and to promote the dignity of our human person? Do we reject any form of “adultery” within us and outside us?

 

2. Do we savor God’s gift of “gentle silence”? Do we perceive his gentle presence within us and about us?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

we thank you for teaching us integrity of heart

and faith in God who has bound himself to us

in covenant love.

Help us to perceive your gentle presence everywhere.

Give us the grace to extend your loving comfort to others.

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.

 

 “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out …” (Mt 5: 29) //“There was tiny whispering sound.” (I Kgs 19:12)

 

  

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

 

Pray for all those in adulterous situations that God may give them the grace to follow his saving will. // Spend some time in quiet adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and savor his gentle but real presence.

 

 

*** *** ***

June 13, 2020: SATURDAY – SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA, Priest, Doctor of the Church

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Be Truthful … He Calls Us to Service”

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Kgs 19:19-21 // Mt 5:33-37

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 5:33-37): “I say to you do not swear at all.”

 

 In today’s Gospel (Mt 5:33-37), Jesus teaches us that truthfulness is assured by the inner integrity of the person. The biblical scholar Adrian Leske comments on the reading: “The practice of making oaths or vows had become so commonplace by the time of Jesus that the rabbis spent much time discussing valid and invalid forms. Originally oaths were made before the altar in the presence of God, when the truth of a matter could not be substantiated, by witnesses or documents. Included in such an oath was the invoking of a curse if the oath was false. Later in order not to take the name of God in vain it became a practice to use circumlocutions for God’s name, and even beyond that, in popular practice, to swear by anything of value. Jesus points out that no matter how one words that oath, it is still an oath before God … Those who belong to the kingdom will speak in sincerity and faithfulness, so their simple yes and no can be accepted as trustworthy before God and people. While oath-taking today may be required by courts and other institutions, the essential point here is speaking with utter honesty and sincerity.”

 

The following story gives insight into the value of a man’s word – if he is a person of integrity (cf. Iris Deurmyer, “Let’s Shake on It” in Country, April/May 2014, p. 51).

 

On a spring day when I was 6, I rode to town with Uncle Art to buy seed for planting gardens and fields and get feed for the calves. As a young girl growing up in the heartland, I found a special joy spending time with him. As we traveled in the pickup truck, Uncle Art made up silly rhymes and we sang them together. He patiently taught me to say the ABCs backward.

 

After loading supplies at the feed store, Uncle Art visited with the owner outside and then pointed at the truck. “I forgot to sign for this”, he said. The owner said, “Arthur, let’s shake on it. Your handshake is worth more than most men’s signatures.”

 

Later, I asked him what the owner had meant. Uncle Art explained that if a man gave his word, it should be dependable as money in the bank. He said a trustworthy man’s handshake was like an unwritten promise to keep his word.

 

In the half century since that day, I’ve reflected on Uncle Art’s words and his reputation. I can still picture that handshake; it’s a permanent reminder that the word should be as good as money in the bank. Oh, and one other thing has stuck with me. I can still rattle off the alphabet backwards.

  

 

B. First Reading (1 Kgs 19:19-21): “Then Elisha left and followed Elijah.”

 

In today’s Old Testament reading (1 Kgs 19:19-21) we hear the vocation story of Elisha and his positive response to the divine call to be a prophet. The call to prophetic ministry comes from God who ordered Elijah “You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you” (v. 16b). Elijah carries out the Lord’s command. He comes upon Elisha, a prosperous farmer, plowing the field with a team of twelve oxen. The biblical author narrates that Elisha is “following” the twelfth oxen. That day is truly significant for henceforth he would no longer be following “oxen”, but the Lord. Elijah throws his cloak over the toiling farmer, and the latter understands what the symbolic gesture means. The mantle symbolizes the personality and rights of the owner, and since the hair-shirt mantle of the prophets is part of their official dress, casting Elijah’s mantle on Elisha indicates an invitation, an investiture and an initiation to the prophetic ministry.

 

Elisha’s response is immediate. He abandons the oxen he was “following” and runs after Elijah, the instrument of God’s call. Elisha requests permission from the master-prophet to kiss his father and mother goodbye and manifests to him his resolve, “I will follow you”. Elijah does not object to the legitimate request for a devout, filial leave-taking. Elisha then shows his unreserved response to God’s plan by slaughtering his twelve oxen. He burns the plow as fuel to cook the oxen and serves the boiled meat as food for his people. His acceptance of the prophetic call is unreserved. In destroying the tools of his trade, he makes himself vulnerable, and in a no “fall back” position. He loses security. Elisha is an eloquent model of a total response to the call of God, who destines us for a special service to his people.

 

Sr. Mary Alba Scellato, one of our most inspiring and dynamic Sisters, illustrates the dynamics of God’s call and the person’s total response. Sr. Mary Alba turned 90 years old last June 3, 2014.

 

Vocation Story: Sr. Mary Alba Scellato

(First Profession: Mary 25, 1943 – Final Profession: March 25, 1948)

 

My family was a fervent Christian one that observes the Sunday law and the precepts of the Church. My father died when I was eleven years old. A mule kicked him in the stomach. He was brought home in terrible pain. No means was found to save him. He died after three days. He was a Franciscan tertiary. A Capuchin father came to bless him.

 

My elder sister Felicia was learning tailoring. My mother had been sick in many ways. She wanted us to learn anything that would enable us to take care of ourselves. She thought she would die soon. All of us attended the church. We were close to a church and the hospital where the Sisters of St. Anne served and taught catechism. It was proposed to us to learn 100 questions and answers on catechism without mistakes. The benefits were many: to know Christian life and the Eucharistic presence with a few gifts besides, including a photo. Eight of us won!

 

At that time I was going to an embroidery class. The weekly catechetical instruction and the music rehearsal left a deep impression in me about the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The Sisters of St. Anne had a blind musician who played the organ. He taught us to sing a song I would never forget: heaven and earth exult on the day we receive Jesus in the Eucharist … we need to adore him present on the altar.

 

When I turned fourteen, my mother became sicker. Doctors suggested bringing her to Catania. My aunt Paula knew where to go and whom to contact. It was February 19, 1939. They took a rental car to go to Catania. In that car, there was an extra seat. Aunt Paula asked me if I wanted to go. She would visit the PDDM sisters in Catania because she used to give them hospitality when they were going to our native town of Nicosia for the ministry. We went to Catania and met the Sisters. Mother Pia Dogliani told us that if I wanted to stay with them, I was welcome. So when my mother was in the hospital, I stayed with them for nine days

 

 When my mother was ready to return to Nicosia, I told her that if the Sisters would be willing to keep me, I would remain with them. Then my mother said, “You must come with us; we will prepare the dowry and bring you back.” But I said, “If I go home, I would not have the courage to leave home. But now that I am here, I am happy to remain.” My mother said “Yes” to me with tears in her eyes. I remained there and was very happy. My mother immediately gave part of the dowry and would settle the rest in the near future.

   

 

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

 

1. Am I trustworthy? Do my words have integrity?

 

2. Am I willing to follow Christ unconditionally?

 

 

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

 

O Lord Jesus,

you called me.

Help me to say “yes” and to follow you with integrity.

Make me a servant of your word

and make me trustworthy.

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 week. Please memorize it.

 

 “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’.” (Mt 5:37) //“I will follow you.” (I Kgs 19:20)

 

 

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

 

Resolve to be faithful to the demands of Christian discipleship. Make every effort to be honest and truthful.

***

 

 

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

Go back