A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy




Week 12 in Ordinary Time: June 21-27, 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: June 14-20, 2020 please go to ARCHIVES Series 18 and click on “Pentecost – Ordinary Week 97”.




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“JESUS SAVIOR: He Gives Us Strength in Trials”




Jer 20:10-13 // Rom 5:12-15 // Mt 10:26-33





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 10:26-33): “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body.” 


The central message of this Sunday’s Gospel reading (Mt 10:26-33) is: do not be afraid to speak out for Jesus and proclaim his kingdom of justice and right. This courageous stance on behalf of the Lord and his reign of justice and peace is marvelously illustrated in the lives of Fr. Gregory Schaffer and Fr. Rother (cf. Kayla Ann Smith, “Standing for Guatemalans” in Maryknoll, May-June 2005, p. 19-21). Kayla, a Minnesota teen inspired by those who champion oppressed Central Americans, writes:


Father Schaffer’s true courage to stand up for the poor of Guatemala was put to the test when, in the 1980’s, there were armed campaigns pointed at the natives of Guatemala. Even though the priest from the New Ulm Diocese knew he could be killed at any time for helping the indigents of Guatemala, he remained with the people he had come to love. He was in an especially dangerous position, since he was aiding the innocent of Guatemala as well as being a Catholic priest. Through his many acts of charity, he spoke plainly and boldly that the poor cannot be ignored, and that we are called to help the less fortunate. Soon Father Schaffer found that he had been put on a death list. Although the fact of possible death would have scared many people to leave the terrorized country, Father Schaffer remained in Guatemala. He barely saved his life by convincing a military commander that he was not an ally of the guerrilla terrorists.


Father Rother, who was a priest in the neighboring town, Santiago de Atitlan, was not as fortunate as Father Schaffer. Father Rother was murdered by the death squads. The farmer’s son turned priest from Okarche, Oklahoma, paid the ultimate price for being a soldier of Christ. The loss of Father Schaffer’s fellow priest friend saddened him almost to the point of anger until he realized that Father Rother’s passing would be a powerful event that united all the people.


The Gospel reading (Mt 10:26-33) is part of Jesus’ discourse on the mission as narrated by Matthew. This inspiring message is addressed to the Twelve on how they are to conduct themselves as they proclaim the message of the Kingdom from land to land. What are the lessons that could be gleaned from the missionary discourse?


Eugene Maly answers: “First, that the kingdom message is explosive. It will make people rise up and try to stop those who preach it. It is a message that, once understood, people either accept wholeheartedly or reject violently. The Lord tells us to speak out our Kingdom conviction in public. Jesus was able to reach only a tiny part of the Near Eastern world. His followers must be his voice down through the ages and throughout the world. Despite the risk, our confidence and assurance lie, not in the acceptance of what we stand for by others (this may happen, but our experience may also be that of Jeremiah in the First Reading), but solely in the Lord’s concern for us. He takes care of his own. That, too, is a feature of the Kingdom message. It is what makes the whole missionary task possible.”


The missionary discourse of Jesus encourages the Christian followers to fearless confession in the face of opposition, contradiction and persecution. This Sunday’s Gospel passage is composed of three sayings and each saying is introduced by a “Do not fear” exhortation (cf. verses 26, 28, 31) meant to overcome the fears that may cause the disciples to abandon their mission.


The first saying is Mt 10: 26-27: “Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” The “Fear not” exhortation is based on the inevitability of the coming of God’s kingdom and Jesus’ witness to it. The Kingdom of God has arrived in Jesus’ person and in his message, and the disciples look forward to its final inward breaking at the time of the Lord’s second coming. Between the first and the second manifestation of the Kingdom an immense apostolic work and proclamation ought to be done. The kingdom of God message, proclaimed once by Jesus, must be repeated to every generation as a fearless witness to truth. Indeed, through the missionary and evangelizing work of Christian disciples, Jesus Truth will be widely proclaimed to all peoples and nations.


The second saying is Mt 10:28-30: “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the souls; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted.”  This saying appeals to God’s care for Jesus’ disciples. God’s providential care extends to the sparrow, which is one of the cheapest articles sold in the market, and to the human person whose very being is known to him through and through. Using a rabbinic tool that compares a light matter to a serious one, Jesus seeks to dispel fear and evoke trust in God’s care for his disciples. The all-knowing and compassionate God who cares for the sparrows has even greater care for the faithful disciple who sacrifices his life for the spread of the Gospel. Jesus argues that the enemies may destroy the body, but not the soul. The worst aggressions against the body do not always succeed in reaching person’s inner core where true dignity and greatness reside. God who knows when a small bird dies and perceives the destiny of each creature is mindful of the trials and anguish endured by the disciples on behalf of God’s kingdom.


The third saying is Mt 10:31-33: “So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” Jesus’ saying points to the final judgment before God, which will be based on the disciples’ faithfulness to Jesus during the conflicts that are part of their mission. Those who make the Lord’s cause their own will be assured of Jesus’ support for them on Judgment Day. At that dreadful hour, they will hear again his assurance, Do not be afraid.”



B. First Reading (Jer 20:10-13): “He has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked.”


Suffering seems to be an integral element of a God-given mission. Some suffering is inevitable for those called by God for a special ministry. The pathos and intense pain of the prophet Jeremiah illustrate this reality. Today’s Old Testament reading (Jer 20:1-13), which is a part of his fifth Confession (Jer 20:7-18), depicts the drama of a persecuted prophet and illustrates the triumph of faith in the divine presence and intervention: “But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion” (verse 11a). Jeremiah laments to God that his enemies are closing in on him for he has obeyed God’s promptings. Jeremiah has prophesied that Judah, on account of its infidelity and social injustice, would be destroyed and its people led away in captivity.


The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, comment: “The prophet’s distress expresses itself in moving language … He comes back to the persecutions, directed against him, whenever the irresistible thrust of the divine word obliges him to shout, Violence and plunder. Even those who seem friendly plot with his declared enemies … But after this profoundly human cry of distress, faith prevails, stronger and more tenacious than the fear that would submerge the prophet: But the Lord is with me: like a mighty champion; my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph … Thanks to this surge of trust, Jeremiah foresees that he will conquer overwhelmingly … It is to God that Jeremiah entrusts his cause, and it is upon him that he places the too heavy burden which overwhelms him. This cry toward God is prolonged by a thanksgiving in which we all are invited to share, each of us, personally and as a church. Jeremiah is really the father of this spiritual posterity of the poor, those dependents of God who in their material and spiritual distress place their cause in God’s hands.”


Like Jeremiah’s message, the Kingdom message that we – Christian disciples – are called to proclaim is confrontational and explosive. It radically calls into question and impeaches a world based on false values. Conflicts are thus unavoidable. Indeed, a Gospel proclamation that is innocuous - bothers no one - and questions nothing is no longer a Gospel.


The Church in Zimbabwe is experiencing intense trial as it fights social injustice and testifies to the Gospel values. In its endeavor to confront the civil authorities with the need for social justice and the defense of human rights, the Church in Zimbabwe is experiencing conflicts and hostility (cf. “Resistance to Injustice Continues After Outspoken Prelate Resigns” by Henry Makori in Our Sunday Visitor, October 14, 2007, p. 4).


The fight for social justice by the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe will continue despite being wounded by the recent resignation of Archbishop Pius Ncube, a leading voice against President Robert Mugabe’s oppressive rule. Archbishop Ncube unexpectedly quit his post as archbishop of Bulawayo last month after an adultery charge that for weeks drew loud jeers from the president, his ruling party and the state-controlled media.


Admittedly, the resignation stunned many people. “Personally, I did not expect this to happen. I do not think many others did”, Father Oskar Wermter of Jesuit Communications in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, said. “It is a shock, and it is very painful to all of us.” But, he said, people “Will recover and continue their resistance. Maybe it teaches them that this clash between Church and state is serious and needs real commitment.” The resignation has not diminished the Archbishop’s stature in the eyes of most Zimbabweans, said Sister Veronica Dingi, spokeswoman for the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA). “People still respect him and are still praying for him in different parishes”, she said. The major challenge for the Church at the moment, Sister Dingi said, is that of being ridiculed at every opportunity and its bishops being looked upon as having no wisdom. “That is a pain for many Catholics.”


Archbishop Ncube publicly blames his woes on “a state-driven, vicious attack, not just on myself but, by proxy, on the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe.” He said he resigned “to spare my fellow bishops and the body of the Church any further attacks.” The archbishop also said he would face the charges as an individual so the Church was not put on trial. The resignation of Mugabe’s most ardent critic – who garnered worldwide media attention for his public resistance – has also worsened fears among Catholics who suspect the regime of closely monitoring the Church because of its stand against his persecution of the people … “Anyone resisting the regime is being targeted,” said Father Wermter. “As usual, of all the Christian churches, most of the opposition comes from the Catholic Church. That is nothing new.” (…)


There are still questions in Zimbabwe as to whether the state resorted to dirty tricks against the archbishop to silence him – as it often does against political opponents. Zimbabwean bishops said the accusations were “outrageous and utterly deplorable” and “an assault on the Catholic Church.” Archbishop Ncube’s resignation means the Church here, and all Zimbabweans, have lost one of their bravest and most candid voices against oppression. But the fight is not over, according to Father Wemter. “The defense of human rights and social justice will continue, with or without him,” he said. “It is not this or that individual leading this fight; it is the Church as a whole.”



C. Second Reading (Rom 5:12-15): “The gift is not like the transgression.”


The Second Reading (Rom 5:12-15) helps us delve into the wonderful consequence of Christ’s fidelity. His unmitigated trust in the word of God overcomes the effects of sin and death wrought by the first Adam. Christ’s faithfulness to God enables him to offer alienated humanity the gift of reconciliation and reap the precious fruits of “grace abounding”. Indeed, Christ’s beneficence overturns the destruction caused by Adam’ disobedience and negation of God’s love.


The biblical scholar John Pilch comments: “Paul’s main interest is not to talk about sin or death, but rather to draw a contrasting picture of Adam and Christ, prominent figures of the beginning and the end time respectively. Adam is a type or prototype of the person to come, namely, Jesus, who would far surpass what Adam did. The world was changed by both of these individuals. Adam unleashed an active hostile force into the world (sin), which has the power to cause definitive alienation (death) from God, the source of all life … In contrast, Christ’s effect is starkly different. Through the gracious gift, namely, the redemptive death of Jesus Christ uprightness and life super-abound for all individuals who accept him.”


The following story illustrates beautifully the heartwarming message that God’s grace is greater than the power of evil or the effects of sin (cf. Facing the Enemy” by Laura Hillenbrand in Guideposts, January 2011, p. 52-57). Temptations to hate and despair can be overcome by letting the “seeds of faith” grow and by surrendering to the mighty love of God.


As a boy in California in the 1920s and early 1930s, Louie Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. Then he discovered that he had an extraordinary talent for running. He became a world-famous track phenomenon, competing in the 1936 Berlin Olympics when he was still a teenager.


World War II began, and Louie set aside athletics and joined the Army Air Corps. He was stationed in Hawaii as a bombardier, fighting harrowing air battles against the Japanese. On May 27, 1943, Louie and his crew took off to search for a missing bomber. Far out over the Pacific, engine failure sent their plane plunging into the ocean. Trapped by wires in the wreckage, Louie passed out. When he came to, the wires were gone. He swam to the surface and climbed onto a raft, joining two other survivors. They’d sent no distress call, and no one knew where they were. For weeks the men floated, followed by sharks, surviving on rainwater and the few fish and birds they could catch. On the twenty-seventh day, a plane appeared. Louie fired flares, and the plane turned toward them. But it turned out to be Japanese bomber, and its crewmen fired machine guns at the castaways. Louie leaped overboard. He had to kick and punch the circling sharks to keep them away until the firing stopped and he could climb back up onto the raft. Over and over the bomber returned to strafe the men, sending Louie back into the shark-infested water. By the time the bomber flew off the raft was riddled with bullet holes and was starting to sink. Amazingly, none of the men had been hit, but the sharks tried to drag them away. Beating them off with oars, the men frantically patched the raft and pumped air into it. Finally the sharks left.


On they drifted, starving. One man died; Louie and the other crewmen hung on. On the forty-sixth day, they saw a distant island. They rowed toward it. When they were only yards from shore, a Japanese boat intercepted them. For the next two and a quarter years, Louie was a captive of the Japanese military. First he was held in a filthy cell, subjected to medical experiments, starved, beaten and interrogated. Then he was shipped to a prison camp in Japan, where he was forced to race against Japanese runners, winning even though he knew he’d be clubbed as punishment. He joined a daring POW underground, stealing food and circulating information to other captives.


It was in the prison camp that Louie encountered a monstrous guard known as the Bird. Fixated on breaking the famous Olympian, the Bird beat Louie relentlessly and forced him to do slave labor. Louie reached the end of his endurance. With his dignity destroyed and his will fading, he prayed for rescue. When the atomic bombs ended the war, the Bird fled to escape war-crimes trials, and Louie was saved from almost certain death.


He went home a deeply haunted man. He had nightmares of being bludgeoned by the Bird. Trying to rebuild his life, he married a beautiful debutante named Cynthia, but even her love couldn’t blot the Bird from his mind. He sought solace in running, but an ankle injury, incurred in POW camp and exacerbated by the Bird’s beatings, hampered him. Just as he was reaching Olympic form again, his ankle failed. His athletic career was finished.


Devastated, he started drinking. He had flashbacks: The raft of the prison camp would appear around him, and he’d relive terrifying memories. He simmered with rage, provoking fistfights with strangers and confrontations with Cynthia. He couldn’t shake the sense of shame that had been beaten into him by the Bird. Louie thought that God was toying with him. When he heard preachers on the radio, he turned it off. He forbade Cynthia to go to church. He drank more and more heavily. In time, Louie’s rage hardened into a twisted ambition: He would return to Japan, hunt down the Bird and strangle him. It was the only way he could restore his dignity. He became obsessed, trying to raise the money for the trip, but his financial ventures kept failing.


One night in 1948, Louie dreamed he was locked in a death battle with the Bird. A scream startled him awake. He was straddling his pregnant wife, hands clenched around her neck. His daughter was born a few months later. One day, Cynthia found him shaking the baby, trying to stop her from crying. She snatched the baby away, then packed her bags and walked out.


In the fall of 1949, Cynthia made a last effort to save her husband. She asked Louie to come to a tent meeting in Los Angeles, where a young minister named Billy Graham was preaching. For two nights, Louie sat in that tent, feeling guilty and angry as Graham spoke of sin and its consequences, and God bringing miracles to the stricken. On the second night, Graham asked people to step forward to declare their faith. Louie stood up and stormed toward the exit. But at the aisle, he stopped short. Suddenly he was in a flashback, adrift on the raft. It hadn’t rained in days, and he was dying of thirst. In anguish, he whispered a prayer: If you will save me, I will serve you forever. Over the raft, rain began falling. Standing in Graham’s tent, lost in the flashback, Louie felt the rain on his face. At that moment Louie began to see his whole ordeal differently. When he’d been trapped in the wreckage of his plane, somehow he’d been freed. When the Japanese bomber had shot the raft full of holes, somehow none of the men had been hit. When the Bird had driven him to the breaking point, and he’d prayed for help, somehow he’d found the strength to keep breathing. And that day on the raft, he had prayed for rain, and rain had come. Louie’s conviction that he was forsaken was gone, replaced by a belief that divine love had been all around him, even at his darkest moments. That night in Graham’s tent, the bitterness and pain that had haunted him vanished.


A year later, Louie went to Japan. He was a joyful man, his marriage restored, his nightmares and flashbacks gone, his alcoholism overcome. He went to a Tokyo prison where war criminals were serving their sentences. He hoped to find the Bird, to know for sure if the peace he’d found was resilient. But the Bird wasn’t there. Louie was told that the guard had killed himself. Louie was struck with emotion. He was surprised by what he felt. It was not hatred. Not relief. It was compassion. Louie had found forgiveness. Louie’s Zamperini’s life is a journey of outrageous fortune, ferocious will and astonishing redemption.





1. In our Christian mission, are we brave and fearless in proclaiming the truth that is Jesus? Trusting in the irresistible power of the Kingdom of God, do we respond positively to Jesus’ exhortation: “Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” (Mt 10:26-27)?


2. Do we trust in the divine solicitude that is called “providence”? Do we respond positively to Jesus’ exhortation: “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the souls; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted.”  (Mt 10:28-30)?



3. Are we ready to be faithful to Jesus in the midst of conflicts and trials that are part and parcel of the Christian mission? Do we respond positively to Jesus’ exhortation: “So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” (Mt 10:31-33)?





Loving Father,

by his public ministry and his paschal mystery,

your Son Jesus Christ proclaimed courageously

the absolute importance of the Kingdom value.

In our missionary task and Kingdom ministry,

help us to respond positively to his exhortation: “Do not be afraid.”

May we always trust in your divine solicitude for us,

knowing that we are worth more than many sparrows.

Fill us with courage and strength

that we may fully welcome our mission as witnesses to Christ

and fearlessly exercise our ministry as heralds of the Good News

in today’s anguished and fragmented world.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.






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


“So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Mt 10:31)





Pray for Christian missionaries who promote the Kingdom value with courage and conviction. Pray for those who are fearful when faced with the contradictions, persecutions, and violent reactions that their ministry is bound to elicit. Pray for those who have been persecuted, tortured and killed. Do what you can to aid the persecuted Christians with material, moral and spiritual means.



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“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us that God Is the True Judge … He Teaches Us to Make Life-Giving Choices”




2 Kgs 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18 // Mt 7:1-5





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 7:1-5): “Remove the wooden beam from your eye first.”


I was praying the rosary in the spacious and beautifully tended grounds of our Fresno convent. But I was perplexed when I saw a few trash items on the ground – a styrofoam cup, candy wrapper, empty bag of potato chips, etc. Who could have trashed this place of prayer? I picked them up and disposed of them in the garbage bin. Day after day, I would see trashed things here and there, not many, but enough to upset me. I complained how irresponsible and irreverent the “litterbugs” were. I fumed that some “pious” people coming to our convent for Mass were actually “litterbugs”. But the “evidence” was there – right? One morning, I took notice of a flock of crows – busy and noisy. One powerfully swept down from the sky. His beak was clutching an empty snack bag that he promptly trashed on the ground. An inner voice pierced my conscience: “Rash judgment! Rash judgment! You have been making a rash judgment!”


In today’s Gospel reading (Mt 7:1-5), Jesus tells us to stop judging that we may not be judged. Against the backdrop of the hypercriticism of the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus cautions against passing harsh judgment on others and denying them entry to the kingdom of God. To condemn others is not our prerogative. God alone is the true judge. We must leave judgment to the final judge. Instead of “judging” we must imitate the Divine Master’s compassionate stance and his work of healing and salvation. The measure we use to deal with others will be measured out to us. We will be judged on the basis of our own attitude – whether hypercritical or compassionate. Jesus, the son of a carpenter, uses carpentry images to deliver the irony of hypocrisy and false condemnation: the righteous with a wooden beam in the eye wants to remove the sawdust in another’s eye. In the biblical world, the “eye” represents a person’s attitude and understanding. Indeed, our pride obstructs the light of compassionate understanding and blinds us to our own faults and the duty of charity. Jesus warns against exaggerating our neighbor’s faults and minimizing our own. He wants us to remove the “wooden beam” dimension of our hypocrisy and pride that we may be able to remove charitably the “splinter” that hurts our neighbor’s eyes. He does not condemn fraternal correction, but false condemnation. Jesus Master counsels true compassion in dealing with our brothers and sisters.



B. First Reading (2 Kgs 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18): “In his great anger against Israel, the Lord put them away out of his sight. Only the tribe of Judah was left.”


Today’s Old Testament reading (2 Kgs 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18) depicts the fall of Samaria. It presents the religious motive for the demise of the northern kingdom at about 721 B.C., under the fiery hand of Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, who deports the children of Israel to Assyria. The collapse of King Hoshea’s kingdom and the deportation of the people are a result of their idolatry and rejection of God’s covenant. The people of Israel have acted in ways that are completely contrary to God’s compassionate plan on their behalf. Their wickedness has provoked God’s anger. The people are totally culpable because of they have not heeded God’s prophets and messengers calling them to conversion. Now Israel, in exile, pays the death-dealing price of their “choice”.


The following article gives insight into Israel’s death-dealing “choice” (cf. Mike McGarvin, Poverello News, November 2013, p. 1-2).


On a warm day, I stopped at a gas station near Pov for a drink to cool myself off. As I was walking back to my car, I heard someone say, “Hey, brother, can you help me out?” I hadn’t noticed this guy because he was prone and kind of below my vision. I turned and was confronted by what looked to be an old-fashioned alcoholic, although a younger version than those I’m used to. This guy was only about twenty-five years old.


Now, for some reason, there’s a special place in my heart for drunks. Maybe because it takes me back to the old days at Pov, when there were mostly alcoholics instead of drug addicts; or maybe because winos seem so much less abrasive than hyper-vigilant, aggressive meth or crack addicts. Anyway, I immediately felt all warm and fuzzy toward this guy, but not enough to give him a buck to buy another drink.


I said to him, “I could give you some money, but Poverello House is just two blocks away. What you could use more than money is sobriety.” It was early in the morning and he already racked of booze. Yeah, I’d say he had a problem. I continued: “You know, there’s someone who got into sobriety named Bill W. (Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder). Ever hear of him?


His response was a blank stare and a simple, “No”. I then asked, “Have you ever been in a program?” Again, “No”. About this time I started smelling something other than the booze and normal human body odor. It was a familiar smell, but out of context. I couldn’t place it right away. However, I took the initiative and told him about Poverello’s showers.


That’s when he revealed what the other familiar smell was. “Yeah”, he said. “I could use a shower. I sleep in this abandoned building, and at night when I’m sleeping, the stray cats come and spray me.”


Bingo. That’s why it was a familiar smell. Every time I emptied a litter box I caught the odor. I thought I’d drive the point home now. “You know, if you got sober, you probably wouldn’t have to worry about cats peeing on you.” He seemed increasingly uncomfortable. I asked him, “Are you scared of sobriety?” He looked down and said, “Yeah”. “Well, it’s not as bad or as hard as you think. It’s only one day at a time. Most people can do anything for just one day. It’s really not that bad.”


I could tell I’d lost his interest, apparently because he could tell that he wasn’t getting any spare change from me, or maybe because I’m not good at marketing sobriety. I told him our substance abuse counselor would be glad to talk to him anytime, and I left it at that, got in my car, and came back to Poverello.


Sometimes I’m amazed at an alcoholic’s or drug addict’s tolerance for misery. I suppose the anesthetic qualities of booze or drugs help create a little numbness toward emotional distress, physical pain and normal disgust. For me, walking up soaked in cat urine would be a clear sign that I needed to make some changes, but this young man didn’t see things that way. The addiction was in such control of his judgment that to him, living free of booze and having the chance to build his life again was frightening, whereas begging, drinking until his liver hurt, sleeping in a filthy abandoned building and waking up stinking was no big deal.


In A.A. they call it insanity. That seems to be a succinct and accurate description of what the young man was struggling with.





1. Do I give in to a righteous tendency to judge my neighbors and condemn their “faults”? Do I endeavor to remove the “wooden beam” in my eye in order to help my brother remove the “sawdust” in his eye?


2. Am I culpable of death-dealing choices? Am I capable and willing to make life-giving choices?





Jesus Lord,

you are God’s compassion and righteousness.

Help us to stop judging harshly

that we may not be judged.

Help us to be compassionate.

Deal kindly with us.

With a true seeing “eye”,

may we perceive the beauty of charity

and embrace our duty to care for our brothers and sisters.

Let your loving eyes be upon us.

Empower us to make life-giving choices

and teach us not to negate the Father’s love.

You live and reign, forever and ever.






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


“Stop judging, that you may not be judged.” (Mt 7:1) // “Give up your evil ways and keep my commandments and statutes.” (II Kgs 17:13)





Resolve to avoid making rash judgment. // To help you make life-giving choices that are pleasing to God, make the examination of the heart a part of your life.


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June 23, 2020: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (12)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Abide by the Golden Rule … He Is our Deliverer”



2 Kgs 19:9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36 // Mt 7:6, 12-14





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 7:6, 12-14): “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”


In today’s Gospel (Mt 7:6, 12-14), Jesus counsels discernment and discretion in dealing with those who are hostile to the message of salvation he brings. When our work for the Good News is rejected by those who impose rash judgments and are averse to the kingdom, he advises us not to get into a dispute. They lack understanding and refusing to understand, they will use what we say to condemn. The kingdom of God and its way of life are holy. They are like pearls of great price. The gift of salvation cannot be squandered and forced on anyone who resists them. It is sheer grace and an act of divine predilection to which we can freely respond.


Jesus Master tells his disciples to abide by the Golden Rule: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.” This wisdom saying can be verified in the Jewish tradition. Rabbi Hillel, who died when Jesus was about ten years old, was asked by a scoffer to teach him the whole Torah while he stood on one foot. Rabbi Hillel answered: “What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor; that is the whole Torah; go and study it.” Jesus Master likewise uses the principle of mutuality, but on a higher level: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”; “Stop judging and you will not be judged”; etc. By putting positively the wisdom saying “What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor”, Jesus transforms a prescription of self-preservation into an action of love. A negative counsel becomes pro-active. Jesus’ Golden Rule, “Do to others whatever you would have them to you” is in deep affinity with the great command, “Love your neighbor as yourself” on which depends all the law and the prophets”.


Jesus Master exhorts his disciples to enter by the narrow gate. This is an exhortation to become part of the pro-active faithful and not simply to follow the crowd or abide by social pressure. He sets before his disciples the two ways: the broad way that leads to doom and destruction and the narrow way that leads to life. The narrow way is that of the cross. With Jesus, we travel through the way of the cross to eternal life and the light of glory.


The following story, circulated on the Internet, illustrates how we can incarnate in our daily life the teachings of Jesus: the Golden Rule, choosing the narrow way, holiness, caring for those in need, etc.


One day a man saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her. Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn’t look safe; he looked poor and hungry.


He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was that chill which only fear can put in you. He said, “I’m here to help you, ma’am. Why don’t you wait in the car where it’s warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson.”


Well all that she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire. But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt. As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was just passing through. She couldn’t thank him enough for coming to her aid.


Bryan just smiled as he closed the trunk. The lady asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way. He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance needed, and Bryan added, “And think of me.” He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed home, disappearing into the twilight.


A few miles down the road the lady saw a small café. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn’t erase. The lady noticed that the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan.


After the lady finished her meal, she paid with a hundred-dollar bill. The waitress quickly went to get her change for her hundred-dollar bill, but the old lady had slipped right out of the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. The waitress wondered where the lady could be. Then she noticed something written on the napkin. There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote: “You don’t owe me anything. I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you.” Under the napkin were four more $100 bills.


Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known, it was going to be hard. She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, “Everything’s going to be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson.”



B. First Reading (2 Kgs 19:9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36): “I will shield and save this city for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”


The reading (2 Kgs 19:9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36) depicts the threat of Assyrian invasion of Jerusalem and the faith response of King Hezekiah of Judah to the crisis. The message sent by King Sennacherib of Assyria seeks to undermine the trust in God of Hezekiah and the people. He taunts them that God has deceived them with empty promises of deliverance. The Assyrian king brags that he has never been overpowered by any god and surely their God will not be able to save them. Confronted by the taunt that his God is powerless and that their trust is in vain, King Hezekiah remains faithful. He “spreads out before the altar” the letter from the presumptuous king. Hezekiah’s action is a striking and touching demonstration of his belief in God. His heartfelt prayer for deliverance is answered. The prophet Isaiah communicates God’s comforting message to him: “I will shield and save this city for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” Jerusalem will be delivered from the present threat and the kingdom of Judah will be saved. Through divine intervention, a pestilence decimates Sennacherib’s army and compels him to retreat to Assyria. His own sons murder him as he worships in the temple of his god Nisroch. Whereas the Lord’s temple has been a source of deliverance for King Hezekiah and the kingdom of Judah, Nisroch’s temple becomes the site of King Sennacherib’s bloody death.


The following article circulated in the Internet illustrates that the divine intervention continues to be at work. And in God’s saving plan, Mary, the Mother of Christ, plays an important part.


The Rosary Frees Austria from Communist Rule in 1955: For three years, Catholic Austria went under the tyrannical rule of communist Russia after World War II. A  Franciscan priest named Father Petrus remembered the story of how Christians in the sixteenth century had defeated the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto through the rosary, despite being greatly outnumbered.


Father Petrus launched a rosary crusade and 70,000 people pledged to say the rosary daily for the intention of Austria becoming free from Russian rule. Although Austria was valuable to the Soviets because of its strategic location and rich resources, on May 13, 1955, the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, the atheistic Russian regime, in a completely unprecedented move, signed the agreement to leave Austria. Not one person was killed, and not even one shot was fired.  Today, historians and Military strategists still cannot explain how or why the Russians pulled out of Austria.  


Those devoted to the rosary of Our Holy Mother know exactly the reason. Pray the rosary for world peace!  





1. Do I believe in the positive value of the Golden Rule? Do I practice the Golden Rule in the spirit of Jesus’ love command?


2. Do we put our trust in God who delivers us from evil and sin? Do we have recourse to him in trial and affliction?





Loving Jesus,

we thank you for teaching us

about the great value of the kingdom of God.

The heavenly kingdom is a pearl of great price

that must not be lost or squandered.

Thank you for calling us to holiness

and for consecrating us for your service.

Help us to put into practice the Golden Rule:

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”

Give us the grace to enter

the narrow way that leads to life.

Grant us the grace and strength

to be pro-active in our ministry of love.

You are the way, truth and life.

We bless you and adore you, now and forever.




O loving God,

you are all-powerful and immortal.

Confound the proud

and put to flight all that could harm us.

You are our refuge and strength.

Deliver us from evil and sin.

Bring us close to you and let us rest safe in your care.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.






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


“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”  (Mt 7:12) // “I will shield and save this city for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” (II Kgs 19:34)





Living by the Golden Rule, do an act of kindness for a needy person and be patient and kind to one who challenges your patience and provokes your anger. // In today’s secularized world when Christian values are brutally attacked and threatened, pray for God’s deliverance and confidently assert: “In God we trust.”



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“JESUS SAVIOR: John the Baptist Is His Precursor”



Is 49:1-6 // Acts 13:22-26 // Lk 1:57-66, 80





A. Gospel Reading (Lk 1:57-66, 80): “John is his name.”


This happened on June 24th – a hot sunny day - many years ago. I was riding in a “jeep”, the most popular form of public transportation in the Philippines. I was on my way to visit my parents and have lunch with them. The route of the “jeep” would take me through San Juan, in Metro Manila, which was celebrating the feast of its patron saint. The town has a unique fiesta tradition – water dousing! When I boarded the “jeep”, I noticed that the plastic window curtains to protect passengers from rain were rolled down. The driver explained: “I don’t want you to get wet. It’s fiesta in San Juan.” When we were there, the “jeep” got stuck in the traffic. We saw some teenagers by the road ready with water ammunition, but they were totally ignoring us. Their attention was focused on passersby. When the vehicle started to move, there was a vigorous splash through the door. An abundant douse of water hit us. After the initial shock, we started to laugh. Thank God! It was clean water. We were wet, but it was fun. The water dousing steeped us in the fiesta spirit – we felt that John the Baptist had baptized us!


The universal Church celebrates today the nativity of John the Baptist, the Messiah’s precursor. The Gospel (Lk 1:57-66, 80) describes the marvelous circumstances surrounding the birth of John the Baptist. Elizabeth, the wife of the temple priest, Zechariah, gives birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives hear how the good Lord wonderfully has bestowed his mercy upon her. They all rejoice with Zechariah and Elizabeth. The joy is even greater on account of Elizabeth’s lifelong barrenness and the advanced age of the couple. In the biblical mentality, fecundity is a sign of divine blessing and childlessness a disgrace or a curse. The name given to the child by God and announced to Zechariah by the angel at the temple is truly significant: “JOHN” – which means “Yahweh has shown favor” … “Yahweh is gracious”. Indeed, the joy brought about by Elizabeth’s motherhood is a foretaste of the messianic joy that the birth of Jesus will bring to the world.


The following story gives a glimpse into the joy that motherhood entails (cf. Shawnelle Eliasen in Daily Guideposts 2015. P. 180).


“I have a surprise”, my son Samuel said. “What’s that?” I asked. His hand came forward, and his fingers uncurled. In his palm lay a few wadded, crumpled dollar bills and an assortment of change. “Wow!” I said. “What are you going to do with it?”


“What I’d like to do is take you for a ride on that.” A street fair had come to our small town, and Samuel turned toward the Ferris wheel curving just over the trees in our front yard.


“But that’s your Tooth Fairy and birthday money, Samuel. Are you sure you want to spend it like that?”


“I’m sure”, he said, but as we waited in line, I began to feel guilty. Maybe I should have offered to pay.


“C’mon up!” the man on the platform called. We headed straight for the sky. Around and around we went, in and out of the blue. We held our breath on the way up and giggled like mad on the way down.


“Are you having fun, Mon?” Samuel asked the final time we went around. “I am”, I said. “Thank you for the gift.”


Samuel nodded. His hand wrapped around min. His smile came straight from his heart. I didn’t need to feel guilty. My little boy was learning to give.



B. First Reading (Is 49:1-6): “I will make you a light to the nations.”


The liturgy’s First Reading (Is 49:1-6) comes from the Second Servant Song, which describes the commissioning of a mysterious personage - the Servant of God - as a prophet. The identity of the Servant is not specified and since the reference is open-ended, it is easily appropriated. On account of the versatility of its image, the figure of the Servant has been applied to various personages in salvation history, foremost of whom is Jesus Christ, the ultimate Servant of Yahweh. Today’s liturgy, however, applies the Second Servant Song to John the Baptist, whose birthday we commemorate today. Called from birth and given a name from his mother’s womb, the remarkable child will grow and be honed into a “sharp-edged sword”. He will be transformed into an effective prophetic instrument of God’s word. Like a “polished arrow” hidden in God’s quiver, John is to become an incisive weapon to be used at the right time to proclaim the judgment of God. Concealed for a time, the prophet John will appear in the desert to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom and prepare the way for the public ministry of the Messiah. An enigmatic ascetic and a compelling figure in the wilderness of Judea, the Precursor will exhort the people tensed with messianic expectation: “Turn away from your sins and be baptized, and God will forgive your sins.”


In bearing witness to the person of the Jesus Christ, the true Light that enlightens the world, and in upholding the integrity of moral truth against the malice of King Herod and his partner Herodias, John suffers martyrdom. His death is an intimate participation in the paschal destiny of the Messiah, of which he is a precursor. In sharing intimately the universal work of salvation of Jesus Christ, the words of Yahweh in the Second Servant Song, could also be applied not only to Jesus but also to John: “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Is 49:6).


In sharing Christ’s saving work in the “here and now” we continue to incarnate the Word of God and make his love real and tangible. In doing so, we too become a “light to the nations”. Here is a modern-day example (cf. Pam Kidd in Daily Guideposts 2015, p. 201).


Years ago, I was called to Zimbabwe on assignment to write about the street children. I didn’t plan on becoming involved beyond that, but it became abundantly clear that God’s call was for my family to get involved, and soon the children of this AIDS-ravaged country became our passion. Village Hope was born.


Now, standing amidst pots boiling on open fires and the delicious smell of bread baking in cast-iron ovens, I see children, once orphaned and alone, working alongside the local couple we partnered with, Alice and Paddington. They’ve been up since dawn, preparing for guests. Today is the dedication of their new church.


But for me, the anticipated visit by an important official of Zimbabwe’s presbytery touches the day with apprehension. Church executives can be stuffy and self-important, and I didn’t want to see the enthusiasm over this happy event dampened.


At the appointed hour, a big black car drove through the gates and an immaculately dressed man emerged. I kept my distance, waiting for Alice and Paddington to meet the dignitary and take him on a tour of the little farm. Finally, they appeared in the cooking hut, and I was surprised to see the tears in the man’s eyes. He looked at us and what he said melted our worries, clarified our struggles, and opened our eyes: “The Word made flesh”.



C. Second Reading (Acts 13:22-26): “John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance.”


The Second Reading (Acts 13:22-26) contains Paul’s speech to the Israelites and other worshippers in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia. In this apostolic preaching, he underlines the mission of John with regards to the Messiah. According to Saint Paul, Jesus is the Savior whom God has brought to Israel from David’s posterity. The prophet John heralds the coming of the Savior by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. The baptism of repentance performed by John at River Jordan is a powerful call and an intense symbol of turning to God and reconciliation with him, a saving event to be completely achieved in the paschal sacrifice of the Messiah Jesus Christ.


Like John the Baptist we can be instruments of conversion and “heralds” of Christ’s coming into the life of a person. The following personal testimony is insightful (cf. Mike McGarvin, Papa Mike, Fresno: Poverello House, 2003, p. 59-60, 64).


Like Father Simon, Brother Kurt was a mystery to me, but in a different way. Father Simon was a pillar of strength, a wise, loving example, and very much a loner. I marveled at his energy, his intelligence, and the depth of his sacrifice, and I wondered how he did it, day after day, year after year.


Brother Kurt impressed me in many of the same ways. However, I saw more of his flaws up close, and it made him very accessible. Father Simon taught me that God is love, and that loving people directly translated into loving people. Brother Kurt taught me that God loves us just as we are, warts and all. Perhaps more than anything, his humanity endeared him to me. (…)


Kurt was just as tenacious in the various tasks he performed as a Franciscan. He loved people, and he kept plugging along in his difficult lonely vocation of service. God had called him to the Franciscans, and he was there to obey the call. He was full of human frailty, but he knew it and didn’t let his imperfections deter his dedication to his calling.


In some ways, he was the perfect friend for me at the time. Even thought I was big and rough, I was emotionally and spiritually fragile. Christianity was new and in many ways frightening, and Kurt put me at ease. He had many shortcomings, but I wouldn’t felt comfortable with someone who had it all together, or who was spiritually lofty.


Without Father Simon, I might have eventually destroyed myself. His life reflected the shining light of Jesus, and guided me out of a terrible darkness. Without Kurt, I might have fallen away from the faith in despair, because I would have become so discouraged about my sins and inadequacies. Each man reflected a different aspect of the Christian faith, and I neede both to continue being healed of my past. (…)


God was transforming my life through Poverello. Joining the Catholic Church gave me a new outlook, and my life had new meaning now. (…)





1. How does the vocation and consecration of John the Baptist inspire us? Do we believe that we too have been called by God from birth and entrusted with a prophetic mission in today’s world?


2. What is the meaning of the birth of John the Baptist and the name “JOHN” given to him by God from his mother’s womb? How did the neighbors and relatives respond to the saving event experienced by Elizabeth and Zechariah? Like them do we allow ourselves to be filled with joy in the Lord?


3. Do we contemplate devoutly the meaning of the Lord’s baptism and the role of John the Baptist as the precursor of the Messiah? Do we imitate John the Baptist in his mission to point to the Messiah and to bear total witness on his behalf, even to the point of death?





We bless and praise you, O Lord, the God of Israel.

As we give you thanks for Jesus, the Day Spring,

we also thank you for his cousin John,

the prophet of the Most High.

He prepares the Messiah’s way

and disposes our hearts for the forgiveness of sins.

O loving God,

help us to imitate John’s faithful messianic ministry

and his personal integrity.

As we celebrate today his marvelous birth,

grant us the grace to imitate him

in his courageous witnessing on behalf of truth.

You live and reign,

forever and ever.






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


             “The hand of the Lord was with him.” (Lk 1:66)





Pray that the Christian disciples of today may truly understand the great role of John the Baptist in preparing the way and in bearing witness to Jesus Christ. In the surroundings where you live, endeavor to be like the Baptist in giving witness to truth and in your prophetic stance against the culture of death and falsehood of today’s society.



*** *** ***


June 25, 2020: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (12)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Build Upon the Rock … He Strengthens Us in Our Affliction”



2 Kgs 24:8-17 // Mt 7:21-29





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 7:21-29): “The house built on rock and the house built on sand.”


Outward symbols must correspond to inner reality. Pious practices and confession with the lips are laudable, but are not enough; total obedience to the will of God and right actions are necessary. In the Gospel (Mt 7:21-29), using the powerful image of a solid foundation, Jesus tells his disciples that his teaching is the only safe foundation to build one’s life. Any other foundation spells destruction. The Divine Master calls us to build our lives on the rock of his living word and put it into practice. We must not simply proclaim in words that Jesus is Lord and call upon him as our Lord Savior. We must act in a way that corresponds to the inner strength of our word. Our actions must give witness to the faith we profess.  Our worship of God must be incarnated in the life we live.


The following story of Jo Dee Baker from Slidell, Louisiana, whose lovely house and beautiful garden were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, tells of a community of believers whose efficacious faith is founded on a solid foundation (cf. “Angels on the Move” in Guideposts, Large Print Edition, March 2006, p. 5-9). Both Jo, the victim of a natural calamity, and the caregivers from the Baptist Church illustrate how wonderful and marvelous is a faith that is put into practice.


My beautiful yard was a mess of uprooted trees and debris; the salt water had burned the grass a sickly brown. My lovely white picket fence lay on its side, and shingles from my roof littered the ground like fallen leaves. Inside, slimy mud covered the floors, and water from the storm surge had tossed all my furniture upside down. The walls were caked black with mildew. Practically everything I owned was ruined. How could I ever come back from this? How could anyone? (…)


So many people needed help, and help was spread thin. “Lord”, I prayed, “I need some divine intervention here.” The next day, I pulled up to my house just as a man with a pickup truck was slowly passing by. He stopped, rolled down the window and leaned out. “Do you need any help?” he shouted. I laughed halfheartedly. “Help? I need an army,” I said. “I’m Brother Johnny from First Baptist Church of Pontchatoula.” He wrote down my name, address and number. “We’ll be in touch, Ma’am.” Then he drove off. But after two weeks I still hadn’t heard from him.


One Monday morning, lugging another bag of my ruined treasures to the curb, I stared down the street at the mountains of trash and destroyed homes. “So many people have lost so much,” I thought. Just then, my cell phone rang. Service was still spotty, but the voice on the other end was loud and clear. “Hello, it’s Brother Johnny. I’ve got some people who want to volunteer to help you. They’ll be calling you.” That was it. He hung up. Then the phone rang again. “Jo Dee? This is Jimmy Brown. I’m from the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Rives, Tennessee. We need to know what you need, exactly.” Where to begin? I told him about the mildewed floors, the torn up roof. “Don’t worry, Ma’am. We’ll be there. See you next Tuesday morning.” (…)


Nineteen people had traveled all the way from Tennessee just to help little old me. They spent three days cleaning the rot and grime and putting on my new roof. Two weeks after they left, about 40 more, from an association of 45 churches, came to finish the job! They ripped out and replaced the flooring, repainted the house, put in new shelves and cabinets, installed a stove and a water heater. By the time they were done, the house looked better than ever!



B. First Reading (2 Kgs 24:8-17): “The king of Babylon also led captive to Babylon Jehoiachin and the chief men of the land.”


Today’s Old Testament reading (2 Kgs 24:8-17) presents a familiar picture of an unscrupulous king. King Josiah’s grandson, Jehoiachin becomes king at the age of eighteen and “does evil in the sight of the Lord”. His reign lasts only three months due to the Babylonian invasion. King Nebuchadnezzar takes him as a royal hostage and deports him to Babylon. The temple and palace treasures are confiscated and the people of Judah – the leading citizens, the skilled workers, the able-bodied men fit for military service – are brought in captivity to Babylon. The captors leave only the poorest of the people behind in Judah. Nebuchadnezzar installs Jehoiachin’s twenty-one year old uncle Zedekiah as puppet king. In the context of the sinfulness of Israel and Judah, the Babylonian invasion is an instrument of God to call the erring people on the right path.


The following story set in the Nazi-occupied Poland gives insight into the sufferings the Jewish people experienced in the hands of their Babylonian captors (cf. J.L. Witterick, My Mother’s Secret, Bloomington: iUniverse, 2013, p. 82-84).


The next morning, we are awakened by screaming and gunshots. There is a raid on the ghetto. They are rounding people up in the same trucks that took my brother. I know what this means.


I take my son and hide him in a woodshed, telling him to stay quiet until I return. Only six, he understood that his survival depends on it. My wife, sister-in-law and I, with the baby in one arm, climb a steep ladder leading to the small opening of an attic. There is pandemonium below.


Then the baby starts to cry. My wife looks at me with helpless panic. She tries to rock Biata and cradles her against her chest, but nothing works. We had moved the ladder away from the entrance of the attic to deflect attention, but someone is moving it back and climbing up – someone who speaks German. It’s a Polish officer working with a German soldier below. He looks at my terrified wife and whispers, “Do you want to go with your baby?” She only has a minute to make a decision that no one could make in a lifetime. She gives him our baby.


Descending the stairs, he says to the German soldier that he has found an abandoned baby. “Doesn’t matter”, says the soldier. “We’ll get the mother later.” I think that had it not been for our son, she would have gone with our baby. We stay hidden for a while even after the noise has died, and all the trucks have gone.


We know that you can never be too careful. How do you move when you feel like you can’t go on? You think of someone who needs you more. We find our son asleep in the woodshed, and we move on.


In the middle of the night again, I make a trip to Street of Our Lady with my wife, her sister, and my son, all so solemn now that you would think we were going to our death.





1. Is our faith solidly built on the word of God? Is it efficacious and operative? How do we translate our faith into action?  


2. Are we aware of the death-dealing consequences of our sinfulness and evil choices? What do we do when we are the innocent victims of the sinfulness and evil choices of others?





Loving Father,

give us the wisdom of the Holy Spirit

that we may make the right choices

and be faithful to the kingdom values.

Assist us to trust in the saving word of Jesus.

May our faith be true and shown by our actions.

When the rains of temptation fall

and the floods of evil come,

let us not yield to despair,

but rather, increase our faith in Jesus.

He is our refuge and stronghold,

our rock of strength and true foundation,

now and forever.






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


“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” (Mt 7:21-29) //“He deported all Jerusalem …” (II Kgs 24: 16)





When life trials seem to submerge you, pray to God that he may strengthen your faith. Extend your helping hand and share the Word with those whose faith is wavering.




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June 26, 2020: FRIDAY – WEEKDAY (12)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Cleanses Lepers … He Experienced

the Plight of the Exile”




2 Kgs 25:1-12 // Mt 8:1-4





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 8:1-4): “If you wish you can make me clean.”


It was in 1984 when I visited the PDDM Sisters in Nellore, India. To give me a chance to know more about the local Church, they brought me to the diocesan leper colony. It was situated in a vast isolated farmland, dotted with the humble dwellings of the lepers. The sun was scorching as we plodded through the dusty roads. The inhabitants were gentle and hospitable. We were conversing with them from a safe distance, when an elderly leper lady thoughtfully opened a battered umbrella and came near to shield me from the noonday sun. I politely rejected the proffered kindness, explaining that I needed the therapeutic warmth of the sun. I did not want to hurt her feelings, but I was afraid to stay close to a leper. I dreaded to touch a leper!


In today’s Gospel reading (Mt 8:1-4), we have a very beautiful picture of Christian compassion. In this narrative, Jesus offers a completely new and radical response to the unmitigated human suffering personified by a leper. Breaking down the barriers of hygiene and ritual purity, Jesus does the unimaginable. Responding with compassion to the leper’s faith invocation, “If you wish, you can make me clean”, Jesus stretches out his hand and touches him saying, “I do will it. Be made clean.” He touches the “untouchable” with his healing hand. He comforts the outcast with an authoritative word that brings wholeness. Indeed, the cleansing of the leper is a victorious messianic sign that the Kingdom of God has come. 


One of the exigencies of Christian life is to bring the healing ministry of Jesus to the many “lepers” of today, especially the millions of victims of Hansen’s disease all over the world who, more than all others, fit the description “the poorest of the poor”. Mother Teresa of Calcutta dedicated her ministry of charity in a special way to these lepers, impelled by the slogan that was a rewording of the ancient taboo. “Touch a leper with your compassion.” Mother Teresa, moreover, spoke of the “leprosy of the Western world”, which is, the leprosy of loneliness. In her ministry to the lonely, the unwanted, the marginalized, the rejected, the AIDS victim, etc. she had given witness that with the love of Christ, there is healing for the leprosy of our modern times. Indeed, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, together with St. Francis of Assisi, Blessed Damien of Molokai, and many other Christian disciples, had shown that it is possible to respond to the Christian missionary imperative: “Cure the sick … cleanse the lepers!” (Mt 10:8) and that it is necessary to replicate the healing gesture of Christ: “Touch a leper with your compassion.”



B. First Reading (2 Kgs 25:1-12): “Thus was Judah exiled from her land (II Kgs 25:21).”


The reading (2 Kgs 25:1-12) describes the ruthless destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army and how Judah is exiled from her land. Zedekiah, the puppet king of Judah, conspires against King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Zedekiah, however, is not strong enough to rebel either militarily or by way of fidelity to the Lord God. The consequence is disastrous. Zedekiah is captured and, after the captors have killed his sons before his eyes, they blind him and then deport him to Babylon in chains. The invading army breaks down the walls that surround Jerusalem. Led by Nebuzaradan, the captain of the body guard, the Babylonians burn the temple, the king’s palace and the large dwellings in the city. Then they take away to Babylon the people remaining in the city, but leave in Judah some of the poorest people to work in the fields and vineyards. Thus Zedekiah’s failure to obey the will of God, spoken to him through the prophet Jeremiah, has led to his ignominious end, the tragic deportation of the nation and Jerusalem’s total devastation.


The following excerpt from a book based on a true Holocaust story that happened in Nazi-occupied Poland gives insight into the tragic plight of the Babylonian exiles (cf. J.L. Witterick, My Mother’s Secret, Bloomington: iUniverse, Inc., 2013, p. 68-69).


Bronek’ Narrative: By September 1942, my gold is running low, and we are herded up and sent to live in a part of the city that had been sectioned off by barbed wire. We are allowed to bring one bag each. I tell everyone to bring the most practical clothes and shoes. No one will care how we look. “We will need warm clothes and good walking shoes”, I say.


Worried that they will search our bags and take our money, I have Anelie saw a false lining in the coats to hide our cash. Also, Walter’s teddy bear ahs his stuffing replaced with zlotys. Our precaution pays off when out bags are searched on arrival. The Germans take everything valuable. They are ruthless and even have a dentist on hand to extract teeth for the gold fillings. We hear people begging and crying to keep their remaining possessions. I know that it’s useless to plead with the thugs, and that’s how I see them. I could fight the bully in the schoolyard, but this is beyond anything that I can fix.


My family is given one room in an old house with seven other families. There are two small beds for the five of us. We keep a small pot under the bed for Walter who can’t wait for his turn to use the outhouse.





1. How do we react to people physically and spiritually afflicted with leprosy? Do we recognize the leprous elements in our modern society who bear the detestable sores of isolation and rejection, e.g. the poor and destitute, the homeless, the unattractive, the AIDS victims, etc.? Do we come to their aid?


2. How does the experience of the Babylonian exile impact us? How does the experience of the modern day “exiles” (refugees, immigrants, etc.) affect and move us?





Lord Jesus,

if you will, you can make me clean.

Touch me; heal me.

Cleanse me from the “leprosy of sin”.

Free me from the sores of rejection and isolation.

You are the wounded healer

and the bearer of new life

by your passion and death on the cross


You live, forever and ever.




Psalm 137

By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept

when we remember Zion.

On the aspens of that land we hung up our harps.

There our captors asked of us the lyrics of our songs,

and our despoilers urged us to be joyous:

“Sing for us the songs of Zion!”

How could we sing a song of the Lord in a foreign land?

If I forget you, Jerusalem,

may my right hand be forgotten!

May my tongue cleave to my palate if I remember you not,

if I place not Jerusalem ahead of my joy.





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


“He touched him.” (Mk 1:41) // “Then he led into exile the last of the people remaining in the city.” (II Kgs 25:11)





Pray for the victims of Hansen’s disease all over the world and all caregivers who work to alleviate their pain and suffering. Through moral, spiritual and material support, contribute to their healing and restoration. // Pray for the refugees in today’s time and see what you can do to alleviate their suffering – morally, spiritually and materially.



*** *** ***

June 27, 2020: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (12); SAINT CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA, Bishop, Doctor of the Church; BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Heals the Centurion’s Servant … He Is with Us in Our Lamentation”



Lam 2:2, 10-14, 18-19 // Mt 8:5-17





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 8:5-17): “Many will come from east to west and will recline with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”


This is a true story. A small Jewish boy realized that his teenage nanny, a Catholic, wishes him well. She even accompanies him to the synagogue when his daddy is not around. There she would encourage him to get into the serious business of praying. One day his dear nanny became seriously ill. She was in the hospital dying of pneumonia. The boy requested his dad to accompany him to her parish church so that he could pray there for her healing. The Jewish dad shook his finger at him, but finally relented. They went to the Catholic parish church.  The boy knelt in a pew and poured out his heart to God in prayer. The beloved nanny recovered. She continued to serve at that Jewish household for many, many years.


The reading (Mt 8:5-17) depicts one of the most lovable figures in the Gospel: the Roman centurion who approached Jesus saying, “Lord, my servant is lying home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He is a person of immense compassion for he pleaded for a suffering servant. He is mighty in military power but humble and gentle of heart. He is a foreigner, but sympathetic to the Jews. He is respectful of the Jewish culture for he does not wish Jesus to be defiled by going into his house – the house of a Gentile. Great is his faith in Jesus’ healing power for he humbly said to Jesus: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Jesus expressed surprise and delight at his request. He healed his suffering servant and praised his great faith. The Lord Jesus reminds us that faith – expressed in goodness, compassion and humility - entitles us to share in the promises God made to the patriarchs.



B. First Reading (Lam 3:1, 10-14, 18-19): “Cry out to the Lord over the fortresses of daughter Zion.”


The Old Testament reading (Lam 2:2, 20-14, 18-19) contains the prophet Jeremiah’s description of the destruction inflicted by King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army upon Jerusalem. The puppet king Zedekiah of Judah rebels and breaks his treaty with Nebuchadnezzar and is summarily punished. Zedekiah disobeys the word of the Lord spoken through the prophet Jeremiah to submit to the Babylonians. He thus suffers the consequence of choices contrary to God’s saving plan. The vengeful Nebuchadnezzar destroys the Jerusalem temple, breaks down the city walls and orders the massive exile of the Jews into Babylon in 587 B.C. The text from the Book of Lamentation is a wild outpouring of grief over destroyed Zion. The horror of the siege is depicted and the consequent death, famine and desolation that ensue. The description of starving children and of starving mothers eating their offspring (cf. Lam 2:20) is horrible. Sin is revealed in its raw ugliness.


The following excerpt about the dark period of the Holocaust in the Nazi-occupied Poland evokes some of the desolation described by the Book of Lamentations (cf. J.L. Witterick, My Mother’s Secret, Bloomington: iUniverse, 2013, p. 146-147).


The landscape is grim with gray skies and trees that look like they will never be green again. Some of the buildings in town have been bombed and, with greater priorities elsewhere, they are left in this state of disrepair. There are pieces of broken glass, rubble, and brick in small tiles along the side of the streets. Any wood is quickly taken away for firewood. The beauty of the willow trees by the river is in sharp contrast to the tanks dotted in between. The land beneath our feet – cold, hard, and dry – reflects the suffering that is going on above it.


Food becomes more expensive each day. We would not have been able to feed anyone without Dr. Wolenski’s savings and Casimir’s generosity. Our neighbors are jealous that we have food, but they don’t cause trouble because they think we are connected to the commander. My mother doesn’t play chess, but if she did, it would be with many moves ahead.


The Germans have moved more soldiers across the river, and the fighting escalates. When Casimir becomes worried for our safety, I know the situation is deteriorating rapidly.


He is careful with the choice of words in his letters, but I know the underlying message. “Helena, we no longer need you in the factory. Your employment with us is terminated immediately”, really means that he thinks the factory might be bombed at any time.





1. Do I manifest the same faith, compassion and virtues as the Roman centurion who cares for a suffering servant?


2. Do we observe and/or experience the afflictions and desolation brought about by our sinful choices? How do we respond to them?





Jesus Master,

we thank you for the sterling character of the Roman centurion.

He is a special model

of compassion, goodness, humility and faith in you.

With him, we cry out to you:

“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,

but only say the word,

and my soul shall be healed.”

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.




O merciful God,

our tears flow like a torrent

for the afflictions brought about by our sins.

We have turned away from you, the font of life.

We have committed ourselves to self-destruction.

Probed by your grace, we come to our senses.

We lament and detest our sins.

We pour out our hearts to you,

invoking the saving sacrifice of your Son Jesus Christ.

For you are a loving and merciful God,

we therefore give you glory and praise,

now and forever.






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


“Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Mt 8:8) //“Cry out to the Lord; moan, O daughter of Zion!” (Lam 2:18)





Show compassion, respect and caring love for the people around you, especially the subordinate, and uphold their dignity. // Be aware of the great value and the necessity of the sacrament of reconciliation and profit from the great mercy channeled by God through this healing sacrament.




Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang  PDDM





60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314

Tel. (718) 494-8597 // (718) 761-2323

Website: WWW.PDDM.US

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