A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 18, n. 46)

Week 28 in Ordinary Time: October 11-17, 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: October 4-10, 2020 please go to ARCHIVES Series 18 and click on “Ordinary Week 27”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: October 11-17, 2020.)

 

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October 11, 2020: TWENTY-EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Invites Us to the Feast of the Kingdom”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 25:6-10a // Phil 4:12-14, 19-20 // Mt 22:1-14

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 22:1-14): “Invite to the wedding feast whomever you find.”

          

Today’s Parable of the Guests and the Wedding Garment (Mt 22:1-14) is part of what could be called the “liturgies for times of crisis”, which consists of the celebrations for the 26th, 27th and 28th Sundays in Ordinary Time. The Gospel readings of these Sundays call for a decisive and critical decision for the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. They likewise depict the unfortunate fate of those who reject him and negate the heavenly Father’s offer of saving love in his beloved Son. Indeed, the task and challenge of making critical options for Christ is reinforced by the evangelist Matthew’s insistence that our initial response to the Lord’s invitation to participate in his divine love is of no value if it does not translate into action. This Sunday’s parable reminds us that we must obey God in action, not just in word. It also underlines the legitimate demands and obligations imposed on those who wish to participate in the eschatological or end-time meal.

  

The biblical scholar Daniel Harrington comments: “Mere acceptance of the invitation, however, does not guarantee participation in the banquet … Guests at a wedding banquet would be expected to appear in clean and neat clothing. When the king (God the Father) sees a man who is not dressed properly, he questions him in a cool manner (“My friend”) and has him ejected from the banquet hall. Being a tax collector or prostitute is no more a guarantee of salvation than being a Pharisee or chief priest; rather, one must receive Jesus’ invitation and act upon it so that when the banquet actually begins, one will be properly prepared to participate … The invitation to the kingdom has been offered to all kinds of people, but only a few of them act upon it in such a way as to be allowed to participate in the banquet of the kingdom.”

 

The following modern-day account gives an idea of what a positive response to a party invitation means (cf. Mary Lou Carney in Guideposts 2010, p. 317).

 

I often make big dinners for my extended family. We began calling these events “parties” for the little ones. “Nina, are we having a party tonight?” my grandson Drake would ask if I stopped by his house. And his little brother Brock would join in: “Party! Party!” Not long ago, I bought a little neon light. It spells out the word party in a rainbow of colors. Once everyone has arrived for dinner, the grandchildren gather ‘round while I plug it in.

 

Last night my daughter Amy Jo called to see if I could take care of the boys for the evening. Drake and Brock and I dined alone on spaghetti and meatballs that I’d pulled out of the freezer. As we settled down at the table, Drake suddenly sat up and pointed, “The party light, Nina. We forgot the party light!” “But it’s just the three of us …”, I began. Drake smiled. “But it’s still a party!”

 

So I plugged in the light. And in the autumn twilight it glowed soft and inviting. We ate in silence, the only sound was the slurping of spaghetti into small mouths.

 

I think I sense God’s presence most during these simple times, times when I find myself standing in a small oasis of gratitude. There I recognize how blessed I am, that I – and those I love – are not alone on this earthly trek.

 

 

Indeed, today’s Gospel parable underlines the need for a positive and total response to the feast of the kingdom. The banquet of salvation is abundant and gratuitous, but it demands personal commitment and the “wedding garment” of integrity and holiness that is woven by the way we live. The following is my humble effort to weave a “wedding garment”.

 

I was assigned in 2007-2009 to our convent in downtown Los Angeles. Our convent is walking distance from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. When I go for the morning mass, I would carry a neatly folded plastic bag. In hiking to and from the Cathedral, I would pick up the trash strewn carelessly around the public garbage bins and dispose of it properly. Moreover, when I use a public restroom, I clean it up and make it ready for the next user. I am convinced that through these small acts of public service, I am making a difference in the life of the community. In my little way I am helping to build a better world. Indeed, through these “little good deeds” I am slowly weaving the “wedding garment” that will enable me to participate more fully at the Eucharist and at the “banquet of salvation” at the end time.

  

 

B. First Reading (Phil 4:12-14, 19-20): “The Lord will prepare a feast and wipe away the tears from every face.”

 

Today’s Old Testament reading (Is 25:6-10a) depicts with mouth-watering vividness the definitive triumph of God’s kingdom at the end time. The fulfillment of God’s saving plan is imaged as a “feast of rich food and choice wines”. On that day of great feasting, the people redeemed would exclaim: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us” (Is 25:9). This bountiful banquet on the mountain of God is a symbol of eternal salvation, companionship and joy – of the delightful sharing in the riches of God and intimate communion in his delectable life.

 

The biblical scholar Eugene Maly comments: “One of the most pleasant of human activities is the family or community meal. In its ideal form, it is a time when those who love one another not only share the food they eat, but also share with one another their hopes and fears, their experiences and future plans. The love that already binds them is made stronger. The Scripture attests to the fact that a meal is expressive of a wide range of human attitudes and emotions … All mankind seems to be aware of the fact that a shared meal creates or strengthens a community of life among the participants. That is why this most human of activities would also be used to symbolize a community of life between human and divine participants … The Isaiah reading describes in rich imagery what is commonly referred to as the eschatological or end-time meal. In his description of this meal the author is trying to bring home to the people the exquisite joy of that final day when they would be united with the Lord forever. A common life and common love are symbolized.”

 

The following modern day account of a July 4 celebration gives a glimpse into the importance of a shared meal and the abundant riches of the heavenly banquet (cf. Erika Bentsen, Daily Guideposts 2014, p. 204).

 

It’s the savory smell of tri-tip barbecuing over mountain mahogany. It’s the sight of long tables loaded down with countless macaroni or potato salads, baked beans, casseroles, fruit and veggie platters. It’s overflowing baskets of rolls. It’s the pies and homemade ice-cream waiting on ice in the shade. It’s the boisterous din of conversation among country neighbors, almost clannish and isolated the rest of the year, coming together en masse to celebrate Independence Day.

 

It’s that brief pivotal lull between irrigating and haying season in our valley; the last chance for neighbors to get together and socialize before the long, arduous process of gathering and storing forage against the coming winter. Most of us won’t see each other for months, if not until next year.

 

As the dinner triangle clangs, there’s a whoop of joy and laughter. We bow our heads as one for the blessing. I steal a glance over the assembled crowd: cowboys and Indians. Retirees from California. Ranch kids. Old time families and recent imports. Dear friends and complete strangers. Rich and poor. All races and all walks of life. Each of us came to this valley in pursuit of the American dream. My heart swells with pride at our great nation.

 

 

C. Second Reading (Phil 4:12-14, 19-20): “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”

 

In the Second Reading (Phil 4: 12-14, 19-20), the following words of Saint Paul can be linked to the imagery of banquet and feasting: “In every circumstance and in all things, I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” He is able to cope with every circumstance having been nourished by the bread of the Word and having supped at the Lord’s Table. Saint Paul is ready for anything because it is the Lord who strengthens him. Indeed, his deep participation at the Lord’s Table has prepared him to relish abundance and feasting as well as to endure hunger and various difficulties in times of scarcity.

 

Mary Ehle comments: “In this passage, Paul is thankful that the Philippians have shared in his suffering while he was in prison … While Paul strongly desired to be self-sufficient as a missionary and support himself through his own work, he humbly accepted gifts as he engaged in his missionary work. The reading concludes with Paul’s statement of faith that God will also provide for the people of his dearly beloved community at Philippi … Paul then offers a doxology of praise to God for his generous riches in Christ Jesus – an example to the Philippians and to us of how we are to be thankful for all that we receive to strengthen us in faith and life.”

 

The following short account of Aurora de la Cruz, a Maryknoll Missionary, beautifully illustrates what Saint Paul experienced: that God is generous and will supply our need (“Missioner’s Tale” in Maryknoll, September-October 2011, p. 1-11).

 

The scattered atolls of the Marshall Islands, where I served as a Maryknoll Sister for 12 years, are surrounded by the great Pacific Ocean waters, yet there’s not a drop to drink unless it rains. In the outer islands we collected rainwater in cement cisterns, which we used for drinking and cooking for ourselves and for the students in our mission schools. Most of our neighbors could afford only empty kerosene drums and other small containers for catching rain water. During times of drought we had to be very careful with whatever rainwater we have collected.

 

One day during a drought, not wanting to use our scarce drinking water, I tried to quench my thirst by getting a big knife to open a coconut and drink its water. But no matter how hard I tried, I could not open the coconut.

 

Just as I was feeling sorry for myself, a young boy walked by. Seeing my struggle, he took the knife and with a few strokes, opened the coconut. With great thanksgiving, I understood the words of Jesus: “I was thirsty and you gave me to drink.”

 

 

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

 

1. What is the personal significance for us of Isaiah’s prophecy that the Lord will prepare a feast and wipe away the tears from every face?

 

2. Are we ready to join the wedding feast of God’s kingdom? How do we prepare and celebrate?

 

3. Like Saint Paul, have we learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry? Do we trust in God’s graciousness and that he will supply whatever we need?

 

 

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

 

Almighty God,

we thank you for the feast of rich food and choice wines,

symbol of messianic salvation.

We thank you for inviting us

to the wedding feast of the heavenly kingdom.

Let us celebrate worthily the fullness of salvation

that your Son Jesus Christ won for us.

Nourish us with the bread of the Word

and strengthen us with new life at the Eucharistic Table

so that, like Saint Paul, we may be able to live in all circumstances.

Help us to be grateful in abundance

and to be gracious in scarcity and poverty.

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.

 

“Come to the feast.” (Mt 22:4b)

 

 

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

 

By your small acts of charity and good deeds, strive to weave a “wedding garment” of integrity and holiness that will enable you to participate fully at the heavenly feasting. Endeavor to alleviate the hunger of the world’s poor and to satisfy the longing of impoverished people for a nourishing and bountiful meal.

 

 

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October 12, 2020: MONDAY – WEEKDAY (28)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Gives Them the Sign of Jonah … He Has Set Us Free”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Gal 4:22-24, 26-27, 31-5:1 // Lk 11:29-32

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 11:29-32): “This generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.”

 

I have a beautiful statue of the Holy Child Jesus (known in the Philippines as Santo Niño). It is enthroned in a prominent place in my room. Every morning and evening I kneel before him and offer special prayers for vocations. One day in 2012 I received a new assignment. From our convent in San Jose I was to be transferred to Fresno. But I was not sure whether I would bring the statue with me or leave it at our San Jose convent. I prayed to the Santo Niño to give me a “sign” where he wanted to be. By chance, I mentioned to Sr. Mary Lucy that I was praying for a “sign”. She spontaneously remarked: “Leave the Santo Niño in San Jose. I will keep it in my room.” That was the “sign” I was waiting for!

 

In today’s Gospel episode (Lk 11:29-32), the adversaries of Jesus ask for a “sign”, but he refuses to oblige to their terms. It is futile to give a further sign to an “evil generation” that chooses not to believe. His opponents have accused him of driving out demons by the power of Beelzebul. They have also demanded from him a sign of divine authority - proof that his authority comes from God and not from the prince of demons. Jesus counters that they will not be given any sign, except the “sign of Jonah”. Jonah was a prophet sent by God to the Ninevites to move them to conversion. Just as Jonah became a sign and means of salvation for the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be the sign and means of salvation for all generations and creation.

 

The pagan Ninevites and the Queen of the South are models of receptivity to the Word that summons us to conversion. Jesus is the incarnate wisdom and, as the Word of God, he is more than Jonah. Hence, the “paschal sign” of Christ is infinitely more powerful and efficacious than the “sign of Jonah”. Through Jonah, God generously extended forgiveness and salvation to the Assyrian Ninevites, a Gentile nation. But through the “Son of Man” Jesus Christ, God extends forgiveness and salvation to all nations.

 

 

B. First Reading (Gal 4:22-24, 26-27, 31-5:1): “We are children not of the slave woman but of the freeborn woman.”

 

In today’s First Reading (Gal. 4:22-24, 26-27, 31-5:1), Paul continues to underline the status of liberty already acquired by the Galatians when they received the Christian faith. Those who are in Christ are no longer subject to the Law. In the new life in Christ, there is no place for slavery. Using the allegory of Sarah and her children of freedom, in contrast to Hagar and her children of slavery, Paul refutes the Judaizers’ contention that Christians must follow the Torah’s legal prescriptions. Hagar represents the Sinai covenant that “enslaves” the children to the Law. Sarah represents the Abraham covenant, a context entirely free from the Torah’s legal prescriptions. For the apostle Paul, the example of Sarah and Hagar supports the reality that in Christ, God’s new freedom reigns. Paul’s statement to the Galatians is emphatic: “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” Indeed, to return to “circumcision” is to fall into slavery; to adopt the practices of the Judaizers is to forfeit Christian freedom.

 

The following story illustrates what it means to live Christ’s gift of “freedom” (cf.

Elizabeth Sherrill in Daily Guideposts 2014, p. 317).

 

Dick Riley, Accountant: It was twelve-year-old Liz’s turn to go with me on an interview. But, oh dear, I thought as we set out in the car for Pennsylvania, how would she react when she saw Dick Riley?

 

Sixteen years earlier, an ambitious young man with a wife and a baby on the way, Dick had fallen from a ladder. Paralyzed except for partial use of one arm, his legs had been amputated so he could turn himself in bed.

 

“You mustn’t cry”, I coached Liz. “You mustn’t act sorry for him.”

 

Dick’s wife led me to the room where he sat in a motorized bed surrounded by the files of his accounting business. I wrenched my eyes from the sheet – too flat where his body ended at the hips – and met a pair of smiling eyes. “I didn’t use to smile”, he told me. “All I cared about was getting rich fast.” Too fast to follow tedious safety rules for ladder use. As for smiling: “Only at someone who could help me get ahead.”

 

After the interview, Dick turned to Liz. Who was her best friend? What was her hardest class? “I’ll pray at exam time.” When teenage Dicky came home, his father asked after an ailing schoolmate. A client phoned. “I won’t charge him”, Dick said afterward. “He’s struggling to keep his kid in college.”

 

And that self-absorbed young man he used to be? “He was a lot more handicapped than I am. Sure, I’m trapped in thus useless body, but when you’re wrapped up in yourself, that’s the real prison.”

 

Grant me the true liberty, Father, of self-forgetfulness.

 

 

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

 

1. Are we receptive to the grace of God and his living Word calling us to conversion? Do we greatly welcome the “sign of Jonah” into our lives?

 

2. Do we believe that Christ has set us free? How do we live out our freedom as children of God? Do we allow ourselves to be subjected to various “enslavements”?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Master,

we thank you for being the “sign of Jonah” par excellence.

Help us to welcome the “paschal sign”

of your death and resurrection into our life.

Let not the pagan Ninevites and the Queen of the South condemn us,

but let their positive response be our own inspiration.

For freedom, your Son has set us free.

Do not allow us to become slaves again.

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.

 

“No sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” (Lk 11:29) // “For freedom Christ set us free.” (Gal 5:1)

 

  

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

 

Pray for those who have difficulty perceiving and welcoming the “sign of Jonah” and the “paschal sign” of Jesus Christ into their life. By your acts of charity enable the people around you to relish the “paschal sign” of Christ who calls us to salvation and sanctification. By your daily self-renunciation, endeavor to live the freedom of the children of God.

 

 

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October 13, 2020: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (28)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches the Importance of Almsgiving ,,, He Shows Us that Faith Works through Love”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Gal 5:1-6 // Lk 11:37-41

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 11:37-41): “Give alms and behold, everything will be clean for you.”

 

When I was a young girl, I was trained to scoop up a cup of grains from the rice bin whenever the “alabado” (a beggar) knocked at our door. I would solemnly offer it to him. He would pour my offering in his woven basket and utter words of blessing. That childhood formation on almsgiving had a great effect on me. It helped me to be more compassionate and caring for the poor and needy.

 

Today’s Gospel (Lk 11:37-41) contains a revolutionary statement of Jesus about almsgiving. In the context of his polemic with the Pharisees, who are more concerned with ritual cleanliness than with cleanliness of the soul, Jesus asserts: “But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.” Indeed, almsgiving is purifying. It liberates us from evil tendencies that lead to self-destruction. Jesus teaches the ritually conscious Pharisees and all of us that charity is above hand-washing rules and other humanly contrived regulations that are hard to bear. Jesus motivates his disciples to be deeply concerned with the needy and vulnerable. To take a legalistic stance and a hypocritical attitude would seriously compromise the meaning of Christian discipleship, which is deeply animated by love of God and neighbor.

 

The following article, circulated on the Internet, gives insight into the importance of almsgiving in the Christian life.

 

“Alms” is a word from Old English that refers to something, like food or money, given to the poor. As a practice, almsgiving can include many things, such as making a donation to a charitable organization or tithing to a religious institution (that is, giving one-tenth a part of something). Almsgiving is part of our baptismal calling, as it is one way to take care of our brothers and sisters, both locally and globally, and to provide for the needs of the “least of these.” In a sense, almsgiving is putting money where our mouths are, that is, giving a material gift as a sign of our commitment to follow in the steps of Jesus.

 

Like fasting, almsgiving is a practice that encourages us to think about our lives and ourselves in new ways. Almsgiving encourages focusing on what we have to give, rather than on what we can get for ourselves. It also can help correct our attitude toward material possessions. Rather than hoarding our things out of fear that we may not have enough, almsgiving encourages us to express gratitude for all that God has given to us by giving some away. Small acts of almsgiving help us to grow in charity, leading toward recognition of Jesus Christ in the poor of our world. Almsgiving takes us beyond an attitude of “it’s just me and God,” as we respond to the needs of others, of those who participate in the Body of Christ with us. (…)

 

Almsgiving and tithing do not have to involve money. Take a look at your closet and what is in your room. Could you donate 10% of your clothes, items that are in good condition that you do not use but that someone else could? Do you have books in good condition that could be donated to a homeless shelter or school? Think about how many hours of “free time” you have each week. Could you donate 10% of that time to charity or justice work — serving lunch at a soup kitchen, writing letters for Amnesty International, joining Big Brother/Big Sister?

 

 

B. First Reading (Gal 5:1-6): “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”

 

In today’s first reading (Gal 5:1-6), Saint Paul underlines that justification in Christ produces a new Christian identity. The Christian believers are now righteous and free. Paul authoritatively exhorts the Galatians to remain free. He warns them that to return to circumcision is to be obliged to observe the entire Law. The real issue, however, is not circumcision or non-circumcision. The fundamental opposition is between the justice sought in the fulfillment of the Law and the justice caused by God, that is, the salvation won for us by the innocent crucified Jesus Christ. The justice through legal observance “enslaves” while the justice through faith in Christ frees, produces life and saves. Our hope of righteousness is based not on the Law, but on Christ’s redeeming act. Moreover, when we are in union with Christ Jesus what matters is faith that works through love. Freedom in Christ is manifested in communitarian and disinterested love.

 

The following modern day account gives insight into “the faith that works through love” (cf. Rebecca Ondov in Daily Guideposts 2014, p. 80).

 

Unrelenting screams drifted down the Jetway and through the plane as I searched for my seat. Scooting next to the window, I stuffed my long legs in place and looked up to see a mother wrestling with a three-year-old boy – the source of the screams – into the seat next to mine. I closed my eyes. God, this must be a mistake.

 

In spite of the mother’s trying to comfort her son, the screams escalated when the plane lurched back from the gate and rumbled down the runway. My ears throbbed. Staring out the window, I whined, God please shut him up. Yet in spirit I heard, “Help him.” But, God, I don’t have anything to offer. “Show him My mercy.”

 

I groaned.  A white jet stream zigzagged across the sky. I looked at the boy. “Can you see that cloud?” Tears streamed down his face. I continued, “That’s a jet.” The boy’s brow furrowed. I asked, “Do you ever watch jets fly overheard?” He sniffed and nodded. I managed a smile. “Did you know that there are little boys watching us fly over? Let’s wave at them.”

 

His face brightened as he peered out the window, waved, and said, “Hi, little boys.”

 

The rest of the trip he waved while his mother and I chatted. When we deplaned his mother said, “I sure am glad that you sat next to us.”

 

I grinned. “Me, too.”

 

 

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

 

1. Do we realize the importance of “almsgiving” in the practice of Christian discipleship and in the cleansing of evil tendencies that lead to self-destruction? Are we guilty of concerning ourselves with external observances but not with inner attitudes and personal integrity?

 

2. Do we manifest our living faith through works of love?

 

 

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

 

Jesus,

we thank you for calling us to personal integrity

and for teaching us

that charity preempts mere legal observance.

Help us to appreciate

the power and beauty of almsgiving.

Grant us the grace

to exercise almsgiving creatively and efficaciously.

Let us manifest our living faith through works of love.

You are our self-giving Lord, 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.

 

“Give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.” (Lk 11:41) // “What matters is faith that works through love.” (Gal 5:6)

 

 

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

 

Practice almsgiving creatively and with personal dedication. In your daily life manifest your faith through works of love.

 

 

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October 14, 2020: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (28); SAINT CALLISTUS I, Pope, Martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Denounces the Pharisees and the Lawyers … He Teaches Us How to Live by the Spirit”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Gal 5:18-25 // Lk 11:42-46

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 11:42-46): “Woe to you Pharisees! Woe also to you scholars of the law!”

 

A religious habit, the special dress worn by Sisters, is a sign of religious consecration and a witness to poverty. To wear a religious habit entails blessings as well as responsibilities. People have high expectations of those wearing a religious habit. They are deluded when a Sister’s behavior does not conform to the high ideals they profess. Once, I was at a crowded boarding area in the Houston airport, trying to catch my connecting flight to San Jose. Since I was eager to board immediately and find a space for my bulky carry-on luggage, I unwittingly cut into the passengers’ line. One disgusted lady muttered: “How shameful!” I felt very sorry and ashamed. The irked passenger was justified in chastising me. I therefore resolved to be more attentive and respectful of the rights of other passengers.

 

In today’s Gospel episode (Lk 11:42-46), Jesus is fully justified in chastising the Pharisees and scribes for their lapses and hypocrisy. They have distorted their priorities and have neglected the essentials. They pay tithes meticulously, but fail to pay the debt of justice and charity. They seek recognition in synagogues and marketplaces, but fail to give honor to God through integrity of heart. They are to lead the people on the right path, but by their hypocrisy and false teachings they lead them astray instead. Hence, his description of them as “unseen graves” is very fitting. Jesus likewise admonishes the scholars of the law for imposing on people heavy burdens which they themselves do not wish to carry. They use the law to punish the people instead of interpreting it for them as a gift of God. The Pharisees and scribes, having studied the Torah and the prophetic writings, should have set their priorities right. With all the special resources and tools they have received, they should have known better. On account of the greater graces they have received, they have greater accountability and responsibility.

 

 

B. First Reading (Gal 5:18-25): “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.”

 

We conclude the liturgical reading of Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians on a positive note. Today’s passage (Gal 5:18-25) underlines that the Christian has died not only to the Law but also to his “self” (sarx), with all its earthbound, limited and degrading tendencies. The lifestyle of a Christian is characterized by vitality, that is, by a living relationship with Christ in the Spirit. Those who live by the Spirit bear the “fruit of the Spirit”, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is to be contrasted with the deeds of the “flesh”, which can be clustered into four groups: sexual aberrations (immorality, impurity, licentiousness); heathen worship (idolatry, sorcery); social evils (hatred, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy) and intemperance (drinking bouts, orgies and the like). Although the tendencies of the flesh do not disappear in human beings, Saint Paul reminds us that those who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. Moreover, if we live in the Spirit and follow the lead of the Spirit, we prevail over the power of the flesh.

 

The following personal account illustrates a Christian’s struggle to live by the lead of the Spirit (cf. Debbi Macomber in Daily Guideposts 2010, p. 135).

 

My husband and I both grew up in small towns. Colville, Washington, Wayne’s hometown, had the only stoplight in the entire county when we got married. Twenty-four years ago, when we moved to Port Orchard, there was only one stoplight in town. Even now neither of us is accustomed to dealing with a lot of traffic. We know we’re spoiled, and that’s the way we like it.

 

When Jazmine, our oldest granddaughter was around three years old, I picked her up in Seattle and drove her to Port Orchard. As luck would have it, I hit heavy traffic. For what seemed like hours we crawled at a snail’s pace toward the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. In order to keep Jazmine entertained, I sang songs and made up silly stories. She chatted away happily in her car seat. Not so with me. My nerves were fried.

 

Finally I couldn’t stand it any longer. “Jazmine, just look at all these cars”, I muttered as I pressed on the horn. What’s the matter with these people anyway? Obviously, they don’t realize I have places to go and people to see. Normally the drive took forty minutes, and I’d already been on the road an hour.

 

“Grandma”, Jazmine asked from the backseat, “are we in a hurry?”

 

Oh, Father, thank you for my sweet granddaughter and the reminder of what is really important: spending time with her.

 

Here is another beautiful story. It is about an experience of the “fruit of the Spirit”, a marvelous gift (cf. Tim Williams, Daily Guideposts 2014, p. 206).

 

Dianne, my wife, can tolerate a lot of pain, but her arthritic hip finally forced her to accept that it was time for surgery. She was in the hospital for three days after her hip-replacement operation. I was with her most of the time, but several dedicated nurses were with her all the time.

 

Yes, we are grateful for the skills of the surgeon and for nurses who can expertly find a vein when inserting a needle for an IV. And, yes, competence should be the tenth fruit of the Spirit. But in the course of the minute-by-minute duration of recovery, there is nothing more important than kindness, one of nine spiritual gifts listed in Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

 

“I’m just doing my job”, Nurse Kelley gently chided me after I thanked her more than once for taking care of my wife. How wrong she was! Kindness is a gift, not an obligation. Kelley, Bonnie, James, Lisa, and others whose names I’ve forgotten gave us that gift, again and again, until Dianne was able to come home.

 

Thank You, God, for the kindness of others. Please bless those who share such a precious gift.

 

 

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

 

1. Do I behave in ways that deserve censure and condemnation? What do I do to rectify the awful things I have done?

 

2. Do we live by the Spirit and follow the Spirit’s lead? Do we manifest the “fruit of the Spirit” in our lives?

 

 

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

 

Heavenly Father,

we thank you for Jesus, the Divine Master.

He exposes our hypocrisy and duplicity

that we may rectify our evil ways.

He leads us on the road to wholeness and personal integrity.

Help us to love God wholeheartedly

and serve our neighbors devotedly.

Let us always live by the Spirit

and follow his lead in our daily Christian life.

Fill us the “fruits of the Spirit”.

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 pay no attention to judgment and to love for God.” (Lk 11:42) // “If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.” (Gal 5:25)

 

 

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

 

When you receive some chastisement for a failure or a misdeed, do not react negatively, but humbly welcome it. Resolve to rectify your actions so as to become a better disciple of Christ. Pray for the grace to always manifest in your daily life the “fruit of the Spirit”.

 

*** *** ***

 

October 15, 2020: THURSDAY – SAINT THERESA OF JESUS, Virgin, Doctor of the Church

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Suffered Persecution … He Calls Us to Holiness”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Eph 1:1-10 // Lk 11:47-54

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 11:47-54): “The blood of the prophets is required, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah.”

 

In today’s Gospel reading (Lk 11:47-54), Jesus calls the scribes or teachers of the Law to accountability. They build fine tombs for the prophets their ancestors murdered. But their hostility and resistance to Jesus’ prophetic words replicate the very actions of their ancestors who persecuted and killed the prophets. Moreover, the Divine Master lambastes them for “taking away the key of knowledge”. They have distorted the true understanding of God and salvation. By perverting and misusing the Law, they are not able to enter God’s kingdom and stop others who are trying to come in. Today’s episode ends ominously. When Jesus leaves, the scribes join the Pharisees in criticizing him bitterly. Moreover, they lay traps for him, intending to catch him saying something wrong.

 

The following modern day account gives insight into the hostility and persecution that Jesus suffered (cf. Elizabeth Sherrill in Daily Guideposts 2014, p. 220).

 

Rebmann Wamba, Presbyterian Pastor: It was a typical noisy market scene in Kenya, except for the sudden silence surrounding the stall where Rebmann Wamba had stopped to bargain over a stalk of matoke bananas. It was the same at the poultry vendor’s, where he purchased a chicken (live), and the tea seller’s, where he counted out the copper for two tea bags.

 

My husband and I were interviewing Wamba about his transformation from violent Mau Mau chieftain to ordained Presbyterian pastor. Once hailed as a freedom fighter, he’d told us, he’d become a despised outsider. We saw this now ourselves as hostile eyes followed him on his errands.

 

The chicken and tea were luxuries in our honor. Wamba had invited us to Sunday dinner with his wife and eight children in their mud-and-wattle home in Ngecha, and afterward to the service at his church. Walls were all it had. No roof. No floor. But a congregation overflowing the wood-plank benches. A drummer beat out the rhythm of a joyous opening hymn. For two hours, Wamba preached in Kiswahili while we watched the rapt faces of this embattled minority.

 

With the closing hymn, a collection was taken. The congregation’s offerings, Wamba has told us, were the church’s only support. I looked into the basket, which held a few penny coppers, two eggs, and an ear of corn. How long, I wondered, till a roof rose over these walls? And how long had I taken for granted the roof over our lovely stone church at home? How long had I tranquilly called myself a Christian and never encountered the hostile gaze of a neighbor?

 

Remind me, Lord, of all those who have paid the price for following You.

 

 

B. First Reading (Eph 1:1-10): “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.”

 

We begin the semi-continuous reading of Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In today’s reading (Eph 1:1-10), we are invited to contemplate the comprehensive character and vast horizon of our vocation as Church. The author of the letter to the Ephesians makes us relish the following heart-warming reality: God chose us in Christ. God has bestowed upon us every spiritual blessing in Christ. One of the most remarkable blessings for which we render the almighty God thanksgiving and praise is our vocation to be holy and our destiny to become his adopted children through his beloved Son, who redeemed us by his blood.

 

By the paschal sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the mystery or the marvelous plan of the Father to unite all things in his Son is wisely and fully revealed. God destined people of all races, both Jews and Gentiles alike, to share in this plan of total restoration in Jesus Christ. Moreover, the heavenly Father gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit as a pledge of this universal integration and cosmic unification. Our ultimate Christian vocation then, which has its origin from God even before the world began, is to participate in the divine saving plan “to restore all things into one in Christ, in the heavens and on earth” (Eph 1:10). In Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we look forward to be united with God the Father forever and with all creation.

  

The following story is a beautiful example of a person who played a wonderful part in God’s plan of salvation (cf. “ErnstT” by Mary Chandler in The Way of St. Francis, March-April 2009, p. 12-20). In his unique and humble way, the Swiss-born American, Ernst Belz embraced his call to holiness and played an important role in restoring all things in Christ Jesus.

 

Sometimes a small body contains a heart as big as the whole outdoors. My friend, Ernst Belz, had such a heart. Standing four feet four inches tall, he refused to be hampered by his physical limitations. He hiked. He skied. He was a mountaineer. He lived life fully – and he touched the lives of all he met. Encouraged by our writing class, Ernst collected some of the stories he had read to us into a book, which he called Glimpses of My Life. The youngest of five children, Ernst grew up in a remote area in the Swiss mountains. His life was never easy; but at an early age he showed compassion for the needs of others. During the harsh winter months, he put hay in crib-like stalls for the elk and deer so they wouldn’t starve. He split wood for his mother’s cooking stove and her bread-baking oven, while at the same time mourning the loss of the beloved tree that had been his friend. In one chapter in his book he talks with a spruce that had to be cut down. The tree convinced Ernst that its sacrifice would benefit the family as firewood and by opening up more space and sunlight for other trees. Ernst’s final request to the spruce was simply: “May I embrace you once more?” (…)

 

In 1934, Ernst immigrated to the United States on the Queen Mary. He disembarked at New York Harbor, wobbly and unsteady on his feet after four days of being seasick, and was welcomed by his sponsors, a young Swiss couple who had immigrated earlier. “As we left the pier”, Ernst said, “it saddened me to notice some lonely and rather bewildered immigrants whom nobody had welcomed. Did they know where they would spend their first night on American soil?” A month later, he left his friends’ home in Connecticut to live in a hostel-type facility, the Sloane House, in New York City. Ernst was determined to “make it”. Every day he went job hunting. American slang proved to be a challenge. One morning a student waiter asked him how he wanted his eggs. Ernst wondered how to order “sunny-side up”. He asked for “two eggs looking at me”, which made the waiter roar with laughter. One morning at Sloane House, a well-dressed gentleman joined Ernst at breakfast and asked if he had a church home. He didn’t. Ernst joined the group, made friends, and for the next four and a half years these young men and women, he said, put meaning and purpose into his life. Ernst landed his first job with a food importer and manufacturing company, where he was expected to keep track of raw materials from the time of shipping until the shipment arrived. He processed the documentation, particularly the proper handling of the bill of lading and the negotiations of the letters of credit. During the job interview, Ernst said, he was touched by his boss’ sensitivity “when he was wondering if the chair would be comfortable because of my height”. Three months after his arrival in the United States, Ernst had a job as the assistant to the vice president. (…)

 

The final years of Ernst’s active life were spent with the Franciscans. A Benedictine priest invited Ernst to the San Damiano Retreat House in the hills near Danville in Northern California to visit his Franciscan friends. Ernst learned that the Franciscans were beginning the “Franciscan Covenant Program” for lay people, which meant that single men, women, or retired married couples would commit themselves to live and work with the Franciscans for a period of time and share their spiritual life. Ernst decided to leave his position at the University of the Pacific to join the program three years before his scheduled retirement. (…) During his time in the Franciscan Covenant Program, Ernst served, for a few weeks each year, at the Paz Y Bien Franciscan orphanage in Guaymas, Sonora Province in Mexico. “What a privileged opportunity it was! This time I was working and living in the midst of about seventy children between the ages of three and a half and eleven years. Although some of them were the poorest of the poor, their happy and cheerful little faces seemed to light up the whole world … I doubt that there could have been a more meaningful way for me to end my active life than to serve in the midst of those dear, innocent little orphan children.” In the picture he brought to class, Ernst blended in so well with the children that he had to point himself out to us. (…)

 

Eventually, Ernst stopped coming to the writing class. The trip became too much for him. He spent the last few months of his life in a care facility in Oceanside, California, where he recently passed away. Long ago, Ernst came to the conclusion that “economic success does not necessarily bring personal contentment”. The orphans, “some of them the poorest of the poor, have nothing, yet their happy, smiling and contented faces light up an otherwise dark and hopeless world like little candles.” Because of his tender heart, his quest for knowledge, and his loving outlook and philosophy, I was not surprised when a friend from Oceanside, California sent me a clipping from the San Diego Union-Tribune, dated May 12, 2006. At the dedication of a special Heritage Room, the library director announced that the late Ernst Belz has bequeathed $67,667 to the Oceanside Public Library. Somewhere, my small friend with his big heart is smiling.

 

 

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

 

1. Have you ever met hostility or persecution for proclaiming the Christian faith? How did you respond to it?

 

2. What is the personal meaning and implication for you of Paul’s affirmation, “God chose us in Christ”?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

we praise you for the bounty of your spiritual blessings,

especially our vocation to holiness

and our pre-destiny as your beloved children in Christ.

By the strength of the Holy Spirit,

help us to participate fully in your saving plan

to unite all peoples and restore all things in Christ.

Strengthen us when we suffer persecution and hostility

for being true to our faith.

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.

 

“They began to act with hostility toward him.” (Lk 11:53) // “He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.” (Eph 1:4)

 

 

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

 

Pray for today’s persecuted Christians and see in what way you can help Christian refugees. By your commitment to the dignity of the human person and the care for God’s creation, endeavor to promote the divine saving plan “to restore all things in Christ”.

 

 

 

*** *** ***

 

 

October 16, 2020: FRIDAY – WEEKDAY (27); SAINT HEDWIG, Religious; SAINT MARGARET MARY

ALACOQUE, Virgin

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Encourages Us Not To Be Afraid … He Continues to Unite All Things”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Eph 1:11-14 // Lk 12:1-7

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 12:1-7): “Even the hairs of your heart have all been counted.”

 

The central message of today’s Gospel reading (Lk 12:1-7) is: do not be afraid to speak out for Jesus and proclaim his kingdom of justice and right. The kingdom of God message, proclaimed once by Jesus, must be repeated to every generation as a fearless witness to truth. 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 enemies may destroy the body, but not the soul. The worst aggressions against the body do not always succeed in reaching the 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. His Son Jesus therefore encourages us not to be afraid.

 

Blessed Pedro Calungsod of the Philippines was canonized on October 22, 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. The following, circulated on the Internet, is an account of his martyrdom.

 

Pedro Calungsod (c. 1654 – 2 April 1672) was a young Roman Catholic Filipino migrant, sacristan and missionary catechist, who along with Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores, suffered religious persecution and martyrdom on Guam for their missionary work in 1672. Through Calungsod and San Vitores' missionary efforts, many native Chamorros converted to Roman Catholicism. Calungsod was beatified on 5 March 2000 by Blessed Pope John Paul II. On 18 February 2012, Pope Benedict XVI officially announced that Calungsod will be canonised on 22 October 2012.

 

Calungsod (spelled Calonsor in Spanish records) was born ca. 1654. Few details of his early life prior to missionary work and death are known. It is probable that he received basic education at a Jesuit boarding school, mastering the Catechism and learning to communicate in Spanish. He likely honed his skills in drawing, painting, singing, acting, and carpentry as these were necessary in missionary work. Calungsod would have been expected to have some aptitude in serving in the Tridentine Mass (now known as the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite).

Calungsod, then around 14, was among the exemplary young catechists chosen to accompany the Jesuits in their mission to the Ladrones Islands (Islas de los Ladrones or “Isles of Thieves”). In 1668, Calungsod travelled with Spanish Jesuit missionaries to these islands, renamed the Mariana Islands (Las Islas de Mariana) the year before in honour of both the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the Queen Regent of Spain, María Ana of Austria, who funded their voyage. Calungsod and San Vitores went to Guam to catechise the native Chamorros. Missionary life was difficult as provisions did not arrive regularly, the jungles and terrain was difficult to traverse, and the islands were frequently devastated by typhoons. Despite all these, the mission persevered, and was able to convert a significant number of locals. A Japanese merchant named Choco began spreading rumours that the baptismal water used by missionaries was poisonous. As some sickly Chamorro infants who were baptised eventually died, many believed the story and held the missionaries responsible. Choco was readily supported by the macanjas (medicine men) and the urritaos (young males) who despised the missionaries.

 

In their search for a runaway companion named Esteban, Calungsod and San Vitores came to the village of Tumon, Guam on 2 April 1672. There they learnt that the wife of the village chief Mata'pang gave birth to a daughter, and they immediately went to baptise the child. Influenced by the calumnies of Choco, the chief strongly opposed them. To give Mata'pang some time to calm down, the missionaries gathered the children and some adults of the village at the nearby shore and started chanting with them the tenets of the Catholic religion. They invited Mata'pang to join them, but he shouted back that he was angry with God and was fed up with Christian teachings.

 

Determined to kill the missionaries, Mata'pang went away and tried to enlist another villager, named Hirao, who was not a Christian. Hirao initially refused, mindful of the missionaries' kindness towards the natives, but when Mata'pang branded him a coward, he became piqued and capitulated. Meanwhile, during that brief absence of Mata'pang from his hut, San Vitores and Calungsod baptised the baby girl, with the consent of her Christian mother.

 

When Mata'pang learnt of his daughter's baptism, he became even more furious. He violently hurled spears first at Pedro, who was able to dodge the spears. Witnesses claim that Calungsod could have escaped the attack, but did not want to leave San Vitores alone. Those who knew Calungsod personally meanwhile believed that he could have defeated the aggressors with weapons; San Vitores however banned his companions to carry arms. Calungsod was hit in the chest by a spear and he fell to the ground, then Hirao immediately charged towards him and finished him off with a machete blow to the head. San Vitores absolved Calungsod before he too was killed. Mata'pang took San Vitores' crucifix and pounded it with a stone whilst blaspheming God. Both assassins then denuded the corpses of Calungsod and San Vitroes, tied large stones to their feet, brought them out to sea on their proas and threw them into the water. In the Roman Catholic Church, Calungsod's martyrdom is called In Odium Fidei or In Hatred of the Faith, referring to the religious persecution endured by the person in evangelisation.

 

 

B. First Reading (Eph 1:11-14): “We first hoped in Christ, and you were sealed with the Holy Spirit.”

 

In today’s First Reading (Eph 1:11-14), Saint Paul illustrates God’s plan to restore all things in Christ. The Jews were first chosen by God as his chosen people in accordance with his saving plan, based on what he had decided from the very beginning. In the messianic time, God makes it possible – in Christ – for all peoples to be integrated into God’s people. In hearing and responding to the Gospel of salvation, the Christian community in Ephesus becomes part of the “the people of God”. They believe in Christ the Savior and the Holy Spirit is the guarantor of their faith. The Spirit guarantees that the divine plan of salvation will be realized in us all. Confronted by God’s grandiose and magnificent plan of uniting all peoples and creation in Jesus Christ, Paul invites the Ephesians and all believers through time and space to give glory and praise to God.

 

The following modern day account gives insight into Christ as the principle of unity and integration of the human person and creation. Indeed, in Jesus Christ all things hold together (cf. Melody Bonnette Swang in Daily Guideposts 2014, p. 14).

 

We’d rushed my son Christopher to the emergency room with a serious back injury. They took him in quickly for X-rays. I was directed to a crowded area where other families anxiously sat, waiting for news from doctors. There was not an empty seat in the room.

 

An elderly lady with the word Volunteer embroidered on her white lab coat motioned me over. “Honey, there’s a place in the back that I can offer you to sit if you’d like.” “Yes, thanks”, I said. I followed her to a tiny room and sat down in a chair. I leaned my head back against the wall and closed my eyes.

 

I reached for the tiny silver cross hanging on a thin chain around my neck. “Please take care of Christopher”, I prayed, “and, Lord, could You take care of me too? Because right now, I feel like I’m falling apart.”

 

Just then the volunteer came back into the room. “Doing okay?” she asked. “Better now”, I said, still touching my cross. I looked down at it. “This is what’s holding me together right now.” She smiled and sat down next to me. “Have you ever heard of laminin?” I shook my head. “My husband is a retired doctor”, she explained, “and it’s something that he still marvels at. Laminin is a molecule that helps our cells stick together. Without these molecules, we would literally fall apart.”

 

She pointed at my cross and continued: “Interesting, isn’t it? When looked at under a microscope, the laminin molecule is shaped just like a cross.”

 

 

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

 

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 not to be afraid in the face of trials and persecutions?   

 

2. Do we give glory and praise to God for his marvelous saving plan to restore, or recapitulate, all things in Christ? How do we collaborate in promoting God’s compassionate and loving will?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus, you assure us: “Do not be afraid.”

Make us courageous witnesses of your Gospel.

We trust in the heavenly Father’s care for us,

knowing that we are worth more than sparrows

and that the hairs of our head have all been counted.

Loving Jesus,

you are the principle of restoration.

In you, all things hold together.

Let us promote in our daily life

the Father’s compassionate plan to unite all things in you.

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.

 

“Do not be afraid.” (Lk 12:7) // “You have heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation.” (Eph 1:13)  

 

 

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

 

Pray for Christian missionaries who promote the Kingdom value with courage and conviction. Pray for those who have been persecuted, tortured and killed. In your daily acts of charity and faith, be deeply aware that you are promoting the “restoration of all things in Christ”.

 

 

*** *** ***

October 17, 2020: SATURDAY – SAINT IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH, Bishop, Martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Invites Us to Trust in the Holy Spirit … He Is Head Over All Things”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Eph 1:15-23 // Lk 12:8-12

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 11:27-28): “The Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”

 

In December 1989 I was to make a public defense of my doctoral dissertation, “James Alberione and the Liturgical Movement” at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of St. Anselm in Rome. I was anxious and distressed, but the Gospel reading at Mass during the day of the thesis defense gave me strength: “Do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.” The Holy Spirit truly came to my aid. Everything went well and I even got a “ten out of ten” for my oral defense.

 

In today’s Gospel reading (Lk 12:8-12), Jesus assures his followers through time and space that they have the Holy Spirit to speak for them in times of trial. Christians subjected to persecution have the Holy Spirit as their teacher and defender. They need not worry how to defend themselves or what words to say when they are brought to court. The Holy Spirit will give them strength and wisdom to witness to their faith in Jesus. But they need to be receptive to the Spirit and allow him to work in them. To reject the Holy Spirit who offers forgiveness, repentance and renewal is to reject salvation. Jesus’ contemporaries who rejected him during his earthly ministry would have another chance through the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. But to resist the Holy Spirit, the Easter gift, is to refuse deliberately the Father’s saving will. To close oneself to the Spirit is to negate the experience of God’s peace and reconciliation.

 

 

B. First Reading (Eph 1:15-23): “He gave Christ as head over all things to the Church, which is his Body.”

 

According to St. Paul, the Church, whose head is the One seated at the right hand in the heavens, is the fullness of Jesus (Eph 1:23). Just as Jesus is the fullness of the Father, so the Church is the fullness of Jesus. Each one of us, as members of the Church, is called to attain the full stature of Christ (Eph 4:13) and his fullness. As baptized Christians we are all invited to attain personally to the full stature of Christ. To us is given the mandate to proclaim the Gospel to every creature, so as to achieve the cosmic fullness willed by God and hoped for by us.

 

The following family experience gives insight into what it means growing into the full stature of Christ (cf. Scott Walkers in Daily Guideposts 2014, p. 126).

 

How do you express gratitude to someone who has shaped your life? I pondered this recently when I attended the seventy-fifth wedding anniversary of my uncle Clarence and aunt Shirley Walker.

 

My grandfather Eddie Walker was a successful rancher on the high plains of eastern Colorado. One day in 1933, he asked my father, Al. to ride with him to pick up supplies. Walking into a store, my grandfather suddenly collapsed. His stomach ulcer had perforated in an age prior to antibiotics. Within three days. he was dead, leaving his wife, Callie, a sixteen-year-old son, Clarence, and my fourteen-year-old father to run a ranch at the height of the Great Depression. It seemed an impossible challenge.

 

However, Clarence dropped out of high school and poured his energy into saving the ranch, insisting that my father remain in school and help only as time permitted. Later, Clarence encouraged him to attend college. Over the next eight years, my father earned a PhD in theology and became a minister, teacher, and missionary.

 

As I flew to Colorado, I promised to say thank you. Clarence and Shirley are frail and live in an assisted-living facility. Both are deaf, and there would be few private moments for conversation. However, the time came on the evening following the anniversary celebration. Sitting quietly by Clarence’s bed, I placed my hand on his and quietly said a simple prayer of thanksgiving for a good and loving man. I know he heard me and God did too.

    

 

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

 

1. In moments of trial and persecution do you call upon the Holy Spirit to give you courage and strength? How do you manifest your trust in the Holy Spirit?

 

2. Does the quality of my service promote a person’s growth in the full stature of Christ and help achieve his fullness in all creation?

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

help us to acknowledge you in today’s world

so that on judgment day,

you will acknowledge us before God’s angelic court.

In times of persecution and trials,

send us your Holy Spirit

to defend, teach and speak for us.

Help us always to be receptive

and obedient to his promptings.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

Loving Father,

you have given your Son rule over the works of your hands.

Grant us the spirit of wisdom resulting in knowledge of him.

May the eyes of our hearts be enlightened

that we may know the riches of glory in his inheritance.

We glorify and serve you, now and forever.

Amen.

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

            “The Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”  (Lk 12:12) //“He put all things beneath his feet.” (Eph 1:22)

 

 

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

 

In your resolve to give an authentic Christian witness invoke the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and strength. // Using a map or a globe, offer a prayer for the Church’s mission to spread the Good News to all creatures and do what you can to promote this Christian mandate.

 

***

 

 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang  PDDM

 

 

PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER

60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314

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

Website: WWW.PDDM.US

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