A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 15, n. 47)

Week 28 in Ordinary Time: October 15-21, 2017

 

 

(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 of Year C from various perspectives. For the Lectio Divina on the liturgy of the past week: October 8-14, 2017, please go to ARCHIVES Series 15 and click on “Week 27”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: October 15-21, 2017.)

 

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 October 15, 2017: 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 16, 2017: MONDAY – WEEKDAY (28); SAINT HEDWIG, Religious; SAINT MARGARET MARY ALACOQUE, Virgin

  “JESUS SAVIOR: He Gives Them the Sign of Jonah … Through Him We Have Received the Grace of Apostleship”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rom 1:1-7 // 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 (Rom 1:1-7): “Through Christ Jesus we have received the grace of apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among the Gentiles.”

 

In the next four weeks we will be hearing from the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans. This is written to prepare the way for a visit that Paul plans to make to the church in Rome. He plans to work among them for a while and, with their support, to proceed to Spain. In his letter to the Romans, Saint Paul explains his understanding of Christian faith and its practical implications for the lives of Christians. Writing to a church that is not yet personally acquainted with him, the apostle feels the need to introduce himself and his preaching in a fundamental way.

 

Today’s passage (Rom 1:1-7) is Paul’s introduction to his letter. It is the longest and most solemn greeting of all his letters. It indicates who the sender is and his qualifications for proclaiming the Gospel: “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle chosen and called by God to preach his Good News.” It delineates the main theme of the entire letter: “the good news that concerns Jesus Christ who is born a descendant of David, but is shown with great power as the Son of God by being raised from the dead.” Through him, God gave us the grace to be apostles so that we may lead people of all nations to believe and obey. Finally, the lengthy introduction concludes with a prayerful wish: “May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.”

 

We, too, by virtue of our baptismal consecration have received the grace of apostleship to bring about “the obedience of faith”. We, too, are called to proclaim the Gospel to all nations that all people might become completely obedient to God as a result of accepting and believing in Jesus. Pope Francis reiterates Saint Paul’s fundamental idea in his address at the World Youth Day in Brazil (cf. “Rio: Francis Sets His Agenda for the Whole Church” in Alive! September 2013, p. 3).

 

Pope Francis has dramatically signaled that he has no intention of leading a timid or fearful Church, or one that is “on the defensive”. For him the Church has joy for the whole world and she has to get out and share that good news with every person, accepting no limits or borders.

 

Addressing more than 3 million young Catholics at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, including a 160-strong contingent from Ireland, Francis told them: “Jesus asks us to make his living Church so large that it can hold all humanity, that it can be a home for everyone! To me, to you, to each of us he says: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’.”

 

Using an analogy from football, he urged the young to “go on the offensive! Play down the field, build a world of brothers and sisters, a world of justice, love and peace, fraternity, solidarity. Play always on the offensive!” Rejecting any tendency for Catholics to withdraw from society, he insisted: “The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some people. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. It is for everyone.” He added: “Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent.”

 

The theme for the week-long event was: ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’. The aim was to help every young Catholic to grasp that he or she is called to be a part of the Church’s mission. Picking up on this theme the Pope said: “It has been wonderful to live the faith together with young people from the four corners of the earth, but now you must go, now you must pass on this experience to others.”

 

    

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 we too are apostles like Saint Paul, set apart for the Gospel of God? Do we believe that grace and peace from God and Jesus Christ are given to us?

 

 

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.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

O loving God,

we thank you for the great apostle Paul

and his zeal for the Gospel.

Make us realize and treasure

the grace of apostleship we have received from you

through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Help us to lead people of all nations

to the obedience of faith.

Grant us the grace and peace

that flow from your goodness

to those who are obedient in faith.

We give you glory and honor, 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.

 

“No sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” (Lk 11:29) //“Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith.” (Rom 1:5)

 

 

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. // In your own little way, by your word and actions, manifest to the world the saving Gospel and its all-inclusive and joy-giving character.

 

 

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October 17, 2017: TUESDAY – SAINT IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH, Bishop, Martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches the Importance of Almsgiving ,,, He is the Gospel, the Power of God”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rom 1:16-25 // 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 (Rom 1:16-25): “Although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God.”

 

Today’s First Reading (Rom 1:16-25) underlines the power of the Gospel to save all who believe, first the Jews and also the Gentiles. The Gospel reveals how God puts people right with himself through faith. Saint Paul reinforces his assertion by citing the prophet Habakkuk: “The person who is put right with God through faith shall live.”

 

In the second part of today’s passage, Saint Paul complains about the guilt of mankind. They know God but they do not give him the honor and gratitude that belong to him. They serve what God has created instead of the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever and ever. They claim to be wise, but they are fools. Instead of worshipping the immortal God, they worship images made to look like mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. They do filthy things and do shameful things with each other. They suppress the truth by their wickedness. They exchange the truth about God for a lie.

 

Concerning the suppression of truth, the following article, humorous but insightful, makes us understand the evil tactic (cf. “Dumbag Writes …! Letter from a Master to a Trainee Tempter: Gotta make it look real good” in Alive! September 2013, p. 16)

 

Dear Nettles,

 

Our chief as you know is called “the Father of Lies”, a wonderful tribute to his achievements! It’s also immensely significant. He’s not called the Father of Fornication or the Father of Theft or the Father of Corruption or even the Father of Idolatry. Nope, the focus is on lies.

 

So, if you aspire to greatness down here, if you want the admiration of both senior and junior tempters, you have to become not just a skillful liar, but also a promoter of lies. I want to probe this a bit more with you, to dig below the surface.

 

The first thing you need to grasp is that human beings are made with a powerful, in-built inclination to goodness. They are drawn, and drawn exclusively, to what looks good to them. Over the centuries we have done everything in our power to eradicate this tendency, attraction, call it what you will. But without the slightest success. So much for evolution! It’s as strong and deep now as ever it was. Only what is good, or looks good, attracts them. In his own image, as he said it.

 

But very early on a task force down here came up with a solution, a solution that has stood the test of time. Make evil look good, make it look attractive, they advised. It was the birth of lying. The first victims were Eve and Adam, remember the Garden story and we have never looked back since. Lying is the most effective weapon in our armory. So, whether the evil is tiny or colossal, our slogan is the same: “Make it look good.”

 

Let me give you a few examples. A married man is attracted to another woman. He thinks an affair would betray his wife and possibly destroy his family. So he backs off. But we tell him, “Don’t be silly, an affair would put more zest into your marriage and besides, this is the chance of a lifetime, you only live once.” The adultery now looks good. The fool falls for our deception, for our lie, starts an affair, wrecks his own and her marriage, and for us it’s five ups all around.

 

Of course, the really adventurous lie, if it’s pulled off with confidence and even “compassion”, can have staggering results. We sold World War I as “the war to end all wars”. Talk about “make it look good”, it couldn’t be better than that. Millions of poor fools bought the lie and brought unspeakable horror on themselves and on “enemies” who had never done them a moment’s harm.

 

Or who would ever have believed that we could convince the world that killing unborn children was good for the babies, for their mothers and for society? That we could have convinced Catholic politicians to defend and vote for such evil? Even I find such an achievement totally mind-blowing.

 

So, if you want to really understand any evil whatever, big or small, spot the liars and the lie, then start digging.

 

Yours truthfully,

Dumbag

 

 

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 truly believe that the Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone? How do we treasure the Gospel and proclaim it in our world today? Are we aware that we are vulnerable to the deception of “the Father of Lies”? Do we turn to Jesus Master, the Way, Truth and Life, for help?

 

 

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.

 

***

Dear Father, our gracious God,

we are weak and vulnerable.

We can easily succumb

to the temptations of “the Father of Lies”.

Strengthen us by the grace of the Holy Spirit

and by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Help us to be obedient and faithful to you.

Let us embrace the Gospel and its power of salvation.

We give you thanks and praise, now and forever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“Give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.” (Lk 11:41) //“The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Rom 1:16)

 

 

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. // Be deeply aware of your words and actions. By the grace of God, let them be free from any falsehood. Let them be characterized by truth and at the service of the Gospel.

 

 

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October 18, 2017: WEDNESDAY – SAINT LUKE THE EVANGELIST

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Calls Us to Proclaim the Advent of God’s Kingdom … He Gives Strength to His Missionaries”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Tm 4:10-17b // Lk 10:1-9

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 10:1-9): “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.”

 

This happened in November of 1984 in Bombay, India. I accompanied our Italian Superior to a cemetery where hundreds of Italian soldiers, who died during World War II, were buried. A special memorial service was held for them. Italian citizens and members of the diplomatic corps attended the celebration, which was graced by the presence of the Italian Minister of Finance, the Honorable Signor Spadolini. After the laying of the floral wreath, a Mass followed. Two good-looking young men were actively participating in the Mass. Probably, the sons of some diplomats, I thought. After the Mass, the two were introduced to us as members of Chiara Lubich’s Focolare Movement. They were residing and working in the slums of Bombay. As we hitched a ride back home, a Sister was reciting a litany of miseries. She cynically asked, “Where is the Kingdom of God, tell me!” One of the two Focolare missionaries answered, “The Kingdom of God is within you!” She sobered up.

 

The Gospel reading (Lk 10:1-9) depicts the mission of Christian disciples to be bearers of peace and the Gospel joy as they move from village to village, proclaiming the coming of God’s kingdom. The image of the “rich harvest” signifies the peoples of the whole world that need to be gathered into the kingdom of God. In order to be more efficacious in gathering the people of God as in a “rich harvest”, Jesus gives his disciples remarkable directives. They are to travel light and not to carry any moneybag, sack or sandals. The detachment from material goods would enable them to uphold the absolute priority of preaching the Good News. The spirit of detachment would also help them to trust more deeply in Divine Providence and oblige them to rely humbly on the hospitality of those who are receptive to the Gospel. The mission of the Christian disciples is urgent. Hence, they are enjoined not to greet anyone on the way. Above all, they need to persevere. Even if not always welcomed, they are to continue to bring the peace of Christ and the Good News of the Kingdom. Their power to heal the sick would reinforce their message that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

 

 

B. First Reading (II Tm 4: 10-17b): “Luke alone is with me.”

 

As we celebrate the feast of Saint Luke, Evangelist, the First Reading (II Tm 4:10-17b) underlines the loneliness that Christian disciples may experience in their apostolic ministry. Saint Paul speaks of being abandoned, but in the midst of a general disloyalty he is consoled by the loyalty of some faithful apostolic workers. He remarks that “Luke is the only one with me”. Paul also requests Timothy to come and to bring with him Mark, who is helpful to Paul in his ministry. Noteworthy is the apostle’s avowal of faith and the meaning of his mission: “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.”

 

In Paul’s apostolic ministry he has Saint Luke as one of his eminent fellow workers. Considered as patron saint of artists, physicians, surgeons, students and butchers, Saint Luke authored the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. These works give important information about Christ and the early Church. Below are some excerpts from EWTN’s article on Saint Luke that can be accessed on the Internet.

 

St. Luke was a native of Antioch, the metropolis of Syria, a city famous for the agreeableness of its situation, the riches of its traffic, its extent, the number of its inhabitants, the politeness of their manners, and their learning and wisdom. Its schools were the most renowned in all Asia, and produced the ablest masters in all arts and sciences. St. Luke acquired a stock of learning in his younger years, which we are told he improved by his travels in some parts of Greece and Egypt. St. Jerome assures us he was very eminent in his profession, and St. Paul, by calling him his most dear physician, seems to indicate that he had not laid it aside.

 

Besides his abilities in physics, he is said to have been very skillful in painting. The Menology of the Emperor Basil, compiled in 980, Nicephorus, Metaphrastes, and other modern Greeks quoted by Gretzer in his dissertation on this subject, speak much of his excelling in this art, and of his leaving many pictures of Christ and the Blessed Virgin. Though neither the antiquity nor the credit of these authors is of great weight, it must be acknowledged, with a very judicious critic, that some curious anecdotes are found in their writings. In this particular, what they tell us is supported by the authority of Theodorus Lector, who lived in 518, and relates  that a picture of the Blessed Virgin painted by St. Luke was sent from Jerusalem to the Empress Pulcheria, who placed it in the church of Hodegorum which she built in her honour at Constantinople. Moreover, a very ancient inscription was found in a vault near the Church of St. Mary in via lata in Rome, in which it is said of a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary discovered there, "One of the seven painted by St. Luke." Three or four such pictures are still in being; the principal is that placed by Paul V in the Barghesian chapel in St. Mary Major.

About the year 56 St. Paul sent St. Luke with St. Titus to Corinth with such high commendation that his praise in the gospel resounded throughout all the churches. St. Luke attended him to Rome, whither he was sent prisoner from Jerusalem in 61. The apostle remained there two years in chains; but was permitted to live in a house which he hired, though under the custody of a constant guard; and there he preached to those who daily resorted to hear him. St. Luke was the apostle's faithful assistant and attendant during his confinement, and had the comfort to see him set at liberty in 63, the year in which this evangelist finished his Acts of the Apostles.

 

St. Luke did not forsake his master after he was released from his confinement. That apostle in his last imprisonment at Rome writes that the rest had all left him, and that St. Luke alone was with him. St. Epiphanius says that after the martyrdom of St. Paul, St. Luke preached in Italy, Gaul, Dalmatia, and Macedon. By Gaul some understand Cisalpine Gaul, others Galatia. Fortunatus and Metaphrastus say he passed into Egypt and preached in Thebais. St. Hippolytus says St. Luke was crucified at Elaea in Peloponnesus near Achaia. The modern Greeks tell us he was crucified on an olive tree. The ancient African Martyrology of the fifth age gives him the titles of Evangelist and Martyr.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we follow Jesus’ instructions to his disciples, especially with regards to the sense of urgency, spirit of trust and detachment, and absolute commitment that the mission of the Gospel entails? Do we take to heart Jesus’ exhortation: “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Lk 10:2)?  

 

2. How does the life and ministry of Saint Luke inspire you? Do you believe that God, who has strengthen Saint Paul, Saint Luke and the other apostles-disciples, will also stand by you and give you strength?

 

 

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

(Cf. Opening Prayer of the Mass on the Feast of Saint Luke)

 

Father,

you chose Luke the evangelist to reveal

by preaching and writing

the mystery of your love for the poor.

Unite in one heart and spirit

all who glory in your name.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

  

     

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

 

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

           

“The kingdom of God is at hand for you.” (Lk 10:9) // “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength.” (II Tm 4:17)

 

 

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

  

In your daily life and by your acts of charity, especially to the poor and needy, be bearers of the joy of the Gospel. Make an effort to study prayerfully the Gospel of Saint Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.

 


*** *** ***

 

October 19, 2017: THURSDAY – SAINTS JOHN DE BREBEUF AND ISAAC JOGUES, Priests, AND COMPANIONS, Martyrs (USA)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Suffered Persecution … He Is Our Justification”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rom 3:21-30 // 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 (Rom 3:21-30): “A person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

 

In today’s First Reading (Rom 3:21-30), Saint Paul continues to give insight into Christian life. The essence of the Gospel is salvation through faith in the Christ’s sacrificial death. A new period in human history begins in the coming of Jesus Christ. His coming manifests that God is righteous. Everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence. But by the free gift of God’s grace we are put right with him through Christ Jesus, who sets us free. Saint Paul then shares with us his remarkable insight: “For we conclude that a person is put right with God only through faith, and not by doing what the Law commands.” Indeed, if our justification is by faith in Jesus Christ and not through literal observance of the Law, then salvation is for all, Jews and Gentiles alike.

 

The life of David Link exemplifies a living faith that upholds the spirit of the Law and promotes human salvation (cf. Jeanette Flood, “Law School Dean-Turned-Priest Brings Healing to Prisoners” in Our Sunday Visitor, September 27, 2013, p. 6-7).

 

David T. Link, longtime dean of the University of Notre Dame Law School, had become a Catholic priest and a prison chaplain … Dean Link was in his 70s, a father and grandfather, and his curriculum vitae also included four doctorates and the titles of founding president of University of Notre Dame in Australia and provost of St. Augustine University in South Africa. (…)

 

Father Link’s story is full of surprises. The first surprise was when Dean Link’s wife, Barbara, suggested to him about 15 years ago that he consider volunteering at a prison … When Barbara Link died in 2003, Link’s family and friends feared that he might soon follow her. He began volunteering at the prison more often “as a sort of therapy”. “I needed to be needed”, he said.

 

This led to the next surprise: a personal invitation from his bishop. Bishop Dale Melczek of Gary, Indiana contacted him, saying, “You’ve been doing a lot of prison ministry; I need a prison chaplain. Would you consider going into the seminary?” Link replied that he had been thinking of entering the diaconate. The bishop countered, “I was thinking of priesthood.” (…)

 

After completing his studies at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Wisconsin, Father Link was ordained to the priesthood in June 2008. (…)

 

Although Father Link’s path to his vocation may be unusual, there are hints from his life experiences that make his story not quite as surprising as it might first seem. From the beginning, his law practice included regular pro bono work, and he set aside every Thursday for those who could not afford to pay him.

 

As an attorney, he developed an elevated view of his profession: the purpose of the law was to bring about healing. This perspective lead in practice to an astounding record of mediation: all his cases were settled out of court. He also brought this unique outlook to Notre Dame as professor and dean, passing this lofty perspective on to thousands of students and transforming the law school in the process.

 

 

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. Do we believe that our justification is through faith in the sacrificial and life-giving event of Christ’s death on the cross? What is our attitude to the law in the Church?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

we praise you for the bounty of your spiritual blessings.

Strengthen us when we suffer persecution and hostility

for being true to our faith.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

Loving God,

by the free gift of your grace

you have reconciled us

through the blood bath of your Son Jesus Christ.

We are justified by faith

and not by personal achievement

nor the works of the law.

Forgive us our sins

and let us be put right with you

for you are our loving and merciful God,

now and forever.

            Amen.

 

      

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

 

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

 

“They began to act with hostility toward him.” (Lk 11:53) // “A person is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (Rom 3:28)

 

 

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. // Strive to understand more about the role and meaning of the law in the Church. Overcome any personal tendency to blind legalism that is detrimental to the life of the faith community.

 

 

*** *** ***

 

October 20, 2017: FRIDAY – WEEKDAY (28); SAINT PAUL OF THE CROSS, Priest (USA)

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Encourages Us Not To Be Afraid … He Justifies by Faith”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rom 4:1-8 // 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. 1655. 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 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 (Rom 4:1-8): “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

 

The reading (Rom 4:1-8) underlines that God’s mercy is gratuitous. Saint Paul gives the example of patriarch Abraham who was justified by faith and not by the performance of deeds listed by the Jewish Torah. Bereft of children Abraham factually presented to God the likely consequence that the slave Eleazar would be his heir. God assures him that his very own son would be his heir and not Eleazar. The Lord likewise tantalized him with the words: “Look at the sky and try to count the stars; you will have as many descendants as that.” Abraham trusted in the Lord’s promise of true heir and numerous progeny, and because of this the Lord was pleased with him and accepted him (cf. Gen 15:6). The faith of Abraham entails acceptance of the Lord God at his word and his willingness to abide and live by it. It likewise includes hope in a promise that no mere human being could generate. Moreover, Saint Paul reiterates his principle of “justification by faith” and gratuitous mercy by citing Psalm 32:1-2. The Scripture passage he cites highlights the happiness of the person whom God accepts as righteous, apart from anything the person does. Abraham is thus the father of all the Gentiles (the uncircumcised) who are saved and justified by faith.

 

The following modern-day story gives insight into the indomitable faith of Abraham (cf. Jill Savage in Guideposts 2015, p. 24).

 

For months my husband, Mark, and I had been saving up to get a third family car so that our daughter Anne would have something to drive when she turned 16. With four children, another car – and another driver – in the family would be a godsend. Then came the bad news: our well had dried up, and so did our savings when we drilled a new one.

 

“I guess I’ll just have to pray for a car”, Anne said when we told her. Anne wasn’t just being a good sport. She really prayed for that car. “I’m praying specifically, just like you taught me”, she explained to me one evening while we were doing the dishes. “I asked God for automatic transmission because I don’t drive stick, four doors so my brothers and sister can climb in and out easily. And I asked that it be blue because that’s my favorite color.”

 

“That’s a tall order”, I said. Of course God could provide Anne with all those things, but that didn’t mean he would. “You could learn to drive stick, or deal with having only two doors”, I suggested, handing her a plate to dry. “And it doesn’t matter if the car’s blue, right?” “I know”, Anne said. “But God says we should ask specifically for what we want, so that’s what I’m doing. I leave the rest to him.”

 

Later that night I confided in Mark. “I don’t mind her being disappointed by us, but I don’t want her to ever feel being disappointed by God.” “Don’t worry so much”, Mark told me. “She knows that the prayer is more important sometimes than the answer.”

 

The next morning I climbed out of bed, got a cup of tea and checked my e-mail. On one message I recognized the name of a man I knew from church. He was buying a new car, and remembered that we had a daughter who had just turned 16. Would we like his old car – for free? “It’s automatic transmission, four door, perfect for a young driver”, he wrote. “Oh, and I don’t know if it matters, but it’s blue.

 

Little did he know how much it mattered.

 

 

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. Like Abraham, our father in faith, do we recognize and rejoice that his saving grace is gratuitous? What is the personal implication of this reality?

 

 

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.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

O loving God, our Father and Creator,

the patriarch Abraham put his faith in you.

Help us to trust in you

and rejoice in your free-gift of saving grace.

Teach us to put our faith into practice.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“Do not be afraid.” (Lk 12:7) // “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Rom 4:3; Gen 15:6)

 

 

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. // When challenged by very difficult situations, remember Abraham’s faith-response and imitate it.

      

 

*** *** ***

 

October 21, 2017: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (28); BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Invites Us to Trust in the Holy Spirit … He Is a Descendant of Abraham, our Father in Faith”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rom 4:13, 16-18 // 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 (Rom 4:13, 16-18): “Abraham believed, hoping against hope.”

 

In today’s First Reading (Rom 4:13, 16-18), Saint Paul presents the patriarch Abraham as a model of the Christian believer. Abraham’s faith is a sign of Christian faith. Though Abraham has so many human motives for despairing of ever having God’s posterity, he submits himself in faith to God. Abraham believes and hopes, even when there seems to be no reason for hoping. He has faith in the creative power of God to do what seems impossible. God brings life out of Sarah’s dead womb. And so Abraham becomes “the father of many nations”. Like Abraham we are called to believe in a God who brings life out of death, not only in the dead womb of Abraham’s wife, but above all, in raising the sacrificed body of his Son Jesus Christ to new life. As Church, a community of faith, through our baptismal rebirth in Jesus Christ we become the privileged descendants of Abraham in faith.

 

The faith of Abraham continues to be manifested by Christian disciples through all ages for example through the first Society of Saint Paul priest, Blessed Timothy Giaccardo. Let us recall his experience of faith and the testing of his faith as he tried to obtain permission to enter the fledging Pauline Family founded by his professor and spiritual director, Blessed James Alberione (cf. Tom Fogarty’s article in Concord magazine on Blessed Timothy).

 

Events are speeding up.

Today the Spiritual Director and Canon Chiesa told me it’s time to make a move. O God, I am nothing, needed for nothing. Help me to make this transition. I will make a Triduum of prayer for this intention: to Jesus, Creator of the world and to Mary, hope of sinful humanity; to Mary Queen of Apostles and to Jesus our Redeemer. And on the third day I will receive the Blessed Eucharist.

 

Some time later.

Mary, here I am at the vigil of the great day when I desire to enter the family of Fr. Alberione, get to know my Sisters and begin to live with my dear Brothers. Now I have to ask the Bishop permission to leave the Seminary.

 

This request raised various difficulties – remembering also the relationships between clerics of that age and their Bishops: very different from the relationships existing today.

This evening I asked permission. The Bishop showed that he was aware of my situation and asked if I wanted to remain a cleric, become a priest and then obey Fr. Alberione rather than the Bishop. I replied in the affirmative. He thought about this reply for some considerable time and then replied that, if I wished to have his permission to leave, I could no longer wear my cassock. I told him I was quite determined to leave but would be reluctant to leave the cassock aside.

 

This interview took place on May 17. A week later, we read.

The Bishop called me again and asked me about my studies. He then said that, if I intended to remain a cleric, he wanted me to continue in the seminary. With Fr. Alberione I will never be a priest as I plan to be. Father cannot be all that sure that he is doing the will of God. Of course I am free to try out my call but I am being invited to that house just because I can be useful to them and when they find me useless they will throw me out. Canon Chiesa is a good priest but he has not given me practical advice on this point. And I do not have the serenity and calm to be a journalist. My love for the new idea comes from the fact that Fr. Alberione has always helped me – indeed, hypnotized me. The advice I have received contradicts the authority of the Bishop who is not personally opposed to the work but simply suggests that it remains to be seen.

 

The points he made were not difficult in themselves but I was shaken by them because I would have to resist the authority of the Bishop whom I esteem and love and with whom I am deeply united. I begin to doubt … is my call truly from God? And I almost begin to regret the quiet life I might live if I had not thought of leaving the seminary. But yet my will remained very firm indeed and I still wanted to follow Fr. Alberione so there was nothing to be gained by going over the same ground. I spoke to Fr. Alberione again and he said that if I don’t believe what we are doing then I shoud tear up the Gospel!

 

After this “onslaught” there were other sacrifices he had to make.

I renounced seriously in Jesus’ favor what might prevent me following the divine call: my pride, my deep affection for the Seminary, the Clerics, the Superiors, the peaceful Seminary life and even the clerical cassock – though its loss will cause me pain and humiliation … And in this period I renewed several times the consecration of my whole being to Mary and this morning after Communion I asked Jesus to cleanse me of all my lack of attention to my tender Mother.

 

It was now June and Timothy began to make a move toward Fr. Alberione. But first of all as a visitor during the summer seminary vacation. The Bishop agreed to this but insisted that, outside the seminary, Timothy would no longer be a cleric.

O Jesus how I thank you for this grace which marks my life and humbles me. If I had got all I wanted I would have lost my head and would have forgotten you and would have lost interest in my formation. I have to spend all this vacation in profound humility having received a less-than-enthusiastic permission from the Bishop and no guarantee of a future permission. Lord, let me live in Fr. Alberione’s house not as a member but as a species of poor man or beggar. Long live Jesus!

   

 

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. Do you have faith experiences like Abraham of believing … of hoping against hope? How do these experiences affect you or shape you?

 

 

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 God,

the patriarch Abraham received your promise

of inheritance and posterity in faith.

He believed, hoping against hope

and his faith was vindicated.

Give us the grace to trust you

and allow ourselves to be led into our glorious destiny

through Jesus Christ your Son and our Savior.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.

            Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

            “The Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”  (Lk 12:12) //“Abraham believed, hoping against hope.” (Rom 4:13, 18)

 

 

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. // In moments of trial and in death-dealing situations, strive to imitate Abraham who believed, hoping against hope. Share that same faith and hope with those who are in desperate situations.

  

 

***

 

 

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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