A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 12, n. 50)

The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica & Weekday 32: Nov. 9-15, 2014 ***

 

 

(N.B. The pastoral tool BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD: A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY LITURGY includes a prayerful study of the Sunday liturgy of Year A from three perspectives. For reflections on the Sunday liturgy based on the Gospel reading, please scroll up to the “ARCHIVES” above and open Series 3. For reflections based on the Old Testament reading, open Series 6. For reflections based on the Second Reading, open Series 9. Please go to Series 10 - Series 12 for the back issues of the Weekday Lectio. For the Lectio Divina on the liturgy of the past week: November 2-8, 2014, please go to ARCHIVES Series 12 and click on “All Souls’ Day - Weekday 31”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: November 9-15, 2014.)

 

***

 

November 9, 2014: THE DEDICATION OF THE LATERAN BASILICA

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Healing Stream from the Temple”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ez 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 // I Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17 // Jn 2:13-22

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS

 

Today we celebrate the dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which is the “cathedral” of the diocese of Rome. It is the official seat of the bishop of Rome, who happens to be the Pope. The original basilica was built in the fourth century when Emperor Constantine gave Pope Sylvester I the property, originally owned by the Laterani family, upon which it was constructed. The Lateran Basilica was built shortly after Emperor Constantine had legalized Christianity, which was a persecuted religion. From then on, many Christian places were built and the Church put down roots and spread throughout the world. The Lateran Basilica was dedicated on November 9, 324. The anniversary of its dedication expresses the communion of each Christian community with the universal Church, founded by the apostles Peter and Paul, with the Pope as the head of the college of bishops, which presides over the charity of all the churches throughout the world.

 

This Sunday’s Old Testament reading (Ez 47:1-2, 8-9, 12) is one of the most picturesque and consoling passages in the Bible. It depicts Ezekiel’s vision of the healing and life-giving stream flowing out from the renewed temple in Jerusalem. The prophet saw water flowing with increasing quantity, depth and efficacy. All who were touched by it were regenerated, becoming abundantly fruitful.  Ezekiel’s vision of regeneration through the life-giving water flowing out from the temple symbolizes the healing and salvation that would result from the new covenant promised by Yahweh in the messianic future.

 

The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 7, comment: “When the sanctuary of the Lord was profaned by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar who besieged the city in 597 B.C., he was deeply distressed. Carried off into exile in Babylon, it was on the banks of Kibar canal that he received his mission as a prophet … In 587 B.C. Ezekiel learned that the second taking of Jerusalem ended with the total destruction of the venerated Temple. With this catastrophe, all seemed lost. But God announced to his priest and prophet that there would soon be a miraculous restoration of his people. He will bring them back to their country and will live again in their midst, in a reconstructed Temple … Ezekiel was taken in a vision to the top of a mountain from which he contemplated Jerusalem being rebuilt (Ez 40:1-2). A mysterious surveyor appears to the prophet. He shows him around the Temple, giving measurements in detail, and dictating to him precise rituals that are to be followed (Ez 40:5-46:24). At the end of the guided tour, the prophet is led back to the entrance of the Temple, and there he has an extraordinary vision: waters flowing out from beneath the threshold of the Temple toward the east. This stream that keeps increasing in volume makes salt waters fresh, allows animals to live and multiply, and makes the earth so fertile that wonderful fruit trees grow on its banks. Each month they bear different fruit, and their leaves have healing properties. The stream becomes a mighty river and flows down into the Dead Sea – well-named, since its extremely salty waters allow no animal or vegetable life – and it sweetens its waters too (…) His eyes were finally opened to a radiant future brought about by the purification of suffering.

 

Ezekiel’s vision of “living water” gushing forth from the temple of Jerusalem would be radically fulfilled by Jesus Christ in the messianic age. In today’s Gospel passage (Jn 2:13-22) we hear that the “temple” - to be destroyed and raised on the third day - is Jesus himself. Indeed, through the paschal mystery of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, his disciples came to experience that he is the true Temple. Jesus Christ, whose side was pierced by a lance and from which poured forth blood and water, is the font of salvation. The “healing stream” of the world’s salvation flows from the ultimate Temple - Jesus Christ glorified, who renews us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

Through the aftermath of the Easter event in which the Risen Lord poured forth upon the community of Christian believers his gift of the renewing Spirit, the Church also became God’s temple. According to St. Paul (cf. I Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17), we are the temple of God, the dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Jesus Christ is the foundation stone of this new temple, the community of faith.

 

The biblical scholar Eugene Maly concludes: “The Risen Jesus is the focus of the gathering of all peoples … The glorified Body of Christ is the focal point of all worship of the Father. It is through him, with him, and in him that all honor and glory are given to the Father. He is the new temple and all who accept him as Lord form a new temple since they are in him. The material church building, then, takes on a new significance in the Christian dispensation. It is the place where the Eucharistic Body is most often made present and offered to the Father. It is the gathering of the new temple that is the Church, the temple of God. It is a sign, therefore, of a deeper spiritual reality, of another temple not made by hands. It is for this reason that we celebrate the dedication of the material church building.”

 

The Church, the spiritual temple comprised by Christian believers, is a source of “healing waters” today. I have experienced this and here is my personal account.

 

On September 18, 2008, my younger brother Gisbert, who was residing in Toronto, Canada, underwent an “open and close” surgery. The medical team discovered that the cancer in the stomach had spread to the liver and they could not do anything more. It was devastating! Mercifully, however, in the midst of this “purification of suffering” there were waters of consolation. The charity and prayers of the family and friends, both in Canada and abroad, became a source of “spiritual healing”. The PDDM sisters and his own “Born Again” group enfolded him with the comfort of their prayers.

 

On October 15 I went to Canada to visit him. I was very much touched by the sensitive kindness of the parish community of St. Anthony of Padua where I went for Mass. When a parishioner learned about my brother’s sickness, she spontaneously offered prayers for him at the Prayer of the Faithful. Ezekiel’s vision of a healing stream that enables fruit-laden trees with medicinal leaves to grow is accomplished anew in today’s new “temple” - the community of Christian believers. When we sustain each other in faith and when we comfort each other in the midst of affliction with the consolation we have received from the Risen Lord, “spiritual healing” takes place.

 

My brother succumbed to cancer and died on May 20, 2009. But our pain and suffering, united with Jesus, the font of salvation, were mitigated and became redemptive. When, through death, my brother finally completed his paschal journey, we believed that he is now experiencing the “fullness” of life and the “glorification” of his “body” in the bosom of God.

 

 

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

 

1. How does Ezekiel’s vision of regeneration, healing and salvation impact you? How does the image of healing waters, fruitful trees and renewed creation affect you personally? Are you grateful for the promise of plenitude and fruitfulness given by the Lord God to Ezekiel with the coming of the new covenant?

 

2. Why is Jesus Christ the new and ultimate Temple from whom the waters of salvation flow out to the peoples of the earth and to the entire creation? Are you grateful for the gift of the holy Temple Jesus Christ and for having outpoured upon us the gift of the Holy Spirit, his Easter gift?

 

3. Are we deeply aware that we are the new temple of God? Do we endeavor to live fully the dignity of our being “temple of God” – the “dwelling of God in the Spirit”? What do we do to make the celebration of the feast of the Lateran Basilica more meaningful?

 

 

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

 

We bless you, loving Father,

for the vision of hope you gave to Ezekiel.

By the rivers of Babylon where your people were exiled,

he sat and wept

for the devastation wrought by foreign invaders on Jerusalem.

There he grieved for the destruction of its temple.

You consoled your priest-prophet Ezekiel

with the promise of a new covenant.

You gave him a glimpse of the life-giving Temple in the messianic age,

with healing waters flowing from it.

 

Oh, merciful God,

we thank you for having accomplished your promise

in your Son Jesus Christ.

In him you ratified the new covenant.

Jesus is the ultimate Temple

from which flowed out blood and water

for the world’s healing and salvation.

 

We give you praise for the Church,

your spiritual temple in the here and now.

By the Easter event of Christ’s death and rising,

we have been transformed into your holy temple,

the place where you dwell in the Spirit.

Help us to bring the healing waters of your grace

to our anguished world.

Enable us to share the medicinal leaves of the cross,

the tree of life,

with those who are spiritually, morally and physically sick.

May all those who participate in your Son’s sufferings

for the world’s salvation

bear abundant fruits of love, joy and peace.

 

Loving God, we thank you for gathering us

to celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica,

the Pope’s cathedral church.

We thank you for the life-giving Holy Spirit

you have poured upon the universal Church.

We are called to be channels of “healing waters” in the world today.

 

Gracious Father,

may you be praised in the true Temple, Jesus Christ,

by the power of the Holy Spirit, now and forever.

Amen.

  

 

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

 

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

 

“They shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.” (Ez 47:12b)

 

 

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

 

By your kind words and charitable deeds on behalf of the poor, the sick and suffering, enable the “healing waters” from the true Temple, Jesus Christ, to bring them peace, consolation and salvation. Endeavor to make the church building in your parish community a more conducive place for Christian worship. To help us live our dignity us “temples of the Holy Spirit”, make an effort to spend some time in Eucharistic Adoration.

 

*** 

 

November 10, 2014: MONDAY – SAINT LEO THE GREAT, pope, doctor of the Church

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us Responsibility for the Little Ones”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ti 1:1-9 // Lk 17:1-6

 

 

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

 

In the previous episodes, Jesus was addressing the “outsiders” – those outside the intimate circle of disciples - the crowds, the scribes and the Pharisees. In today’s Gospel setting, he focuses his attention on his disciples and delineates their responsibility for the “little ones”, that is, the members of the faith community. Jesus acknowledges that things that cause sin will inevitably occur because of Satan’s interference and the human misuse of freedom. But he issues a strong warning to his disciples not to lead others to sin. They must take care lest their actions cause others to stumble or lose faith in God. Such scandal-causing disciples will be severely punished.

 

The Divine Master continues to form his disciples in the way of responsibility and leadership. They must be able to correct and forgive.  They must rebuke those who sin and lead them on the right path. They must also forgive unceasingly those who truly repent of their sins. Jesus exhorts them to forgive the truly repentant person for his repeated sins – expressed exaggeratedly as committing wrong “seven times” in one day.

 

This is a tall order. How can the disciples live up to such a standard of integrity and generosity? Jesus therefore underlines the power of faith. If the disciples truly have “faith”, even the size of a mustard seed, they will be able to command a mulberry tree to be uprooted and planted in the sea. They must have faith to avoid misleading others by sinful actions, and that they may offer the gift of forgiveness to repentant sinners “every time”. The power of faith will enable them to rise to the task and challenge of Christian witnessing and ministry.

 

In the context of today’s sex-abuse scandal, the words of Jesus resound ominously upon those who abuse the “little ones” and sin against them. The following experience of a survivor illustrates not only the pain he suffered, but also the grace-filled attitude he showed as a victim of offense and scandal (cf. Rachel Zawila, “Survivors Speak” in Saint Anthony Messenger, June 2012, p. 20-25).

 

Peter Isely is a survivor. Growing up in a devout Catholic family, Isely envisioned maybe becoming a priest himself. While at St. Lawrence, a seminary high school in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, he was assaulted by a priest from age thirteen to seventeen … It took him more than a decade to publicly acknowledge it. And publicly he did. After reading an opinion piece by Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in November 1992, in which the archbishop stated too much attention was being given to a priest sex-abuse case, Isely could stay silent no longer. His open-letter response to Archbishop Weakland ran on page 1 of the newspaper the following Sunday. In it he shared his story, calling on the need for correction not only of offending priests, but also of the entire culture that allows such abuse to occur.

 

Since then, Isely has remained in the public eye. A cofounder of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) he now serves as Midwest director in Milwaukee. Isely can be seen around the country, joining in protests, giving speeches, and meeting with bishops, cardinals and priests. (…)

 

Fighting a public struggle is not the only battle survivors face. For many, an internal conflict of faith also wages on. Survivors struggle mightily with their faith”, says Isely. “That’s a major element.” (…) “Even when victims are angry, you can hear their deep attachment to their spiritual homeland”, says Isely, including himself in the statement. “Many of us came from the most devout and loyal Catholic parents and families. That was given to me as a child before I even understood most of it. This truth was given to me, and I can’t betray it.” (…)

 

The sex abuse crisis is not over. Further investigations have revealed it is a worldwide problem, and the Church continues to meet and form measures to address the situation. “That we’re now talking about this as a global issue, that is a huge success”, says Isely; “that there’s a conversation about the Vatican and how authority is structured around this and what is happening. So at least that’s being talked about now; that’s where the conversation is. Even getting there is something of a miracle … I’ll tell people I’ve been at this at least fifteen years, and we’ve made more progress in fifteen years than in fifteen centuries.”

 

 

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

 

Have we ever wronged the “little ones”? Do we recognize our responsibility and culpability? Do we choose the way of forgiveness and repentance? Do we trust in God and have faith that he is loving and forgiving?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Master,

you teach us the meaning of integrity and responsibility.

Help us to care for the “little ones”

Never allow us to wrong them or cause them to sin.

Let our words and deeds be irreproachable.

Give us the courage to correct those who are culpable

and the grace to forgive, “every time”, the repentant sinners.

Let our mustard-size faith sustain us

in the task of Christian witnessing

and in our ministry to the “little ones” of today’s world.

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.

 

“Things that cause sin will inevitably occur; woe to the person through whom they occur.” (Lk 17:1)

 

 

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

 

Pray for the victims of sex-abuse and those who are guilty of this crime. Do what you can to help the “survivors” of clergy sex-abuse.

  

***

 

November 11, 2014: TUESDAY – SAINT MARTIN OF TOURS

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Calls Us to a Total Dedication”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ti 2:1-8, 11-14 // Lk 17:7-10

 

 

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

 

In my brother’s home in Cebu (Philippines), there are three domestic helpers. Each one has a particular task, but all can multi-task. Hence, the gardener can also clean the house if the cleaning boy is not around. The helpers have a food allowance in addition to their monthly salary and are not expected to join the family at table. At meal time at least one of them has to wait at table. They are very dedicated and are treated respectfully and justly. But I suppose none of them would expect to be thanked or praised every time for the work they do since they are paid workers.

 

Today’s Gospel speaks of the personal dedication expected of a multi-tasking servant who can plow the field, tend the sheep and wait at table. A servant must not indulge in self-gratification nor give in to arrogant presumption that the master owes it to him. A servant is expected to carry out his duties humbly and faithfully. If such faithful service and total dedication are expected of a domestic servant, how much more Jesus Master demands them from his followers. The Christian disciples are wisely reminded that they can never stop and rest in the belief that they have worked enough. Immersed into the life of Christ, the Servant of Yahweh, they are “servants” for the kingdom. They are called to be totally, and devotedly, at the service of the Father’s saving will. True servants do not seek themselves. Their humble attitude makes them avow: “We are merely servants and we have done merely our duty!”

 

 

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

 

What is our attitude as servants of the Lord? Do we fully commit ourselves to the task of building up God’s kingdom? Are we fully configured to Jesus, the Servant of Yahweh?

 

 

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

 

O Jesus, Divine Master,

you are the Servant Yahweh

and in you, we are “servants” for the kingdom.

Help us to be faithful cultivators of the seed of the kingdom,

loving shepherds of God’s flock and

humble waiters at the Eucharistic banquet.

We love you and praise 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.

 

“We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we are obliged to do.” (Lk 17:10)

 

 

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

 

Pray that the spirit of service may live on intensely in the Church. By your personal dedication to your daily tasks, let the work you do be a means of sanctification and building up of God’s kingdom.

 

***

 

November 12, 2014: WEDNESDAY – SAINT JOSAPHAT, bishop, martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Object of Thanksgiving”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ti 3:1-7 // Lk 17:11-19

 

 

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

 

Today’s Gospel story of the healing of the Ten Lepers acquires deeper meaning when seen against the sinful reality of human ingratitude that warps our filial relationship with God. In his book, Ode to Joy (New York: Alba House, 1997, p. 237), Harold Buetow observes that too often we’re like the doting grandmother who was walking with her young grandson along the shore in Miami Beach when a huge wave appeared out of nowhere, sweeping the child out to sea. The horrified woman fell to her knees, raised her eyes to heaven, and begged the Lord to return her beloved grandson. And, lo, another wave reared up and deposited the stunned child on the sand right in front of her. The grandmother looked the boy over carefully. He was fine. But then she stared up angrily toward the heavens. “When he came,” she snapped indignantly, “He had a hat!” Like the ingrate grandmother, we presume that God is the service-giver and that he owes it to us. We, therefore, fail to acknowledge our debt of gratitude to God. 

 

Jesus Master responds compassionately to the ten lepers who call out to him with an intense invocation. The Old Testament cry of despair, “Unclean, unclean” is transformed into a new “prayer” in the presence of Jesus, who is on his paschal journey to Jerusalem. Instead of warning, “Unclean, unclean” to isolate their wretched selves from the society, the ten lepers boldly appeal to him for mercy and compassion. They shout a new “prayer”: “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” Jesus Master orders them to show themselves to the priests. On their way they realize they have been healed.

  

The grateful Samaritan, healed of his infirmity, returns to Jesus Master, the font of compassion and healing. The return of the grateful Samaritan marks a new life of faith and worship centered in the person of Jesus, the true object of praise and thanksgiving. The healed Samaritan glorifies God, not in the Jewish temple, but in the person of Jesus. The Gospel account of the healing of the Ten Lepers presents us not only with another benevolent ministry of Jesus, but also an example of a faith that is transformed into glory and praise. The return of the Samaritan illustrates the intimate connection between faith and “thanksgiving”. Faith becomes “Eucharist” - an act of thanksgiving and worship in Jesus Master.

 

 

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

 

What are the occasions in our life when we pray most intensely, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”? In what way are we the grateful, healed Samaritan leper? In what way are we the healed lepers who did not return to Jesus? Do we allow ourselves to be heartened by Jesus’ words: “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you”?  

 

 

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

 

We cry out to you, Jesus,

the font of compassion.

Have pity on us and take away our infirmities.

Restore us to health and take away the leprosy of sin.

We thank you for your healing word.

In you is true wholeness.

Let us rejoice in you and obey you.

Teach us to be truly grateful

for your acts of mercy and marvelous saving deeds.

By being instruments of your healing love in today’s world,

may the triune God be glorified, 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.

 

            “He fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” (Lk 17:16)

 

 

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

 

Pray for all the marginalized and distressed people in today’s world. By your acts of charity, alleviate their suffering and help them to be grateful to God “no matter what”.

 

 

***

 

November 13, 2014: THURSDAY – SAINT FRANCES XAVIER CABRINI (USA)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches that the Kingdom of God Is Among Us”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Phlm 7-20 // Lk 17:20-25

 

 

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

 

The Pharisees ask Jesus when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus answers, “The kingdom of God is among you.” The messianic kingdom has been ushered in by Jesus and is deeply palpable in his compassionate ministry to the poor and suffering. It is silently growing and flourishing, but it cannot be perceived by those who reject the person of Jesus. Hence, for the unbelieving Pharisees it is futile to search for the kingdom here and there and presumptuous to demand spectacular “signs” to know when and where it will come.

 

Jesus then speaks to his disciples about the definitive fulfillment of the Kingdom that is already at work among them. But before this happens, Jesus must first undergo great suffering and rejection. During the ad interim time, even the disciples will be desperate for the glorious coming of the Son of Man, and this could lead them to succumb to follow false prophets and devious theories about his definitive coming. If only they would give their full attention to the kingdom that is already at work in them, then they will be ready for the glorious return of the Son of Man at the end time. Jesus assures his disciples that his day of glory is unmistakable - it will be as vivid and powerful as the lightning that flashes and lights up the sky. 

 

This happened in 1984. After attending a memorial Mass in Bombay (now Mumbai) for the deceased Italian soldiers who died during World War II, Mother Dorothy and I hitched a ride. Also hitching a ride were two Italian youths - members of the Focolare Movement founded by Chiara Lubich. The two young men were residing in the slums of Bombay and ministering to the poor. A Sister who was with us in the car was reciting a litany of woes. She demanded: “Now tell me: where is the kingdom of God?” The Focolare missionary answered: “The kingdom of God is within you!” The Sister sobered up. When we promote justice and peace in today’s world, when we lovingly care for poor and needy, and when we zealously build a more harmonious world – then we can perceive the kingdom that is within us. Indeed, the kingdom of God is an “already but not yet” reality which we must nurture and treasure.

 

 

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

 

Do we believe that the kingdom of God is within us, and is growing towards completion? What do we do to hasten the definitive advent of the kingdom of God?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Master,

we truly believe your words:

“The kingdom of God is among you.”

When we dedicate ourselves

to works of justice, peace and compassion,

we feel the kingdom power within us.

Give us the grace to be faithful

so that at your glorious coming at the end time,

we may rejoice with you in the heavenly kingdom.

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.

 

“The kingdom of God is among you.” (Lk 17:21) 

 

 

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

 

By your works of mercy and compassion, by your peace-making efforts, hasten the definitive advent of the kingdom of God.

 

***

 

November 14, 2014: FRIDAY – WEEKDAY (32)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Be Ready for His Final Coming”

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Jn 4-9 // Lk 17:26-37

 

 

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

           

Many years ago I saw a movie entitled “The Bad Seed” about a young girl who was very wicked. Twice she committed murder without compunction. One evening she put on a raincoat and, with a flashlight, calmly walked into the rain towards the river to fish out some evidence of her crime. While she was doing that a powerful lightning bolt struck and killed her. That was a brutal end to a “bad seed”.

 

Jesus talks about his Second Coming as an encounter either with destruction or salvation. For those who have trusted in him and have prepared for his coming, it will be an event of salvation. For those who have rejected him and have been preempted by earthly concerns, it will be an ominous condemnation and self-destruction. Jesus mentions Noah and Lot as examples of those prepared to encounter the divine judgment with integrity. Around them were people who were not prepared for the flood, and the threat of destruction. Worldly pursuits and sinful deeds have prevented them from welcoming the judgment of the Lord as a gift of salvation. Lot’s wife failed to experience the divine offer of salvation because she kept turning back toward the sinful city Sodom.

 

In his lesson on preparedness, Jesus depicts the opposite fortunes of two people in one bed and of two women grinding meal together: one is taken, the other left. This impressive imagery illustrates the suddenness of the coming of Christ and the readiness, or un-readiness, he will find at his “coming”. Those who are ready to sacrifice even their life for the Lord Jesus are most ready to welcome him at his coming. The call to readiness is reinforced by the image of vultures gathering where there are carcasses: for the impious and the wicked, the coming of the Lord is their destruction.

 

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

 

What do we do to prepare ourselves for the Second Coming of Christ? Do we live in a spirit of detachment, and endeavor to focus on doing the divine saving will?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you will come again on the last day.

Help us to be ready

so that our final encounter with you

will be an experience of salvation,

and not of condemnation.

Give us the grace to nurture the kingdom of God

that is already within us.

We look forward to the end time

when you will restore all things

and you will be the king of all nations

and the Lord of all creation.

We give you glory and praise,

now and forever.

            Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.” (Lk 17:30)

 

 

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

 

Especially in this month of November, make an effort to focus your attention on the “last things” and let the thought of the Lord’s Second Coming shape your daily life.

 

***

 

November 15, 2014: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (32); SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT, bishop, doctor of the Church; BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Does Justice”

 

BIBLE READINGS

III Jn 5-8 // Lk 18:1-8

 

 

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

 

At times, the power of evil is so overwhelming that even persons of faith begin to falter. This is evident in the following account:

 

Archbishop Romero offers her a chair. Marianela prefers to talk standing up. She always comes for others, but this time she comes for herself. Marianela Garcia Vilas, attorney for the tortured and disappeared of El Salvador, does not come this time to ask the archbishop’s solidarity with one of the victims … This time she has something personal to say to him. As mildly as she can, she tells him that the police have kidnapped her, bound, beat, humiliated, stripped her – and they raped her. She tells it without tears or agitation, with her usual calm, but Archbishop Romero has never before heard in Marianela’s voice these vibrations of hatred, echoes of disgust, calls for vengeance. When Marianela finishes, Archbishop Romero, who always gives advice and comfort, is weeping like a child without mother or home. He who always gives assurances, the tranquilizing assurance of a neutral God who knows and embraces all – Archbishop Romero doubts. He weeps and doubts.

 

Against the backdrop of today’s painful human realities experienced by those whose faith is severely tested, today’s Gospel becomes relevant and meaningful. Jesus comforts those in distress with the following truth: God secures the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him in faith. The evangelist Luke explains that the parable of the unscrupulous judge and the importunate widow, which Jesus addresses to his disciples, is about the need to pray always and never lose heart. The widow pursues relentlessly the dishonest judge and pesters him to render a just decision on her behalf. To get rid of the importunate widow, he finally grants her request.

  

In the Gospel parable, the perverse judge acts as a foil for God, who will, at the end-time, see to it that justice is done speedily for those who persist in faith and prayer. The loving and compassionate God does justice for the poor and the oppressed. Indeed, if the persistent pleading of the helpless widow triumphs over the unjust judge, guided by neither divine nor human law, how much more will the persistent praying of Christian disciples achieve true justice! If an unjust judge yields to the entreaties of a pestering widow, how much more will a gracious God come to the help of his disciples who cry out to him for help. The decisive question, therefore, is the one raised by the Lord Jesus: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Will the disciples remain faithful to Jesus during the long haul caused by the delay of his return? The true issue is faith, which must always be reawakened in us without losing heart.

 

 

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

 

What is our attitude towards the Lord’s exhortation about the necessity of persevering prayer and the need to pray without losing heart? In light of today’s situations and the unmitigated cry of Yahweh’s anawim for justice, do we truly believe that he will secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him in faith? What is our personal response to the Lord Jesus’ decisive question: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth” (Lk 18:8)? 

 

 

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

 

Loving Father in heaven,

at times the force of evil is so strong that our faith is shaken.

We doubt and falter.

We lift up our hands in supplication

for justice in today’s fragmented world.

Together with the importunate widow we pray for justice.

Strengthen our faith and hope

so that when our Savior comes at the end-time,

he will find us engaged in promoting your kingdom

and fighting for the cause of justice and right.

We love and glorify you, 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.

 

“He will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.” (Lk 18:8).

 

 

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

 

Pray for the victims of violence and injustice in today’s world, and for those who fight for the cause of justice and right. Read your diocesan paper and/or parish newsletter, and see how you can respond to the appeal of the poor and needy and do justice as part of the diocesan-parish community.  

 

   

  

 

***

 

 

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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