A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 18, n. 50)

Week 32 in Ordinary Time: November 8-14, 2020

 

 

(The pastoral tool BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD: A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY & WEEKDAY LITURGY includes a prayerful study of the Sunday liturgy from various perspectives. For the Lectio Divina on the liturgy of the past week: November 1-7, 2020 please go to ARCHIVES Series 18 and click on “Ordinary Week 31”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: November 8-14, 2020.)

 

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November 8, 2020: THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Bridegroom to Come”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Wis 6:12-16 // I Thes 4:13-18 // Mt 25:1-13

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 25:1-13): “Behold the bridegroom! Come to meet him!”

          

The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids (Mt 25:1-13), which is part of Jesus’ eschatological discourse as recorded by Matthew, is one of the three concluding parables in his Gospel account. These parables exhort Christians to prepare themselves for the Lord’s return at the end of time. Together with the Parable of the Conscientious Steward (Mt 24:45-51), which is read on Thursday of the Twenty-first Week, and the Parable of the Talents (Mt 25:14-30), which is proclaimed on the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, this Sunday’s eschatological parable makes us understand how to live today in the perspective of the Day that will not fail to come. Theologically, the story of the wise and foolish virgins is appropriate for towards the end of the liturgical year the focus of the Church is on our need for preparedness for the end time.

 

The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, comment on the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids: “Like many others, this parable is based on a fact, a situation of ordinary life. It tells of a custom connected with the wedding celebration. The bridesmaids – the ten young girls – went to the bride’s house, waiting with her until the bridegroom came to lead her to his home. Then people went in a cortege to the wedding hall. But it happens that unusual, even unlikely, traits are introduced into a narrative to make a point. There are several in our case: the interminable lateness of the bridegroom, who keep people waiting until the middle of the night; the errand of the five maidens wanting to buy oil, as if they thought it possible to find a shop open at that hour; the closing of the banquet hall door, so contrary to the customs of oriental hospitality … It would be out of place to quibble with these improbable features of the story. A parable is not a narrative of event, retold with exactitude down to its minutest details. Storytellers can legitimately put in exaggerated traits that fit their purposes. This is done knowingly and fools no one. This being understood, the lesson of the parable is clear. We shall be kept waiting for the Lord’s coming; unforeseeable, it will happen suddenly. At that moment, everything will be lost for those who were taken by surprise. Others will not be able to help them. The improvident ones will find a closed door in the kingdom where the wedding of the Son of Man is celebrated.”

 

This Sunday’s eschatological parable speaks of two types of bridesmaids: the foolish and the wise. Harold Buetow explains: “Why were the foolish foolish? Because they did not reflect on the leitmotifs of life, and so they did not realize that this wedding feast, which as usual in the Scriptures represented eternal salvation, was everything. To be there called for the investment of one’s whole being. They risked only a tentative investment, while being engaged in other interests. So they did not come to the final accounting well prepared … Why were the wise wise? Because they reflected on life and were experts at making the surpluses of life subordinate to their main interests.” Indeed, the five foolish maidens illustrate the utter lack of wisdom of those who do not reckon with God. The five wise maidens highlight the vigilant hearts of believers who have prepared themselves for their final encounter with God.

 

The Bridegroom in the Parable of the Ten Virgins represents Christ, the awaited one of the parousia. The biblical scholar, Eugene Maly explicates: “Here is the heart of parousia, full enjoyment of the Kingdom with the Lord and with one another. The parable in Matthew’s Gospel gives us further insight. The groom represents the Christ awaited in his parousia. The midnight hour does not mean a designated time. Rather it conveys the uncertainty (they are in the dark) concerning the time of his coming. The two groups of bridesmaids represent those who will and will not share in the event. Preparedness is the ultimate criterion. The theme of preparedness is certainly one of the reasons why the Church reminds us of the parousia at several places in the Eucharistic prayer. If our eyes are on that glorious goal, we are more likely to keep our spiritual lamps lit and ready for that reception.” Through Christ’s paschal mystery, the time of the parousia, in a certain sense, has begun. Even now, the Church begins to experience Christ’s parousia through an intimate participation in his paschal mystery.

 

The following story gives us a glimpse into the mood of vigilant expectation that should characterize our advent expectation of Christ the Bridegroom (cf. Bill Giovanetti in Daily Guideposts 2015, p. 26).

 

The phone rang. It was my Realtor. “Bill’, she said, “we have buyers who want to see your house today. “Today?” It came out as a croak. “What time?” We hadn’t shown our house in months. Preparing it would be a big effort. “One thirty.”

 

As a pastor preaching multiple services every weekend, I look forward to nothing more than my Sunday afternoon nap. I did a quick calculation: by the time church was over and we got home, that would leave all of thirty minutes to make the beds, and achiever the miraculous transformation. We negotiated a 3:30 PM showing.

 

The afternoon was a blur of straightening, cleaning, hiding, vacuuming, dusting, folding, and otherwise perfecting our house. As a final touch, my wife loaded our two kids and two dogs into a car and drove off, with ten minutes to spare.

 

During those ten minutes, I sat and prayed for a strong offer. I also reflected on how hard it was to get ready for a showing. At first it wasn’t; we stayed in a state of readiness. But a month had gone by, showings dwindled, and our home took on its comfy lived-in vibe.

 

How much easier to stay ready than to get ready from scratch … just like with Jesus, I thought. Was I staying ready for Him? How much scrambling I would have to do if Jesus knocked on my door today?

 

We didn’t get an offer that day, but I got something better.

 

Thank you, Lord, for the reminder to stay every ready for Your appearance.

 

 

B. First Reading (Wis 6:12-16): “Wisdom is found by those who seek her.”

 

The Old Testament reading (Wis 6:12-16) depicts Wisdom, who personifies our lover-God, as sought by us and seeking for us. Those who seek Wisdom can easily find her. Moreover, Wisdom actively searches for those who yearn and keep vigil for her - for those who, in loving response, are worthy of her.

 

The following is a beautiful example of one whose life is animated by divine wisdom (cf. Elizabeth Sherill in Daily Guideposts 2015, p. 337).

 

At first, when I saw that Lucille’s letter was all about a real state deal, my mind glazed over. I know nothing about real estate. Apparently, Lucille had been trying to sell her house in Missouri for a long time. With the bad market, she’d lowered the price again and again. Now, she wrote, it was almost within reach of a young woman who worked in the lab at the local hospital. The would-be buyer, however, was six thousand dollars short of the bank payment the bank required.

 

Since the technician hadn’t been able to come up with this amount, Lucille offered her a deal: “I’ll make up the difference. I’ll give the bank the six thousand dollars, and you can pay me back with good deeds.” Lucille would count those good deeds as three hundred dollars a month.

 

“What constitutes a good deed?” the young woman wanted to know. “Actions”, said Lucille, “that help make the world a better place.”

 

“Today I received my buyer’s first accounting”, Lucille wrote. The technician had worked thirty extra hours to provide time off for a coworker with cancer. She’d  taken part in bake sales for a diabetes foundation. She’d bought a coat for a child the lab had adopted for Christmas. She’d gone once a week to visit the elderly at the senior center.

 

“I sure got my three hundred dollars’ worth of joy, hearing about these things”, Lucille concluded. “I can’t wait for next month’s report!”

 

 

C. Second Reading (I Thes 4:13-18): “God, through Jesus will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”

 

Today’s Second Reading (I Thes 4:13-18) is a Pauline masterpiece. This beautiful passage declares that God will unite with him the faithful departed. Animated with divine wisdom, Paul assures the Thessalonians, distressed about the destiny of their loved ones who died before the Lord’s parousia or final coming. They need not fear that their beloved dead would miss the glorious deliverance. Indeed, that we shall be united with the Lord always should be a deep consolation for us all.

 

The liturgical scholar Adrian Nocent comments: “Saint Paul is trying to instill hope into the Christians of Thessalonica. His message, in brief, is that the resurrection of Jesus is what gives meaning to every Christian life, and that God will take to himself those who have died with Christ. We died with Christ in baptism; we shall also share his resurrection. The confusion in the minds of the Thessalonians provides Paul with an occasion for describing what will happen at the end of time. He works with images, but his point is clear. His essential teaching is that all, whether already dead or still living when Christ comes, will be taken up with Christ into glory.”

 

In light of Saint Paul’s words of wisdom, we believe that death is a participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. It is also our last act of self-giving to our heavenly Father. As an intimate participation in Christ’s paschal mystery, death is life’s completion. It leads to eternal union and intimate union with God. The following story can help us appreciate the beauty of this tremendous mystery and realize that the faithful departed are indeed with God (cf. Brian Clark, “September 11 Journeys of Faith: Vision of Hope” in Guideposts, September 2011, p. 54-55).

 

I lay on my side in bed, a week after the attack, waiting for the comfort of sleep, still trying to make sense of everything that had happened. Tomorrow, I was supposed to return to work at Euro Brokers’ new office space. I was one of the company’s executives. People expected me to be there, but was I really ready to go back? After what I’d been through?

 

It was still so surreal. I’d survived. Scrambled down 84 floors from my office in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Some in the media were calling me a hero, because I’d stopped to pull a man from the rubble on the eighty-first floor. But surely anyone would have done the same. The truth, Stanley Praimnath has saved my life as much as I’d saved his. If not for him … I shuddered at what might have been. Just minutes after we got out, the building collapsed. I thought of the colleagues I’d lost, more than 60 in all. I’d never see them again.

 

I closed my eyes and I was back there in the South Tower with Stanley, holding onto each other, the stairwell lit only by my flashlight, pushing past huge pieces of drywall, water cascading down the steps. The air was thick with dust. Hacking, coughing, we got to the seventy-fourth floor, and suddenly it was like we’d entered another world. The lights were on. I could breathe again. We hurried on.

 

On the sixty-eighth floor we met a man coming up. Jose Marrero. He’d worked in the Euro Brokers’ security department for years, a friend to everyone he met. He was a handsome man, in his mid-thirties, with a 100-watt smile that told everyone that things were right with the world. But that day he was drenched in sweat, breathing hard, holding a walkie-talkie to his ear. “Jose”, I said, “where are you going?”

 

“I can hear David Vera’s voice up above”, he said. “I’m going to help him.”

 

“Dave’s a big boy”, I said. “He’ll get out on his own. Come on down with us.”

 

“No”, Jose said. “Dave needs help. I’ll be all right.”

 

It was the last time I saw him alive. I opened my eyes, staring into the empty darkness of my bedroom. My wife stirred and put her arm around me. Had Jose made it all the way to Dave Vera? Where was he when the tower came crashing down? He’d never again know his wife’s touch. He’d had his whole life ahead of him. Like so many of the others. Now, there was nothing.

 

My thought faded: tired …

 

I was awake again. I’ve gotta get some sleep. I was lying on my back looking at the foot of the bed. I never sleep like this. Why don’t I turn over? And then, suddenly, there was the image of Jose, standing inches from my feet. He was wearing the most unusual shirt, blousy and brilliant white. I stared at him. Jose, you’re alive. How did you do it?

 

He just smiled that glorious ear-to ear grin. He was okay, joyful even, like he was in on some kind of wonderful secret, and he seemed to be telling me, “You’ll figure it out.”

 

Then he was gone. As quickly as he had appeared. Still, there was something that lingered. A powerful, reassuring presence. Jose is with God, I thought. But more than that, I sense God was with me. (…)

 

 

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

 

1.     Do we pursue the resplendent and unfading beauty of divine wisdom and allow ourselves to be sought by her?

 

2.     Are we ready to meet the Bridegroom-Lord with burning lamps when he comes and attend to him at the banquet of the heavenly kingdom?

 

3.     Are we heartened by the truth that God, through Jesus, will bring with him those who have fallen asleep and that we shall always be with the Lord?

 

 

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

 

O loving God,

how resplendent and marvelous you are!

In Jesus, the incarnate Wisdom,

you sought us and we allow ourselves to be sought.

Jesus is the Bridegroom-Lord of the heavenly kingdom.

He comes to bring us to the heavenly feasting,

but we need to welcome him with burning lamps

that radiate the truth of our total self-giving.

In the spirit of the wisdom-filled Saint Paul,

let us be messengers of hope to the bereaved.

Help us assure the grieving

that their deceased loved ones are in your care.

Indeed, our beloved dead will be brought back to you in Jesus,

who died and rose for our saving.

We believe that the faithful departed

will experience the fullness of life

through the power of Christ’s death and resurrection.

We are deeply consoled

that we shall be always with you

and live in your presence,

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.

 

“Stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Mt 25:13))

 

 

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

 

Pray in a special way for all the deceased that they may rest in peace. By your acts of kindness and compassion to the bereaved and the grieving and by your words of comfort, let them experience the hope of resurrection in Jesus Christ. To help experience more deeply the meaning of Christian hope and to be able to trust greatly in the promise of eternal life, make an effort to spend some moments if quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

 

 

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November 9, 2020: MONDAY – 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 // 1 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17 // Jn 2:13-22

 

 

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

 

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. 1 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 quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. 

 

 

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November 10, 2020: TUESDAY – SAINT LEO THE GREAT, Pope, Doctor of the Church

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Calls Us to a Total Dedication … We Await for the Great Day of His Appearing”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

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

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 17:7-10): “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we are obliged to do.”

 

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 (Lk 17:7-10) 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!”

 

 

B. First Reading (Ti 2:1-8, 11-14): “We live devoutly in this age as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of our savior Jesus Christ.”

 

In the reading (Ti 2:1-8, 11-14), we hear Saint Paul advising the young pastor, Titus of Crete, to teach the various groups in the Church (the older men, the older women who are, in turn, to teach the younger women, and the younger men) in accordance with sound doctrine. Each group is to follow particular virtues and roles befitting to their life in the community. All are called upon to be a good family example by being self-controlled, steadfast and loving. Moreover, the probity or uprightness of their lives will counteract the suspicions and negative notions of outsiders.

 

God has revealed his grace for the salvation of all mankind. The saving grace is realized in Jesus. The experience of this grace enables us to give up ungodly living and worldly passions, and to live upright and godly lives in this world. Already justified, we wait for our sanctifying confirmation at “the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Jesus Christ”. The Christian moral life is thus based on Christ’s self-sacrifice. He gave himself up for us, to rescue us from all wickedness and to make us a pure people who belong to him alone and are eager to do good.

 

The following article illustrates that the pastoral spirit that has animated Saint Paul and Saint Titus lives on in the Church (cf. “2015-2016 Lumen Christi Award Finalists” in Extension, Fall 2015, p. 20).

 

Madeline Lyon, Diocese of Gallup, N.M.: High in the northern mountains of New Mexico near Lumbertown, the small St. Francis School educates and ministers to over 100 children in grades 1-8 as the only Catholic school in this remote, impoverished area.

 

More than 85 percent of the students are Native Americans from the nearby Jicarilla Apache Nation in Dulce. At the school’s helm is Madeline Lyon, a one-time volunteer who is now the principal.

 

“The light of Christ is needed here to cast out darkness”, she says. Students can have many obstacles, including alcoholism, early parental death, and suicide. Lyon and her volunteer teachers work tirelessly to overcome social issues and to raise the standards of education within a nurturing Christian commitment.

 

“Connection to God is our greatest hope”, she says.

 

 

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

 

1. 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?

 

2. How does the reality of God’s saving grace accomplished in Jesus Christ affect our life personally? How do we live our Christian life in today’s hostile secularized world, whose values are directly antagonistic to Christian values?

 

 

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.

 

***

Jesus Lord,

as we await the blessed Day

of your appearing in glory on the last day,

give us the grace to give up ungodly living and worldly passions.

Help us to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this world

so that people may experience the beauty of your saving grace.

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) // “We live devoutly in this age as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ.” (Ti 2:13).

  

 

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. // Pray for the youth and the elderly.

 

 

*** *** ***

 

November 11, 2020: WEDNESDAY – SAINT MARTIN OF TOURS

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Object of Thanksgiving … Because of His Mercy, He Saved Us”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

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

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 17:11-19): “Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”

 

Today’s Gospel story of the healing of the Ten Lepers (Lk 17:11-19) 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.

 

 

B. First Reading (Ti 3:1-7): “For we ourselves were deluded, but because of his mercy, he saved us.”

 

The reading (Ti 3:1-7) contains Saint Paul’s advice concerning Christian conduct, especially the need to be peaceful, friendly and gentle toward everyone. They are urged not to speak evil of anyone. Christians should dedicate themselves as good citizens to the welfare of the state and submit to legitimate civil authority. Saint Paul counsels them to do be ready to do good in every way. Why should Christians behave in this manner? Because we have been transformed by grace! We were once foolish, disobedient and slaves to passions and pleasures of all kinds. But when the kindness and love of God was revealed through the incarnation of Jesus Christ, we were saved. We are recipients of God’s loving kindness that releases us from sin. Through the Holy Spirit, God gives us new birth and new life through baptism. The Holy Spirit has been poured out abundantly upon us by God through Jesus Christ, transforming us into “heirs of eternal life”. This reality should therefore motivate Christian believers to good works.  Indeed, the Christian moral life is empowered by the divine grace experienced in baptism.

 

The following is a modern-day example of good Christian conduct (cf. Lisa Swan, “Warm Feet, Warmer Hearts” in Guideposts, September 2015, p. 9)

 

Many current members of the military, as well as veterans, hail from Staten Island, New York. So I wasn’t surprised to read in the newspaper that some students at St. Adalbert’s, a local school, were looking out for those who served.

 

Through Operation Toasty Tootsies, the kids in first through eighth grade collected socks to give to homeless New York City veterans receiving care through the Department of Veteran Affairs. The kids collected more than 1,000 pairs of socks.

 

The students drew inspiration from Mother Teresa, who urged us to “do small things with great love”. Why socks? The kids learned in science class that significant body heat can escape through the feet. They might be too young to find homes for veterans who need them, but they can keep them a little warmer.

 

It was a great reminder that there’s always a way to help. I already bought some socks to donate this year.

 

 

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

 

1. 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”?  

 

2. Do our Christian conduct manifest the salvation that the kindness and mercy of God have brought us? Do we endeavor to be good citizens of the nation, promoting the common good and ready to do good in every way?

 

 

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,

now and forever.

            Amen.

 

            ***    

O merciful God,

you revealed your kindness and love

through the incarnation

and the death and rising of your Son Jesus Christ.

Let our Christian conduct

reveal the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in us,

who gives us new birth and new life through baptism.

Through Christ and in the Spirit,

let us come to the joys of eternal life.

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.

 

“He fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” (Lk 17:16) // “Because of his mercy, he saved us.” (Ti 3:5)

 

 

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”. // Make an effort to be peaceful, friendly and gentle toward everyone.

 

 

*** *** ***

 

November 12, 2020: THURSDAY – SAINT JOSAPHAT, Bishop, Martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches that the Kingdom of God Is Among Us … In Him We Are Brothers and Sisters”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

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

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 17:20-25): “The Kingdom of God is among you.”

 

In today’s Gospel (Lk 17:20-25), 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.

  

 

B. First Reading (Phlm 7-20): “Have him back, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to you.”

 

In his loving letter to Philemon, Saint Paul, an exemplary Christian disciple and a “prisoner for Christ”, illustrates that absolute preference for Christ and immersion into his paschal destiny lead to transformation and new relationships. Onesimus’ new birth in Christ through baptism establishes a new kinship with the saving Lord and with other Christians. Though Saint Paul does not directly challenge the institution of slavery, he exhibits a humane attitude that would eventually guide Christianity to abhor that system.

 

Considering the historical background, it seems that Philemon has responded to Paul’s revolutionary challenge to freely love Onesimus and respect him with dignity and respect as a “brother” in Christ. Philemon freely renounces his legal right to his slave Onesimus, who is eventually returned to Paul to be the latter’s co-worker in the Gospel. The former slave, Onesimus, becomes in time a bishop of a vibrant Christian community in Ephesus. Following the inspiration of Saint Paul, Philemon has wonderfully embraced the liberating new vistas of Christian discipleship that enables him to embrace an escaped slave, to give opportunity to a forgiven slave and a “brother” in Christ to realize his full possibility, and to transcend personally the flawed structure of a civil society based on slave ownership.

 

The following article gives insight into Paul’s assertion that he is a “prisoner for Christ Jesus” (cf. Fr. Kevin O’Neill, “A Bishop’s Story” in L’Osservatore Romano, July 28, 2010, p. 3).

 

The first time I saw 86 year old Bishop John Baptist Wang was during the Easter Vigil Mass in the cathedral of his diocese. It was a moving Easter ceremony. There was a large fire outside the church followed by a procession into the church with lighted candles. Primary school children read the readings with gusto. Just before the Gloria was sung a huge banner of the risen Jesus was unveiled over the main altar accompanied by a fanfare of trumpets followed by fireworks outside the church.

 

The symbol of water was in the form of a waterfall set up on the right side of the sanctuary. The congregation shouted aloud in one voice their renewal of faith while holding high their lighted candles. This was very powerful. Just before the liturgy of the Eucharist, Bishop Wang was ushered to the altar with assistance. He sat in a chair beside me so I assisted him with his standing and sitting during the Eucharistic prayer. In 2008 he had a number of minor strokes that affected the feeling in his hands and his ability to walk unaided. A few days later I had the opportunity to talk with him. He was still quite frail then, lying in bed with a drip, nevertheless he graciously met with me.

 

He was ordained a priest in 1951 at the age of 28. In 1999, at the age of 76 (normally Bishops resign at 75 years of age), he was ordained Bishop by the former Bishop of his neighboring home diocese. He pointed out the needs of his diocese as the formation of priests, sisters, seminarians and catechists. The sisters work in parishes, clinics and an orphanage. The priority of the diocese is mission outreach. The diocese is one of the poorer dioceses in China that gets some financial assistance from Rome.

 

A few months later I had the opportunity to return to his diocese. This time the Bishop was in better health but still unable to walk unassisted. He shared with me a little of his experience in detention and prison.

 

In 1965, at the age of 42, he spent 11 years in detention and nine years in prison. It took the officials 11 years to charge him with being an “anti-liberationist”. He said life in detention was tougher than life in prison though life in prison was also difficult. While in prison he shared a small room with seven other men. There was one bed for them to share. If they all slept on their side they could manage to fit onto the bed. If anyone needed to use the toilet at night his space on the bed would be gone. The toilet was in the corner of the room.

 

They were allowed to leave their room for 20 minutes once per week. Food was passed into the room through a small hole in the door. Meals consisted of soup and a little vegetable. They had a change of clothes once a week. He did not wash his body for the 20 years he was incarcerated! He said the smell in the prison cell was terrible. He was released from prison in 1985 and for political reasons had to leave his home diocese and work in the neighboring diocese where he is now a Bishop. When he was in prison his family sent him a dictionary and the book Tale of Two Cities. He used these to study English. He added a few sentences of English when he spoke to me saying, “Can I now practice my English with you?” A good grasp of Latin helped him in learning English.

 

It was hard for me to fathom how an old man who had experienced so much suffering could be so serene. He didn’t even have a bad word to say about those who kept him captive all those years. I think deep down he has forgiven them though of course I imagine he could never forget what they did to him and others. Serenity is so obvious in his face, his gestures and speech … Though old and frail; he is strong in mind and spirit.

   

 

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

 

1. 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?

 

2. Do we believe that in Christ we become brothers and sisters and enter into a more intimate relationship with God our Father? Do we endeavor to overcomes the various “slaveries” brought by sin?

 

 

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.

 

***

Loving Father,

free us from the slavery of sin

by the death and rising of your Son Jesus Christ.

Let us be dutiful in our service to one another

and let our eyes be fixed on you as those of a faithful servant.

We give you honor, 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 kingdom of God is among you.” (Lk 17:21) // “He is more than a slave: he is a dear brother in Christ.” (Phlm 16)

 

 

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. // Do what you can to eliminate all forms of slavery caused by sin.

 

*** *** ***

 

November 13, 2020: FRIDAY – SAINT FRANCES XAVIER CABRINI, Virgin (USA)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Be Ready for His Final Coming … We Remain in His Teaching”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

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

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 17:26-37): “So it will be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”

 

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”.

 

In today’s Gospel reading (Lk 17:26-37) we hear Jesus talking 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.

  

 

B. First Reading (2 Jn 4-9): “Whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.”

 

The reading (II Jn 4-9) contains the appeal of the “Elder” to the “Chosen Lady”. The “Elder” or Presbyter addresses himself to the “Chosen Lady”, a quasi-poetic description of some particular church within his jurisdiction. Her “children” are the members of the faith community. His brief but incisive message is an appeal to love one another and a warning against false teachers. The “Elder” reiterates the need to follow what is commanded from the beginning: that all must live in love, a love that entails obedience to God’s commands. The “Elder” likewise inveighs against the “deceivers”, who do not acknowledge that Jesus Christ came as a human being. These itinerant teachers deny his “fleshly” existence thus depriving his life among us of any historical reality.

 

The teaching of the “deceivers” leads to misconceptions: that Christ’s life and death are not a real manifestation, within the confines of history, of the love of the Father and that there is no obligation for Christians to imitate Jesus and give a historical dimension to their life of faith and love. Such a position ultimately denies the very nature of God who revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ as “love” (agape). These false teachers purport themselves as “progressives”, brandishing the superiority of their doctrine. The Church members, therefore, should be on guard against them lest they lose their “full reward”, that is, the eschatological salvation they hope for. The “Elder” exhorts them to remain with the teaching of Christ. For whoever stays with the true teaching has both the Father and the Son dwelling in them.

 

The presence of false teachers who sow falsehood continues to be verified even in today’s world. The following open letter circulated on the Internet gives insight into the contentious issue delineated by the “Elder” to the “Chosen Lady”.

 

Dear Friend,

 

Biology. Tradition. Children … the Constitution?

 

Rubbish.

 

So said the Supreme Court of the United States this morning in a 5-4 decision striking down laws in every state passed by the people upholding marriage.

 

Today we got the “Roe v. Wade of marriage” – where the Court pretends to settle a controversial question by judicial fiat, while the rest of America says: “no way”.

 

For years same-sex marriage advocates have knowingly lied and deceived the public. They first claimed that they simply wanted the right to “marry” the person they love. And yet where same-sex marriage has been approved, a tiny percentage of people got married.

 

They claimed homosexuality was genetic, but now say “gender” and “sexual identity” is a choice.

 

They claimed a mantle of tolerance and diversity – and yet have betrayed those same principles in attacking anyone that disagrees. Speak up for marriage in any public place today and you will be shamed and shunned, or worse.

 

So what is really at stake?

 

For many in the LGBT movement, the marriage debate is merely a proxy for a much larger revolution underway. Their end goal is to destroy marriage altogether, including the family, religion, and any institution that proposes limits on human behavior, especially sexual behavior.

 

They believe gender is a social construct and that children should be brought into the world outside of the traditional family. For many, the idea that men and women are made for each other or that children deserve a mother and a father is a form of discrimination.

 

This is what the fight for marriage is ultimately about – and why it’s far from over. (…)

 

In some ways the tables have now been flipped, with the burden of showing respect, tolerance and opposing discrimination now in the hands of the gay-marriage movement.

 

Will they respect the right of ordinary Americans who believe in male-female marriage to live out this time-honored truth?

 

Today is the feast of St. Josemaria. With today’s news, it’s good to be reminded now more than ever of our calling to be saints in the world.

 

This is time for prayer and bold witness.

 

So much to do.

 

So many people need Christ,

 

Brian

 

 

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

 

1. 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?

 

2. Do we strive to follow God’s great command to love one another? Do we cling to the teaching of Jesus Christ and not allow ourselves to be deceived by the “progressive” teaching of false teachers?

 

  

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.

 

            ***

Loving Father,

give us wisdom of heart

to discern and commit ourselves to the truth.

Help us to remain in the teaching of Christ

and to reject the “progressive” teaching of false teachers.

Your love for us is eternal

and for this, 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) // Whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.” (II Jn 9)

 

 

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

 

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. // Be deeply aware of the Catholic teaching with regards to important social and moral issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.

 

 

*** *** ***

November 14, 2020: SATURDAY – WEEEKDAY (32); BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Does Justice … In Him We Are Co-Workers in the Truth”

 

BIBLE READINGS

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

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 18:1-8): “Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?”

 

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 (Lk 18:1-8) 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.

 

 

B. First Reading (3 Jn 5-8): “We ought to support such persons so that we may be co-workers in the truth.”

 

The Third Letter of John is short but valuable both theologically and historically. It gives us a glimpse into the life of the early Christian community with their itinerant preachers, their struggle to preserve the purity of the truth they have received, and the rise of factions between them. The reading (III Jn 5-8) is addressed by the Elder or Presbyter to an individual, Gaius, a leader of another local church. Visitors to that church had spoken well of him. The purpose of the letter is to commend Gaius, while encouraging his continual support for Christian missionaries. Gaius has been generous in helping fellow Christians even when they are strangers. The Elder urges him to help them as they continue their trip in the service of Christ. The Elder urges Gaius and the faith community to help the missionaries so that they may share in their work for the truth – that is, the truth of God’s irrevocable love and merciful plan to save us. Indeed, even in our days, Christian missionaries need the same support granted to them in the New Testament, including sustenance, supplies and our sincere prayers.

 

The following modern-day account illustrates the beauty of being “co-workers in the truth” (cf. Genie Natividad, M.M. in Maryknoll, May/June 2015, p. 9).

 

After a long journey from the United States, I arrived early in the morning at the airport in Dar es Salaam only to find my flight to another area in Tanzania had been delayed for six hours. I decided to rest at a hostel about 30 minutes from the airport. As I pushed a cart with my luggage and guitar to find a taxi to the hostel, a man in his early 50s offered to help. I told him where I was going and he offered to drive me.

 

As he drove, we talked. I found out about his family and his work at a safari company. He asked what I was doing in Tanzania. I told him I am a missionary Sister doing ministry with orphans, HIV/AIDS and women’s groups.

 

Near the hostel, he handed me five $100 bills and said it was his contribution for my mission. Later, I sent him a text message thanking him again. He replied: “Thank you very much for being a genuine and committed ambassador of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You are blessed for life.”

 

 

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

 

1. 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)? 

 

2. Do we esteem the role and ministry of missionaries in the Church? How do we collaborate with them in their work for the “truth”?

 

 

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.

 

***

Lord Jesus,

you are the missionary par excellence.

We pray for the missionary Church

and all those called to specific missionary tasks.

Help us to be witnesses to your “truth”

and to be “co-workers in the truth”.

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.

 

“He will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.” (Lk 18:8) // “We ought to support such persons so that we may be co-workers in the truth.” (III Jn 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. // Extend your help (material, moral and spiritual) to the missionaries of today and their work to promote the Gospel truth.

 

***

 

 

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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