A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday and Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 12, n. 51)

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time & Weekday 33: Nov. 16-22, 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 9-15, 2014, please go to ARCHIVES Series 12 and click on “Lateran Basilica - Weekday 32”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: November 16-22, 2014.)

 

***

 

November 16, 2014: 33rd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Be Trustworthy in View of the Kingdom

 

BIBLE READINGS

Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31 // I Thes 5:1-6 // Mt 25:14-30

 

 

I. BIBLICO-LITURGICAL REFLECTIONS

 

The bible readings of this Sunday, the second to the last Sunday of the liturgical year, prepare us for the anticipated return of Jesus on the last day. The Gospel reading (Mt 25:14-30) not only directs our eyes toward the final event of the Lord’s coming, the end and fulfillment of the entire salvation history, but also helps us live the present in the light of its completion. The Parable of the Talents, proclaimed in the Gospel reading, stimulates our hope and revives our fervor in the efficient service of God in this ad interim time before the parousia.

 

In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus tells us the story of the master who distributed various amounts of money to three servants before going away on a journey. The Greek word that describes these amounts is “talents”, which became the source of the English term “talent” as the description of the natural ability that can be improved by diligent practice. Two servants invested their talents and doubled the amount; the other one dug a hole in the ground and buried the talent entrusted to him by the master. The master returned and demanded a reckoning. Indeed, the point of the story is not the uncertainty of the time of the parousia, but the reckoning that will come and the responsibility expected of us.

 

Harold Buetow reflects on the meaning of this parable: “Sometimes we Christians, in favor of smooth security, are smugly disinclined to take the bold risks that others take on behalf of their business and personal ventures. Today’s liturgy on this next-to-last Sunday of the Church year tries to set us straight. Jesus’ story of the talents teaches us to boldly prefer taking active risk in our lives over passive complacency … The standard of God’s judgment of every person is relative to the talents given: the greater the gifts, the greater the responsibility. We are the servants in today’s Gospel parable, and the absentee master is a symbol of Christ; his return is a scene of judgment … The punishment for the worthless man - who had done nothing, really – was as harsh as that for more positive sins. We are not all equal in talent, but we are all called to collaborate in the work of the Gospel according to our personal opportunity, ability, and gifts. The reason why the master, perhaps paradoxically, took away what little the worthless servant had and gave it to the most profitable servant was that it is with using God’s gifts as it is with learning a language or playing gold: if we do not use it, we lose it … Many people, by external standards, will be “successes’. They will own nice homes, eat in the best restaurants, dress well, and, in some cases, perform socially useful work. Yet, too few people are putting themselves on the line, getting involved in something noble enough for their talents that are worth failing at. Jesus wants us to know that salvation will come to those who are prepared to risk their lives for him.”

 

The Parable of the Talents reinforces our responsibility to be trustworthy, active and efficient servants in this time of waiting for the Master’s return. The following story gives insight into “trustworthiness” in daily living (cf. Patty Kirk in Daily Guideposts 2014, p. 153).

 

My husband, Kris, and I are different bents regarding planning. He loves considering best case, worst case, and likeliest case scenarios. I, in contrast, despise planning. Planning evokes all the terrors fermenting below the surface of my faith. I don’t even like thinking about retirement or the loan needed to pay for the girls’ schooling, much less talking about it. My go-to response is fear! In my view, the guy in Jesus’ parable who buries his master’s money is not lazy but terrified. If it were up to me, we’d never discuss the future at all.

 

Not, mind you, that I’m more trusting than Kris. When problems arise – as they inevitably do, despite our plans – Kris’ mustard seed is definitely bigger and more robust than mine. “God will take care of us”, he says. And he believes it. Planning, paradoxically, is part of letting God do just that.

 

Kris likes a joke in which a drowning man, turns down help from a rowboat, then a speedboat, then a helicopter, saying “God will rescue me.” Later, in heaven, he asks God why He didn’t answer that prayer. “Well”, God responds, “I sent you a rowboat, then a speedboat, then a helicopter …”

 

Planning, Kris argues, is good stewardship of the opportunities God sends. I fear I’ll never learn this, but I keep trying.

 

Father, help me remember not only Your provision but Your expectations of us as its stewards. Replace my fears with good judgment and ever-growing trust.

 

***

 

This Sunday’s Old Testament reading from this “wisdom book” (Prov 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31) depicts a woman of sterling quality – a feminine ideal of integrity, personal dedication and productive toil. The “worthy wife” to whom the husband “entrusted his heart” responds fully and creatively to his gift of love.  Her response of love bears fruit in works of charity to the needy and is animated by a reverential “fear of God”. Her assets are not outward charm, which could be seductive, and fleeting physical beauty, but her inner strength, prudence, wisdom and generosity to the poor. Indeed, this noble woman is to be valued more than precious pearls. Her good works deserve to be rewarded and commended. She is praiseworthy for her integral love response, creative fidelity and religious spirit.

 

Harold Buetow remarks: “This passage shows the worthy wife to be a model of energetic faithfulness to the small tasks which God gives all of us, male and female, every day. That’s the passage connection with the Gospel. Like the profitable servant we are called to be, the worthy wife takes what has been given her and improves upon it. She thus improves the lives of all she touches.”

 

The creative fidelity and fruitful toil of the “worthy wife” in the Book of Proverbs reinforce what the Lord Jesus enunciates as a challenge in this Sunday’s Gospel reading (Mt 25:14-30), that is, the duty of Christian disciples to make profitable use of the gifts given them for the good of the community and the kingdom. The “talented” servants, waiting for his return, must respond to the trust given them by the Lord by acting responsibly and creatively, with a dash of “adventure” and some risk taking.

  

Jenny Williams, the main character in Elaine Long’s novel, “Jenny’s Mountain”, seems to me a modern-day reincarnation of the “worthy wife” in the Book of Proverbs (cf. READER’S DIGEST CONDENSED BOOK, vol. 2, 1988). The beautiful twenty-three year old Jenny, remarkable for her great intelligence and integrity, is a faithful wife and an excellent mother. She is personally dedicated to her daily tasks. She is fruitful in all her endeavors as a woman miner, a table waitress and a student. She aced her GED (= General Equivalency Diploma) exams. Jenny is truly a model of energetic faithfulness. Through her vigorous toil, the mountain – her mountain - in Colorado yields its treasures up to her. Above all, she is a self-sacrificing friend and a courageous defender of the afflicted. The following is an interesting episode of the visit of her friend, Karen whom she has helped to escape the abusive, violent clutch of the alcoholic miner Tully Stocker. 

 

While they ate, Jenny told Karen about her job at Mom’s Bar and her plans for the mine. After dinner, when the dishes were done and the children were asleep, Jenny said, “Why don’t you sit in the rocking chair?” She then took the Navajo blanket from the bed and wrapped it around her shoulders.

 

Sitting down on the floor and leaning back against the bed, she asked, “Did someone from Hope House meet your bus?” “Yes,” said Karen. “The house director. He looked over the passengers and picked me out at once.” She laughed. “I know now that it wasn’t hard to guess which one I was. I saw plenty of first-timers while I was there – all subdued, all ashamed.” “How long did you stay at Hope House?” “A month. Then they helped me get a job, and I rented a room, but I went to the house almost every night for meetings, to talk with other women just like me. The meetings were the only things that kept me going. Can you believe that after the first weeks I started to feel ashamed about running on Tully? One night I even talked about coming back.”

 

Jenny sat up straight. “Karen, you wouldn’t have.” “Oh, yes, I would. I was that sick. But at the meeting, after I’d described the situation that made me leave, someone said, ‘And what about Jenny?’” Karen stopped and looked at her friend. “That was the first time I really thought about how brave you were to get me out of there.” She shook her head slowly, “I knew I couldn’t go back and make it all for nothing.” (…) Karen put her hand over Jenny’s. “You still give me courage. And I’m going to need it.”

 

***

 

In today’s Second Reading (I Thes 5:1-6), Saint Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to stay awake and sober. They must be personally involved and absolutely ready for the Day of the Lord. It will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. The Day of the Lord has a twofold connotation: salvation for the just and judgment for the evil ones. The authors of the book Days of the Lord, vol. 4, remark: “For certain people, it will be catastrophic because, living heedlessly – in peace and quiet, as they see it – they will be taken unawares. For others who remain watchful, this coming will hold no surprise. It will happen in the night of the world; but Christians are not in darkness, for they are the children of light. They behave as in full daylight. They remain at all times spiritually awake, ready to welcome the Lord as a friend they have waited for; to him, they will joyfully open the door.”

 

The following story is a powerful example of how a believer prepared himself for the Day of the Lord (cf. Deena Burnett Bailey, “September 11 Journeys of Faith: A Glimpse of Heaven” in GUIDEPOSTS, September 2011, p. 60-61). It came unexpectedly, but when it came he was ready.

 

I was married to Tom Burnett, one of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93. Terrorists hijacked the plane, intending to fly it to Washington D.C., perhaps aiming for the White House. Tom managed to call me several times from the plane and he told me that he and other passengers were going to try to wrest control of the cockpit from the hijackers. Thanks to the bravery of those passengers, the plane didn’t reach its target but instead crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania, killing all aboard.

 

A ray of light cut through the darkness of that day for me – Tom’s faith. In the months leading up to September 11 a profound change had come over him, a deepening of his connection to God. At the time neither he nor I understood why. Then on September 11, it became clear to me.

 

Tom grew up Catholic. Unlike me, raised a Baptist, he seldom talked about his faith, though his rock-solid commitment to God was one of the things that drew me to him. After we married and had kids, I would go to church with him and I began to understand how he drew spiritual sustenance from the liturgy. The public prayer and sharing of faith experiences that I’d grown up with just wasn’t part of his makeup.

 

One day in the fall of 2000 Tom got home from work and said, “Deena, have you noticed that I haven’t been coming home for lunch lately?” We lived in California, where Tom was an executive at a medical-device company. Though he traveled frequently on business, whenever he was at the office he made a point of heading home to have lunch with me.

 

“I figured you were busy”, I said. “Actually, I’ve been going to Mass”, he said. I looked at him, puzzled. He went on, “A parish near the office has a noon Mass and I’ve been attending every day.”

 

“Why?” I asked. Tom paused. “I don’t know how else to say this. I feel like God is trying to tell me something. Maybe if I go to church every day, I’ll be able to hear better.”

 

Now I was really surprised. Tom never talked like this. “What do you think it is?” I asked. “I don’t know”, he said. “I have some sense that it’s going to affect a lot of people. And … well, this is the weird part, I think it might even involve the White House somehow.”

 

I had no idea what to make of this. Neither did Tom. Still, he kept attending Mass daily. He prayed more often and more openly, and we talked a lot about his growing relationship with God.

 

Tom never grew any more certain about the message being sent to him. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was the wonderful closeness that he shared with me.

 

That’s why, even as the events of September 11 were unfolding, I had no doubt about the source of Tom’s courage aboard Flight 93 that day. And I believe his experience offers a ray of light through any darkness. A light that shines through my life even now, and forever.

 

 

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

 

1. How does the figure of the God-fearing exemplary wife of the Book of Proverbs inspire me? Will I try to imitate her? How?

 

2. What lessons do I derive from the actions of the faithful servants in the Gospel parable? What lessons do I glean from the stance of the “one-talented servant”?

 

3. How do I prepare for the Day of the Lord so that it will not overtake me like a thief in the night?

 

 

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

 

O loving God,

we thank you for the beautiful example

of the exemplary wife who works with loving hands.

She fears you in a holy way.

By her good deeds, she gives you praise.

O mighty God,

we thank you for the energetic creativity

and wholehearted dedication of the “multi-talented servants”.

They teach us to be fruitfully involved in the affairs of your kingdom.

Deliver us from the perverted logic of the “play-it-safe” servant

who prefers to dig a hole in the ground and makes your treasure idle.

That we may make a real impact in today’s history,

may we be personally involved in making your kingdom come.

Help us to use our talents fully and creatively

for the service of the Gospel.

Thank you for the life-witness of Saint Paul

who exhorts us to be ready for the Day of the Lord.

As children of light,

may we imitate him in living the life of Christ

and radiate his Gospel to the world.

Please do not allow the Day of the Lord to overtake us as a thief,

but rather, let it be for us a saving grace.

For the kingdom, the power and glory are yours, 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.

 

“The day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.” (I Thes 5:2b)

 

 

 

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

 

Pray for the grace of a holy death and for greater readiness for the coming of the Day of the Lord. By your acts of justice, kindness and compassion, manifest that you are children of light, eager to welcome the Day of the Lord. To help us experience the Day of the Lord as a grace event, make an effort to spend some quiet time in Eucharistic Adoration.

 

*** 

 

November 17, 2014: MONDAY – SAINT ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY, religious

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Makes the Blind See”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rv 1:1-4; 2:1-5 // Lk 18:35-43

 

 

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

  

            The need for true spiritual sight is the subject of today’s Gospel reading, which narrates the healing of the blind beggar at Jericho. In comparison to the blind beggar, the people crowding around Jesus seem to be fortunate for they could see the “miracle worker” from Nazareth with their physical eyes. But there is a deeper reality than physical sight.

 

The remark of Anthony Bloom, a physician who became Metropolitan and Patriarch of Moscow in 1965, is insightful: “If only we knew that we were blind, how eagerly would we seek healing … But the tragedy is that we do not realize our blindness … Blinded by the world of things we forget that it does not match the depth of which man is capable … To be aware only of the tangible world is to be on the outside of the fullness of knowledge, outside the experience of the total reality which is the world in God and God at the heart of the world. The blind man, Bartimaeus, was painfully aware of this because, owing to his physical blindness, the visible world escaped him. He could cry out to the Lord in total despair.”

 

To cultivate a positive attitude through faith in Jesus and trust in him will enable us “to see”. The following story enables us to appreciate the “gift of sight”, which is spiritual (cf. Marilyn Morgan King, “A Matter of Attitude” in DAILY GUIDEPOSTS 2010, p. 265).

 

My former neighbor Carla Gallemore had become blind as a result of “twilight sleep”, an anesthetic technique used during childbirth in the early twentieth century. “At one time I felt sight was my most precious gift, but I was wrong. Atittude is”, Carla said, and she proved it. Using a Braille typewriter, she wrote a very successful book, Once I Was Blind.

 

One day Carla called me and said, “Did you know The Miracle Worker is showing at the Fox? I’d like to see that movie.” “See it?” I asked. “Yes, I’ve learned to ‘see” with my ears and through other people’s eyes. I can follow a movie pretty well by listening. When I can’t, I’ll tap your arm and you can whisper to me what’s happening on the screen.”

 

So we went to the movie – the story of the young Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan – and found it to be extremely inspiring. I think Carla got more out of The Miracle Worker than I did, even though she had no sight. “It’s all a matter of attitude”, she said. “Keeping a hopeful mind and heart makes all the difference, whatever one’s handicap is.”

 

  

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

 

Have we made the invocations of the blind man of Jericho our own: “Son of “David, have pity on me!” … “Lord, please let me see”?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Master,

you made the blind man of Jericho “see”.

Your gift of sight and insight

enabled him to follow you,

giving glory to God.

Your marvelous work

inspired the people who witnessed it

to give praise to God.

Grant me the gift of sight and insight.

Let my daily attitude

be permeated with faith and trust in you,

the light of my soul.

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.

 

“Lord, please let me see.” (Lk 18:41)

 

 

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

 

Exercise the gift of sight and insight by identifying one wonderful thing that happened to you today and by thanking God for it.

 

***

 

November 18, 2014: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (33); THE DEDICATION OF THE BASILICAS OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, apostles; SAINT ROSE PHILIPPINE DUCHESNE, virgin (USA)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Saves the Lost”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rv 3:1-6, 14-22 // Lk 19:1-10

 

 

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

 

The book Papa Mike was written by Mike McGarvin, the founder of Poverello House that serves the poor and the homeless in Fresno. Like Jesus, it is his mission to save the “lost”. Here is Papa Mike’s amusing account of a rescue.

 

One of the more disturbing events took place about half a block from Poverello. It was winter, and raining hard. The streets in that part of town often had poor drainage, and our block was exceptionally bad. I don’t remember why, but I was walking along F Street that day. I passed by a huge puddle that had formed in a gutter. It was clogged with leaves from the sycamore trees in the neighborhood, and for some reason I glanced down at the puddle. When I did, I spotted some bubbles coming up in the water. On closer inspection, I saw they were coming from a small fleshy object sticking out of the water. With a shudder, I realized that the object was the very tip of someone’s nose. I reached down in the puddle and pulled a man’s head out, grabbed the shoulders, and pulled him onto the sidewalk. The standing water had been so deep that he had been completely submerged except for his nose. He was covered with leaves, so that he was invisible to any passerby. He was still alive, but I couldn’t wake him up. I ran to the Poverello and called 911. He had apparently got drunk, passed out in the gutter and stayed there all night. As the rain began to pour down, he slept right through it. The water kept rising, and if I hadn’t seen him, he would have been completely under water in a few minutes. When the paramedics came, they took him to the hospital. He survived, but he had hypothermia.

 

Today’s Gospel reading presents another marginal who wants “to see” – just like the blind man at Jericho. The tax collector Zacchaeus wants specifically “to see” Jesus. Despised by others on account of his despicable trade, he seeks “to see” who Jesus is. Short in stature and impeded by a jostling crowd from “seeing” the Divine Master, he overcomes the difficulty by climbing a sycamore tree. When Jesus reached the spot where Zacchaeus is waiting, he looks up and, “seeing” him precariously perched in the tree, says: “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house”. The energetic tax collector responds to Jesus’ initiative by climbing down from the sycamore tree and by welcoming him into the banquet at his house. But more radically he renounces half of his possessions and makes a promise of four-fold restitution to anyone he has defrauded. Zacchaeus’ great desire “to see” Jesus is fulfilled. He experiences a great joy because the Savior of the “lost” has cast a compassionate glance upon him and rescued him.

 

 

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

 

Are there moments in our life when we undergo the Zacchaeus experience and have tried to climb the “sycamore tree” in order “to see” Jesus? Identify them and relive the intense feelings and the challenges of these experiences. Personally and as a Church, in what ways do we participate in the saving mission of Jesus, the Son of Man who comes to seek and save what was lost?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

at times we feel miserable and sinful, rejected and unloved.

But in your kindness,

you allow us to experience moments of truth and healing light.

We thank you for the Zacchaeus experience within us

of wanting “to see” Jesus.

We therefore climb the “sycamore tree” to have a glimpse of him

who comes to seek the lost.

In our precarious perch on the “sycamore tree” of our lonely life,

we await your saving presence

and your kind invitation to come down and be with you.

As your loving gaze enfolds us

and as we climb down toward your welcoming heart,

we rejoice that God’s love is bigger than our frailties.

Like the radically transformed Zacchaeus,

may we let go of all the burdens of the sinful past.

Fill us with the joy of salvation

as we hear you say:

“Today salvation has come to this house …

For the Son of Man has come

to seek and save what was lost.”

We love you, Father.

We bless you in the name of your Son Jesus

and in the grace of the Holy Spirit.

We adore you now and forever.

Amen.  

 

 

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

 

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

 

“He was seeking to see who Jesus was.” (Lk 19:3)

 

 

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

 

As a way of participating in the mission of the Son of Man who came to seek and save what was lost, you may contribute through prayers, material resources and volunteer services to the works of POVERELLO HOUSE in their ministry of providing food for the hungry and caring for the lost and the needy. Send any help to the following address:

 

            POVERELLO HOUSE

            P.O. Box 12225

            Fresno CA 93777-2225 

  

 

***

 

November 19, 2014: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (33)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Wants Us to Be Creatively Involved”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rv 4:1-11 // Lk 19:11-28

 

 

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

 

Today’s Gospel parable depicts the creative genius of God’s faithful servants as well as the disappointing cowardice of the feckless. The faithful servants are industrious and resourceful. Their creative use of the gold coins inspires us to be pro-active in dealing with the affairs of God’s kingdom. The “hole-in-the-ground” solution of the “play-it-safe” servant is downright disappointing. He does not dare to invest his talent, rationalizing that “what little talent I have will never be missed”. But this is not so.

 

According to the poet Michel Quoist (cf. “Breath of Life”) and paraphrasing him, if each note of music were to say “one note does not make a symphony”, there would be no symphony; if each word were to say “one word does not make a book”, there would be no book; if each brick were to say “one brick does not make a wall”, there would be no house; if each seed were to say “one grain does not make a field of corn”, there would be no harvest; if each one were to say “one act of love cannot save mankind”, there would never be justice and peace on earth.

 

Hence, with regards to the kingdom of God, we cannot remain uninvolved or partially involved; rather, we must be totally involved. Absolute personal commitment is required for salvation. It is exigent that we fully invest our talents to promote creatively and energetically the reign of God.

 

 

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

 

What lesson do I derive from the actions of the faithful servants in the Gospel parable? What lesson do I glean from the stance of the “hole-in-the-ground” servant? 

 

 

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

 

O loving God,

we thank you for the creativity and wholehearted dedication

of the enterprising servants.

They teach us to be fruitfully involved

in the affairs of your kingdom.

Deliver us from the twisted logic

of the “hole-in-the-ground” servant.

That we may make a real impact in today’s history,

let us be personally involved in the advent of your kingdom.

Help us to use our talents fully and creatively

in the service of the Gospel.

For the kingdom, the power and glory are yours, 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.

 

            “Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter.” (Lk 19:17)

 

 

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

 

List some talents you have received from the Lord, which you have utilized fully at the service of the Church and on behalf of the community. List some talents, which you have failed to use. Beg God’s mercy and pardon for your failure to maximize them. Resolve to use them for the service of the Gospel.

 

***

 

November 20, 2014: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (33)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Weeps Over Jerusalem”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rv 5:1-10 // Lk 19:41-44

 

 

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

 

Today’s Gospel is marked with pathos. Jesus weeps over the city of Jerusalem. His tears manifest his anguish, frustration and sorrow for an obdurate people who refuse the saving grace he offers. Unlike the blind man at Jericho and the tax collector Zacchaeus who were able to experience the gift of “seeing”, the leaders of the city remain “blind” because they have rejected Jesus as the Messiah. They refuse to acknowledge and “see” in his ministry the evidence of God’s benevolent plan. Jesus laments the impending destruction of Jerusalem. In rejecting him, the rebellious people likewise reject the “way” that leads to true peace and salvation. The leaders of Jerusalem choose instead armed resistance and violence, which would result in the total destruction of Jerusalem inflicted by the Roman general Titus and his army in 70 A.D.

 

The pathos in the following poem written by Judge Roy Moore from Alabama is akin to the anguished emotion of Jesus as he weeps over Jerusalem. Judge Moore was sued by the ACLU for displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom foyer. He has been stripped of his judgeship and now they are trying to strip his right to practice law in Alabama! The judge's poem sums it up quite well.

 

America the beautiful,
or so you used to be.
Land of the Pilgrims' pride,
I'm glad they'll never see.

Babies piled in dumpsters,
Abortion on demand,
Oh, sweet land of liberty;
your house is on the sand.

Our children wander aimlessly
poisoned by cocaine
choosing to indulge their lusts,
when God has said abstain

From sea to shining sea,
our Nation turns away
From the teaching of God's love
and a need to always pray

We've kept God in our temples,
how callous we have grown.
When earth is but His footstool,
and Heaven is His throne.


We've voted in a government
that's rotting at the core,
Appointing Godless Judges
who throw reason out the door,

Too soft to place a killer
in a well-deserved tomb,
But brave enough to kill a baby
before he leaves the womb.

You think that God's not angry,
that our land's a moral slum?
How much longer will He wait
before His judgment comes?

How are we to face our God,
from Whom we cannot hide ?
What then is left for us to do,
but stem this evil tide ?

If we who are His children,
will humbly turn and pray;
Seek His holy face
and mend our evil way:

Then God will hear from Heaven;
and forgive us of our sins,
He'll heal our sickly land
and those who live within....

But, America the Beautiful,
If you don't - then you will see,
A sad but Holy God
withdraw His hand from Thee.

 

 

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

 

Do we share the anguish of Jesus for those who reject his saving grace? What do we do to help a secularized world turn to God and be converted to his ways?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Savior,

you wept over Jerusalem

for being blind to your gift of peace and salvation.

Give us the grace

to recognize your presence in our midst.

Let us follow your ways

and preserve us from destruction.

You are the Father’s benediction and blessing to us all.

We love you and thank you.

We resolve to follow you and serve you, now and forever.

Amen.  

 

 

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

 

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

 

“Jesus saw the city and wept over it.” (Lk 19:41) 

 

 

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

 

Manifest your acceptance of Jesus as Savior by your acts of justice and compassion on behalf of the poor.

 

***

 

November 21, 2014: FRIDAY – THE PRESENTATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us True Worship”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rv 10:8-11 // Lk 19:45-48

 

 

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

 

Today’s Gospel depicts Jesus driving away those who have made his house of prayer into a “den of thieves”. The religious practices in the Jerusalem temple have degenerated into a shameful market trafficking. Legal transactions in the name of religion, which trample the rights of the poor, are sanctioned and encouraged by temple authorities within its precincts. Jesus castigates the merchants for profaning the temple and the religious leaders for degrading the meaning of worship. Indeed, the God of freedom, who brought Israel from the bondage in Egypt, would not settle for false worship. Moreover, the passionate character of the liberating God and the integrity of his covenant love would not tolerate abuse and injustice to the poor, especially when done in the guise of religion. But God is compassionate, full of mercy and love. Ever faithful and true, the almighty God does not turn away from his sinful people. He sends his Son Jesus to renew the broken covenant and to teach them true worship. In a radical manifestation of divine love, our Savior Jesus Christ offers “true worship” on the cross of salvation.

 

The following story entitled “A Sunday Stranger”, circulated on the Internet, gives an idea of what true “worship” entails.

 

The parking lot filled rapidly on Sunday morning as members of the large church congregation filed into church. As usually happens in a church that size, each member had developed a certain comfort zone – a block of space within those four church walls that became theirs after the second or third sitting. It was as much a part of their experience as the recliner was to the television at home.

 

One morning a stranger stood at the edge of the parking lot near a dumpster. As families parked cars and piled out, they noticed him rummaging through the trash. “Oh no, I don’t believe it”, whispered a lady to her husband. “That’s all we need – a bunch of homeless people milling around here.” One worried little girl tugged on her dad’s sleeve. “But Daddy …” Daddy was busy sizing up the bearded stranger, whose baggy, outdated trousers and faded flannel shirt had dusted too many park benches. “Don’t stare at him, honey”, he whispered, and hurried her inside. Soft music filled the high-ceilinged sanctuary as churchgoers settled in their usual spots.

 

The choir sand an opening chorus, “In his presence there is comfort … in his presence there is peace …” Sunlight flooded the center aisle. The double doors swung open and the homeless man, sloppy and stooped, headed toward the front. “Oh no, It’s him!” somebody muttered. “What does he think he’s doing, anyway?” snapped an incredulous usher. The stranger set his bagful of dumpster treasures on the very first pew, which had been upholstered in an expensive soft teal fabric just three months ago. The music stopped. And before anyone had a chance to react, he ambled up the stairs and stood behind the fine, hand-crafted podium, where he faced a wide-eyed congregation.

 

The disheveled stranger spoke haltingly at first, in a low, clear voice. Unbuttoning and removing his top layer of clothing, he described Jesus, and the love he has for all people. “Jesus possesses sensitivity and a love that far surpasses what any of us deserves.” Stepping out of the baggy old trousers, the stranger went on to describe a forgiveness that is available to each and every one of us … without strings attached.

 

“Unconditionally he loves us. Unconditionally he gave his very life for us. Unconditionally and forever, we can have the peace and assurance that no matter who we are, where we’ve come from, or how badly we may have mistreated others or ourselves, there is hope. In Jesus, there is always hope. You see, my friends, it is never too late to change”, the man continued. “He is the author of change, and the provider of forgiveness. He came to bring new meaning to life.”

 

Men and women squirmed as the reality hit them like an electric current. The stranger tugged at his knotted gray beard, and removed it. “I’m here to tell you that we are loved with a love far beyond human understanding, a love that enables us to accept and love others in return.” Then tenderly he added, “Let’s pray together.” That wise pastor – under the guise of a homeless “nobody” – did not preach a sermon that day, but every person left with plenty to think about.

 

 

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

 

How does the episode of the cleansing of the Temple impact us? What are the various elements and areas in our personal lives that need “cleansing”? What does “worship” mean to us personally? Do we strive to render God “true worship”?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you cleansed the temple from abusive merchants

and denounced false worship.

Purify us of hypocrisy and self-gain.

Teach us the meaning of true worship.

We can never truly love and praise you

if we continue to neglect the poor and marginal.

Give us the grace to make of our life

a pleasing “offering” to God.

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 week. Please memorize it.

 

“My house shall be a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.” (Lk 19:46)

 

 

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

 

By your acts of charity and animated by the spirit of true worship, contribute to the cleansing and rebuilding of God’s desecrated “temple” – today’s suffering people who are victims of crime, violence, oppression, exploitation and injustice.

 

***

 

November 22, 2014: SATURDAY – SAINT CECILIA, virgin, martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Affirms the Reality of the Resurrection”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rv 11:4-12 // Lk 20:27-30

 

 

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

 

This happened in Veneto, Italy. Sr. Tiziana’s dad died of a massive stroke. Her mom was disconsolate and was crying her heart out at the funeral. Sr. Tiziana gently reminded her that the separation is temporary for she would be reunited with him in heaven. Her mom wailed: “But the Gospel says in the next life we will be like angels. In heaven, I will no longer be his wife.” Sr. Tiziana later confided: “I did not know what to say.” Of course, her mom’s fear of cessation of the relationship is unfounded. True love never ends.

 

Today’s Gospel deals with the resurrection of the dead, a faith reality that surpasses human understanding. The Sadducees, a group of religious leaders who deny the existence of resurrected life, are bent on engaging Jesus in a reductio-ad-absurdum argument against the later doctrine of bodily resurrection. If there is a “resurrection” there would be struggles in heaven over marriage partners. Jesus’ first rebuttal also uses a reductio-ad-absurdum tactic. The Divine Master argues that the next existence, which has no place for death, makes marriage and remarriage irrelevant. He reduces to pieces the basic premise of the Sadducees that the life of the age to come is merely a continuation of this life and therefore needs marriage and human propagation lest it die out. The second rebuttal of Jesus is derived from the Torah. Since the Sadducees hold only to the Law of Moses, Jesus utilizes that to bolster his argument about the resurrected life. When God says: “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” this implies that his relationship with these patriarchs is everlasting and personal. God does not lose his friends to death. They live on and this is made possible through the Messiah’s resurrection.

 

It is through the resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God, that we are brought to true and eternal life. Our belief in our resurrection is based on our faith in the resurrected Christ. Harold Buetow remarks: “Christian belief in immortality is unique and special. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News of fullness of life in this age, and of the resurrection in the age to come. For us death is a door, not a wall – not a wall that ends growth and action like the Berlin wall, but a door into a Christmas-tree room full of surprises. Someone has compared death to standing on the seashore. A ship spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the open sea. She fades on the horizon, and someone says, ‘She’s gone.’ Just at the moment when someone says, ‘She’s gone’, other voices who are watching at her coming on another shore happily shout, ‘Here she comes’. Or to use another metaphor, what the caterpillar calls ‘the end’, the butterfly calls the ‘beginning’.”

 

 

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

 

What is our concept of death and dying? Is this concept illumined by faith in the living God, in whom all are alive? Do we believe that our future resurrected life will be that of “a person with a wholly illuminated soul” – where we are closer to being children of God and able to respond to the divine loving plan for each of us? How authentic is our liturgical confession: We believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting? How does this eschatological belief affect our daily living here and now? 

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

you are the God of the living, not of the dead.

In Jesus, your Son and our Savior,

we live and move.

Help us to look forward to the resurrected life,

when all that is best in us will come through

and each of us will become

“a person with a wholly illuminated soul”.

May the Risen Christ whom we celebrate in every Eucharist

bring about more and more

our own resurrection and transformation.

In our work for justice and truth in today’s wounded world,

may we always 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 is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (Lk 20:38)

 

 

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

 

Pray for widows/widowers who have lost their partners and are grieving for them. Pray for the grace of a happy death and a deeper experience of trust in Jesus’ almighty Father, the God of the living. In the month of November, visit a cemetery. Pray for the repose of the soul of the beloved dead and thank God for being the God of the living, and not God of the dead.  

 

   

  

 

***

 

 

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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