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A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 14, n. 26)

Trinity Sunday and Week 8 in Ordinary Time: May 22-28, 2016

 

 

(The pastoral tool BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD: A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY & WEEKDAY LITURGY includes a prayerful study of the Sunday liturgy of Year C from various perspectives. For the Lectio Divina on the liturgy of the past week: May 15-21, 2016, please go to ARCHIVES Series 14 and click on “Pentecost & Week 7 in Ordinary Time”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: May 22-28, 2016.)

 

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May 22, 2016: SUNDAY – THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is God the Son”

 

 

BIBLICAL READINGS

Prv 8:22-31 // Rom 5:1-5 // Jn 16:12-15

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Jn 16:12-15): “Everything that the Father has is mine; the Spirit will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

 

            In Bangalore, India, we visited a Benedictine monastery that was famous not only for its dairy farm, but also for its hospitality. After spending some moments of prayer in the chapel, we were led by the Guest Master to the refectory to have some bread and milk curds. I was fascinated by what I saw on the wall: a gigantic reproduction of Andrea Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity depicting the visit of the Three Angels by the oak of Mamre (cf. Gen 18:1-15). Seated at a table, patriarch Abraham’s three Divine Guests are a reminder of the blessings that the sterling virtue and value of hospitality brings. As I gazed at the icon, I was drawn into a deep communion with the Blessed Trinity. Through the kindness of the welcoming monastic community, I also experienced the hospitality of the triune God.

 

            On this solemnity of the Most Blessed Trinity, let us contemplate the icon of the Trinity, which is the icon of hospitality. The following prayer of St. Catherine of Siena says it all: “By this light I shall come to know that you, eternal Trinity, are Table and Food and Waiter for us. You, eternal Father, are the Table that offers us food, the Lamb, your only-begotten Son. He is the most exquisite Food for us, both in his teaching, which nourishes us in your will, and in the sacraments that we receive in Holy Communion, which feeds and strengthens us while we are pilgrim travelers in this life. And the Holy Spirit is a Waiter for us, for he serves us this teaching by enlightening our mind’s eye with it and inspiring us to follow it.” 

 

The mystery of the Trinity is enchanting, inviting, and deeply hospitable. We are led into it by the Wisdom of God (cf. Prov 8:22-32) and the Spirit of Truth (cf. Jn 16:12-15). Our experience of the triune God is true and palpable. The community of faith’s most intimate contact with the triune God is through Christ’s Paschal Mystery: “Through Christ we have gained access by faith to the grace in which we now stand” (Rom 5:2).

 

The Paschal Mystery is the basis of Trinitarian revelation. The early Christian community has come to experience the Trinitarian character of God through the astounding paschal sacrifice and glorification accomplished by Christ. The saving events surrounding Jesus of Nazareth are the basis of the Church’s belief and confession that he is the Son of God. The members of the faith community have grasped not only Jesus Christ’s incomparable, singular rapport with God, but also his astounding relationship with the Spirit. The community of believers has perceived the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of the Father and the Son - as the one who makes Christ’s saving event present in the “here and now”. From the experience of the Paschal Mystery, the Church is led by the Spirit of Truth to a profound understanding that God, in his most intimate nature, is Trinitarian: as the loving Father, the source of our redemption; as the obedient Son who accomplished the Father’s saving plan by his death on the cross; and as the Spirit of love, poured into our hearts, who enables us to experience more deeply the unmitigated love of the Father and the Son.

 

            In Christ’s Paschal Mystery, the Trinitarian revelation is complete. But our human perception is inadequate and our response to that revelation is incomplete. It is the Spirit of the Father and the Son – the Spirit of Truth – who enables us to be receptive to the mystery of the Trinitarian love. The Spirit makes the revelation meaningful to succeeding Christian generations and updates understanding of the once-and-for-all revelation of God in the Christ event. As the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit will speak what he hears from the only begotten Son of God, the ultimate and supreme Word of love of our Father in heaven.

 

 

B. First Reading (Prv 8:22-31): “Before the earth was made, Wisdom was conceived.”

 

The following story entitled “Half Truths” is humorous, but it can give us an idea of the importance of Jesus’ promise to his disciples concerning the Spirit of truth who would guide us to the fullness of truth.

 

The first mate had somehow gotten drunk, so that night the captain wrote into the record for the day, “Mate drunk today.” The mate begged the captain to take it out of the record, for it might cost him his job with the ship owners. It was also his first offense. But the captain refused saying, “It’s a fact and into the log it goes.” Some days later the mate was on the bridge and it was his turn to keep the log. He duly recorded the location, speed, and distance covered that day. Then he added, “The Captain, sober today.” The captain protested that this would leave an altogether false impression – that it was an unusual thing for him to be sober. But the mate answered in the very words of the captain, “It’s a fact and so into the log it goes.”

 

 

A thing may be true, but the time and manner of telling and the circumstances may give an entirely false impression of another’s action or character. Many of us are languishing in situations of incomplete truth or are suffering the painful consequences of half-truths. Indeed, many lack complete understanding. Our contact with Jesus Truth-Way-Life, the glorified Lord and Redeemer, inspires us to seek the fullness of truth and nurtures in us a faith seeking understanding.

  

The Old Testament reading of this Sunday’s liturgy (Prv 8:22-31) presents the Spirit of truth as infinitely creative and intimately united with the creative act of God: “When the Lord established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep. When he made firm the skies above, when he fixed fast the foundation of the earth, when he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress his command; then I was beside him as his craftsman” (verses 27-30). St. Irenaeus of Lyons identified “the wisdom of God”, who acted as his craftsman on the day of creation, as the Holy Spirit. All three members of the Most Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thus worked together to fashion the cosmos.

 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reinforces the truth that creation is the work of the Most Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In article n. 292, it asserts: “The Old Testament suggests and the New Covenant reveals the creative action of the Son and the Spirit, inseparably one with that of the Father. This creative cooperation is clearly affirmed in the Church’s rule of faith: There exists but one God … he is the Father God, the Creator, the author, the giver of order. He made all things by himself, that is, by his Word and by his Wisdom, by the Son and the Spirit who, so to speak are his hands. Creation is the common work of the Holy Trinity.”

 

The feast of the Most Holy Trinity that we celebrate today gives us an opportunity to stand back and contemplate the one loving and saving God, manifesting himself in salvation history as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In a context of prayer, it gives us a glimpse into the actual life of love at the heart of the Trinity. It also provides us some of the fuller context of God being three Persons in one nature. This wonderful feast, furthermore, also invites us to celebrate our intimate participation in the life of the Blessed Trinity.

 

 

C. Second Reading (Rom 5:1-5): “To God, through Christ, in love poured out through the Holy Spirit.”    

 

The Trinitarian activity on our behalf can likewise be gleaned in the Second Reading (Rom 5:1-5). The great mystic-apostle Paul declares that we have access to the grace of God through his Son Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit of love upon us. Our intimate relationship with the one and triune God deeply impacts our life.

 

The liturgical scholar Adrian Nocent remarks: “We already live with the Trinity  in the love that has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. We are already justified by faith and have obtained access to the grace in which we stand. In other words, we are experiencing God’s love for us. This does not mean that all problems are solved; no, we are still in the stage of struggle and testing. But because we have faith and the assurance that we are united to the triune God, the trials and struggles take on a meaning they can have only for some who has received the Spirit … Life in the Spirit thus brings us peace with God through Christ in the Spirit, who pours out the love of God in our hearts.”

 

On this Trinity Sunday we celebrate not only the marvelous actions of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit on our behalf, but our consecration and intimate union with the one and triune God. Immersed into the life of the Blessed Trinity, we delight in the solidarity of faith, the fervor of Christian love and the bright outlook of hope. For we know that we are the children of God the Father, the brothers and sisters of his beloved Son Jesus Christ, and the temples of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

The following story illustrates the laudable efforts of a missionary to bring the marvelous love of God to the poor and needy (cf. Patrick Atkinson, “Francisco the Shoeless” in Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart, ed. Jeff Cavins, et. al. West Chester: The Ascension Press, 2004, p. 191-193). Animated by the spirit of love and through his Christian charitable work for God’s children, Patrick Atkinson becomes a powerful witness that the one and triune God is for us … and is on our side.

 

I stopped and watched a familiar Guatemalan beggar boy as he carefully searched through the garbage-filled gutter that ran along the outside of my home. I knew he had to be scrounging for food so I called out to get his attention. For a second I thought he might have glanced up at me, but then I realized I just happened to be standing where he looked. I felt the same disappointment I had felt with him many times before. Even though he was filthy, shoeless, dressed in rags, and obviously hungry, my shouted offers of help were repeatedly ignored.

 

“Why”, I wondered, “doesn’t he want my help?” As the founder and director of The God’s Child Project, it is my job to feed, clothe, and educate the poorest of the poor. During my twenty-plus years as a Catholic missionary, I have seen hundreds of thousands of poor children and homeless families. But this particular boy puzzled me. It was obvious he needed help, yet he seemingly would have none of it.

 

Leaving him alone, I walked back to the orphanage and began to pore over the financial books. Frustrated at the realization that we were going to end the fiscal year two thousand dollars in debt, I had to make a difficult decision. “We will not accept any more children into the program this year”, I told our staff and volunteers in a strong, clear voice. “We simply can’t do it. How can we take in any more children when we can’t even feed those we already have?” Even though I hated the thought of turning needy children away, this time I was determined to stick to my decision.

 

Two days later, a surprise visitor knocked at my door. It was my shoeless friend! Covered with lice and foul smelling, he held up his hand and made a strange guttural sound from his throat. At first I was confused, but then it hit me that he was deaf and could not speak. The poor child had ignored me all the time because he had never heard me call him.

 

My confused smile broke into a very loud laughter. God had sent me the one boy in all of Guatemala who could get me to break my commitment not to accept another child. God was letting me know it was He and not I who was ultimately in charge of such things.

 

Francisco joined our mission that very same day. Abandoned by his father at birth, he was raised in the streets by an indifferent, alcoholic mother. When he was six-months old, a severe illness robbed him of his hearing. He had been begging on the streets for food since the age of four. The streets became his home. His bed was wherever he lay down to sleep at night.

 

Francisco came into our very large family that day bringing with him bad habits, lice, fleas and rotted teeth. He also came with a very sharp mind, survival instincts, and keen emotions. Violence on TV could bring forth an anguished cry just as quickly as watching a mother kiss her son good night would bring tears to his eyes. I can only guess at the nightmares that often disrupted his sleep.

 

Over the years, Francisco was taught to communicate and he was able to receive an education. When his grade-school education came to an end at the mainstream public school, the teachers pooled their examinations scores to determine the valedictorian. On the day of grade school graduation, it was Francisco who was asked to come up and receive the honor – much to his surprise, but not to that of his wildly cheering classmates.

 

In times of desperation and when the hard work seems too much, I am sometimes tempted to give up. It is at those times, however, that I think of Francisco. He is on his own now, working full-time and still studying on weekends. Because of his physical limitations, his salary is low. Still, he smiles a lot and works hard. He visits his mother who abandoned him to the streets so many years ago, and he goes to Mass often. I regularly ask our Blessed Mother to watch over this special child of God. I believe that she already has.

 

 

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

 

Do we allow ourselves to be led into the beautiful and deeply hospitable mystery of the one God, who revealed himself in salvation history as the loving Creator Father, as the saving Son Jesus Christ who died for us on the cross, and as the Spirit of love outpoured into our hearts? Do we thank the one and triune God for enfolding us with the life of love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? 

 

 

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

 

            O Divine Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

we adore you and thank you;

we love you and serve you.

Your plans for us are kind and gracious.

We have access to your saving grace, O Father,

through your Son’s paschal sacrifice.

Your love has been poured into our hearts

through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

You are present in our life and in salvation history

as the one and triune God.

Help us to be icons

of your creative grandeur, sacrificial love, and radiant glory.

We worship you, O loving Father,

through your Son,

in the love of the Holy Spirit,

in unity with the Church and the entire creation,

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 Spirit of truth will guide you to all the truth … Everything that the Father has is mine.” (Jn 16:13, 15) 

 

 

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

 

Spend some time before Andre Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity, or any other icon depicting the Most Holy Trinity, and make a personal prayer of thanksgiving to the one and triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Today practice an act of hospitality for a person in most need of welcome and care. Consciously offer this charitable act in honor of the Most Holy Trinity.  

     

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May 23, 2016: MONDAY – WEEKDAY 8 IN ORDINARY TIME

    “JESUS SAVIOR: He Calls Us to a Radical Discipleship … He Is the Object of Our Love”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Pt 1:3-9 // Mk 10:17-27

  

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 10:17-27): “Go, sell what you have, and give it to the poor.”

 

A wise and holy hermit finds a precious stone beside the brook. He brings it with him to his little cottage. One of his disciples sees the precious discovery and begins to covet it. The hermit notices that the young disciple is looking dismal and miserable day by day. “What is it?” he asks the young man. “It is the stone,” the disciple replies. “I want to have it. I will never have peace and happiness until it is mine.” The good master remarks serenely, “But, of course, you can have it.” The disciple takes the stone. The next morning he is back. “What is it?” the hermit asks. The disciple holds up the precious stone and says, “I want the wisdom that made you renounce this precious stone so unselfishly.”

 

            The disciple’s “awakening” consists in discovering the need for wisdom, which gives a perceptive insight into human life. Wisdom directs our quest toward eternal life, the only goal worth striving for. The truly wise person is able to discern the unsurpassable value of God and chooses him above all. The full meaning of wisdom can be gleaned in the light of Jesus Christ, the divine Wisdom personified. Against this backdrop, the Gospel story of the rich man in pursuit of eternal life (Mk 10:17-27) acquires a deeper perspective. The man has responded to the demands of the commandments. For one who lives under the Old Covenant, such a response would have been sufficient. And, indeed, Jesus looks at him and loves him. But Jesus, the absolute treasure and font of all good, goes further. The incarnate Wisdom offers a greater challenge and demands a fuller response.

 

            The challenge is Christian discipleship, which involves renunciation of false security. Jesus is the true wealth besides which everything pales in comparison. To follow Jesus is to make a radical choice for the absolute good. Jesus invites the rich man to make a fundamental choice. The enormity of the challenge is expressed in the Semitic hyperbole of a camel passing through the eye of a needle. It is a choice of a loving and discerning heart made possible by divine grace: “with God all things are possible” (Mk 10:27). This radical choice for the “treasure of all treasures” is addressed to us all.

 

 

B. First Reading (I Pt 1:3-9): “Although you have not seen him, you love him; you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy.”

 

The First Reading (I Pt 1:3-9) is an ode to divine mercy: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead …” We rejoice in the salvation and new life given by God and we owe the grace of our rebirth to the resurrection of Jesus our Lord. Our spiritual rebirth as Christians fills us with living hope for the rich blessing that God keeps for us in heaven. The power of God’s merciful love keeps us secure in this hope of salvation. Moreover, the heavenly inheritance to be revealed on the last day helps us to persevere through difficulties in our spiritual journey. Indeed, as Christians in today’s world, although we do not physically see him, we love him. We believe in him because we “see” him in faith and rejoice in his gift of salvation.

 

The life of Saint Katharine Drexel (cf. Wikipedia on the Internet) illustrates the fundamental choice of one who has found the absolute good and the meaning of being reborn to a living hope.

 

Katharine Drexel was born as “Catherine Marie Drexel” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 26, 1858, the second child of investment banker Francis Anthony Drexel and Hannah Langstroth. Her family owned a considerable fortune, and her uncle Anthony Joseph Drexel was the founder of Drexel University in Philadelphia. Hannah died five weeks after her baby's birth. For two years Katharine and her sister, Elizabeth, were cared for by their aunt and uncle, Ellen and Anthony Drexel. When Francis married Emma Bouvier in 1860 he brought his two daughters home. A third daughter, Louise, was born in 1863. The girls were educated at home by tutors. They had the added advantage of touring parts of the United States and Europe with their parents. Twice a week, the Drexels distributed food, clothing and rent assistance from their family home at 1503 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. When widows or lonely single women were too proud to come to the Drexels for assistance, the family sought them out, but always quietly. As Emma Drexel taught her daughters, “Kindness may be unkind if it leaves a sting behind.”

 

As a young and wealthy woman, she made her social debut in 1879. But when she had nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal cancer, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn. She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s “A Century of Dishonor”.

 

When her family took a trip to the Western part of the United States in 1884, Katharine saw the plight and destitution of the native Indians. This experience aroused her desire to do something specific to help alleviate their condition. This was the beginning of her lifelong personal and financial support of numerous missions and missionaries in the United States. After her father’s death in 1885, she and her sisters had contributed money to help the St. Francis Mission on South Dakota’s Rosebud Reservation. For many years Kate took spiritual direction from a longtime family friend, Father James O’Connor, a Philadelphia priest who later was appointed vicar apostolic of Nebraska. When Kate wrote him of her desire to join a contemplative order, Bishop O’Connor suggested, “Wait a while longer....... Wait and pray.”

 

Catherine and her sisters were still recovering from their father's death when they went to Europe in 1886. In January 1887 during a private audience with Pope Leo XIII, and asking him for missionaries to staff some of the Indian missions that she as a lay person was financing, she was surprised to hear the Pope suggest that she become a missionary herself. She could easily have married, but after consultation with her spiritual director, Bishop James O'Connor, she made the decision to give herself to God, along with her inheritance, through service to American Indians and Afro-Americans. Her uncle, Anthony Drexel, tried to dissuade her from entering religious life, but in May 1889 she entered the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Pittsburgh to begin her six-month postulancy. Her decision rocked Philadelphia social circles. The Philadelphia Public Ledger carried a banner headline: “Miss Drexel Enters a Catholic Convent - Gives Up Seven Million".

 

On February 12, 1891, she professed her first vows as a religious, dedicating herself to work among the American Indians and Afro-Americans in the western and southwestern United States. She took the name Mother Katharine, and joined by thirteen other women, she established a religious congregation the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. A few months later, Archbishop Ryan blessed the cornerstone of the new motherhouse under construction in Bensalem. In the first of many incidents that indicated her convictions for social justice were not shared by others, a stick of dynamite was discovered near the site.

Knowing that many Afro-Americans were far from free, still living in substandard conditions as sharecroppers or underpaid menials, denied education and constitutional rights enjoyed by others, she felt a compassionate urgency to help change racial attitudes in the United States. In 1913, the Georgia Legislature, hoping to stop the Blessed Sacrament Sisters from teaching at a Macon school, tried to pass a law that would have prohibited white teachers from teaching black students.

 

Requests for help and advice reached Mother Katharine from various parts of the United States. After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns opened a boarding school, St. Catherine's Indian School, in Santa Fe. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states. The most famous foundation was made in 1915; it was Xavier University, New Orleans, the first such institution for Black people in the United States. When Mother Katharine purchased an abandoned university building to open Xavier Preparatory School in New Orleans, vandals smashed every window.

 

In 1922 in Beaumont, Texas, a sign was posted by local Klansmen on the door of a church where the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament had opened a school. “We want an end of services here ... Suppress it in one week or flogging with tar and feathers will follow.” A few days later, a violent thunderstorm ripped through Beaumont, destroying a building that served as the Klan’s headquarters.

Over the course of 60 years - up to her death in 1955 at age 96 - Mother Katharine spent about $20 million in support of her work, building schools and churches and paying the salaries of teachers in rural schools for blacks and Indians. Her cause for beatification was introduced in 1966; she was declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II on January 26, 1987, and beatified on November 20, 1988. Mother Drexel was canonized on October 1, 2000, one of only a few American saints and the second American-born saint (Elizabeth Ann Seton was first, as a natural-born US citizen, born in New York City in 1774 and canonized in 1975).

  

 

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

 

1. Do we yearn for the gift of wisdom? Do we beg the Lord to give us this precious gift? How do we respond to Christ’s radical challenge of discipleship? Do we trust in Christ’s exhortation: “With God all things are possible” (Mk 10:30)?

 

2. Do we endeavor to give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose mercy gave us new birth to a living hope by rising Christ from the dead? How do we witness in our life “grace yet suffering” and “grace through suffering”?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you are the “treasure of treasures” and the absolute good.

Fill us with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit

that we may choose your incredible beauty and value.

By the power of the same Spirit,

help us to affirm our fundamental choice for you

in every moment of life.

Teach us to live fully our discipleship.

Give us the grace to inspire the people to pursue you,

the incomparable good.

We love you and honor you, now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

Loving Father and gracious God,

you gave us new life

through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Without “seeing” him we love and believe in him.

Be with us as we experience “grace yet suffering”

as well as “grace through suffering”.

We adore you and glorify 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.

 

“Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor … then, come, follow me.” (Mk 10:21) //“Although you have not seen him you love him.” (I Pt 1:8)

 

 

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

 

Pray for the gift of wisdom that will enable you to make a fundamental choice for Christ and follow him all the way. Take stock of your material possessions. Make a radical decision to share your material resources with the needy and to give to the poor. // Let yourself be filled with the joy of salvation and let this joy be expressed through your “smile”.

 

***

 

May 24, 2016: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (8)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Promises Eternal Life … He Calls Us to Holiness”

  

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Pt 1:10-16 // Mk 10:28-31

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 10:28-31): “You will receive as much persecution in this present age and eternal life in the age to come.”

 

The Gospel (Mk 10:28-31) tells us that the rich man who encounters Jesus on the road of discipleship goes away sad. He is a dramatic illustration that selfish attachment makes participation in the Reign of God impossible. The rich man is not able to renounce his possessions for the sake of eternal life. To rely on false security, or one’s ability to obtain eternal life, is like a camel trying to enter the eye of a needle. It cannot happen!  But God can free us from enchantments and delusions. Through Jesus, he offers us the grace to renounce a false security or even a “relative good” so as to make a fundamental option for him, the absolute good - the source of all good, including eternal life.

 

Peter intuits the divine grace at work in the first disciples of Jesus. He asserts: “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus assures them and the Christian disciples through all times of the “hundredfold reward”. The “hundredfold reward” is already present in the present age, though its joy is overshadowed by the cross and threatened by the world’s persecution. Eventually those who leave “houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands” for the sake of Jesus will experience in the final age the full reward - eternal life in the bosom of God.

 

The following thoughts of Mother Teresa of Calcutta give insight into radical discipleship and the Christian disciple’s hundredfold reward (cf. Mother Teresa: Her Essential Wisdom, ed. Carol Kelly- Gangi, New York: Barnes and Noble, 2006, p. 2-7).

 

I knew that God wanted something for me. I was only twelve years old, living with my parents in Skopje, Yugoslavia (now Macedonia), when I first sensed the desire to be a nun. At that time there were some very good priests who helped boys and girls follow their vocation, according to God’s will. It was then I realized that my call was to the poor.

 

***

I remember when I was leaving home fifty years ago – my mother was dead set against me leaving home and becoming a sister. In the end, when she realized that this was what God wanted from her and from me, she said something very strange: “Put your hand in his hand and walk all alone with him.” This is exactly our way of life. We may be surrounded by many people, yet our vocation is really ours alone with Jesus.

 

***

I did my novitiate in Darjeeling and took the vows with the Loreto Sisters. For twenty years, I was at work in education in St. Mary’s High School, which was mostly for middle class children. I loved teaching, and in Loreto I was the happiest nun in the world.

 

***

In 1948, twenty years after I came to India, I actually decided upon this close contact with the poorest of the poor. It was for me a special vocation to give all to belong to Jesus. I felt that God wanted from me something more. He wanted me to be poor with the poor and to love him in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor. I had the blessing of obedience.

 

***

I was traveling by train to Darjeeling when I heard the voice of God. I was sure it was God’s voice. I was certain he was calling me. The message was clear. I must leave the convent to help the poor by living among them. Thus was a command, something to be done, something definite. The call was something between God and me. What matters is that God calls each of us in a different way. In those difficult, dramatic days I was certain that this was God’s doing and not mine and I am still certain. And it was the work of God. I knew that the world would benefit from it.

 

***

To leave Loreto was my greatest sacrifice, the most difficult thing I have ever done. It was much more difficult than to leave my family and country to enter religious life. Loreto meant everything to me. In Loreto I had received my spiritual training. I had become a religious there. I had given myself to Jesus in the Institute. I liked the work, teaching the girls.

 

***

On my first trip along the streets of Calcutta after leaving the Sisters of Loreto, a priest came up to me. He asked me to give a contribution to a collection for the Catholic press. I had left with five rupees, and I had given four of them to the poor. I hesitated, then gave the priest the one that remained. That afternoon, the same priest came to me and brought an envelope. He told me that a man had given him the envelope because he had heard about my projects and wanted to help me. There were fifty rupees in the envelope. I had the feeling, at that moment, that God had begun to bless the work and would never abandon me.

 

***

One by one, from 1949 on, my former students began to arrive. They wanted to give everything to God, right away. With what joy they put away their colorful saris in order to put on our poor cotton one. They came because they knew that it would be hard. When a young woman of high caste comes and puts herself at the service of the poor, she is the protagonist of a revolution. It is the greatest, the most difficult revolution – the revolution of love.

 

***

One of the most demanding things for me is traveling with all the publicity everywhere I go. I have said to Jesus if I don’t go to Heaven for anything else, I will be going to Heaven for all the traveling and publicity, because it has purified me and sanctified me and made me truly ready for Heaven.

   

 

B. First Reading (I Pt 1:10-16): “They prophesied about the grace that was to be yours; therefore, live soberly and set your hopes completely on the grace to be borught to you.”

 

In the reading (I Pt 1:10-15), Saint Peter underlines the greatness of the Christian gift of salvation and what it entails. The prophets of old foretold it and the angels of heaven look forward to it. Such a great gift requires a special response: so the believers are urged to live a life worthy of their faith. They must live soberly, alert and ready for the blessing that will be given at the final coming and revelation of Jesus Christ. They must not allow their lives to be shaped by those desires that they had when they were still ignorant of Christ. Instead, they must be holy in all they do just as God is holy. To be holy is to be dedicated to God in a loving faithful covenant relationship.

 

The following account gives insight into what Christian holiness means (cf. Julie Basque, “The Long Good-bye” in Saint Anthony Messenger, March 2014, p. 38-39).

 

My mother can still find meaning in her dementia, given her history of deep faith. She describes her spiritual life as different now that she has dementia. “I am more detached now”, she says. “I am more detached and looking forward to heaven. I believe God wants to save more people on earth, so he would like to have some redemptive suffering. If my suffering with dementia can help someone, what a wonderful outcome that would be!”

 

The search for meaning or purpose when one is dealing with dementia can feel futile, yet God’s response is humbling. Her faith is able to give her a context to understand her current situation. “Faith informs us about our lives and how they are in the light of eternity”, she says. Mom believes in uniting her suffering to Jesus’ suffering, thus making it redemptive. She comments further that she feels fortunate that dementia does not hurt. It is not cancer. (…)

 

My mother shares even more with me regarding how she experiences her relationship with God now. “God is very tender toward me”, she says. “Little problems in my life seem to be solved without my even asking God. I feel as though Jesus is looking out for me. I am closer to God. I am less fearful.”

 

Her response is indicative of her unwavering faith. My sister Patty often states that Mom’s faith is very childlike and trusting. Ironically, it was trust in herself that she lost once she was diagnosed with dementia. Yet, it is trust in God that seems to be sustaining her now.

  

 

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

 

1. Have we left everything in order to follow Jesus? Are we experiencing the hundredfold reward?

 

2. Do we appreciate the grandiose richness of Christian faith and salvation? Are we ready to live to the full the Christian vocation to holiness?

 

 

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

 

O loving Jesus,

you are the absolute good.

To follow you

is to be blessed with the hundredfold reward

and attain the exquisite gift of eternal life.

Give us the grace to renounce false security.

Grant us the wisdom to sacrifice a relative good

and to pursue zealously the eternal good.

Teach us to give up everything to follow you

and the divine saving will.

We adore and serve you.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

O Jesus,

teach us to set our hearts completely

on the grace that your final revelation brings.

Make us holy as God the Father is holy.

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 have given up everything and followed you.” (Mk 10:28) //“He who called you is holy; be holy yourself.” (I Pt 1:15) 

 

 

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

 

Humbly express your discipleship in the various renunciations and sacrifices that you carry out in daily life in union with Jesus Savior. // When trials and difficulties come your way, trust in the Lord and cast your cares upon him. Let this be an occasion to grow in Christian holiness.

 

 

*** *** ***

 

May 25, 2016: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (8); SAINT BEDE THE VENERABLE, Priest, Doctor of the Church; SAINT GREGORY VII, Pope; SAINT MARY MAGDALENE DE’PAZZI, Virgin

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Came to Serve … He Ransomed Us with His Precious Blood”

  

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Pt 1:18-25 // Mk 10:32-45

  

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 10:32-45): Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be handed over.”

 

The Gospel (Mk 10:32-45) tells us that Jesus Christ, the beloved Son-Servant of God, came to serve – his greatest act of servitude was his paschal journey to Jerusalem and his life-offering on the cross. To be a Christian is to be a servant like him. To imitate Christ is to reject such a non-Gospel stance as “lording it over others”, and to refuse to play the world’s power game. The criterion of Christian discipleship is mutual service for the good of others. The path to glory is to serve the needs of others. The Church is a community of loving disciples who take to heart the words of Jesus: “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.”

 

In the following account, Mother Teresa of Calcutta gives us beautiful examples of Christian service (cf. Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart, ed. Jeff Cavins, et. al., West Chester: Ascension Press, 2004, p. 232-233).

 

One evening we went out and we picked up four people from the street. And one of them was in a most terrible condition. I told the Sisters: “You take care of the other three; I will take care of the one who looks worse.”  So I did for her all that my love can do. I put her in bed, and there was a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand, and she said one thing only: “Thank you.” Then she died.

Then there was the man we picked up from the drain, half-eaten by worms. And after we had brought him to the home, he only said, “I have lived like an animal in the street, but am going to die as an angel, loved and cared for.” Then, after we had removed all the worms from his body, all he said – with a big smile – was: “Sister, I am going home to God.”

      

 

B. First Reading (I Pt 1:18-25): “You were ransomed with the precious Blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished Lamb.”

 

Our special Christian vocation to holy living and its foundation are delineated in the reading (I Pt 1:17-21). The biblical scholar Jose Cervantes Gabarron explains: “The faithful memory of the liberating event carried out through the blood of Christ is the profound reason for the Christians’ change in conduct. They pass from a life without meaning to a life of hope, and also from ignorance to holiness. The liberator is Christ and the way of liberation is the passion sealed with the spilling of his blood. (…) Faith in God and in the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ brings a living hope that must be shaped into a new conduct because it corresponds to regeneration through God the Father.”

 

The people shaped by the saving event of Christ’s paschal mystery are thus called to act responsibly as the “redeemed” - with a life marked by a “holy living”. However, by their conversion the Christians may have suffered the loss of kin and clan. Alienated from their former culture, they must have lived like sojourners and exiles among their former neighbors. But Christians gain new brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, relatives and kin. Their conversion entails a new birth into a new family animated by a “sincere brotherly love”. Their call is to “love one another intensely from the heart”. They receive strength from the fact that their rebirth comes from an imperishable seed, that is, through God’s word that is living and trustworthy. Unless the flower that wilts and the grass that withers, the word of God remains forever. And since God is forever faithful, Christian faith will endure.

 

The following account of how an army officer has saved the life of a suicidal soldier gives insight into what “sincere fraternal love” entails (Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Powell, U.S. Army Ret., “All He Wrote was Goodbye” in Guideposts, March 2015, p. 62-63).

 

Facebook was a great way to stay in touch. I had about 700 friends on the site – mostly soldiers I’d served over the years. A good sergeant major, a good leader, tries to know what’s going on in his people’s lives. I logged on. Right away my eyes went to a gruesome photo in my news feed. What in the world? I enlarged the photo on the screen. A bloody forearm with a two-inch slash on the inside wrist.

 

It was posted by a sergeant who’d served with me in Iraq in the 2nd Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment. After our tour of duty, we’d both returned to Fort Sill, but it had been eight years since we’d seen each other. He was the quiet type, a great guy and a fine soldier. Above the photo, all he’d written was one word, “Goodbye”. I clicked on a second photo below it: the other arm, also with a long vertical gash on the inside of the wrist. These cuts were deep. The blood was fresh.

 

I knew the statistics. According to the latest Army report, every 18 hours a soldier commits suicide. More have taken their lives than died in combat. This was more than a grim statistic in some report. This was real. People had commented: “Praying for you!” “Call me if you need to talk.” “Here if you need me!”

 

Wasn’t anyone doing anything? With wounds like that, he could bleed to death in minutes! I hadn’t spent months in Iraq with this soldier to lose him now. Adrenaline surged through me like I was right back in a war zone. There were no orders. I had to take action. (…)

 

Somebody gave me the soldier’s camp and division. I hung up with suicide hotline and logged on to the website for the Army camp in Korea. I found the division directory and dialed the number. It was early morning there. Even if I could get to the right person, what if it was too late? I paced around the kitchen. Lord, please let someone else be trying to help him too. Please help this hurting soldier.

 

I waited on the phone, my anxiety mounting. That’s the thing about reacting in the moment. It is nerve-racking, even for an Army lifer like me. My iPad buzzed. Another Facebook notification. A message from another soldier in the battalion, Robert Piller. He’d served in Iraq with me and the soldier in danger. “We got him, Sergeant Major”, he wrote. “I called the hotline and got EMS en route to him. Sergeant First Class Jones got ahold of him and his unit. He’s on the way to the hospital. They say they got to him in time.” (…)

 

I checked on the soldier later that evening. His status was stable. I sent him a private message on Facebook. “You have people who love and care for you. I’m one of them. Praying for you. If you need anything at all, let me know.”

 

 

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

 

1. How do I emulate Christ’s example of serving love? Do I believe that in service is true greatness?

 

2. Do we value the sacrifice of Jesus in ransoming us with his precious Blood? On account of what he has done for us, do we love one another sincerely and intensely from a pure heart?

 

 

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

 

O Jesus, the Father’s beloved Son-Servant,

you became a slave on the cross.

You did not come to be served, but to serve

and to give your life as a ransom for many.

You teach us the way of serving love.

By your public ministry and paschal sacrifice,

you show us how to serve fully

the saving will of God.

Help us to reject the world’s power game

and not to seek false prestige.

Let us imitate you in serving the needs of others,

especially the weak and vulnerable in today’s society.

We love you, Jesus Savior,

and glorify you, now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

Lord Jesus,

you have ransomed us with your precious Blood.

Help us to respond to your sacrificial love

through a life of holiness and brotherly love.

We have been reborn through

the living and abiding word of God.

Let our faith be strong

since you are faithful and God is trustworthy.

We adore and glorify you, now and forever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.” (Mk 10:45) // “You were ransomed … with the precious Blood of Christ.” (I Pt 1:18-19)

 

 

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

 

Let the service that you carry out on behalf of others be joyful and replete with love and self-giving. // Pray for hurting soldiers and veterans who have mental-health problems and see in what way you can give help them receive pastoral care.

            

             

*** *** ***

 

May 26, 2016: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (8)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Makes the Blind See … In Him We Are a Chosen Race, a Royal Priesthood”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Pt 2:2-5, 9-12 // Mk 10:46-52

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 10:46-52): “Master, I want to see.”

 

I met Philip, a ten-year old boy suffering from a malignant brain tumor, at our convent in Cebu Island in the Philippines, in 1977. The malady caused Philip to become blind and his growth was stunted. He had the body of a six-year old, but his face was radiant and beautiful. He was quite good at playing the organ and the guitar. After listening with joy to his improvised concerto, I accompanied Philip to the refectory, located on the second floor of our convent.  I held his hand as we went up the flight of steep stairs. When we reached the top, he asked me, “How many steps are there in these stairs?” I had to confess with embarrassment that I never counted them. Philip gamely told me how many steps there were. The Sisters offered Philip fruit juice and cookies, and the usual children’s treats. He gently refused explaining that he had a diet. Philip knew that he would not live very long, but there was no hint of fear or regret in him. His sightless eyes seemed to have more capacity for seeing than our own. The lovable Philip could see beyond and was full of trust in the loving God who would soon bring him to heaven. As I bid him goodbye, I was praying deep in my heart, “Lord, help me to see the way Philip sees!” The blind little boy who made me realize that I needed “to see” and inspired me to pray for spiritual sight died a few years later. I know for certain that Philip is in heaven, “seeing” God face to face.

 

            The need for true spiritual sight is the subject of today’s Gospel (Mk 10:46-51). The reading begins with an interesting geographical reference and a touch of local color: “As Jesus was leaving Jericho, with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging” (v. 46). The main road to Jerusalem runs right through Jericho, which is 15 miles northeast of Jerusalem and 5 miles west of the Jordan River. The messianic journey of Jesus that began in Caesarea Philippi (Mk 8:27-30) is reaching its destination: Jerusalem. The departure of Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, from Jericho evokes the movement of a large group of pilgrims on the way to Jerusalem for the Passover. The crowd that is moving towards Jerusalem, the place of sacrifice, does not, however, comprehend the meaning of Jesus’ paschal destiny. The disciples and the crowd are figuratively “blind” with regards to the destiny of this remarkable man who had declared: “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45). Indeed, it is more convenient to see him as a wonderful miracle worker, a powerful political ruler and a generous breadbasket king. In comparison to the blind beggar Bartimaeus, they seem lucky for they could see with their physical eyes. But there is a deeper reality than physical sight.

 

            Mark portrays Bartimaeus as sitting by the roadside begging. With undaunted hope, the blind beggar resolutely cries out his invocation, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me” (Mk 10:47). Ignoring the rebuke of the many unsympathetic people who try to silence him, he keeps calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me” (Mk 10:48). Bartimaeus’ use of the expression “Son of David” is the first public application of that messianic title to Jesus. The title “Son of David” designates Jesus as the heir of the promise made to David through Nathan (cf. II Sam 7:12-16). The biblical scholar Philip Van Linden remarks: “The title Bartimaeus gives Jesus, ‘Son of David,’ indicates that he, a blind beggar, actually sees who Jesus is more clearly than the disciples and crowd who have been with him all along!”

 

            Today’s Gospel ends with a joyful note of healing and a decisive movement of discipleship. Having received his sight, he follows Jesus on the way of discipleship. Bartimaeus serves as an example of a person with “sight” and such a person follows Jesus into his passion. His response to Jesus’ command, “Go your way” is to embrace the way of the Divine Master, a way that leads from Jericho to Jerusalem, and ultimately – the way of the Cross. His response challenges the community of Christian believers today.

 

    

B. First Reading (I Pt 2:2-5, 9-12): “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, so that you may announce the praises of him who called you.”

 

The Second Reading (I Pt 2:2-5, 9-12)) depicts our identity as God’s people. The rich images that we hear in this reading present our dignity as “priestly people, kingly people, holy people chosen by the Lord to sing his praises” as well as the responsibility of holiness resulting from it.

 

The biblical scholar, Jerome Neyrey explains: “Jesus is the stone which God laid in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious … This Christ-stone is the pattern for the church; like Jesus, we are chosen and precious to God; we are also rejected by pagans and unbelievers. But as Christ is the cornerstone, so we are being made into a household, a holy body of priests … The church is a people of his own and so it is a chosen race, a royal dwelling place, a holy nation (cf. Ex 19:3-6). The church has gone from being not my people to being my people, from not having received mercy to having received mercy. Both the stone and people images speak, then, of our election by God and of our holiness. And they point to what this means in our lives: as a household of priests we offer spiritual sacrifices, that is, a holy life characterized by faithfulness and obedience. And as a holy nation we tell the story of the holy God and his saving deeds. So our priesthood is a way of being called to a holy status before a holy God and an exhortation to do holy things like acting holy and speaking about the holy God. These images, then, do not reject formal worship in the Church, nor do they argue against liturgical leadership for this group. Their sole purpose is to tell the church of its exalted state, as chosen and holy.”

 

The following prize-winning essay written by a 10th grader at Holy Family High School in Broomfield, Colorado, gives us an insight into our vocation as God’s holy people, called to live out the Gospel message and proclaim the praises of the Lord in today’s world (cf. Kelly Dempsey, “Living Gospel Message” in Maryknoll, May/June 2011, p. 49-50).

 

Actions speak louder than words. We have all been preached those five words many times throughout our lives, but how many of us truly live by them? In this strange world within which we currently reside, one can easily get caught up in technology such as Facebook, video games and texting. All of these “advancements” in human society make hypocrisy almost effortless. The ability to hide behind a machine greatly facilitates one’s desire to seem as if they are one great, generous person, without any of the inconveniences of actually being one. However, despite our culture of attachment to the many “glowing rectangles” around which our society seems to now revolve – computers, phones, iPods, cameras, televisions – there are the few who rise up despite these distractions and live a life of the Gospels. A wise man known as St. Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the Gospel always; if necessary, use words.” From the very first time I opened my eyes to now, 16 years later, I have seen and continue to see these words perfectly exemplified through the actions of my older sister and best friend, Erin.

 

Always strong with her relationship and faith in God, Erin, only three years older than myself, taught me at a very young age that God is always present and will always, no matter what, take care of me. Shortly after she turned 12, my parents finally deemed her old enough to watch over me while they went out, a concept that utterly terrified me. How on earth was my tiny 60-pound sister supposed to protect me when the burglars, who were sure to come in my parents’ absence, broke into our house? However, once I voiced my fears, my sister pulled me into a giant bear hug and softly instructed me to ask God to take away my fears. With that simple prayer, my worries suddenly evaporated into thin air. From that day forth, I viewed my sister as standing in a new light, a light with Christ.

 

Erin, now a sophomore at Creighton University, a Jesuit school, still stands tall and true to her faith. During her freshman year, a time of trial for many Catholics as to whether they stay true to their faith or convert to sleeping in, Erin not only continued to go to church once a week and pray on a daily basis, but she also upped the ante. Her normal weekly church visit multiplied into going at least three times a week. In addition, she was able to spread the word around campus and single-handedly increased weekday Mass attendance. Furthermore, despite the fact that she rarely is able to hit the sack before four o’clock in the morning, due to her immense workload and jam-packed schedule, Erin miraculously found time to volunteer for many non-profit organizations around Creighton.

 

Extremely selfless and humble in her actions and never even considering complaining about giving her limited time to those in need around her, Erin can be seen as role model to all those who have witnessed her daily life. Her closeness to God can be witnessed through her gentleness with children, kindness to strangers, and sympathy, comfort and compassion for the less fortunate. Never harsh or slanderous, Erin is a walking example of God’s message in our slightly off-kilter society.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we recognize and identify the blindness within us that needs to be healed? Do we turn to Jesus and say, “Master, I want to see” (Mk 10:51)? In our experience of blindness and hopelessness, do we have the courage and the faith to cry out with Bartimaeus: “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me” (Mk 10:47)? When Jesus sees us by the wayside and calls us to himself, what is our response? Do we throw aside the cloak of our old habits, get up, and run to meet him? Do we follow him on the way?

 

2. Do we realize the implication of being built like, living stones, into a spiritual house, with Jesus Christ as the foundation? What does it mean to be “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own”?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

we are blind.

We are blinded by the visible,

which prevents us from grasping the invisible.

We have closed our eyes to our paschal destiny.

We turn to you for inner healing.

Master, we want to see!

Jesus, Son of David, have pity on us!

We love and adore you, now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

Loving Father,

Jesus is the living stone-foundation

and we are “living stones” built upon him

to proclaim to the world your praises.

Let our good works glorify you

and testify that you have called us out of darkness into light

In Jesus Christ,

we become “a chosen race, a royal priesthood,

a holy nation, a people that is your own”.

For choosing us to be holy

and for your ineffable gifts,

we are filled with gratitude.

We adore 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.

 

“Master, I want to see.” (Mk 10:51) // “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” (I Pt 2:9)

  

 

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

 

Pray in thanksgiving for the many good people who endeavor to relieve the painful and difficult situations of the vision-impaired. Offer some help to various institutions for the blind. // When you celebrate the Eucharist as part of God’s chosen race, be deeply conscious that you are “offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

  

 

*** *** ***

 

May 27, 2016: FRIDAY – WEEKDAY (8); SAINT AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY, Bishop

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Calls Us to True Piety … Through Him We Give Glory to God in Service and Suffering”

    

 

BIBLE READINGS

I Pt 4:7-13 // Mk 11:11-26

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 11:11-26): “My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Have faith in God.”

 

In today’s Gospel (Mk 11:11-26), the story of Jesus cleansing the Jerusalem temple is sandwiched between the strange story of him cursing the fig tree. As he leaves Bethany to return to the Jerusalem temple he gets hungry. He goes over to a fig tree. It is covered with leaves but no fruit because it is “out of season”. Jesus curses the fruitless tree. Early in the morning of the following day it is withered. Against the backdrop of Jesus driving the buyers and sellers from the temple area because they have turned what was meant to be “a house of prayer for all peoples” into a “den of thieves”, the withered fig tree symbolizes the barrenness, irrelevance and condemnation of Jewish temple piety. The corruption of temple worship has provoked Jesus’ prophetic ministry and his pronouncement of divine condemnation. The fig tree symbolizes Israel. The cursing of the fig tree and its withering dramatizes God’s judgment against Israel’s perverted temple worship: unfruitful and “out of sync” with the signs of the time - the radical newness of the Reign of God that Jesus brings. The Divine Master then completes the lesson of the withered fig tree by challenging his disciples to a more efficacious prayer-worship that is based on “faith in God” and total surrender to his saving will and forgiving love.

 

The following story is a modern day example of a piety that is as irrelevant and unfruitful as the cursed fig tree (cf. Anthony de Mello, The Song of the Bird, New York: Image Books, 1984, p. 64).

 

October 1917: The Russian Revolution is born. Human history takes a new direction.

 

The story goes that that very month the Russian Church was assembled in council. A passionate debate was in progress about the color of the surplice to be used in liturgical functions. Some insisted vehemently that it has to be white. Others, with equal vehemence, that it had to be purple.

 

Coming to grips with revolution is more of a bother than organizing a liturgy. I’d rather say my prayers than get involved in neighborhood disputes.

   

 

B. First Reading (I Pt 4:7-13): “Be good stewards of God’s varied grace.”

 

One of my favorite Bible passages is I Pt 4:8-11a, which is used in the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours (cf. Morning Prayer, Week 3). It exhorts us to be good stewards of God’s manifold grace and to use our gifts at the service of one another. I have memorized this passage and when I was asked, in one of our monthly meetings, to lead the prayer of the Worship Committee in Saint Christopher Parish (San Jose, CA-USA), I cited this passage from the heart. My co-members in the Worship Committee were deeply impacted. This favorite text of mine is a part of today’s First Reading at Mass.

 

The reading (I Pt 4:7-13) underlines that in view of the imminence of the parousia (the end time), the Christians are to live with deep brotherly love for one another, to practice hospitality without complaining and to be generous in using the gifts we have received for the good of all. By this holy living we give glory to God through Jesus Christ. Furthermore, the Christians are called to face the reality of suffering as the testing of gold in the furnace – in which the gold survives! They have optimistic hope because, in sharing the suffering of Christ through persecution and trial, they will share in his great glory and rejoice with him exultantly. The grace to find joy in suffering is made possible through the presence in them of the Spirit of God, the Spirit of glory.

 

The following article gives insight into the “trial by fire” mentioned by Saint James in his letter as well as how to use our giftedness for the good of others (cf. Joyce Coronel, “In Iraq, displaced Christians losing dignity” In Our Sunday Visitor, June 14, 2015, p. 15).

 

Sister Diana Momeka is a Dominican Sister of St. Catherine of Siena of Mosul, Iraq. Along with tens of thousands of other refugees, she was forced to flee her native city of Qaraqosh last summer when ISIS forces attacked. The sisters had 30 minutes to prepare for what should have been a one-hour-journey. They left with nothing but their clothes. When they arrived 12 hours later in Erbil – the road was jammed with those trying to escape – they found thousands of fellow Christians sleeping in the streets and in front of churches.

 

On May 13, nearly a year later, Sister Diana spoke at a congressional committee hearing in Washington, urging help for displaced Christian refugees in Iraq. “We want nothing more than to go back to our lives”, she told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. “We want nothing more than to go home.”

 

Our Sunday Visitor recently spoke with Sister Diana by telephone about her order’s work in Erbil and the lives of the refugees living there.

 

Our Sunday Visitor: What are your day-to-day activities?

 

Sister Diana: We have a clinic. There’s a lot of people and a lot of great needs there. So the diocese opened a clinic from the beginning, a tent that was serving as a medical tent where we can provide something really simple for patients. Then with the help of the Pontifical Mission (Catholic Near East Welfare Association) and other organizations, we were able to start with the prefab (steel buildings without running water). Now we have a whole clinic that has been operating and has been seeing about 350 to 400 patients per day.

 

OSV: What are some of the other things you are doing to help the refugees?

 

Sister Diana: Teaching has always been my passion. Another teacher and I just finished teaching two courses with groups of women on how to deal with their own trauma. We focused on how the women could deal with their bodies, their emotions, with their psychological feelings about the displacement. We encouraged them to have time for themselves because being displaced and being a mom is not something easy, especially now that they lost their privacy. Most of them live in one room with their family and kids, so they lost all their privacy that they had between men and women. We try to accompany them and talk about how to deal with it, to be patient with themselves and to take care of their children in a way that they understand their children also have been traumatized.

 

OSV: Many refugees saw neighbors killed and children taken. What do you tell them?

 

Sister Diana: We are people of faith … We always look at the incident when God was accompanying people – it’s through the pillar of fire. So I think our consoling explanation is in God. That’s how we learn to approach each other – that of you go and talk to people, they will tell you, “We’re so grateful that God kept us safe.” Even if they lost someone … I think we are just feeling God’s presence in every minute of our lives. So that’s how I see it – to accompany women or men who have been traumatized. (…)

 

OSV: What is your message for your fellow Catholics?

 

Sister Diana: I would say that, everyday, think of us, your brothers and sisters who have been suffering, and see Christ. Living in such a way for his name is an honor for us. I feel that I would say, please keep the faith up wherever you are, because living with Christ in any condition is the amazing thing that we experience. And if you can help those who are suffering, please lessen their pain, please do, and if you can, support the organizations that have been supporting us to maintain our mission.

 

 

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

 

1. Is our faith relationship with God manifested in true prayer and fruitful acts of charity? Do we seek to live the spirit of piety and strive for full surrender to the divine saving will?

 

2. Are we good stewards of God’s manifold grace and in, fraternal love, do we assist those who today are being persecuted for their faith in Christ?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Divine Master,

you taught us the meaning of prayer and true worship

upon the cross of salvation.

Let our life be focused

on the radical newness of the Reign of God.

Help us work for justice and peace

and promote the advent of his kingdom on earth.

Make our prayer an expression of faith in God

and submission to his saving will.

Do not allow us to degenerate

into a barren and cursed fig tree,

but rather transform us into a vigorous tree

with abundant fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Let us witness the power of prayer in today’s world.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

Loving Father,

we thank you for making us stewards of your manifold grace.

Give us the grace to use the gifts you have given us

for the good of others.

We remember the persecuted Christians in today’s world.

Help us to assist them in any way we can.

May those who suffer in the name of Christ

rejoice with him in the heavenly glory.

We give you honor 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.

 

“Have faith in God.” (Mk 11:22) // “Serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace … Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ.” (I Pt 4:10, 14)

 

 

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

 

Endeavor to live the true meaning of prayer and worship in today’s world. By little acts of charity to the people around you, especially to the poor and vulnerable, let your life be pleasing to God and fruitful. // Pray for today’s persecuted Christians and see in what way you can alleviate their suffering.

 

 

*** *** ***

 

May 28, 2016: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (8); BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Has Messianic Authority … Through Him We Give Praise to God”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jude 17, 20b-25 // Mk 11:27-33

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 11:27-33): “By what authority are you doing these things?”

 

The chief priests and scribes are seeking a way to kill Jesus after his drastic cleansing of the temple and on account of his subversive actions and words. Now they are joined by the elders in challenging Jesus by what authority he is doing these things. Jesus counters with a question about John’s authority to baptize. For fear of the crowd, the opponents of Jesus refuse to make a statement about the source of John the Baptist’s authority. What began as a threat to Jesus’ authority ends in the exposure of how little authority and courage his antagonists really have. What was meant to subvert and humiliate Jesus turns into a manifestation of the authoritative wisdom of the Divine Master.

 

The messianic authority of Jesus continues in the “one, holy catholic and apostolic Church”. In the face of moral-social-political issues that convulse and challenge the faithful today, it is good to assert the authoritative Church teaching. The following are the Seven Key Themes of the Catholic Social Teaching in the Public Square (cf. USCCB, The Challenge of Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship, November 2007).

 

1. The Right to Life and the Dignity of the Human Person: Human life is sacred. Direct attacks on innocent human beings are never morally acceptable. Within our society, life is under direct attack from abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, and destruction of human embryos for research. These intrinsic evils must always be opposed. This teaching also compels us Catholics to oppose genocide, torture, unjust war and the use of the death penalty, as well as to pursue peace and help overcome poverty, racism and other conditions that demean human life.

 

2. Call to Family, Community and Participation: The family, based on marriage between a man and a woman, is the fundamental unit of society. This sanctuary for the creation and nurturing of children must not be redefined, undermined or neglected. Supporting families should be a priority for economic and social policies. How our society is organized - in economics and politics, in law and public policy – affects the well-being of individuals and of society. Every person and association has a right and a duty to participate in shaping society to promote the well-being of individuals and the common good.

 

3. Rights and Responsibilities: Every human person has a right to life, the fundamental right that makes all other rights possible. Each of us has a right to religious freedom, which enables us to live and act in accord with our God-given dignity, as well as a right to have access to those things required for human decency – food and shelter, education and employment, healthcare and housing. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities – to one another, to our families, and to a larger society.

 

4. Option for the Poor and Vulnerable: While the common good embraces all, those who are in greatest need deserve preferential concern. A moral test for society is how we treat the weakest among us – the unborn, those dealing with disabilities or terminal illness, the poor and marginalized.

 

5. Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers: the economy must serve the people, not the other way around. Economic justice calls for decent work at fair, living wages, opportunities for legal status for immigrant workers, and the opportunity for all people to work together for the common good through their work, ownership, enterprise, investment, participation in unions and other forms of economic activity.

 

6. Solidarity: We form one human family; whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic and ideological differences. Our Catholic commitment to solidarity requires that we pursue justice, eliminate racism, end human trafficking, protect human rights, seek peace, and avoid the use of force except as a necessary last resort.

 

7. Caring for God’s Creation: Caring for the earth is a duty of our Catholic faith. We all are called to be careful stewards of God’s creation and to ensure a safe and hospitable environment for vulnerable human beings now and in the future.

 

 

B. First Reading (Jud 17, 20b-25): “To the one who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished and exultant in the presence of his glory.”

 

Today’s reading (Jud 17, 20b-25) is special. Only once in the Sunday/Weekday Lectionary does a text from the Letter of Jude is used. The author Jude, who identifies himself as “the servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James”, offers some practical wisdom for Christian life as well as warns believers against false teachers. In today’s passage, Saint Jude advises them to remember the words of the Apostles for that would help them be grounded in the faith transmitted by the apostles. He tells them to build themselves up in their holy faith. It is Jude’s original contribution to make the believers both the builders and materials for the faith-building. He likewise urges them to have an intimate relationship with the one-triune God: to pray in the Spirit, to keep themselves in the love of God, and to wait for Jesus Christ who in his mercy will lead us to eternal life. But in the meantime, they have a loving duty to save those “wavering” in their faith and the “others” who have led them astray due to their false teaching. Saint Jude concludes his letter with a formal benediction. God is acclaimed as the one who keeps us from falling and leads us to his glorious presence. To the only God, who is the author of salvation, “glory, majesty, power, and authority” is due through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

The following article gives insight into the remarkable exhortation of Saint Jude: “Build yourselves up in your most holy faith” (cf. “I now have more time for prayer” in Our Sunday Visitor, June 28, 2015, p. 10).

 

Capuchin Father Alexis Luzi has enjoyed gardening since childhood. “I had my brains in books, but my hands were in the soil – both at the same time”, he said. “It’s a good balance.”

 

This spring, Father Luzi, planted a little garden at St. Fidelis Friary, the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph’s retirement community in Appleton, Wisconsin. There are about 18 residents. He’s growing tomatoes, string beans, celery, carrots nd beets for their meals, and pots of geraniums and a patch of snap dragons to enjoy. It’s his way of keeping physically active and continuing to serve.

 

Father Luzi joined the province in 1943 and was ordained in 1951. He taught ecclesiology at the Capuchin Seminary St. Anthony in Marathon, Wisconsin, pastured an inner-city church and assisted at another parish in Milwaukee. He published a number of homilies and sermons that are available online (alixisluzi.blogspot.com).

 

He recently spent five years in Texas taking care of his older sister who has dementia and is now in a nursing home.

 

“My greatest blessing is to be with my Capuchin religious order, which takes good care of me in my old age”, he said. “I now have more time for prayer. I have had a full life, and I’m happy.”

 

 

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

 

1. Do we fully accept the messianic authority of Jesus? Do we promote the truth that Jesus the Divine Master teaches and incarnates in today’s world?

 

2. Do we “build ourselves up in faith”? Do we pray in the Holy Spirit, endeavor to share the love of God with others, and look forward to the coming of our merciful Jesus Christ who will lead us to eternal life?

 

 

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

 

O Jesus Divine Master,

we adore as the Word incarnate sent by the Father

to instruct us in the life giving truth.

You live on in the Church.

Grant us the grace to embrace your authoritative wisdom

that enables us to embrace moral principles,

care for the needs of the weak,

defend the culture of life,

and pursue the common good.

We humbly submit to your messianic authority

for you are the One Sent by God

and anointed by the Holy Spirit for our salvation.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

Loving Father,

please keep us from stumbling

so that we may stand joyful in your glorious presence.

To you the only God, author of salvation,

is due glory, majesty power and authority,

through Jesus Christ, 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.

 

“By what authority are you doing these things?” (Mk 11:28) // “To the only God, our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, power and authority from ages past, now, and for ages to come. Amen.” (Jud 25)

 

 

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

 

Make an effort to understand the personal implication for you of the Catholic Teaching in the Public Square and to put it into practice. // Look at the retired men and women religious and see how their endeavors of personal faith-building can inspire you. Find ways to help them in their need.

  

 

 *** 

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

 


PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER
60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. (718) 494-8597 or (718) 761-2323
Website: 
WWW.PDDM.US


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