Archives:Year C-S17 - Year B-S16 - Year A-S15 - Year C-S14 - Year B-S13 - Year A-S12 - Year C-S11 - Year B-S10 - Year A-S9 - YYear C-S8

Year B-S7 - Year A-S6  - Year C-S5 - Year B-S4 - Year A-S3  - Year C-S2 - Year B

 

A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 17, n. 34)

Week 16 in Ordinary Time: July 21-27, 2019

 

 

(The pastoral tool BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD: A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY & WEEKDAY LITURGY includes a prayerful study of the Sunday liturgy from various perspectives. For the Lectio Divina on the liturgy of the past week: July 14-20, 2019 please go to ARCHIVES Series 17 and click on “Week 15 Ordinary Time”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: July 21-27, 2019.)

 

*** *** ***

 

July 21, 2019: SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Comes to Us”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Gn 18:1-10a // Col 1:24-28 // Lk 10:38-42

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 10:38-40): “Martha welcomed him. Mary has chosen the better part.”

 

            One thing I have in common with our Italian-born Sr. Mary Adele, now deceased, is a love for pasta. One day as we were enjoying a plate of spaghetti cooked “al dente”, topped with rich tomato sauce and tasty Parmesan cheese, she narrated a modern version of today’s Gospel story (cf. Lk 10:38-42)

 

Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him. Her sister Mary sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and wailed, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. A plate of pasta and a glass of wine will do.”

 

            Jesus, in the course of his paschal journey to Jerusalem, stops to rest in the home of Martha and Mary, who receive him with hospitality. He is the Good Samaritan par excellence and the ultimate neighbor deserving the care of loving friends. Martha’s type of hospitality, however, is fretful and her intense concern misdirected. Hence, Martha’s misguided hospitality provokes a good-natured reproach from Jesus. He cautions her not to be anxious. Martha’s meticulous concern for the “details of hospitality” distracts her from what is essential: his life-giving Word.

 

            The liturgical scholar, Adrian Nocent comments: “Receiving Christ requires, first and foremost, hearing him and having the soul of a disciple. The Christian is not forced to choose between acting and contemplating. The point is rather that he must first of all listen and receive Christ with interior peace and simplicity. Any reproach of Martha is for her anxiety, not for her zealous activity in receiving Jesus. One thing is necessary. What is this one thing? In the context of the proclamation of the Gospel, and given the attitude of Mary who listens to the Lord, the one thing needed is evidently God’s word. Everything else is secondary when compared to this listening to God’s word.”

  

            In the context of the total paschal event in which Jesus becomes the Bread broken and shared for the life of the world, we can perceive that the true Host in Luke’s story is Jesus Christ himself. He breaks the bread of the living Word for Mary, whose spiritual hunger is being satisfied as she peacefully sits beside the Lord at his feet, listening to him speak. Generous and hospitable, the true Lord of the banquet gently invites the hardworking Martha to sort out her priorities and examine her manifold concerns. Jesus invites her to set aside the anxieties of a fretful hostess bent on preparing a perfect meal. Rather, he challenges Martha to render the utmost hospitality that a disciple could offer, the one that her dear sister, Mary, has lavished upon him. Indeed, Mary of Bethany, an image of a true disciple, chooses the better part, which is to listen to the saving word of God in order to act upon it.

    

 

B. First Reading (Gen 18:1-10a): “Lord, do not go on past your servant.

 

Sr. Mary Jesusa and I were companions in the novitiate. After first profession we were assigned to the vocation ministry. It was our duty to follow up young ladies who showed interest in religious life and our Congregation. One damp, rainy day we boarded a bus and headed for Gumaca, a Philippine town on the Pacific coast, to interview an applicant who was residing there. The bus had already gone a considerable distance when the bus conductor started to collect the passengers’ fare and give them their tickets. I was shocked to know that Sr. Mary Jesusa did not bring sufficient money to pay for the trip. She emptied her wallet, but the fare was still lacking four pesos. The bus conductor kindly let go of the insufficient fare and allowed us to travel to our destination. Without even a cent, we arrived in Gumaca at about 2:00 P.M., after a seven-hour trip. The scenery was breathtaking. The coastal town of Gumaca, bordered by the immense Pacific Ocean and dotted with plantations of tall, fruit laden coconut trees, was a veritable tropical paradise. We sought hospitality from the parish priest who unhesitatingly offered us a nourishing meal. He also requested lodging for us at the convent of the Sisters running the parochial school. After meeting and interviewing the applicant, we attended the Bible Study that the priest was conducting in his parish, participated mostly by low-income housewives. Sr. Mary Jesusa and I were glad to break the Bread of the Word with them. We shared our faith experience as well as our “adventure” that day. Some of them were deeply touched by what we shared. We thanked the priest and the parish community for their hospitality. After the Mass the following day, the women who were with us at the Bible Study bid us goodbye. Many of them handed us small amounts of money to help pay for our return trip. A poor widow, whose son was in jail, insisted that we should take her contribution. We were greatly touched by the generosity and sacrifice of that hospitable community. They had shown receptivity not only to the Word of God, but also hospitality to those in need of help. Indeed, their charitable action was based on listening and responding to the life-giving Word they had heard.

 

The Old Testament reading (Gen 18:1-10a) speaks of the exquisite hospitality of patriarch Abraham and the warmth and kindness that a nomadic world could give to their guests. The Lord with his two companions appears to Abraham at Mamre as he sits in the entrance of his tent, while the day is growing hot. Abraham offers to wash the feet of his three guests and refresh them. His household prepares a luscious fare of food and drink for the mysterious guests. Abraham’s hospitality to the “three men” by the oak of Mamre manifests a deeper and more astounding “hospitality” – his receptivity and obedience to the Word of the Lord who has commanded him to leave behind his country, relatives and father’s home and set out for an unknown land, promising to make of him a great nation (cf. Gn 12:2). In the context of the feast offered by the hospitable Abraham, God intends to fulfill his promise. To Abraham who waits on them at table the Lord says, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son” (Gen 18:10a). Indeed, Abraham’s hospitality to Yahweh and his faithful acceptance of his Word make possible the fulfillment of the divine promise and the covenant plan to make him a great nation.

 

 

C. Second Reading (Col 1:24-28): “The mystery hidden from ages has now been manifested to his holy ones.”

 

In light of the Second Reading (Col 1:24-28), we may consider hospitality from a profound perspective: as God’s benevolent stance on our behalf. We are called to be hospitable persons because God is primordially hospitable. He is our gracious Lord – generous and kind, welcoming and open-hearted. God, who visited Abraham and set on course salvation history, offered us the utmost hospitality when he spoke the word of God, Jesus Christ, the mystery hidden for ages but now revealed to his holy ones. Like Paul, we are called to respond to this loving divine initiative by welcoming the word of God into our life. We are summoned to proclaim and witness to all peoples, nations and cultures the rich and glorious message of our redemption in Christ.

 

Harold Buetow comments: “Today’s portion of the glorious letter to the Colossians reveals the special and unique insight that the kind of generosity given in hospitality finds its heroic fulfillment in suffering for others. But how can the letter’s author claim that he was completing what’s lacking in Christ’s suffering (v. 24)? Was Jesus’ sacrifice somehow insufficient? No, but by God’s own will the Redeemer’s work of salvation is not yet complete: Jesus wants his followers to continue his work by sharing in his afflictions, thus building up his body in every age. We need to realize that we can do something for the salvation of the entire world. That is the root of the communion of saints. It is Jesus who teaches today’s lessons: that the one thing necessary in our lives is love, that we can show it in both action and contemplation, that it expresses itself in outgoing hospitality. Throughout, little things mean a lot.”

 

An example of a Christian disciple who responded fully to the saving initiative of the gracious and hospitable God is the great Jesuit missionary to China, Fr. Matteo Ricci. According to Pope Benedict XVI, Fr. Ricci is “a unique case of a felicitous synthesis between the proclamation of the Gospel and the dialogue with the culture of the people to whom he brought it”. Fr. Ricci’s hospitable stance and spirit of openness helped him to become one of the most sterling figures in the Church’s ministry of evangelization. The following excellent article, which deals with Matteo Ricci’s cross-cultural mission to China, helps us to perceive the sacrifice, generosity and creativity that the proclamation of the mystery of Christ entails (cf. Jeremy Clark, “When West Met East” in America, May 10, 2010, p. 13-16).

 

May 11 marks the 400th anniversary of the death in Beijing of the legendary Matteo Ricci (1552-1610). The Italian-born Jesuit priest arrived in Macau in 1582, moved to the city of Zhaoqing in the southern province of Guangdong the following year and spent the remaining 27 years of his life in China actively engaged in cross-cultural exchange. So successful was Ricci in immersing himself and the Gospel fully into Chinese culture, that he is almost as well known in China as he is in the rest of the world. In China he is known as Li Madou, which was both his Chinese name and ultimately his identity as the wise man from the West. For the many elsewhere who remember him, Ricci stands as a pioneer of sophisticated and sympathetic East-West engagement. (…)

 

Ricci’s amazing linguistic abilities fast made the fate of the mission synonymous with his exploits. His endeavors in the early years became the main means by which the church spread throughout the country. Ricci focused on reaching the imperial capital and moved ever northward, opening communities in Shaozhou in late 1589, Nonchang in 1595 and Beijing in 1601. The Jesuits also established a presence in Shanghai in 1608. Ricci’s activities, varied and impressive, testify to his genius. Once he mastered enough spoken and written Chinese to communicate freely (no easy task even today), he tried his hand at whatever could help him develop relationships with the scholar officials. Early on, the Jesuits thought such connections were the most prudent and effective means of promoting and protecting the young church. In pursuit of his evangelical goal, Ricci produced works in the field of horology, hydraulics, optics, observational astronomy, surveying, music, geography and geometry. And this list does not exhaust his exploits.

 

Among other things, Ricci became famous in China for a large-scale world map that he first constructed in 1584 (which has been on view during 2010 at the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.); a book on friendship, written in 1595, which drew freely on a classic by the scholar Epictetus; and a treatise on mnemonics written in 1596. Ricci impressed dinner and conversation companions with his phenomenal memory, recalling after a single reviewing everything from lines of high poetry to manufactured doggerel. In China, where people took pride in their ability to quote readily from Chinese classics, a memory method that made such things easier was highly valued.

 

Ricci worked with one of the leaders of the early Chinese Christians, the Ming dynasty statesman Xu Guangqi (1562-1633), and together they translated Euclidean geometry into Chinese. This task was made all the more difficult because concepts like parallel lines and acute angles, for example, had no Chinese words. Ever creative, Ricci and his companion simply invented terms for them. So apt were their choices that contemporary Chinese mathematicians still consider these words unsurpassable.

 

Ricci was a true Renaissance man, representing the breadth of the humanistic learning undertaken by Jesuits at their colleges throughout Europe at that time. He was a man of the cloth as well, who regularly engaged in translating language dictionaries for the use of other missionaries and composing prayer books, apologetic works and catechisms for the Chinese neophytes. Arguably, the most well known of Ricci’s books about Christianity was The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven. While his books became widely read, their most important contribution was the encouragement they gave everyone from scholars to simple peasants to engage in conversations about the Gospel and Jesus, the Lord of Heaven.

 

Following Valignano’s directives, Ricci and his Jesuit companions wore Chinese clothing, wrote and spoke Chinese, ate Chinese food and lived in Chinese houses (often they bought houses cheaply because they were thought to be “haunted”). Rarely did one or other of them return to Europe. They became Chinese in all things in order to win China for Christ. Although the early years of the mission were marked by difficulty and struggle, Ricci and his companions laid a sure foundation. By the time of Ricci’s death, there were perhaps 2,500 Christians in China. On his deathbed Ricci said, “I am leaving you before an open door which leads to great merits, but not without great effort and many dangers.”

 

Over the centuries Ricci’s work has been described as an ascent to Beijing, and apostolate through books, an early instance of inculturation and an example of cross-cultural exchange. His remarkable feats of scholarship were achieved in the face of shipwreck, home invasion, violence, persecution and daily travails of being a stranger in a strange land (especially in the early years). Perhaps the best way to think about Ricci’s decades in China, and to hold together his joy of scholarship and his capacity to endure the thousand sacrifices of living far from all that was once dear to him, is to see his ministry as one of friendship.

 

For all Ricci’s academic and personal talents, his pre-eminent, enduring gift was a capacity to delight in the company of others … Ricci is considered a giant on whose shoulders subsequent generations stand. In many ways this is right and just, given his inspirational role in promoting both the cause of Chinese culture and Chinese Catholicism. A more appropriate image, however, is to picture Ricci seated at a round table, sharing the hospitality of his friends, sipping tea, and talking of many things in order to talk of one thing: God present among us from East to West.

 

 

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

 

Are we hospitable? Why or why not? In what ways are we Martha? In what ways are we Mary? Is our Christian discipleship characterized by receptivity and true listening to the word of God which leads us to love and serve our neighbor?

 

 

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

 

O Jesus, you are our divine guest

We welcome you in our heart.

We offer you the love and comfort you found

in the home of your two pious disciples, Martha and Mary.

O Jesus, you are also our divine host.

You prepare for us the banquet of your living Word.

As your loving and welcoming disciples,

we partake of this banquet.

And as we feast on the bread of the Word,

we are strengthened in our charitable works

as “Good Samaritans” in today’s world.

We love you; we thank you;

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 week. Please memorize it.

 

“Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Lk 10:42)

 

 

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

 

Pray that the Word of God may find a welcoming home in every one’s heart. Pray that the bearers of the Word may courageously proclaim it even if met with opposition and lack of hospitality. Be hospitable to the persons around you, especially those who have been rejected and feel unloved and unwelcome. To help us delve more deeply into our vocation to be hospitable to the Word of God, make an effort to spend some moments of quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

 

 

*** *** ***

 

July 22, 2019: MONDAY – SAINT MARY MAGDALENE

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Makes Us Messengers

of His Resurrection”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Sg 3:1-4a or 2 Cor 5:14-17 // Jn 20:11-18

 

 

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

 

Today we celebrate the memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene. The Gospel reading (Jn 20:1-2, 11-18) presents her as the first witness of the resurrection and as the first one commissioned by Jesus to proclaim the Easter message to his disciples. Mary Magdalene, who ministered to Jesus in his public ministry and stood by him at his crucifixion, is now depicted as weeping by the tomb and seeking for the dead body of Jesus whom she thought had been taken away. She fails to recognize the Risen Lord who appears to her, but like one of his sheep, she recognizes him when she hears him calling her name. Mary clings to him, but Jesus makes her understand that he must not be hindered from completing the full extent of his glorification. The Risen Lord assures her that from now on he and his disciples are inseparable. Through his glorification, they have become children of the one Father and God, begotten by his own blood, shed on the cross. Jesus commissions her to bear the good news of the Easter event – though she is a woman. Mary Magdalene, therefore, has the honor of being the “apostle to the apostles”.

 

In his apostolic letter, Mulieris Dignitatem (“On the Dignity and Vocation of Women”), Saint John Paul II wrote: “The Gospel of John also emphasizes the special role of Mary Magdalene. She is the first to meet the Risen Christ … Hence she came to be called the apostle to the apostles. Mary Magdalene was the first eyewitness of the Risen Christ and for this reason she was also the first to bear witness to him before the apostles. This event, in a sense, crowns all that has been said previously about Christ entrusting divine truths to women as well as men.” Indeed, Mary Magdalene becomes a significant part of the “new creation” that springs forth in the Easter morn. The glorification of Christ ushers in a “Christological creation” in which there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free men, between men and women (cf. Gal 3:28).

 

Tradition and fancy have developed regarding the ministry of Mary Magdalene, a privileged witness of Christ’s resurrection. The following Wikipedia article, circulated on the Internet, gives an example.

 

For centuries, it has been the custom of many Christians to share dyed and painted eggs, particularly on Easter Sunday, to represent new life, and Christ bursting forth from the tomb. Among Easter Orthodox Christians this sharing is accompanied by the proclamation "Christ is risen!”

 

One tradition concerning Mary Magdalene says that, following the death and resurrection of Jesus, she used her position to gain an invitation to a banquet given by the Roman Emperor Tiberius. When she met him, she held a plain egg in her hand and exclaimed, "Christ is risen!" The Emperor laughed, and said that Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red while she held it. Before he finished speaking, the egg in her hand turned a bright red, and she continued proclaiming the Gospel to the entire imperial house.

 

Another version of this story can be found in popular belief, mostly in Greece. It is believed that after the Crucifixion, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary put a basket full of eggs at the foot of the cross. There, the eggs were painted red by the blood of the Christ. Then, Mary Magdalene brought them to Tiberius Caesar.

 

 

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

 

Like Mary Magdalene are we willing to stand by the cross of Christ and at the tomb of his resurrection? Are we willing to proclaim the joyful news of his resurrection?

 

 

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

(Cf. Opening Prayer, Mass: Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene) 

 

Father,

your Son first entrusted to Mary Magdalene

the joyful news of his resurrection.

By her prayers and example

may we proclaim Christ as our living Lord

and one day see him in glory,

for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

  

 

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

 

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

 

“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’.” (Jn 20:18)

 

 

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

 

Make an effort to bring God’s forgiving love and the good news of Christ’s resurrection to them.  

 

 

*** %%% *** %%% *** %%% ***

 

July 23, 2019: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (16); SAINT BRIDGET, Religious

“JESUS SAVIOR: His Family Obeys the Will of God … He Is Victorious in His Exodus”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ex 14:2 –15:1 // Mt 12:46-50

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 12:46-50): “Stretching out his hands toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.”

 

The Gospel (Mt 12:46-50) tells us that Jesus continues to suffer unbelief and rejection. The hostility of the Jewish religious leaders is mounting. The mother and relatives of Jesus are deeply concerned. They want to speak to him. They probably intend to take him away from danger. But Jesus makes use of the presence of his mother and kinsmen to define the true nature of his family. The true family of Jesus is constituted by those who follow the will of God – of which Mary is the model. Jesus does not reject the bond of blood kinship, but his commitment to the reign of God leads him to affirm the new and higher bond of spiritual kinship. Those who, in faith, submit to the will of God the Father are brothers and sisters and mothers to Jesus. They are true members of God’s family.

 

The following story, circulated on the Internet, shows how Mother Teresa of Calcutta testifies to how we can live in today’s world as true members of God’s family.

 

Jim Castle was tired when he boarded his plane in Cincinnati, Ohio, that night in 1981. The 45-year-old management consultant had put on a week-long series of business meetings and seminars, and now he sank gratefully into his seat, ready for the flight home to Kansas City, Kansas. As more passengers entered, the place hummed with conversation, mixed with the sound of bags being stowed. Then, suddenly, people fell silent. The quiet moved slowly up the aisle like an invisible wake behind a boat. Jim craned his head to see what was happening and his mouth dropped open. Walking up the aisle were two nuns clad in simple white habits bordered in blue. He recognized the familiar face of one at once, the wrinkled skin, and the eyes warmly intent. This was a face he’d seen in newscasts and on the cover of TIME. The two nuns halted, and Jim realized that his seat companion was going to be Mother Teresa!

 

As the last few passengers settled in, Mother Teresa and her companion pulled out rosaries. Each decade of the beads was a different color, Jim noticed. “The decades represented various areas of the world”, Mother Teresa told him later and added, “I pray for the poor and dying on each continent.”

 

The airplane taxied to the runway and the two women began to pray, their voices a low murmur. Though Jim considered himself not a very religious Catholic who went to church mostly out of habit, inexplicably he found himself joining in. By the time they murmured the final prayer, the plane had reached cruising altitude. Mother Teresa turned toward him. For the first time in his life, Jim understood what people meant when they spoke of a person possessing an “aura”. As she gazed at him, a sense of peace filled him; he could no more see it than he could see the wind but he felt it, just as surely as he felt a warm summer breeze. “Young man”, she inquired, “do you say the rosary often?” “No, not really”, he admitted. She took his hands, while her eyes probed his. Then she smiled. “Well, you will now.” And she dropped her rosary into his palm.

 

An hour later, Jim entered the Kansas City airport where he was met by his wife, Ruth. “What in the world?” Ruth asked when she noticed the rosary in his hand. They kissed and Jim described his encounter. Driving home, he said “I feel as if I met a true sister of God.”

 

Nine months later, Jim and Ruth visited Connie, a friend of theirs for several years. Connie confessed that she’d been told she had ovarian cancer. “The doctor says it’s a tough case”, said Connie, “but I’m going to fight it. I won’t give up.” Jim clasped her hand. Then, after reaching into his pocket, he gently twined Mother Teresa’s rosary around her fingers. He told her the story and said, “Keep it with you, Connie. It may help.” Although Connie wasn’t Catholic, her hand closed willingly around the small plastic beads. “Thank you”, she whispered. “I hope I can return it.”

 

More than a year passed before Jim saw Connie again. This time her face was glowing. She hurried toward him and handed him the rosary. “I carried it with me all year”, she said. “I’ve had surgery and have been on chemotherapy, too. Last month, the doctors did second-look surgery, and the tumor’s gone. Completely!” Her eyes met Jim’s. “I knew it was time to give the rosary back.”

      

 

B. First Reading (Ex 14:21-15:1): “The children of Israel marched into the midst of the sea on dry land.”

 

Today’s reading (Ex 14:21-15:1) recounts the awesome manifestation of divine power at the crossing of the Red Sea. This confirms the reality that the God of Israel is the Lord of all. As commanded, Moses stretches out his hand over the sea, resulting in a very special miracle. The water is divided, and the Israelites go through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on both sides. At this point, the Egyptian forces pursue the Israelites on the dry land. Moses then stretches out his hand over the sea and the returning waters engulf the Egyptians. This victory at sea enables the Israelites to acknowledge God’s saving intervention on their behalf. Moses and the Israelites thus sing the following song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.” The Lord’s deliverance of Israel at the Red Sea has clearly proved his dominion over all forces and manifests that he is the singular savior of Israel. By his passion, death, and glorification, Jesus Christ has brought to fulfillment the saving event of the Israelites’ crossing of the Red Sea, which prefigures it.

 

The “victory” that the Israelites experience at the crossing of the Red Sea continues to surface in our daily life, as the following story shows (cf. Sabra Ciancanelli, “July 5 Reflection” in Daily Guideposts 2010, p. 212).

 

My son Solomon was afraid of getting his head wet. Last summer when I signed him up for swim lessons, my husband and I spent many nights reassuring Solomon that he’d be fine.

 

On the morning of his first lesson, Solomon and I waited outside the community swimming pool. I gave him a hug and whispered, “You can do it!” Solomon put on a belt with floats and climbed down the ladder. He followed the instructor’s words carefully. When she asked him to blow bubbles in the water, without hesitation, he leaned in and blew.

 

In the following days Solomon learned to float and paddle. By the second week my concern eased, and I read a magazine as they practiced. At one point I looked up to check on Solomon and didn’t see him. I raced to the pool’s edge and fearfully searched the bottom. I was about to yell out to the instructor when I noticed the boy in front of me swimming gracefully with his face in the water. He was wearing the same kind of swimsuit as Solomon. Wait, that is Solomon! Look how beautifully he glides! I clapped and cheered, and my eyes filled with tears as Solomon reached the edge of the pool.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we truly belong to the family of God by our faith response and obedience to the Father’s will? By our work and deeds, do we strive to be a mother, brother or sister to Jesus present in today’s poor and needy?

 

2. Do we trust that the Lord is with us to protect us as we cross the raging waters of our life? Do we acclaim his saving power in our life?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus,

you are the beloved son of God.

Baptized into the community of faith,

we become members of God’s family.

Help us to live our baptismal consecration

and obediently follow the Father’s saving will

that we may truly be a part of the divine family.

Give us the grace to be a mother, brother or sister

to the poor and needy in today’s world

that we may merit your gift of spiritual kinship.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

God our Father,

the exodus of the Israelites through the Red Sea

manifests your saving power.

Let your marvelous power guide us

as we attempt to cross the desert of temptations

and to traverse the raging seas of our life.

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.

 

“For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Mt 12:50) //“I will sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant.” (Ex 15:1)

 

 

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

 

By your witness of charity and service to the people around you, let them know that you truly belong to the community of faith and that you are a brother, sister, or mother to Jesus. // Be attentive to the many “victories” in your daily life that you experience through divine grace, and be thankful to the Lord for them.    

 

 

*** *** ***

July 24, 2019: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (16); SAINT SHARBEL MAKHLUF, Priest

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Sows the Seed of God’s Word … He

Is the Bread from Heaven”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ex 16:1-5, 9-15 // Mt 13:1-9

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 13:1-9): “The seed produced grain a hundredfold.”

 

In today’s Gospel reading (Mt 13:1-23), the impressive image of the fruitful seed that yields a hundredfold underlines the mighty power of God’s saving plan. The Word of God, prefigured in the “seed” sown liberally by the sower, is Jesus Christ whose favorable saving action on our behalf is total and efficacious. The fruitfulness of the seed of the Word, however, involves not only the graciousness of the divine initiative but also the receptivity and personal response of the recipient.

 

The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, comment: “The word attests to God’s faithfulness, long patience, and assiduous labor for the unfolding of salvation offered to all humankind. This word comes from God, who created human beings free, and who made with them a covenant of love. Efficacious, indescribably fecund, this word demands from human beings a willing response made of openness, conversion, and ever- renewed trust in him who speaks it … Thanks to the generous manner in which it is sown, we see the extraordinary fecundity of a single seed encountering a bit of good soil; it gives fruit a hundred or sixty or thirty fold. Are these different yields due to chance or luck? Absolutely not, for it is in the human heart that the word is sown … If the word is not fruitful, it is due to the listeners’ poor disposition. The urgent appeal to each one’s responsibility must be welcomed with immense hope.”

 

The following gives insight into the dynamics of the sowing of the Word and the reaping of a fruitful harvest (cf. Harold Hostetler‘s April 15 Reflection in Daily Guideposts 2010, p. 120).

 

When I was a boy getting ready for school each morning, I often found my mother sitting at the kitchen table, reading her Bible. After seeing my father off to work in a Pennsylvania coal mine, she turned to the Good Book before making breakfast for her three children. I can still visualize her bowing her head over her well-worn King James Bible, eyes closed, chin resting on a half-clenched hand, probably praying for each of us.

 

It took twenty years from the time I left home before I gave my heart to Jesus, but when I did, the first thing I wanted to do was read the Bible. In nearly four decades since that eye-opening moment I’ve read God’s Word from cover to cover almost every year, in more than a dozen different translations. My favorite is the New International Version, maybe because I spent a year working for the International Bible Society during the time it was producing the NIV Study Bible and I was able to contribute some thoughts for its footnotes.

 

And today, as I finish yet another reading of Psalm 119, I can’t help but remember one of the reasons I feel do drawn to the Good Book.

 

Thanks, Mom.

  

 

B. First Reading (Ex 16:1-5, 9-15): “I will rain down bread from heaven for you.”

 

The reading (Ex 16:1-5, 9-15) depicts God’s act of graciousness upon the hard-headed Israelites. It is the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from Egypt and the people wandering in the desert are given to despair. They express a death wish that is tantamount to a rejection of God’s saving plan: “Would that we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!” Their grumblings manifest their lack of trust in the God who desires to lead them into the Promised Land. The Lord God, however, responds to their despair with an act of mercy. To the people’s complaint and hunger pangs, the Lord God promises relief and nourishment. God rains down bread from heaven that they may have their fill. He also sends quails from the sky to provide them with meat to eat. God’s gracious care of the people in the desert prefigures the ultimate care he gives to his people by sending his beloved Son Jesus Christ, the bread of life come down from heaven.

 

The following story illustrates the enormous care of God, especially for those who trust in him (cf. Lalia Winsett, “Baptist Minister” in Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul, ed. Jack Canfield, at. al. Deerfield Beach: Health Communications, Inc. 1997, p. 197).

 

I have a cousin who is a Baptist minister. When we were growing up, we only saw each other a couple of times a year. Now we see each other even less.

 

A few years ago, when I hadn’t seen him for some time, I suddenly began thinking about him and his family. I just couldn’t get them off my mind. And for some reason, I felt compelled to send him a check for $100. I thought about it for a few days and made more than one aborted trip to the post office. I finally mailed it with a letter saying I hope I wasn’t offending him, but I believed the Lord wanted me to do this.

 

A couple of weeks later I received a reply. My cousin said it never ceased to amaze him how God worked in his life. And now God had once again shown him, through us, that he will always meet our needs. My cousin said the only concern he had was that I sent too much. All he needed was $97.56.

 

 

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

 

1. Are we thankful for the goodness and generosity of Jesus the Sower, who casts the seed of the Kingdom everywhere and brings the Good News to all?  Do we endeavor to be the rich, welcoming soil that will make the seed of the Kingdom grow and bear abundant fruit?

 

2. Do we ever grumble and complain to God about anything? What does this say with regards to our faith relationship with God?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you have sown the seed of the living Word.

Let it find a fertile ground.

You have called us to broadcast the saving Word.

We trust in the power of your Word.

Let the sown seed produce a hundred-fold.

Make us faithful prophets

and servants of the Word.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

Almighty God,

how gracious you are

and how marvelous is you saving plan!

You responded with care and kindness

to the hunger pangs of the Israelites.

You have provided for their needs.

You rained down bread from heaven

to satisfy their hunger.

We too are hungry for spiritual food

and you send Jesus Christ,

the bread of eternal life.

We thank you for this marvelous gift.

Grant that, in being nourished by this gift,

we may be transformed

and become living “Eucharist”.

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.

 

“Some seed fell on rich soil.” (Mt 13:8) //I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.” (Ex 16:4)

 

 

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

 

To help appreciate more deeply the generous kindness of Jesus, the Sower of God’s Kingdom, make an effort to spend some moments of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. // Today when you are tempted to complain against God and grumble, keep in mind how good and gracious he is. Resolve to trust him in your deep needs.

 

*** *** ***

 

July 25, 2019: THURSDAY – SAINT JAMES, APOSTLE

 “JESUS SAVIOR: His Apostles Share in His Passion

and Are the Earthen Vessels of His Grace”

 

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

2 Cor 4:7-15 // Mt 20:20-28

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 20:20-28): “You shall indeed drink my cup.”

 

The meaning of today’s Gospel account (Mt 20:20-28) can be understood if we consider the prophecy of the passion that precedes it (verses 12-19). The request of James and John to sit at Jesus’ right and left in glory is totally inappropriate in the context of the prediction regarding his imminent passion as the Suffering Servant. The Divine Master responds to their obtuseness by challenging them: “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” (Mt 20:22). Since the image of the cup is a symbol of his forthcoming passion and death, we can deduce that Jesus is inviting them to participate in his paschal destiny. Indeed, discipleship is an intimate sharing in his role as the suffering Servant of Yahweh. Through this the Christian disciples share in his glory.

 

The apostle James, whose feast we celebrate today, has drunk the “cup” of passion and participated in Christ’s paschal destiny. The following notes about this saint, circulated on the Internet, are very interesting.

 

St. James the Greater was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, a son of Zebedee. He and his older brother John were called by Jesus while fixing their nets at the Lake of Genesaret. They received from Christ the name "Boanerges," meaning "sons of thunder," for their impetuosity. The gospel relates that James was present for the miracle of Jairo's daughter, the Transfiguration, and later with Jesus during His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

 

The Acts of the Apostles relates that the Apostles dispersed to different regions to take the Good News to the people of God. Sister Maria de Jesus de Agreda was a Franciscan religious who received revelations from Jesus. It was revealed to her that St. James the Greater went to Spain to evangelize. He went first to Galicia, where he established a Christian community, and later to the Roman city of Cesar Augusto, today known as Zaragoza. It is believed that on January 2nd, in the year 40 A.D., St. James and his disciples were resting on the shore of the Egro River when they started to hear sweet voices singing. They saw the sky fill up with light and many angels coming near them. The angels were carrying a throne on which the Queen of Heaven and earth was sitting. This was extraordinary, for Mary was living at that time in Jerusalem, making her appearance to them in Spain a bilocation. The Blessed Virgin told St. James to build a sanctuary where God would be honored and glorified, and gave him a pillar with her image to be placed in the sanctuary. The Blessed Virgin also told St. James that the sanctuary would remain until the end of time and that she would bless all the prayers offered devoutly in this place. At the end of the apparition, Our Lady said to St. James that when the sanctuary was finished, he should return to Palestine where he would die.

 

St. James fulfilled the desires of the Blessed Virgin Mary and constructed the first Christian Church in the entire world. St. James returned to Palestine, where he was decapitated by order of Herod on the 25th of March during a persecution of the Church in Jerusalem. According to tradition, the accuser of St. James, who led him to judgment, was so moved by St. James’ confession before his death that he converted and was willingly beheaded with the Apostle. His disciples recovered his body and transported it to Galicia without anyone’s knowledge in a miraculous boat guided by God.

 

In the Old Testament, Jacob constructed an altar for God naming it Bethel, which means "House of God" (Gen. 35:7). Jacob is a Greek name, and translated to Spanish, the name means James. Jacob constructed the "House of God” and St. James parallels his namesake with the construction of the first "House of God” of the New Covenant.

 

St. James' tomb was forgotten for over 800 years. Under the rule of Alfonso II (789-842), a hermit named Pelagio received a vision revealing the tomb of St. James. On July 25th, 812, the spot where the tomb was revealed to be was filled with a bright light. Because of this, it has since been known as Campostela, which means "Field of Light." The bishop of Iria Flavia, Theodomir, after investigating, declared that these were truly the remains of St. James in the tomb. In 1884 Pope Leo XIII, in a Papal Bull, declared that the remains of St. James were at Campostela.

 

St. James the Greater is also known as "Matamoros," Spanish for “killer of the Moors.” It is known that his intercession helped the people on various occasions against the threat of the Moors, especially in 1492 when Spain was re-conquered.

 

 

B. First Reading (II Cor 4:7-15): “We carry always in our bodies the death of Jesus.”

 

In today’s First Reading (II Cor 4:7-15), Saint Paul underlines the reality of human frailty and weakness and its limpid capacity to manifest the power of God. In the context of his experience with the contentious Corinthian community, the apostle is truly an “earthen vessel” because of his limitations. His critics despise him as not qualified for the apostolic task. Thus Paul, whose qualifications for the apostolate come from God and not from human origin, both concedes his poverty and underlines the divine power at work in that very poverty. He admits he is an “earthen vessel” – yes - but a treasure-bearing “earthen vessel”. In spite of our human limitations, God choose us to be bearers of his spiritual treasure. He wills to manifest through us the supreme power that belongs to him alone.

 

The apostle Paul then underlines what it means to be a treasure-bearing “earthen vessel”. He was afflicted but not constrained, perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. Death-dealing situations seek to overwhelm him, but never succeed because he is totally united with Jesus in his life-giving passion. In union with the Christ’s paschal mystery, Paul’s ministry is bearing fruit in the believing Corinthians. Indeed, God the Father who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with him. This will cause thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.

 

Like the apostles Paul and James, we are called to be “earthen vessels” of God’s grace. The following personal account is an example of what it means to be Christ’s “earthen vessels” in today’s world (cf. Fr. Emmet Murphy, “The Franciscan Journey” in The Anthonian, Winter 2012-2013, p. 29-30).

 

Although I was raised at St. Agnes in Arlington, Mass., a parish staffed by diocesan priests, I was one of the nine candidates who joined the Franciscans of Holy Name in 1951. St. Anthony’s Shrine in downtown Boston happened to be my first contact with the friars. Their joy and ministry immediately impressed me. After working for ten years as a salesman in Boston, I entered the Franciscan Brothers training program. (…)

 

All in all, I spent 13 fruitful and happy years at St. Francis Church, but my journey with the friars was not without its heartaches and pitfalls. Along the way I had neglected my early lessons in discipline and prayer and developed an addiction to alcohol, which completely unraveled my religious life. I was urged to take a leave of absence in order to bring peace to my chaotic life.

 

After an absence of two years, I was readmitted to the life of a friar and asked to consider entering into a new apostolate to help poor people in Philadelphia with Father Roderic Petrie, OFM. Soon, Father Robert Struzynski, OFM, joined us. After surveying the needs, we searched for a building in the impoverished Kensington section of the city that was to become St. Francis Inn. We bought an old tavern below the Market Frankford elevated train line for $9,000 and immediately set out to renovate the building. The first floor was the kitchen and dining room, the second floor to be rooms for the friars.

 

On December 16, 1979, the first day we opened this ministry to the poor so dear to the heart of St. Francis, we fed 29 people. Since then St. Francis Inn has been open every day of the year, and last year the permanent staff of four friars, two Franciscan Sisters and three dedicated laywomen plus a host of volunteers served nearly 150,000 hot, nourishing meals to families and to single men and women – some unemployed but most of them retired persons who cannot survive on their fixed incomes – and to others trapped by addictions, as I had been.

 

It was in Philly that I felt called to priesthood. I enrolled at St. Francis College for philosophy studies and Pope John XXIII for theology. I was ordained to the priesthood in 1986 at the ripe age of 52. Last June, at age 78, I took up residence at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., after having spent almost four years in the large, very active Franciscan parish in Raleigh, N.C. I served as one of the North Carolina State prison chaplains, ministering to death row and general population inmates. I found the Raleigh’s Catholic community warm and friendly as they opened their homes and hearts to me.

 

My current priestly ministry has been in the Ministry of the Word; that is, preaching parish missions and leading Twelve Steps retreats. At times, I am also called to help out in neighboring parishes.

 

As I look back, I consider my life a blessed and incredulous journey … I would do it all over again!

 

 

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

 

Are we willing to drink the cup of Christ’s passion that we might have a share in his glory?

 

 

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

 

Almighty Father,

by the martyrdom of St. James

you blessed the work of the early Church.

May his profession of faith give us courage

and his prayers bring us strength.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” (Mt 20:22)

 

 

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

 

Pray for the strength to drink the cup of passion and salvation. In today’s secularized world, be ready to give witness to your Catholic faith when you are challenged.

 

*** *** ***

 

July 26, 2019: FRIDAY – SAINTS JOACHIM AND ANNE, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Helps Them Understand … He Is

the Rule of Life”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ex 20:1-17 // Mt 13:18-23

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 13:18-23): “The one who understands the word and understands it will bear much fruit.”

 

The Gospel (Mt 13:18-23) tells us that without spoon-feeding them, the Divine Master helps his disciples delve into the meaning of the parable of the sower. He underlines that the growth of the seeds of the kingdom depend on various factors. But the clincher is the fruitful result of the seeds that fall into good soil. This refers to authentic disciples of Jesus who hear the word of God, make an effort to understand and glean its personal implication, and let the Gospel bear abundant fruit in their life.

 

The miracle of the fruitful seeds lives on through the work of Christian disciples who sow and promote the spirit of the Gospel in the here and now. The story of Papa Mike, founder of the Poverello House in Fresno, gives insight into this (cf. Poverello House, May 2012, p. 1-2).

 

A man named Ed was the victim of growing neighborhood violence. An older man who had been on the streets for many years, he recently got a place to stay. He still comes here to eat, and as he was leaving one day, two young men accosted him not too far from Poverello. They beat him, knocked out a tooth or two, and took his money.

 

When he told me about it, he was understandably angry. He wanted to get his gun and take his revenge. In his younger days, I have no doubt that Ed would have done just that. However, I was able to talk him down and help him try to see the big picture, how shooting these men would cause him even more grief. Thankfully, Ed listened to me. (…) I believe that I’ve done at least a little of what the Good Lord put me here to do.

          

 

B. First Reading (Ex 20:1-17): “The law was given through Moses.”

 

Maryknoll magazine, published by Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, never fails to inspire me. In its March 2006 issue, Sean Sprague presents the laudable work of Christine Bodewes, a Maryknoll lay missioner in Kenya (cf. “Sowing Seeds in the Slums”, p. 32-34). Eight years ago, Christine left her Chicago law firm and went to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi to run a legal aid clinic. Many of her cases involved defending the slum dwellers’ rights to their land. Four years later, she responded to an invitation from the Mexican Guadalupe Fathers to set up a human rights office in Christ the King Parish, in the heart of Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi.

 

Christine narrated, “I spent a year trying to understand the complex ethnic, political, social and economic issues of Kibera. I didn’t have a strategy, but I spent a lot of time listening to people. I saw that human rights education was the key to the ministry.” She therefore networked and pulled together a part-time team of volunteering professional Kenyan lawyers, who created a curriculum to teach civic education to people who were ignorant of their rights. Later she was able to hire four full-time, paid employees, all Kibera residents, and they broadened their civic education curriculum to include the teachings of the Church. The recent addition to the team is a full-time Kenyan lawyer, Dorothy Ombajo.

 

Christine remarks: “Christ the King office of human rights is one of the best human rights groups in Kenya. The people feel blessed having a lawyer who understands their problems. There has been a huge increase in people coming to the office, especially children, about rape, sodomy and being thrown out of school … I also feel great pride in our human rights team. My goal has been to plant the seeds. These people can change the world.” Christine Bodewes is aglow with joy because, through her ministry as a lawyer, she was able to harness the spirit of the civil law to promote human rights and serve the good of people, especially the poor.

 

The first reading of today’s liturgy (Ex 20:1-17) is also about the law – the divine law given through Moses. It is about the Decalogue – also called the Ten Commandments - the fundamental law that regulates the moral life of the people of Israel. This rule of life, an expression of Yahweh’s passionate love for his chosen people, is meant to deepen his covenantal relationship with them and protect their identity as a people consecrated to him alone. The purpose of the Ten Commandments is to establish a righteous relationship between God and his people, and between the various members of his people. The God who delivered his people from oppressive slavery in Egypt had given them this moral code as an opportunity to love him and their neighbors, not just in words, but above all, in deeds.

 

In an astounding revelation of divine love, the new and everlasting covenant would be inaugurated by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross and by his glorious rising to life. One characteristic of this new covenant in the blood of Christ is the “interiorization” of religion: the Law is no longer to be a code regulating external activity, but an inspiration working on the heart of man, under the influence of the spirit of God, - the spirit of Love - who gives us a “new heart”. Indeed, though the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through the incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 1:16) - the ultimate Rule of Life.

 

 

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

 

1. Do I intend to be good soil that promotes the growth and fruitfulness of the seeds of God’s kingdom?

 

2. What is our attitude to the Ten Commandments given to us by God? Do we consider it merely as a moral code, or do we treasure it as a gift of covenantal love? What do we do personally to help “interiorize” the spirit of the Ten Commandments? What is our response to Jesus Christ, who has ratified the new and everlasting covenant in his blood? How do we follow and reverence him as the total and ultimate Rule of Life?

 

 

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

 

O loving Jesus,

you sow the seeds of God’s kingdom.

Let me be like the good soil

that promotes their growth and fruitfulness.

Teach me to open myself

to the miracle of life that you bring.

Give me true understanding of the message of salvation.

Help me to sow the seeds of your saving word

in the here and now.

We love you and praise you, now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

Gracious Father,

your commands spring forth from covenant love.

You have the words of everlasting life.

In the death of your Son Jesus Christ,

your definitive saving word,

you have revealed the depths of your love.

Help us to follow unreservedly your Son,

the Rule of Life.

By the gift of his life on the cross,

which brought forth the new covenant,

cleanse us from what draws us away from you.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.    

 

 

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

 

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

 

“But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit.” (Mt 13:21) //“For I, the Lord, your God, bestow mercy down to the thousandth generation on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Ex 20:6)  

 

 

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

 

Reflect on what you can do to share the word of salvation with the people around you. Do what you can to make the Internet a forum of evangelization. // Pray for the conversion and enlightenment of those who disregard the commandments of God, either willfully or through ignorance. Study the incredibly enriching and inspiring chapters of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Ten Commandments. 

    

 

*** *** ***

July 27, 2019: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (16); BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Will Separate the Weeds from the Wheat … His Is the Blood of the New Covenant”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ex 24:3-8 // Mt 13:24-30

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 13:24-30): “Let them grow together until harvest.”

 

In today’s Gospel (Mt 13:24-30) we hear the parable of the weeds among the wheat. It underlines that those who endeavor to live faithfully in this world are surrounded by those who do not. But Jesus, the sower of the good seed and the Lord of the harvest, wants us to trust that the wheat can withstand the weeds and even be stronger for it. The parable also tells us about the patience of God, who is compassionate. He allows the weeds to grow with the wheat until harvest time, when the weeds will be separated and burned and the wheat stored and treasured in the barn. He does not easily condemn, but rather, is kindly disposed to give us a chance to prove our true worth. The society in general and the Church in particular have a “mixed bag” quality. They contain side by side the best and the worst as well as the sinners and the saints. The Jesuit bible scholar Fr. Nil Guillemette comments: “Let us not forget, too, that the mixture of good and bad is not only in society at large and in the Church in particular; it is also in our own hearts. We ourselves are a mixture of weeds and wheat. By admitting this to ourselves, we can become less judgmental and more compassionate about our neighbors’ weeds.”

 

The following stories about “streaky people” are funny, but give us idea of the need to be less judgmental and more compassionate in dealing with the people around us (cf. Anthony de Mello, The Song of the Bird, New York: Image Books, 1984, p. 129).

 

A preacher put this question to a class of children: “If all the good people were white and all the bad people were black, what color would you be?”

 

Little Mary Jane replied, “Reverend, I’d be streaky!”

 

So would the preacher. So would the mahatmas, popes, and saints.

 

***

 

A man was looking for a good church to attend and he happened to enter one in which the congregation and the preacher were reading from their prayer book. They were saying, “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.”

 

The man dropped into a seat and sighed with relief as he said to himself, “Thank goodness, I’ve found my crowd at last.”

 

Attempts to hide your streakiness will sometimes be successful, always dishonest.

 

 

B. First Reading (Ex 24:3-8): “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you.”

 

When I was a student in elementary grades, one of my favorite subjects was Social Studies. I enjoyed Philippine History and was enthralled when I saw a painting entitled, “The Blood Compact”. It showed the Spanish conquistador, Legazpi and a local chieftain, Rajah Lakandula seated at a table, with a cup and a knife lying on top of it. Their arms were bleeding. According to the explanation of our teacher, they were having a blood compact. They were sharing a drink, mixed with each other’s blood, from a common cup to ratify a compact or a covenant. They were to treat each other as blood brothers and share a life at the level of intimate friendship. The succeeding events of Philippine history, however, would show that the meaning of the blood compact they had made was not really respected. Spain subjugated the Philippines and made it a colony.

  

            The Church invites us today to focus our attention on the meaning of the new and eternal covenant that Christ ratified with his sacrificial blood. The Old Testament reading (Ex 24:3-8) provides us with a deeper perspective on the meaning of the new, definitive and everlasting covenant in his blood. The biblical scholar, Eugene Maly comments: “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you … When Moses pronounced those words at the foot of Mt. Sinai, they must have struck an awesome note in the minds and hearts of the Hebrew people standing about. They had just seen Moses splash half of the blood of the young sacrificed bulls on the altar that symbolized God. The rest of the blood he sprinkled on them. That strikes us as a strange rite, indeed. But it had a powerful meaning for those people. The blood, as always in the Scriptures, symbolized life. Sprinkled on the altar and on the people, it symbolized a community of life shared by God and Israel. God, moved only by love, was making a covenant with them. He shared his life; they responded by keeping his law. The religious experience was what constituted Israel as a unique people, God’s special people. Though they did not realize it at the time, that covenant was an anticipation of another and new covenant, whereby a new people of God would be constituted, this time with no restrictions as to race or nationality. Blood was to be a symbol of the new covenant, too. The new covenant is, of course, the one made by God through Jesus Christ with all people. And the blood of Christ, shed on Calvary, symbolizes the new life God shares with us.”

 

Blood is life in its most elemental form. The Italian-born, liturgical theologian Romano Guardini explains: “Blood belongs to God, the Lord of all life. The flowing of the sacrificial blood in the Old Testament is an acknowledgment of His sovereignty … It is simply the recognition and prayerful acknowledgment that God alone is Lord! Upon the conception of streaming blood as an expression of ultimate obedience, then, God places His covenant … We are Christians because of a covenant. This thought must complement the other, more familiar concept of rebirth and the new creation. Covenant and rebirth: individual dignity and responsibility, and the abundance of the new life. The two great concepts belong together, for they mutually sustain one another.”

  

Romano Guardini concludes: “Holy Mass is the commemoration of God’s new covenant with men. Awareness of this gives the celebration an added significance that is most salutary. To keep this thought in mind is to remind ourselves that Christ’s sacrificial death opened for us the new heaven and the new earth; that there exists between Him and us a contract based not on nature or talent or religious capacity, but on grace and freedom; that it is binding from person to person, loyalty to loyalty. At every Mass we should reaffirm that contract and consciously take our stand in it.”

 

 

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

 

1. Do we try not to be judgmental, but to be patient and compassionate with the weeds and the wheat that grow side by side within our world, our Church and ourselves?

 

2. Do I try to glean the true meaning of God’s covenant love for us? Do I render praise and thanksgiving for the saving blood of Christ that constituted us into God’s holy people? What are concrete implications for me as a participant in the blood of the new eternal covenant?  

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

you are patient and kind.

You let the weeds grow with the wheat until harvest time.

Help us to manifest the beautiful qualities of the good wheat.

Judge us favorably and bring us home.

Gather us into the barn of your kingdom

that we may render fitting worship to God

with all the saints in heaven.

We love and serve you,

now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

Father,

you have brought to fulfillment the work of our redemption

through the paschal mystery of Christ your Son.

May we who faithfully proclaim his death and resurrection

in the sacramental signs

of “bread broken and shared” and of “the cup of eternal covenant”

experience the constant growth of your salvation in our lives.

May the Eucharist be for us

the sign of unity and the bond of charity.

By the body and blood of Christ

join all peoples of all races and diverse cultures in brotherly love.

May we be faithful to your covenant love

and observe your law and commands which lead to everlasting life.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.

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.

 

“Gather the wheat into my barn.” (Mt 13:30) //“This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you.” (Ex 24:8)

 

 

 

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

 

Be patient with the foibles of the people around you. In your dealings with them, manifest the good qualities that will inspire them to be better persons. // Endeavor to protect the rights of all people for whom the blood of Christ was poured out. When you receive communion from the cup make an effort to appreciate the covenant dimension of our being the people of God.

 

*** 

 

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


Mother House - Home - About Us  - Liturgical Center - Pauline Family - New Logo -

Young Vocations - Nicaragua & Costa Rica - Lectio Divina - Eucharistic Adoration - Updated Events -

LA Convent Blessing - LA Project - Study Links