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A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy



N.B. The Lectio Divina for the Nineteenth  Week in Ordinary Time and for the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time is ready. You can access it by going to ARCHIVES "Year B - Series 19" (cf. above) and click on "Ordinary Week 19" and "Ordinary Week 20".


Please go to our website and click on "PDDM Internet Library". It contains the Lectio Divina of all the readings for the Sunday Cycle (A, B & C) and the Weekday Cycle (I & II). A fruit of 12 years apostolic work, this pastoral tool is most useful for liturgy preparation.


Please go to our website and click on "Guardian of the Redeemer". You will hear the hymn tone we have composed for Pope Francis' Prayer to Saint Joseph and you will be able to download the music sheet.






Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time: August 1-7, 2021



(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 25-31, 2021 please go to ARCHIVES Series 19 and click on “Ordinary Time Week 17”.



August 1-7, 2021.)


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“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Bread of Life”



 Ex 16:2-4, 12-15 // Eph 4:17, 20-24 // Jn 6:24-35





A. Gospel Reading (Jn 6:24-35): “Whoever comes to me will not hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

One of the great blessings that America has received is food in abundance. In my native country, the Philippines, the daily anxiety of millions of poor people is where to get food to assuage their hunger. Scavengers rummage through filthy garbage cans to look for something to eat. Hungry children would ply the streets begging for food. I was standing on a busy street corner in Manila waiting for a ride when two small boys approached me begging for alms. I asked them whether they would like something to eat. They nodded their heads vigorously. I retrieved from my bag two huge sandwiches, plump with chicken salad filling, that a friend gave me at a thesis defense that I had just attended. The kids ran away munching on the sandwiches. After three minutes they came back with their half-eaten sandwiches, radiant with smiles and exclaiming gratefully, “Salamat, Sister! Masarap!” (“Thank you, Sister! Delicious!”). Then off they went again. I felt good that my little beneficiaries came back to thank me for the gift of bread I shared with them.

            In today’s Gospel reading (Jn 6:24-35), the evangelist John tells us that the crowd Jesus fed on the other side of the lake got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. The beneficiaries of the loaves of bread and the fish were searching for him. They came back to Jesus, not to thank him, but for a mere material motive: as the source of an unlimited supply of bread and material goods. After experiencing the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, they wanted to make him their breadbasket king (cf. Jn 6:15). 

Jesus, however, saw through it all and admonished them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw the signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled” (Jn 6:26). Indeed, Jesus wanted to raise their minds from purely earthly concerns to that which leads to eternal life. That is why he exhorted his superficially intentioned beneficiaries: “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal” (Jn 6:27). To work for “the food that endures for eternal life” is in accordance with the will of God; it is to accomplish the works of God. Jesus asserted: “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent” (Jn 6:29).

To the perplexed crowd asking for a “sign” that they might believe in him, Jesus responded by directing their attention to “the bread of heaven” that God sends for the life of the world, a gift that surpasses the manna that God rained down from heaven on the people of Israel, journeying through the wilderness in the time of Moses. And to the people’s inevitable plea to Jesus: “Sir, give us this bread always”, the climactic response was an astounding auto-revelation: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (Jn 6:24). Indeed, as the liturgical assembly listens anew to the dramatic assertion, “I am the bread of life”, they experience once more the vital presence of Jesus in the Eucharist as “the bread of life” and the actualization in the “here and now” of the saving paschal event: Christ offering his body on the cross in death, so that we might live.  

Today’s Gospel reading has a tremendous relevance for our world and society. According to statistics, half of the people of the world go to bed hungry every night and by the end of today, 60,000 more people will die of hunger. Harold Buetow comments: “Bad as things are, the unrecognized hunger for God is even worse …And we still hunger for things beyond food: for forgiveness, for reconciliation, for kindness, for restoration in relationships, for justice, for joy in place of bitterness and cynicism, for peace, for unity – in short, for taking away the emptiness of our lives … Jesus is the way to eternal life. Unless we fill ourselves with him, we’re not just empty and hungry: We’re spiritually dead.” 

We need to go to Jesus. He will satisfy the pangs of our inmost spiritual hunger and yearning for meaning and eternal destiny. In offering himself to us as the bread of life, he is appealing to our faith, to our personal response and free commitment to follow him. At the Eucharistic banquet, Jesus invites us to the table of plenty in which he sets himself as the spiritual food: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (Jn 6:35). 


B. First Reading (Ex 16:2-4, 12-15): “I will rain down bread from heaven for you.”


Today’s liturgy of the Word continues to underline God’s unmitigated compassion and relentless care for his people. The recipients of God’s abounding love, however, are not always grateful, trustful and faithful. In the Old Testament reading (Ex 16:2-4, 12-15), the newly liberated Israelites – distressed by the desperate situations in the wilderness – forget the wonderful works of God and his benevolence. They begin to grumble against Moses and Aaron. Full of hunger and discontent, they languish and yearn for the old fleshpots of Egypt. Unable to trust in divine providence, they prefer the chains of bondage in exchange for daily bread. How fickle they are and slow to trust in their loving Redeemer!


But to the people’s complaint and murmuring, the Lord God responds with prompt relief. He sends manna and quail from heaven as nourishment. The people are hungry and the good Lord answers their yearning for bread and meat by supplying the manna and quail. In responding to the needs of his people, the God of Israel continues to accomplish his saving plan. He is indeed a loving and provident God who appeals to their faith and to the free commitment to follow him.


Today’s Exodus episode is also an invitation to be grateful for the gifts God bestows upon us. The following account gives insight into how to be more mindful of his gifts (cf. Joshua Sundquist in Daily Guideposts 2014, p. 59).


Here are two of my favorite things: salads and multitasking. So combining them is like a cosmic explosion of awesomeness – until this happened.


I was sitting at one of the neighborhood restaurants, eating a bowlful of spinach, grilled chicken, raw beets, roasted Parmesan, and spicy lime dressing.


Meanwhile, my brain was working on overdrive, running through to-do lists for the rest of the day and thinking of witty observations to post on Twitter. My fingers were pecking at my phone, checking e-mail. I was getting things done; I was happy.


And then it hit me: I couldn’t taste my salad. Or rather, I hadn’t tasted it for several minutes. I hadn’t noticed the crunchy umami flavor of the toasted Parmesan. I hadn’t sensed the tangy spice of the dressing on my tongue. I was not experiencing one iota of pleasure from this salad.


I’ve heard about slowing down and living in the moment, but I had always assumed this sort of advice came from inefficient people, the nonmultitaskers of the world. Sitting there, eating my salad, I realized, though, that if I didn’t notice the gifts God was offering me in that moment, I was not merely opening myself to stress and being overwhelmed, I was forgoing the pleasures that moment had to offer.


So I turned off my phone and, as best I could, my brain as well, looked at my colorful salad, and thanked God for its delicious explosion of flavor.



C. Second Reading (Eph 4:17, 20-24): “Put on the new self that has been created in God’s way.”

The Bread of life – Jesus Christ – is God the Father’s benevolent gift to satisfy our deepest hungers for things beyond food: for forgiveness and reconciliation, for kindness and healing, for justice and harmony, for joy in place of bitterness and cynicism, for peace and unity. The Eucharistic Lord is the Bread of spiritual renewal and the true nourishment for eternal life. In order to receive him as the true Bread of life, we need to be renewed in heart and mind. According to Saint Paul, we must get rid of the “old self” and must put on the “new self”, which is created in God’s likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy (cf. Second Reading, Eph 4:17, 20-24).


Harold Buetow remarks: “The perception in the letter to the Ephesians that the world is so turned in upon itself as not to be able to see God is, sadly still true. As a matter of fact, many material problems are caused in part by spiritual ones. Hunger in today’s world, for example, is not caused by our planet lacking the physical resources to provide food; it is because we have not the spirit to distribute our material resources properly … Let us each of us do our part to change ourselves and to turn the world around … Our real hunger will not be satisfied by the dryness, emptiness, and alienation of our greedy and materialistic society, which T.S. Eliot called the Wasteland. In short, let us do what the letter to the Ephesians preached: put on the new self, created in God’s way (v. 24).”


The following article by John Feister, “The Eucharistic Faith of Actor Clarence Gilyard” illustrates the transformation of Clarence and how the Eucharist became a bread of spiritual renewal for him (cf. St. Anthony Messenger, April 2009, p. 23-26).


Sometimes all that it takes for a person to find the Eucharist is the invitation of a friend – and the grace of God. That’s what happened to Hollywood celebrity Clarence Gilyard. Raised in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, he left religion behind during the years he became famous acting alongside Jim Carrey (The Duck Factory), Tom Cruise (Top Gun), Bruce Willis (Die Hard) and on TV, most famously co-starring with Andy Griffith (Matlock), then Chuck Norris (Walker, Texas Ranger). (…)


In spite of his success, or perhaps because of it, there were problems. Clarence’s behavior was not proper for a married man: “My wife left me because I started to have an affair”, he admits. She took the children and wanted a divorce. Clarence got a wake-up call. “I was speaking a different language than the language of truth and accountability”, he says. Now he was sleepless: “Sure, I was hot as far as television was concerned. But I didn’t have my two babies. I didn’t have my wife. I was in Dallas; they were in Marina del Rey, California. She was filing for divorce.”


It was as much as he could do to go to work each day, he recounts. He ended the extramarital affair and got into a therapy group. “The only thing that was comforting was being in the presence of somebody where I could talk about my pain, then being with a group of people who were talking of their pain”, he remembers. Someone in the group invited Clarence to go to Mass with him. “So I went to a 5:30 Mass at St. Rita’s in Dallas.” Sunday evening was a hard time for him to be at church, because he was so mindful of everything from the weekend and days, even years, preceding that. He had spent a lot of time on his knees, alone, in his anguish. Now he had to go to his knees in the presence of everyone. “I was in the assembly with everyone, acknowledging …” His voice trails off.


“I don’t know how many Catholics are aware of why we are on our knees in the presence of Jesus”, he continues. “That’s where I needed to be. Mother Church allows that and informs us that way”, he says. “It is one of the great gifts.” Being near the Eucharist made Clarence intensely aware of the presence of God, he explains. “It’s all about the presence of God in the consecrated host. Otherwise, it’s just a building. If Jesus is not present, it’s a sham”, he says. But Jesus is present, he knows: “I experienced it that day and to this day. To this day, it is what sustains me.”


He describes “needing” to go to daily Mass, and when he slips, he recommits himself to the practice. He had known God’s mercy, God’s grace. Back in the early 90’s, when his religious awakening had occurred, he soon got himself to a priest: “I dumped everything out” and after it was all over, he was “in a state of grace”, he says. The priest told him, “You’re in a great place, kid.” “I’ve never forgotten that.” That Jesuit counseled Clarence into an RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) program for joining the Catholic Church and gave him some booklets for daily prayer.


His friend from therapy, whose privacy Clarence protects, invited Clarence to come to be with his family on Sundays when Clarence wasn’t invited back to be with his own family in California. “I would spend Sunday afternoon, then we’d go to Mass. They taught me the Rosary.” Then he would drive back to work for the week.


Over the course of the RCIA, Clarence developed a hunger for the Eucharist. “I so much wanted the Body of Christ”, he recalls. Since he was traveling overseas that Easter, he delayed his reception into Church until the following Christmas, the day after his own birthday, eight years ago. (…)


Along his life’s journey, Clarence Gilyard, the dramatist, has discovered a role, he says, “attracting people to God’s presence in my life”. The Eucharist is his food along the way. With a grateful heart, he adds, along with so many Christians who found their way home before him, “We are the Body of Christ.”





What are the various hungers we are experiencing personally and as a community? What are the deepest hungers of humanity today? How do we respond to Jesus’ declaration and invitation: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst?”





Lord Jesus, bread of life,

we long for the fullness of life.

Fill our hearts with your presence

and help us to look forward to the joy of eternal feasting.

Thank you for nourishing us

at the table of the Word and the Eucharist.

Grant us the grace to be personally involved

in alleviating the hunger pangs of today’s poor.

You are the heavenly food

to nourish us in our pilgrimage to eternal life.

We yearn for the blessed day

when we will be united with you and the Father,

in the love of the Spirit.

You live and reign, forever and ever.






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


            “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (Jn 6:24-35)





Identify the most painful “hunger” that your community is experiencing. Beg the Lord to give you the grace to help alleviate this “hunger”. 


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SAVIOR: He Multiplies the Five Loaves and Two Fish … He Carries the Burden of Leadership”



Nm 11:4b-15 // Mt 14:13-21





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 14:13-21): “Looking up to heaven, he said the blessing and gave the loaves to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds..”


The Gospel episode (Mt 14:13-21) depicts Jesus’ “banquet” of the loaves and fish in a deserted place in Galilee near the sea. The miraculous banquet laid out by Jesus the Master-Shepherd points to the Eucharistic feast and the dawning of messianic salvation. In the superabundance of the multiplied loaves and the twelve baskets filled with leftovers is a sign of the copious spiritual nourishment and the unfailing Eucharistic food that Jesus offers to hungry crowds over the course of centuries. Our sense of faith is heartened by the remarkable quality of Jesus’ banquet of the loaves and fish, especially of what it prefigures – the Eucharist. Moreover, in the miraculous event of the multiplication of the “five loaves and two fish”, Jesus is forming his disciples’ faith in preparation for their role as pastors and givers of nourishment to the ecclesial community.


The Lord of the feast and Eucharistic banquet is Christ Jesus, who invites us to share at the table of the Word and Sacraments. As his beloved and privileged disciples, he summons us to bring his spiritual nourishment to the “hungry” crowd of today’s world. He is the gracious host who transforms our paltry, humble supply of “five loaves and two fish” into a table of plenty. In our vocation as Christian believers in the modern world, he assures us that with only “five loaves and two fish” and by his grace, we will be able to respond to the “hungers” of today’s anguished and restless modern society. If only we turn to Jesus Host in faith, our poverty will be transformed into spiritual riches for the benefit of the world’s poor and their salvation. Indeed, the miracle of “superabundance” begins with “little”. In his compassion, the power of God – through Christ and the Holy Spirit - is actively and marvelously at work in us, embracing our poverty and multiplying the meager resources we lovingly place at his disposal.


The following modern day account teaches us that with God we can do all and that the miraculous sign of “multiplication” can be experienced even now (cf. Lisa Beech, “A Lesson in Multiplication” in Guideposts, March 2014, p. 23).


Last year I joined San Francisco’s City Impact, a nondenominational group doing outreach to inner-city residents. This was my first day visiting a public housing complex. The leader put me and another newbie in charge of handing out groceries. My partner and I agreed we had the best job. Who didn’t love food, especially when they couldn’t afford much of it?


“Not everyone will need some”, our leader reminded us. “We’re also just here to talk, check in with people, pray with them if they want. It’s about showing love.”


The people on our assigned floors seemed happy to see us and our big box of supplies when we knocked – all except one. “I have company”, he said. “Sorry. I have to go.” He shut the door before we’d even had time to offer him anything. Which might have been for the best. Our box is almost empty. “We’re going to run out of food!” I said. “We must be giving people too much.”


My partner and I looked at each other in alarm. Had we messed everything up? We had a whole floor of apartments left to visit! Lord, I said silently, you fed the five thousand. Could you multiply this food the way you did the loaves and the fishes?”


“I asked God to multiply the food”, I whispered to my partner. “Me too!” he whispered back. Visit by visit our supplies dwindled. We still had quite a few apartments left when I checked the box again: one lime and a can of soup. Soon those were gone. “We’ll have to tell people we ran out”, I said. “We really miscalculated.” No way is God going to bail us out, I told myself miserably.


Just then someone came running down the hall. It was the impatient man from the floor above. His arms were full of groceries: cereal and cans of soup. “Here”, he said, putting them in the box. “Thought some of the other residents could use them. I’ve got plenty this month. Gotta run!”


We had just enough for the apartments we still had left to visit. God had multiplied our groceries – and multiplied our faith too.



B. First Reading (Nm 11:4b-15): “I cannot carry all this people by myself.”


Today’s Old Testament reading (Nm 11:4b-15) depicts the anguish of Moses as God’s divinely appointed leader of the Israelites journeying in the desert to the Promised Land. The people grow impatient and start to whine for the fleshpots and abundant food in Egypt: “If only we could have some meat! In Egypt we used to eat all the fish we wanted and it cost us nothing. Remember the cucumbers, the watermelons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic we had. But now our strength is gone. There is nothing at all to eat – nothing but this manna day after day!” Overwhelmed by the burden of leadership, Moses, the mediator of God’s providence, starts “to whine” too: “I can’t be responsible for all these people by myself; it’s too much for me! If you are going to treat me like this, have pity on me and kill me, so that I won’t have to endure your cruelty any longer.”


The Lord responds to the people’s complaints by sending them quail to eat. He also responds to Moses’ lament of “being alone” in caring for God’s needy people. He orders Moses to assemble seventy respected men who will be given a share of the spirit of leadership given by God to Moses. The Lord says: “Then they can help you bear the responsibility for these people. And you will not have to bear it alone.”


Jesus Christ is the “Moses” par excellence – the utmost mediator of divine providence. He carries the burden of leadership of the new people of God, the Church. The Christian disciples participate in his ministry of compassion and caring for God’s people. The Poverello House in Fresno, founded by “Papa Mike” McGarvin to help the needy poor and the disadvantaged, illustrates how shared leadership and collaborative ministry are at work today (cf. Poverello News, August 2013, p. 3-4).


In forty years of existence, Poverello House has changed tremendously, a fact to which longtime friends can attest. We have always been very much a grassroots organization, one that has been supported primarily through local donations and volunteerism. However, in order to better serve a changing population of homeless people, we have gradually hired more professional staff, worked hand-in-hand with other groups and organizations, and sought out grants and corporate donations. (…)


In its long history, one of the things that has distinguished Poverello House is that the majority of our funding has always been from donors, not foundation or governments grants, and the greatest percentage of those donations are in the category of under $100. In other words, we have many, many people, often who have limited incomes, regularly giving us small donations, and these make up the bread and butter of our funding. What this means is that a huge number of people believe in our mission and make monetary sacrifices each month to ensure that we can continue.


Last year over 9,000 volunteers came to help at Poverello House, including about 3,000 students from local universities, elementary, junior high and high schools. Out of that overall number, we trained 1,277 brand new volunteers in our orientations. It is obvious that despite changes and challenges over the years, Poverello House is still extremely reliant on volunteer labor.


Many volunteers have gone on to become boardmembers, contributing members of Amici Del Poverello Guild, or active donors. Often experiences here at Poverello have helped change the direction of volunteers’ lives, particularly in the case of students who are searching for meaningful careers.


So, in spite of changes, evolutions and all the challenges we face in these challenging times, one thing that remains a constant at Poverello House is the participation and dedication of the community in helping us achieve our mission objectives. For that, we are profoundly grateful, and our prayer is that we may never lose sight of the importance of individuals, whether they be our homeless clients, our volunteers, or our donors.





1. Do we see the miraculous possibility of the “five loaves and two fish” that are available to us in our ministry to the poor? Do we trust that Jesus will multiply our resources? Do we allow ourselves to be filled by the superabundant riches of God?


2. When feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, do we humbly turn to God and present to him our concerns with filial confidence? Or do we whine and complain like spoiled brats? Do we trust that God, through his Son Jesus Christ, will help all those who are heavily burdened?





O loving Father,

your Son Jesus, our Master-Shepherd,

multiplied the “five loaves of bread and two fish”.

He is both the host and the fare.

He is the bread of the Word and the bread and wine

of the Eucharistic sacrifice on the cross. .

Strengthened by the bread of life,

help us to overcome all kinds of trials, difficulties and distress

through the love of God in Christ Jesus.

He is our Lord and he lives and reigns, forever and ever.




Our compassionate God,

you respond to Moses with paternal kindness and solicitude.

You teach him the way

to shared leadership and collaborative ministry.

Help us to realize that of ourselves we can do nothing,

but with your grace we can do all things

for your greater glory and the good of all.

Let our lives share in the saving ministry of Jesus,

the “Moses” par excellence

and the utmost mediator of divine providence.

We praise and glorify you, now and forever.






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


“They all ate and were satisfied.” (Mt 14:20) //“I cannot carry all this people by myself, for they are too heavy for me.” (Nm 11:14)





Seek to alleviate the hunger of a needy brother and sister in any way. Contribute to the local Church’s effort to provide bread for the poor in your community. // When feeling helpless and frustrated about anything, especially with regards to your responsibility and care for others, turn to God and beg him to help you.



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August 3, 2021: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (18)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Saves Us from the Raging Waters … He Is the Moses Par Excellence”



Nm 12:1-13 // Mt 14:22-36





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 14:22-36): “Command me to come to you on the water.”


The need for deeper faith permeates the Gospel reading (Mt 14:22-36). Peter, impetuous as ever, asks to come to Jesus on the waters, but his faith fails him. After a tentative beginning, he begins to sink. Jesus saves him, but rebukes him for his feeble faith. Even Peter, the “prince of apostles”, wavers in his faith.


St. Augustine exhorts us to contemplate this Gospel episode so that, when beset with the turmoil of temptations, we can put our faith Jesus, who for our sake suffered death in order to save us: “Look at Peter, who in this episode is an image of ourselves; at one moment he is all confidence, at the next all uncertainty and doubt; now he professes faith in the immortal One, now he fears for his life … Think, then, of this world as a sea, whipped up to tempestuous heights by violent winds. A person’s own private tempest will be his or her unruly desires. If you love God you will have power to walk upon the waters, and all the world’s swells and turmoil will remain beneath your feet. But if you love the world, it will surely engulf you, for it always devours its lovers, never sustains them. If you feel your foot slipping beneath you, if you become a prey to doubt or realize that you are losing control, if, in a word, you begin to sink, say: Lord, I am drowning, save me! Only he, who for your sake died in your fallen nature, can save you from the death inherent in that fallen nature.”


The following lovely story illustrates that those who love God and have faith in him have power to walk upon the waters (cf. Anthony de Mello, The Song of the Bird, New York: Image Books, 1984, p. 72-73).


When the bishop’s ship stopped at a remote island for a day, he determined to use the time as profitably as possible. He strolled along the seashore and came across three fishermen mending their nets. In pidgin English they explained to him that centuries before they had been Christianized by missionaries. “We Christians!” they said, proudly pointing to one another.


The bishop was impressed. Did they know the Lord’s Prayer? They had never heard it. The bishop was shocked. “What do you say, then, when you pray?” “We lift eyes in heaven. We pray, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.’” The bishop was appalled at the primitive, the downright heretical nature of their prayer. So he spent the whole day teaching them the Lord’s Prayer. The fishermen were poor learners, but they gave it all they had and before the bishop sailed away next day he had the satisfaction of hearing them go through the formula without a fault.


Months later the bishop’s ship happened to pass by those islands again, and the bishop, as he paced the deck saying his evening prayers, recalled with pleasure the three men on that distant island who were now able to pray, thanks to his patient efforts. While he was lost in the thought he happened to look up and noticed a spot of light in the east. The light kept approaching the ship and, as the bishop gazed in wonder, he saw three figures walking on the water. The captain stopped the boat and everyone leaned over the rails to see this sight.


When they were within speaking distance, the bishop recognized his three friends, the fishermen. “Bishop”, they exclaimed. “We hear your boat go past island and come hurry hurry to meet you.” “What is it you want?” asked the awe-stricken bishop. “Bishop”, they said, “we so, so sorry. We forget lovely prayer. We say, ‘Our Father in heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom come …’ then we forget. Please tell us prayer again.”


The bishop felt humbled. “Go back to your home, my friends”, he said, “and each time you pray, say, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us!’”



In imitation of Jesus Christ, who walks on the water, the beloved St. John Mary Vianney, whose memorial we celebrate on August 4, saves many people from the raging waters of evil and sin (cf. The Word Among Us, June 2008, p. 54-57).


Jean-Marie had very little education and did poorly in class. No matter how hard he studied, he couldn’t remember his Latin grammar. Just when all seemed lost, Fr. Charles Balley – a far-seeing pastor who recognized Vianney’s potential – decided to tutor him. Vianney passed the required tests, was ordained in August 1815, and served as Fr. Balley’s assistant for two and a half years, until his assignment to Ars. (…)


Vianney set to work. Very early each morning and very late each night, he spent hours before the altar in the dilapidated church. Face down on the floor, he begged God – often with tears – to change the people’s hearts. A curious parishioner who once followed him inside was surprised at what his new pastor was praying out loud: “My God, grant me the conversion of my parish. I am willing to suffer all my life … I am prepared to endure the sharpest pains even for a hundred years. Only let my people be converted. (…)


In time, the people of Ars began to heed their pastor’s exhortations to stay out of the taverns and come to church, to refrain from work on Sundays, and to end the wild dances. They came to love the religious processions and pilgrimages that Vianney organized to help them know that God was among them. Many learned to pray and grew close to God themselves … As Vianney’s fame grew, pilgrims began showing up – twenty a day at first, then over the next three decades, up to eighty thousand each year. Often they waited for days, crowded together in the church, awaiting their turn in the confessional … Young people flocked to him to help them discern whether they had a religious vocation. The sick came to be prayed over for healing. (…)


For forty-one years, Vianney persevered as the pastor of the little village … He died on August 4, 1859, at the age of seventy-three. Already acclaimed a saint by the people, Jean-Marie Vianney was canonized on May 31, 1925, and later named the patron of parish priests. His life can be summed up by one of his sayings: “To be loved by God, to be united with God, to live in the presence of God, to live for God. Oh! What a beautiful life and what a beautiful death!”



B. First Reading (Nm 12:1-13): “Not so with my servant Moses! Why, then, did you not fear to speak against him?”


The Old Testament reading (Nm 12:1-13) is about a family conflict and even more. Moses is opposed by his sister Miriam and his brother Aaron on account of his marriage to a woman from Cush. But the marriage to a foreign woman is only a pretext. The real issue is Moses’ position as a unique mediator between God and his people, which they resent. Miriam and Aaron challenge Moses on the ground that they are prophets as well. However, the dissent against Moses is tantamount to a dissent against God.


Moses, described as “the meekest man on the face of the earth”, is God’s gratuitous choice as the mediator between God and man. God speaks to Moses “face to face” and is present to him most intimately. By opposing God’s choice of Moses, a “pious” man (anawim) who lives a humble and God-fearing life, Miriam and Aaron rebel against the magnanimous plan of God. Just as the people’s murmuring arouses God’s anger, so Miriam’s grumbling against Moses provokes a severe punishment. Miriam becomes a snow-white leper. Moses proves his mettle as a person with compassion and integrity of character. In response to Aaron’s frantic appeal, Moses intercedes for Miriam: “Please, not this! Pray, heal her!” Moses’ ministry of intercession is efficacious and his authority as God’s prophet and unique mediator is confirmed.


            In a humorous vein, the following story gives insight into how, like Miriam and Aaron, we can create a conflict-situation for an innocent person (cf. Anthony De Mello, Taking Flight: A Book of Story Meditations, New York” Image Books, 1988, p. 122).


A man was fishing in the northern mountains. One day his guide took to telling him anecdotes about the bishop whose guide he had been the previous summer.


“Yes”, the guide was saying, “he’s a good man, except for his language.”


“Are you saying that the bishop swears?” asks the man.


“Oh, but of course, sir”, said the guide. “Once he caught a fine salmon. Just as he was about to land it, the fish slipped off the hook. So, I say to the bishop, ‘That’s damned bad luck!’ and the bishop, he looks me straight in the eye and he says, ‘Yes, it is indeed!’ But that’s the only time I heard the bishop use such language.”





1. When we are buffeted by howling winds and violent storms in the sea of life, how steadfast is our faith? Do we dare to walk on the “raging waters” on the basis of our faith in Jesus? When we sin and falter, what do we do? Do we have recourse to Jesus and cry out: “Lord, save me”?


2. Do we grumble against an innocent person and oppose him unjustly? Why?





Loving Jesus,

you walk on the water and you master the raging sea.

When we are buffeted

by howling winds and violent storms in the sea of life,

help us to have steadfast faith in you.

Hold us by the hand

and we too will walk with you upon the raging sea.

But when our faith falters,

save us and do not let us perish.

Deliver us too from raging storms created by false prophets.

We love you for you are kind and merciful.

You come to our aid always.

You live and reign, forever and ever.




Loving Father,

just and true are your ways.

Let us never cause the downfall of the innocent.

Like Moses and Jesus,

the Mediator par excellence,

let us promote your saving plan.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.






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


“He came toward them, walking on the sea.” (Mt 14:25) // “Throughout my house he bears my trust; face to face I speak to him.” (Nm 12:7-8)





Pray for those whose lives are in a “raging sea” and beset with trials and difficulties. Assist them in any way you can. Pray for fishermen and seamen and all those engaged in ministering to their material, moral and spiritual needs. // Be deeply aware of God’s gratuitous choice of ministers of salvation and humbly abide to that choice.



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August 4, 2021: WEDNESDAY – SAINT JOHN VIANNEY, Priest

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Extols the Woman’s Faith … He Calls Us to Trust in God”



Nm 13:1-2, 25-14:1, 26a-29a, 34-35 // Mt 15:21-28





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 15:21-28): “O woman, great is your faith!”


Today’s Gospel episode of the healing of the non-Jewish woman’s daughter (Mt 15:21-28) contains the fascinating dialogue of faith between the Gentile mother and Jesus. Indeed, this faith encounter between an irrepressible intercessor and the source of healing would encourage the Church in its mission to the Gentiles after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Although, in the divine plan of salvation, pride of place belongs to the Jews, the “bread of salvation”, that is Jesus, would be offered to assuage the hunger of all nations, prefigured in the faith-filled Canaanite mother. The universal mission to the Gentiles would primarily be the work of the Spirit-propelled missionary Church, born in the wake of the Easter event.


The Canaanite woman epitomizes the remarkable attitude of the recipients of the Good News through time and space. The faith of the Filipino people is of the same sterling quality as the Canaanite woman. As recipients of the Church’s evangelizing work they show what great things can be achieved through faith in Jesus Christ. The following “Open Letter of Steve Ray to the Filipino People” is a tribute to their Christian faith. Steve Ray authored many best-selling books, among which are Crossing the Tiber (his conversion story), Upon This Rock (on the papacy), and just recently John's Gospel (a comprehensive bible study guide and commentary). 


We stepped into the church and it was old and a bit dark. Mass had just begun and we sat toward the front. We didn't know what to expect here in Istanbul, Turkey.  I guess we expected it to be a somber Mass but quiet and somber it was not - I thought I heard angels joyously singing behind me. The voices were rich, melodic and beautiful. What I discovered as I spun around to look did not surprise me because I had seen and heard the same thing in other churches around the world. It was not a choir of angels with feathered wings and halos but a group of delightful Filipino Catholics with smiles of delight and joy on their faces as they worshiped God and sang His praises. I had seen this many times before in Rome, in Israel, in the United States and other countries.

Filipinos have special traits and they are beautifully expressed as I gazed at the happy throng giving thanks to God. What are the special traits which characterize these happy people? I will share a few that I have noticed - personal observations - as I have traveled around the world, including visits to the Philippines.

FIRST, there is a sense of community, of family. These Filipino Christians did not sit apart from each other in different aisles. They sat together, closely. They didn't just sing quietly, mumbling, or simply mouthing the words.  No, they raised their voices in harmony together as though they enjoyed the sense of unity and communion among them. They are family even if they are not related.

SECOND, they have an inner peace and joy which is rare in the world today. When most of the world's citizens are worried and fretful, I have found Filipinos to have joy and peace and a deep sense of God’s love that overshadows them. They have problems too, and many in the Philippines have less material goods than others in the world, yet there is still a sense of happy trust in God and love of neighbor.


THIRD, there is a love for God and for his Son Jesus that is almost synonymous with the word Filipino. There is also something that Filipinos are famous for around the world - their love for the Blessed Mother.  Among the many Filipinos I have met, the affectionate title for Mary I always hear from their lips is "Mama Mary".  For these gentle folks, Mary is not just a theological idea, a historical person, or a statue in a church - Mary is the mother of their Lord and their mother as well, their "mama".

The Philippines is a Catholic nation -- the only such nation in Asia -- and this wonderful country exports missionaries around the world. They are not hired to be missionaries, not official workers of the church. No, they are workers and educators, doctors, nurses and housekeepers that go to other lands and travel to the far reaches of the earth, and everywhere they go they take the joyous gospel of Jesus with them. They make a somber Mass joyful when they burst into song. They convict the pagan of sin as they always keep the love of Jesus and the Eucharist central in their lives.

My hope and prayer, while I am here in the Philippines sharing my conversion story from Baptist Protestant to Roman Catholic, is that the Filipino people will continue to keep these precious qualities. I pray that they will continue loving their families, loving the Catholic Church, reading the Bible, loving Jesus, His Mother and the Eucharist. As many other religions and sects try to persuade them to leave the Church, may God give the wisdom to defend the Catholic faith.  As the world tempts them to sin and seek only money and fame and power, may God grant them the serenity to always remember that obedience to Christ and love for God is far more important than all the riches the world can offer. May the wonderful Filipino people continue to be a light of the Gospel to the whole world! Be a proud Filipino and forward this to friends!



B. First Reading (Nm 13:1-2, 25-14:1, 26a-29a, 34-35): “They despised the desirable land (Ps 106:24).”


Today’s Old Testament reading (Nm 13:1-2, 25-14:1, 26-29, 34-35) depicts God’s chosen people at the threshold of the Promised Land. Moses sends twelve scouts, one from each tribe, to explore the land of Canaan and to get as much information as possible about the people and the land. Moses also asks them to bring back some produce. They succeed in bringing back some pomegranates, figs and a bunch of grapes so heavy that it takes two men to carry it on a pole between them. The land is very fertile and is indeed “flowing with milk and honey”. But after exploring the land for forty days, the scouts have witnessed that the people are powerful and their cities well-fortified. Many of them lose heart and some scouts spread false reports that the land is not fertile enough to feed the people and that the inhabitants are giants. The Israelites are distressed and start to grumble against Moses and Aaron. They conclude that it would be better for them to return to the security of bondage in Egypt rather than risk sure death in the Promised Land.


Caleb and Joshua assure them that the land is indeed fertile. They plead with them to trust in the Lord and take possession of the land. The words of Caleb and Joshua are not heeded. The community threatens to stone them to death. But the Lord God reveals his presence through a dazzling light and pronounces his judgment against the rebellious Israelites. Because they have despised the desirable land, they are rejected from entering it. Those who have rejected his gracious offer will not possess the Promised Land. Caleb and Joshua, who have trusted in the Lord, will survive the wilderness wanderings and will lead the new generation of Israelites into the Promised Land.


The experience of the Pious Disciples concerning the establishment of the Liturgical Apostolate Center near Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome and the obedient faith they have shown to their Founder Fr. James Alberione give us an idea of what kind of response God demands from his people Israel (cf. Maria Lucia Ricci, A Historical Journey: From the First Seeds of the Liturgical Apostolate to the Liturgical Apostolate Centers, PDDM manuscript, p. 56-58).


During the Holy Year 1950, the Paulines of the community at Via Grotta Perfetta had the idea of opening a bookstore with the diffusion of religious articles in the Piazza Esquilino. Primo Maestro (= Fr. James Alberione), for reasons known to him alone, with one of his not infrequent decisions, disposed that the place together with its furnishings should pass to the Pious Disciples and become a Liturgical Apostolate Center. On July 6, 1950, Sr. M. Adalgisa Tavella and Sr. M. Lorenzina Ellena were chosen for this task. In 1951 there was a change in personnel and Sr. M. Redenta Gorlani was appointed as the person responsible.


The location at Piazza Esquilino soon proved to be too small. In 1958 they transferred to Via Cavour, which was a larger space but it was no longer near the Basilica of St. Mary Major as Primo Maestro desired. In the meantime Mother M. Ausilia Cristino, the General Treasurer who always understood, loved and supported the liturgical apostolate, dedicated herself together with other sisters to seek a suitable location.


The search was extended to places that seemed suitable and presented to Primo Maestro, who would invariable reply: “Your place is beside the Madonna at St. Mary Major.” They began serious negotiations for a site well known in Rome and abroad, near the Pantheon. We obtained knowledge of the median annual income, the clientele, the inventory and the conclusion was almost reached. Upon referring the matter to Primo Maestro, he delicately made us aware that he did not agree. He made no excess reflections, but he made us understand his unchanged desire and suggestion. It was clear, a common conviction for anyone who desired to assist us that it was completely useless to search any further in the area near St. Mary Major. It then became a matter of faith which doubtless needed to be nourished and increased.


I recall very clearly one detail. I was in the Piazza of St. Mary Major with Mother M. Annunziata (la Nonna). At the corner of Via Liberiana and Via dell’Olmata there was a bar which was clearly visible and efficient. M.M. Annunziata said: “I am going to see if the owner will surrender the location.” The interested party showed surprise but he did not refuse the proposal. The negotiations continued for a long period of time; they were complex, or rather they became very complicated, to the point that it was necessary to resort to legal channels and go accompanied by a trusted lawyer, following the suggestion of Primo Maestro. Besides this, the process of the negotiations became known and there began a true hunt for that location, which also involved qualified buyers, such as banks.


The Pious Disciples prayed. Primo Maestro followed the events and, through his words or through significant silence, he made us understand that finally we were correct and we should proceed. During the 1960’s they took possession of the location.





1. Is our faith as steadfast as that of the Canaanite mother? Does the faith of others move us to positive and compassionate action? In light of the Easter event, do we commit ourselves to share the saving work of Jesus, the “bread of salvation”, with all peoples of the earth?


2. Are there moments in our life when we refuse to welcome the grace of God and reject it because it seems to be too good to be true? Do we ever question the reality of God’s benevolent plan for us?





Loving Jesus,

you extolled the faith of the Canaanite mother.

Help us to imitate her steadfast faith.

We thank you for revealing to us

that you are the “bread of salvation” for all nations.

Give us the grace to share the bread of your Word

to all peoples of the earth.

You are the universal Savior and giver of life.

You live and reign, forever and ever.




Lord God,

we are deeply sorry for the lack of faith of the Israelites.

They refuse to claim and enter the Promised Land.

We too are guilty of refusing your love

and negating your gracious plan for us.

Grant us the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

With the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ,

help us to claim our glorious heritage in your kingdom.

Let us enter and dwell forever in the Promised Land.

You live and reign, forever and ever.






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


“Great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” (Mt 15:28) //“You will realize what it means to oppose me.” (Nm 14:34)





Pray for Christian missionaries who spread the Gospel beyond ethnic and cultural boundaries. Bring the healing touch of Jesus to the sick and needy. Contribute to the ecumenical effort of the Church and the task of inter-religious dialogue. // Today be very sensitive to the divine offer of grace and make an effort to welcome it in your heart and respond to it with faith and love.



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“JESUS SAVIOR: He Gives Peter the Keys to the Kingdom … He Is the Rock that Gushes Forth Living Water”



Nm 20:1-13 // Mt 16:13-23





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 16:13-23): “You are Peter. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.”


Today’s Gospel reading (Mt 16:13-23) is about the investiture of Peter with the keys to the kingdom. In response to Peter’s confession of faith in Jesus, whom he acknowledges as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” – a spiritual truth revealed by the heavenly Father – Jesus establishes him as the “rock” of the Church. He presents to him the “power of the keys”. The commissioning of Simon Peter is part of God’s benevolent plan for his chosen people. It is an important step in the realization of his saving design to provide them with trustworthy stewards and spiritual shepherds. Indeed, the “power of the keys” is a pastoral power meant to benefit God’s people.


Through time and space, the Church – the community of faith founded on the Risen Lord Jesus Christ and ministered to by Peter and his successors – experiences various crises, persecutions and trials. But the “gates of the netherworld” do not prevail against the Church because Christ is its leader. He has radically conquered the power of sin and death. He remains with his disciples until the end of time.


The ministry of the Pope is a vital expression of the pastoral office of Jesus who lives on in the Church. The following account of John Thavis, Catholic News Service (CNS) Rome Bureau Chief concerning Benedict XVI, illustrates the Pope’s effort to live up to the challenge of his pastoral ministry and as Christ’s trusted steward of faith for today’s society (cf. Carrie Swearingen’s “PAPA-RAZZI: Following the Man who Follows the Pope” in St. Anthony Messenger, July 2008, p. 16).


John Thavis found it stunning to see the Pope, during his tour of a Turkish mosque, turn toward Mecca and pray alongside his Muslim host. “In one gesture, he bridged the gap of misunderstanding that had arisen after his Regensburg lecture several months earlier”, says Thavis. “Of course, Christians and Muslims pray to the same God, so there was nothing really revolutionary about it. But after some media had labeled him ‘the Pope against Islam’, this was a clear illustration that Benedict was not about to play the role of anti-Islamic crusader.”


Thavis has been moved by Pope Benedict XVI’s simplicity and clarity when speaking to foreign groups. In May of 2007 the Pope and the press corps took a long bus ride through picturesque hills in central Brazil. “He addressed recovering drug addicts. It was a rousing welcome by a mostly young group of people and, when the Pope ended, they kept chanting his name. When he was getting into the pope-mobile, his aides telling him they had to hurry up and leave, he suddenly stopped, got out of the vehicle and walked back on the stage. He waved and gave them one last greeting. It was just a small kindness, but it meant so much to these people.” (…)


Thavis knew that this Pope would want to make an effort to be more engaging. “And he does. He makes eye contact, is always kind, and says a few words to each person he meets. The world had known him as a doctrine enforcer, but that was not on his mind as Pope.” The Pope’s main goal, Thavis explains, is to reawaken a sense of God in society and a deeper faith in Christ and the Catholic Church.



B. First Reading (Nm 20:1-13): “Water gushed out in abundance.”


Today’s Old Testament reading (Nm20:1-13) depicts some incidents toward the end of the people’s forty-year sojourn in the desert. The Israelites have reached the wilderness of Zin and settle at Kadesh. Miriam dies and is buried there. This is a reminder that an entire generation of rebellious Israelites will perish in the desert before a new generation enters the Promised Land. Likewise, Moses and Aaron, because they have failed to witness the holiness and loving mercy of God before an obstinate people, are not destined to enter the Promised Land. When commanded by God “to order the rock to yield its waters” for the thirsty and ever-grumbling people, the leaders respond with frustration, anger and sarcasm. Moses upbraids the whiners: “Listen, you rebels! Do we have to get water out of this rock for you?” Burning with anger, Moses strikes the water twice and water gushes forth for all the people and animals to drink. Instead of making the occasion a joyful manifestation of divine mercy, Moses and Aaron turn it into a bitter denunciation. God reprimands them: “Because you were not faithful to me in showing forth my sanctity before the children of Israel, you shall not lead this community to the land I will give them.”


At Meribah, Moses and Aaron are “failed leaders”. They fail to invite people to trust in God. They lose the opportunity to give glory to a loving God and magnify his holiness. The following story, circulated on the Internet, illustrates how true “leaders” trust in God and remind others to do the same.


In God We Trust: A few months ago, my husband and I were invited to spend the weekend at his employer’s home. I was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than our house. The first day and evening went well, and I was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live.


My husband’s employer was quite generous as a host and took us to the finest restaurants. I knew I would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so I was enjoying myself. As the three of us were about to enter an exclusive restaurant one evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of us. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment. I wondered if I was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped and a few cigarette butts.


Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny. He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why should he even take the time to stop and pick it up? Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged me. Finally, I could stand it no longer. I casually mentioned that my daughter once had a coin collection and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value. A smile crept across the man’s face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for us to see. I had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this?


“Look at it”, he said. “Read what it says.”


I read the words, “United States of America.”


“No, not that; read further.”


“One cent?”


“No, keep reading.”

“In God We Trust?”






“And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin, I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling to trust me! Who am I to pass it? When I see a coin, I pray. I stop to see if my trust is in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God that I do trust in him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me! God is patient and pennies are plentiful!”


When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, “In God We Trust” and had to laugh. Yes, God! I get the message. It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful! And God is patient!





1. How does Peter’s confession of faith affect us? Do we make an effort to understand the role of Peter and his successors in salvation history? Do we pray for the Pope and lovingly sustain him in his pastoral ministry and as “steward” of faith? 


2. Do we allow ourselves to be instruments of God’s patient mercy and caring love? Do we give in to anger and frustration and thus fail to manifest to the world the holiness of our loving God?





O God, our Father,

we thank you for Peter’s faith confession

that Jesus is indeed “the Christ, the Son of the living God”.

We thank you for the Church,

the community of believers founded on the faith of the apostles.

We thank you for Peter’s successors,

whom you have established as stewards of Christian faith.

May they all be trustworthy and faithful!

We give you praise, now and forever. 




Almighty Father,

you are kind, patient and merciful.

You wish to provide water

to your thirsty, whining people at Meribah.

Moses and Aaron have failed to give witness to your patient mercy,

but you continue to use them

as mediators of your divine providence.

Through them water gushes from the rock,

symbol of Jesus Christ, the font of living water.

We are thirsty for your saving well

and for the font of eternal life.

Bring us to the Promised Land in your eternal kingdom,

where you live and reign, forever and ever.






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


“I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 16:19) //“From the rock you shall bring forth water.” (Nm 20:8)  





Pray for the Pope that he may be strengthened in his pastoral ministry as chief steward of Christian faith. By your service to the poor and the needy, and through a life of holiness and personal dedication, let the love of Christ Shepherd touch a world in need of healing. // When dealing with “whiners”, pray for the grace of patience and the wisdom of the Spirit so that in the kindness shown to them, their spiritual thirst may be satisfied.



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“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is Transfigured in Glory” 



Dn 7:9-10, 13-14 // 2 Pt 1:16-19 // Mk 9:2-10





A. Gospel Reading (Mk 9:2-10): “This is my beloved Son.”


Shortly after his conversion, the young man, Mike McGarvin, the future founder of the Poverello House in Fresno, volunteered to help out at a huge home for elderly people in San Francisco. The job kept him depressed, but it was there that he had a “vision of glory”. He narrates:


The very last time I went to Mass there, I had an upsetting experience that brought about a good change in me. I had wheeled a couple of ladies to the service, and I sat by them. The Mass came to the point at which we turned and greeted each other, shook hands, and said, “Peace be with you.” A woman turned around, and she was the most grotesque person I’d ever seen. She apparently had the same disease as John Merrick, “The Elephant Man”. I had never seen anyone so horribly disfigured, even at Poverello. I tried hard not to react, shook her hand, and quickly said the peace greeting. Afterward, I was haunted by the fact that despite her deformity, she had the most beautiful smile that I had ever seen. It was disturbing to see that disfigurement and that smile all in the same person. I said a little prayer for her, because I couldn’t imagine how hard it was for her to go through life like that. She must have truly felt God’s joy, because her smile was so radiant. One of the things I’ve tried to do since then is to get people to smile, no matter what their circumstances. A smile is a gift, and it erases misery, if only for a few seconds.


God gives us glimpses of his beloved Son’s Easter glory to strengthen us in our weakness. The vision of the Lord’s transfiguration puts the paschal suffering in proper perspective. Today’s feast invites us to meditate on the radiant glory that flows forth from Christ’s passion and death. Forty days before the feast of the Triumph of the Cross (September 14), we celebrate his transfiguration (August 6) as an event that illumines the enigma of the cross.


The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 7, underline the role of the Lord’s transfiguration in the life of his disciples: “All Christians must summon up from their innermost depths the memory of this revelation whenever they see the Son of God dead on the cross, or the Church in agony, or when they are overwhelmed by personal tribulations, or on the edge of despair, or of losing faith. If they do, they will find the strength to pull themselves up from these depths and climb to the heights of the mountain, no matter how difficult the way. Through mists and tears, they too will be graced with a glimpse of the figure of the resurrected Christ surrounded by light.”



B. First Reading (Dn 7:9-10, 13-14): “His clothing was snow bright.”


The Old Testament reading (Dn 7:9-10, 13-14) is about Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven and receiving dominion, glory and kingship. This vision originally represents the vindication of the persecuted people of Israel, bitterly oppressed under the reign of the detestable pagan Syrian king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes whose kingship is about to be shattered. The image of the human figure enthroned in glory, however, is later applied to the expected Messiah. Christians see the fulfillment of this apocalyptic vision in the person of Jesus Christ, whose glorious transfiguration we celebrate today. Jesus brings to perfection the enigmatic working principle, “through suffering to glory”. Reigning from his cross, the messianic King draws all peoples and creation to himself by the power of his self-surrendering love.


The martyrdom in Arima (Japan) of the young boy catechist Diego and his companions illustrates what transfiguration into glory means (cf. Full Sail with the Wind of Grace, ed. “Martyres” Editorial Committee, Tokyo: Don Bosco Sha, 2008, p. 49-53).


In Arima, catechism classes were held almost every day for children learning about Jesus. Diego Hayashida, a boy who had just turned 12, was their teacher … At Our Lady’s Church in Kitaoka, a group was born made up of children only: the Confraternity of Martyrs. Diego, who was teaching the catechism class, was chosen as the group’s leader. Diego was a third generation Christian in the Church of Arima. The town of Arima was located on the Shimabara Peninsula. Almeida, a physician and missionary, and Brother Lorenzo were the first to bring Christianity to Shimabara. (…) In Arima, the fastest growing Church in Japan, a peaceful wind was blowing. Diego, born in 1601, grew up in these surroundings.


It was the year 1612 when Tokugawa Ieyasu suddenly issued a decree banning Christianity in Edo (Tokyo), Sumpu (Shizuoka City) and Arima … The springtime of Arima thus came to an end. It was at this time when the persecution started, that the children of Arima started the group of Confraternity of the Martyrs. The children knew that they were preparing for the crucial moment that was approaching.


On 7 October 1613, although it was still early in the morning, crowds of the faithful began to gather on the banks of Arima River which ran along the foot of the castle. The Christians, dressed in their best clothes, holding candles and rosaries in their hands, numbered 20 thousand. It was the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and also the anniversary of the Confraternity of Santa Maria whose mission was “Educating in Faith”. But this was not why the faithful had gathered.


Naozumi had ordered 8 people representing the Christians to be burned to death on the sandbar of the river. “We want to serve our Heavenly Father as our master, instead of you who order us to give up our faith.” Three samurais who resolutely rejected Naozumi’s orders were chosen to be burned together with their families. They were Adrian Takahashi Mondo, Leo Taketomi Kanemon and Diego’s father Leo Hayashida Sukeemon, Takahashi’s wife Joanna, Taketomi’s son Paul, Diego’s mother Martha, his sister Magdalena and Diego.


With arms crossed and tied in front of them, they were taken by boat to the sandbar in the river. The path on the sandbar leading to the execution site was thick with wet mud because of the high tide. One of the officers, who was a Christian, tried to carry Diego on his back. “Jesus walked to Calvary carrying his cross. Let me walk this path, too.” Diego declined the offer and walked step by step in the mud toward the site. He felt as if he was putting his feet in the steps of Jesus who went before him. He cried, but they were tears of joy.


There were eight stakes prepared at the site, with huge piles of straw and wood. The officers tied the eight to their stakes. Just then, Leo Taketomi cried out in a deep voice. “Behold, this is the faith of the people of Arima. The Christians of Arima are one with the same heart. At this time of farewell, I ask all of you to persevere in your faith.”


The officers taken by surprise at this outpouring of faith, hurriedly lit the fire on the piles of straw in every direction in an effort to avert everyone’s attention. At that moment, the crowds watching on the riverbanks let out a loud cry. “Jesus, Mary!” They all started to recite the rosary. The prayer of the 20 thousand on either side of the river became a rumbling from the land of Arima reaching up to the heavens.


When the fire was lit, the rope that tied Diego to his stake soon burned away. Diego ran through the flames toward his mother and clung to her. Embracing him, his mother Martha pointed toward heaven with her right hand. “Diego, look up to Heaven … to Heaven!” Diego and his mother breathed their last calling out the names, “Jesus, Mary”.


Diego’s sister Magdalena, who was 19 years old, took the burning wood in her hands when the ropes burned away and held them high above her. “Lord, purify me. Let the flame of faith never die.” Even before she was chosen to be martyred, Magdalena had taken a vow of chastity. She offered everything to God in martyrdom.


As the fires started to die out at the execution site, the Christians rushed over to the martyrs, running down the make-shift bamboo fence surrounding the site. They wanted to take away the remains of the martyrs and keep and treasure them as tokens of their faith. The faithful of Kouzuura (Amakusa City, Kumamoto Prefecture), deeply moved by Magdalena’s last moments, with special reverence took her remains home to their island where they were kept for a while. The Christians of Arima, after witnessing the martyrdom of the eight, began to take the same path following Diego’s example.



C. Second Reading (2 Pt 1:16-19): “We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven.”


The Second Reading (2 Pt 1:16-19) underlines that Peter is an eyewitness at the transfiguration event. Peter asserts that with their own eyes they saw his greatness and that they were there when Christ was given honor and glory by God the Father. Saint Peter narrates that when they were on the mountain, the voice from the Supreme Glory declared about Jesus: “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am well pleased!” Peter’s “prophetic message” about Christ’s transfiguration gives a firm foundation to the apostolic teaching about the “power and coming” (dynamis kai parousia) of the Lord. Therefore, Peter exhorts a Christian community, whose faith in the Lord’s second coming is being undermined by false teachers, to be faithful to the message of Christ’s coming. He says it is like a lamp shining in a dark place until the Day dawns and the light of the morning star shines in our hearts. At his final coming at the end time (parousia) we will all experience our Lord Jesus Christ transformed in glory.


The following story gives insight into how we are to respond to the voice of the Father speaking to us and how to be attentive to the divine message (cf. Mark Mallett, “Stay and Be Light” in Amazing Grace for Survivors, ed. Jeff Cavins, et. al., West Chester: Ascension Press, 2008, p. 88-93).


In our early twenties, my wife and I finally gave way to a fallen-away Catholic’s invitation to a Sunday morning Baptist service. It turned out to be a moving experience. That one hour seemed to highlight for me all the dysfunction in my Catholic parish that was seething beneath the surface of my heart. The cold environment, the poor homilies, the dreary music, the lack of zeal for God. I turned to my wife and said, “We should start coming here. Maybe we can slip into a Catholic Church on Monday for the Eucharist.


That night I was brushing my teeth when I suddenly heard clearly in my heart the words: “Stay and be light to your brothers.” I stopped, and heard them again. “Stay and be light to your brothers.” I told my wife, Lea, what had happened, and she agreed: we should stay in the Catholic Church.


A short time later, my mom sat me down in a chair to watch a video in which an ex-Protestant pastor explained how he had set out to debunk the Catholic Church. In the course of his historical and theological study, he found that what the Church teaches has been consistent through the centuries back to the apostles. Dr. Scott Hahn converted and became a Catholic, eventually taking thousands of Protestants with him. By the end of the video, I had tears streaming down my face. My heart suddenly burned with a deep love for the Church because it was Jesus’ Church, the one He built on Peter the Rock.


I spent the next two years pouring over the teachings of the Church until one day I received another word from the Lord: “Music is a doorway to evangelize.” With that, I began a Catholic praise and worship band that met monthly. After four years, there were up to seven or eight hundred Catholics worshipping with us on a Sunday night as we’d preach the Gospel and then lead them through song into personal encounter with Jesus. It was powerful.





1. Do we perceive in the event of the Lord’s transfiguration a glimpse of hope that will enable us to overcome our troubles? Are we ready to perceive the vision of Christ’s paschal glory? Are we open to receive the hope that Jesus, the Suffering Messiah, brings into our lives? Do we believe that suffering is an itinerary to glory?


2. Do we believe that Christ’s dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away and that his kingship shall not be destroyed?


3. Like Peter, are we ready to give witness to our experiences of the glory of the Lord? Are we attentive to the voice of the Lord and ready to follow his commands?





Lord Jesus,

in your transfiguration on the mountain,

you have given us a glimpse of your Easter glory.

Help us to summon from our innermost depths

the memory of this revelation

to give us strength and hope in all our trials and afflictions.

Help us to trust that our suffering in this life

is an itinerary to glory.

We trust and believe in you, now and forever.






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


“And he was transfigured before them.” (Mk 9:2)





Pray for all those whose present afflictions are great so that they may experience a vision of Christ’s Easter glory and be strengthened by it. Be aware of the glimpses of glory that God grants to you gratuitously every day of your life. Through your care, love and attention, enable a suffering person to have a glimpse of the glorious God and of his Risen Christ at work in their lives.



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“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us the Power of Faith … He Teaches Us to Respond to the Love Command”



Dt 6:4-13 // Mt 17:14-20





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 17:14-20): “If you have faith, nothing will be impossible for you.


Today’s Gospel (Mt 17:14-20) tells us that after the Lord’s transfiguration on the mountain, he comes down with Peter, James and John. The father of a self-destructive “lunatic” approaches him prayerfully. Kneeling before Jesus, he pleads mercy for his suffering son. The Divine Master is exasperated at the inability of his disciples to help the boy. He berates them for their unbelief: “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you?” Jesus uses the same phrases that Moses had used, coming down from Mount Sinai, to describe the faithlessness of Israel. Jesus drives away the demon and the boy is healed. When the disciples come to Jesus in private to ask why they were not able to drive the demon out, Jesus answered that they did not have enough faith. True faith in Jesus, even if it is the size of a mustard seed, is efficacious and can move mountains. The Divine Master thus teaches us the power of faith and affirms that with faith, nothing will be impossible for us.


The following account concerning Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini illustrates the power of trusting faith in today’s world (cf. Patricia Treece, Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2011, p. 64-66).


Picture Mother Cabrini in a strange land where she knew no one but the only One you have to know to go into a city and penniless and soon put up a hospital (she did that in New York, Chicago, and Seattle), an orphanage (in Colorado, New York, and Los Angeles, to mention three), dozens of schools in various countries throughout the Americas and Europe, and other institutions to bring God’s loving care to others. She kept them running for decades too. At night she has to sleep in a room alone because the glory of God tends to light up the space and wake companions, which is of course offensive to the humility of one who no longer thinks of herself at all, so madly in love is she with Jesus.


Mother Saverio De Maria, assistant, secretary, and constant companion on Mother Cabrini’s travels for these undertakings, wrote a life of the saint. Mother Saverio recalls that many people offered Mother Cabrini financial help, but she accepted from very few. Among the reasons she did so is this utterly delightful one: “Her trust in divine providence was so limitless that it seemed unfair [to her] to seek other support.”


Now picture a day like many when this consummate businesswoman (as people who had dealings with her described Mother Cabrini) is told a tradesman is at the door, seeking payment of his bill. The saint hands to another of the sisters the key to the desk money drawer. “Empty!” she reports back to Cabrini.


Mother De Maris writes: “Mother [Cabrini] concentrates a moment, then, with serene tranquility said, ‘You did not look well, look again’. Sister opened the same drawer and found a small package of brand new bank bills – the exact amount required to pay the bill. Our dear Mother, while recounting this fact (just to her daughters) many years later with eyes full of gratitude and love used to add: ‘How many of these occurrences I could tell! Truly the Lord overwhelmed us with his benefits.’”


Another time a sister needed to pay off a bill, but there was no money. “Why don’t you put your hand in your pocket?” Mother suggested. Without thought, the sister did so. There, as before, was the precise amount needed.



B. First Reading (Dt 6:4-13): “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart.”


The reading (Dt 6:4-13) contains the Shema, the principal profession of faith of the Jewish people. It begins with the words “Hear, O Israel!” and asserts that the Lord is the only God for Israel. It then delineates the great imperative: “Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” The “love” envisioned here is the kind of deep loyalty and affection that Israel owes to the God who ended their cruel bondage in Egypt. This exclusive “love” prohibits the worship of gods other than the Lord. Moreover, this all-encompassing “love of God” must permeate each and every Israelite, their homes and the entire community – at all times and in all circumstances.


The call to a total devotion to God is powerfully expressed in the injunction: “Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the door posts of your houses and on your gates.” Inspired by these metaphors, the Jews begin the custom of wearing phylacteries (small leather containers holding tiny scrolls on which were inscribed Dt 6:4-9 as well as other biblical texts). Jews also begin to attach a mezuzah (a small container holding a written biblical text) to the upper part of the right doorposts. Jesus, who considers the love of God as the greatest command, criticizes such practices when they are bereft of meaning – that is, when the total obedience to a loving God that they signify is absent.


Indeed, religious practices are meant to express our faith and intensify our love of God. The following article is insightful (cf. Stephanie Thompson in Daily Guideposts 2015, p. 29).


On the entry gate of the fence that surrounded my great-aunt’s house was a small metal box with what looked like squiggles to my seven-year-old eyes. “Mezuzah on the post lets everyone know we are Jewish”, Aunt Frieda explained. Laughing, she added, “Mezuzah also reminds us that we are Jewish.”


Hebrew for “doorpost”, mezuzah is a small container placed by the doors of Jewish homes. The word Shaddai (“Almighty”) adorns the box’s exterior in Hebrew lettering.


My grandfather and his family are Jewish, but I’m a Christian. Yet on my porch, no emblem professes my religion or love for God. My house looks like every other on the block. Inside are furnishings, photographs, and figurines, but nothing shows my faith. God may be first in my life, but where is He in my home?


Finally, evidence of my belief: I have several Bibles, biblical references, and Christian titles. In all, I have at least ninety books that could give the impression that I am a woman of God. Yet, would ninety books in a library of more than six hundred volumes be enough to convince someone of my faith?


I love the Lord with all my heart, but there is little evidence of Him where I live. Maybe I should redecorate with God in mind. Not only will all who pass by know I’m a Christian, but like Aunt Frieda, I, too, could use visual reminders of my faith.





1. Do we trust in the power of faith that can move mountains? How do we cultivate that faith?


2. Do we endeavor to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul and strength? Do we endeavor to share our faith? How?





Loving Jesus,

we are a “faithless and perverse generation”.

We are afraid to let go and trust in you.

We hesitate to exercise the efficacious power of faith

that is your gift to us.

Teach us to submit to you

in a loving personal response.

Help us to believe

that true faith can move mountains.

With faith in you,

nothing is impossible for us.

Let us proclaim to the nations

that the just, because of their faith, shall live.

We love you, praise you and extol you,

now and forever.




Lord God,

in your loving initiative,

you brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt,

the place of slavery,

In Jesus Christ,

you saved us from the slavery to sin and death.

Help us to love with all our heart,

with all our soul,

and with all our strength.

Let your command of love be the guiding force of our life.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.






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


“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed … nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt 17:20) // “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Dt 6:4-5)





In every trial that comes your way, have faith in God. Believe that he is in control and ask him for the grace to bring about the divine saving will. Continue to affirm in every death-dealing situation that the just, because of their faith shall live. // Be courageous to manifest your Christian faith in public.


*** *** *** 


Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM





3700 North Cornelia Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722 (USA)

Tel. (559) 275-1656

Website: WWW.PDDM.US



3700 North Cornelia Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722 (USA)
Tel. (559) 275-1656

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