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A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

Dear Readers,

As part of our continuing effort to nourish people with the bread of the Word, we have published “THE FIRST READING AND THE SECOND READING OF THE SUNDAY MASS, YEAR A”. To help defray the expenses, we request a donation of $10.00/book order. Free shipping in the USA. To order, please write or call the following:

The PDDM Sisters

3700 North Cornelia Avenue

Fresno, CA 93722

Tel. (559) 275-1656

 

God bless you abundantly!

Prayerful wishes from the PDDM Sisters

 

 

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BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 17, n. 42)

Week 24 in Ordinary Time: September 15-21, 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: September 8-14, 2019 please go to ARCHIVES Series 17 and click on “Week 21 Ordinary Time”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: September 15-21, 2019.)

 

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September 15, 2019: TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY

IN ORDINARY TIME

     “JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Joy of Salvation”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ex 32:7-11, 13-14 // 1 Tm 1:12-17 // Lk 15:1-32

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 15:1-32): “There will be great joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.”

 

This story took place when I was a teenager.  My father, who was seriously ill, emotionally vulnerable and exceedingly sensitive, had an argument with my brother who was going through the pains of a teenage crisis. I do not remember what the conflict was about, but the mutual hurt it generated is forever etched in my memory. My weeping brother packed up his clothes and, before running away from home, advised me to take care of our beloved father and mother. A sense of sadness pervaded each family member. In the afternoon, my mother went to look for my brother. After many moments of anxious searching, my mother finally found him. She pleaded and prevailed upon him to come home. My father was very relieved to see him again safe and sound. My brother was equally happy to be home. It was a moment of joy for all. Indeed, the grace of reconciliation is a cause for rejoicing.

 

Today’s Gospel reading (Lk 15:1-32) highlights the joy of finding the lost one and assures us that God is eager to find, to forgive and to save. The biblical scholar, Eugene Maly remarks: “The Gospel presents three parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son … The interesting point about the first two parables is that there is no hint of sin, of deliberate separation. The sheep simply strays; the coin is lost. Both are recovered. From the conjunction of these two parables with that of the prodigal son, and of this reading with the first two, we have to conclude that the Church wants ultimately to proclaim salvation. Sin is real and cannot be denied. It is why there is salvation. But found, returned, forgiven, reconciled – this is the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

 

Indeed, the parables of mercy reveal that God’s love is wider and deeper than anyone could ever imagine. Jesus challenges us to share in the task of finding the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost sons. As his beloved disciples, it is our pastoral ministry to make sure that no sheep in Christ’s sheepfold be lost. In case a precious brother or sister is lost, we must diligently seek and find him/her, and thus celebrate as Church the joy of salvation.

      

 

B. First Reading (Ex 32:7-11, 13-14): “The Lord relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people.”

 

Some years ago I attended the Asian Congress on Evangelization in Manila, Philippines. In one of the workshops I joined, a nice-looking lady requested to give a testimony to the group. We were about 800 participants in that workshop on Christ’s Paschal Mystery. The Jesuit facilitator gave her the floor. In a calm and deliberate voice, she narrated how her brother molested her when she was small. She was repeatedly violated and it stopped only when she was old and strong enough to resist. She grew up with a violent temperament and dysfunctional behavior. It was very easy for her to wield a knife when she was angry and to defend herself with it. She eventually got married and had children, but there was something sad and tragic in the way she lived. One day her daughter asked her, “Mom, when are you going to forgive your brother?” That shook her. She wept and realized there and then what she needed to do. She picked up the phone and called her brother. Addressing him as “Kuya” – the Filipino term of respect for an elder brother – she asked him, “Remember what you did to me?” She paused and then continued, “I forgive you!” The brother burst into tears and sobbed bitterly, “Ang sakit! Ang sakit!” (meaning, “It hurts! It hurts!”). Filled with remorse, guilt and pain through the years for the violence inflicted on his sister, he humbly received the gift of peace and forgiveness she offered. The repentant brother then informed her that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. When the phone rang, he was just about to step out of the door for an appointment with his physician. The brother died peacefully a few months later surrounded by his family – including the victimized sister who had forgiven all his offenses. That forgiving lady became a channel of God’s peace and reconciliation. Her brother’s death was a peaceful and joyful homecoming to the Lord. The participants in the workshop were deeply touched by her story of forgiveness and experienced the beautiful message contained in Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep: “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep … There will be great joy in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Lk 15:6-7).

 

The readings of this Sunday’s liturgy speak of God’s loving and diligent search for sinners and his compassionate stance in dealing with them. God’s most basic stance is forgiveness. The Old Testament passage from the Book of Exodus (32:7-11, 13-14) extols the merciful forgiveness of God. It also underlines the importance of Moses’ ministry of intercession on behalf of fickle Israel, the erring and idolatrous people. Harold Buetow comments: “Humankind’s deepest need and highest achievement is forgiveness. Today’s excerpt from the second book of the Bible, Exodus, speaks of one incident of a provoked God forgiving His people. Throughout the Exodus from Egypt, God’s people griped and whined … Now, while Moses was on Mt. Sinai, they complained that Moses had abandoned them, so they molded the golden calf-idol. God announced that he would destroy the people for this, and so Moses appealed to Him to forgive. Because of God’s loving-kindness (hesed) for His people, He forgives. Of course, God does not get angry or change his mind or repent. But in our efforts to understand God, we have to use human language, as did the writers of the First Testament. So what began as a story of people’s sinfulness really became a story of God’s forgiveness.”

 

Indeed, the loving forgiveness that God has shown to his people in Mount Sinai is a figure of what Jesus would do and teach. Forgiveness is the final form of love. Wholehearted forgiveness is God like. The grace of forgiveness is incarnated in the person of his Son Jesus Christ and brought to completion by his passion and life-giving death on the cross.

 

 

C. Second Reading (I Tm 1:12-17): “Christ came to save sinners.”

 

The Second Reading (I Tm 1:12-17) delineates the picture of Saint Paul as model and limpid example of “a sinner saved by grace”. Paul’s personal experience of the Risen Lord that transformed him from a persecutor into a zealous apostle solidifies the faith statement that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

 

The liturgical scholar Adrian Nocent remarks: “Saint Paul lets us know here his own personal experience: he had been a sinner, and yet God chose him as a minister. God chose to trust him. Paul’s case interested the entire Church. The other apostles had been chosen by the earthly Jesus and had lived with him; now Paul, who persecuted the others, saw himself overwhelmed by grace and chosen to be Christ’s servant no less than the other apostles. (…) Paul reminds us that conversion in Christ Jesus is always possible through faith and love. More than that, he believes that his sins and his conversion are part of a providential plan: he, a sinner, was chosen for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. Paul thus regards himself as the first of sinners but also as the foremost witness to the long-suffering patience of God.”

 

Paul has experienced to the full that “Christ came to save sinners”. Together with Jesus Christ and in the spirit of SaintPaul, we must mirror the benevolent effort of our loving God to seek the lost. The following story dramatizes the miracle of the “lost and found … strayed and returned … sinned and forgiven … estranged and reconciled” (cf. Stephen Covey, “I Found My Son Again” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings, ed. Jack Canfield, et. al. Cos Cob: CSS, 2009, p. 295-298). May this awesome miracle come to life again and again!

 

I have a dear friend who once shared with me his deep concern over a son he described as being “rebellious”, “disturbing”, and “an ingrate”. “Stephen, I don’t know what to do”, he said. “It’s gotten to the point where if I come into the room to watch television with my son, he turns it off and walks out. I’ve tried my best to reach him, but it’s just beyond me.

 

At the time I was teaching some university classes around the 7 habits. I said, “Why don’t you come with me to my class right now? We’re going to be talking about Habit 5 – how to listen emphatically to another person before you attempt to explain yourself. My guess is that your son may not feel understood.” “I already understand him”, he replied. “And I can see problems he’s going to have if he doesn’t listen to me.” “Let me suggest that you assume you know nothing about your son. Just start with a clean slate. Listen to him without any moral evaluation or judgment. Come to class and learn how to do this and how to listen within his frame of reference.”

 

So he came. Thinking he understood after just one class, he went to his son and said, “I need to listen to you. I probably don’t understand you, and I want to. His son replied, “You have never understood me – ever!” And with that, he walked out. The following day my friend said, “Stephen, it didn’t work. I made such an effort, and this is how he treated me! I felt like saying; ‘You idiot! Aren’t you grateful for what I’ve done and what I’m trying to do now?’ I really don’t know if there’s any hope.” I said, “He’s testing your sincerity. And what did he find out? He found out you don’t really want to understand him. You want him to shape up.” “He should, the little whippersnapper!” he replied. “He knows full well what he’s doing to mess things up.”

 

I replied, “Look at the spirit inside you now. You’re angry and frustrated and full of judgments. Do you think you can use some surface-level listening technique with your son and get him to open up? Do you think it’s possible for you to talk to him or even look at him without somehow communicating all those negative things you’re feeling deep inside? You’ve got to do much more private work inside your own mind and heart. You’ll eventually learn to appreciate him and to love him unconditionally just the way he is rather that withholding your love until he shapes us. On the way, you’ll learn to listen within his frame of reference and, if necessary, apologize for your judgments and past mistakes or do whatever it takes.”

 

My friend caught the message. He could see that he had been trying to practice the technique at the surface but was not dealing with what would produce the power to practice it sincerely and consistently, regardless of the outcome. So he returned to class for more learning and began to work on his feelings and motives, particularly the need to appreciate, respect and empathize. He soon started to sense a new attitude within himself. His feelings about his son turned more tender and sensitive and open. He became profoundly grateful for his son, simply because he sincerely wanted to understand and appreciate his son.

 

He finally said, “I’m ready. I’m going to try it again.” I said, “He’ll test your sincerity again.” “It’s all right, Stephen”, he replied. “At this point I feel as if he could reject every overture I make, and it would be all right. I would just keep making them because it’s the right thing to do, and he’s worth it. I feel so grateful for him and for the hard learning.”

 

That night he sat down with his son and said, “I know you feel as though I haven’t tried to understand and appreciate you, but I want you to know that I am trying and will continue to try.” Again, the boy coldly replied, “you have never understood me”. He stood up and started to walk out, but just as he reached the door, my friend said to his son, “Before you leave, I want to say that I’m really sorry for the way I embarrassed you in front of your friends the other night.” His son whipped around and said, “You have no idea how much that embarrassed me!” His eyes began to fill with tears.

 

“Stephen”, he said to me later, “all the training and encouragement you gave me did not even begin to have the impact of that moment when I saw my son begin to tear up. I had no idea that he even cared, that he was that vulnerable. For the first time I really wanted to listen. My gratitude grew immensely.” And listen he did. The boy gradually began to open up. They talked until midnight, and when his wife came in and said, “It’s time for bed”, his son quickly replied, “We want to talk, don’t we, Dad?” They continued to talk into the early morning hours.

 

The next day in the hallway of my office building, my friend with tears in his eyes, said, “Stephen, I found my son again.”

               

 

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

 

Do we thank the Lord God for his gift of forgiveness incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ, who fully identified himself with sinners by his passion and life-giving death on the cross? Do we try to imitate God in his basic stance of forgiving love? Do we try to imitate Jesus in his ministry of seeking the lost? Are we capable of joining in the feast of the Kingdom and in celebrating the return of a sinner to the bosom of God?

 

 

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

 

O Father,

you are loving and forgiving.

You sent your Son Jesus to seek the lost sheep.

Christ came into the world to save sinners.

When his body was raised on the cross,

he found the lost sheep.

He placed it on his own shoulders by his passion.

Then in the intense joy of the resurrection,

he brought it to his heavenly home.

Gracious Father,

you have treated us mercifully.

In Christ your Son, you have saved us.

With the community of the redeemed,

we cry out with festive joy:

“To the king of ages,

incorruptible, invisible, the only God,

honor and glory, 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.

 

“There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents …” (Lk 15:7a) 

 

 

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

 

Pray that divine mercy and forgiveness may overcome the violence and hatred reigning in the modern world. By your life of charity, service and peacefulness, let the world know that “Christ came into the world to save sinners” and that he is the joy of salvation. Assist the Church’s pastoral ministry of seeking the lost through your spiritual, moral and material contribution.   

 

 

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September 16, 2019: MONDAY – SAINT CORNELIUS, Pope, AND CYPRIAN, Bishop; Martyrs

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Heals the Centurion’s Servant … Through Him We Offer our Prayers to God”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Tm 2:1-8 // Lk 7:1-10

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 7:1-10): “Not even in Israel I have found such faith.”

(By Bishop Joseph Mukala, India)

 

The centurion had to face certain challenges when he decided to request him to heal his servant. His own friends must have ridiculed him for seeking the assistance of a so-called Jewish preacher. His own authority over his subjects could prevent him from having recourse to a so-called preacher with magic powers. In any case we can count on his deep faith in the authority of Christ, to whom he pleaded for the cure of his servant … We are in need of healing, both spiritual and mental.

 

The Lord is ever ready to come under our roof and heal us. He gently tells us that he is ready to come and heal us if only we open ourselves to him and his healing power. The centurion knew that Jesus has power and authority to heal from a distance, as he himself has power and authority to command and get things done. Hence, he humbled himself before Jesus and requested him to exercise his power and authority to heal his servant, without coming to his house … As the centurion acknowledged the power and authority of Jesus in healing his servant, let us also be conscious of our need for the presence of the Lord in our lives – that he may heal us of our spiritual, psychological and mental agonies and wounds. In the same measure, let us also be conscious of people who need our presence for their healing, especially those who are close to us, like the servant who was very close to his master, the centurion. 

 

 

B. First Reading (I Tm 2:1-8): “I ask that prayers be offered for everyone to God who wills everyone to be saved.”

 

Today’s First Reading (I Tm 2:1-8) invites us to a ministry of prayer to God who wills everyone to be saved. Prayer is a means of accomplishing the divine plan of salvation. The liturgical scholar, Adrian Nocent comments: “We are urged here to pray for all men so that they may be saved. Such prayer is efficacious, but its efficacy derives from Christ Jesus, who gives himself as a ransom for all. The apostle’s role is to bring this gift to men. The Christian community is meant to be a community of prayer, and Paul asks that in every place Christians should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. This is to say that their intention must be upright; they do not pray to draw down wrath from heaven on their enemies or to further their personal ambition … Paul is here urging us to frequent prayer that is not limited to the time of liturgy. We are to be really preoccupied with the salvation of all men, for we share responsibility for them with Christ.” Let us continue our prayers for all: for civil authorities and for everyone, that all may be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. Let us pray for those who aid the world’s poor and work to bring God’s saving compassion, especially in today’s distressed society.

 

The following is an example of how the ministry of prayer is at work in our life (cf. David Stefanowicz, “More Than I Asked” in Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart, ed. Jeff Cavis, et. al. West Chester: Ascension Press, 2004, p. 175-178).

 

I drove home to my wife, Teri. She looked at my stricken face as I walked through the door knowing instantly that something was very wrong. “I have cancer”, I told her immediately, and I explained the situation. In the embrace of my wife my heart finally plugged into my brain, releasing a floodgate of tears. I did not feel alone anymore. We cried and hugged. As I held Teri, the cancer was no longer just about me; it was about Teri, my daughter Brittany, age thirteen, and sons Chris and Benjamin, ages eleven and eight. They all needed me.

 

With Teri at my side, we told the kids. Then we all cried and prayed together. Looking into the faces of my loved ones, I became determined to do everything possible to beat this cancer. But I realized I could not do it alone. I needed God more than ever.

 

Teri called her brother, Fr. Wayne Sattler. He suggested I receive the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. He also said he would be praying for the intercession of Mother Teresa. While Fr. Wayne was in seminary in Rome, several meetings with Mother Teresa inspired him to greater spirituality. Although she has not yet been canonized as a saint of the Church, Fr. Wayne believes her to be a powerful intercessor in heaven. He sent us prayer cards with prayers for her intercession.

 

We did not stop there. We asked everyone we knew to pray for healing. We prayed Rosaries, went to extra Masses and prayed unceasingly. Although I was determined to beat the cancer, I still had to face my mortality head on. My Internet research revealed a fifty percent survival rate five years after treatment for my kind of cancer. That put my life’s odds on par with a coin toss.

 

I so desperately wanted my life to stay the same. My family needed me. “Please God,” I prayed, “let me live to take care of Teri and the kids.” (…)

 

I got to the hospital early for the 11:45 a.m. surgery, cautiously relieved the day had finally arrived. Teri and I hugged goodbye as I was wheeled away in the operating room. Three hours later, I woke up to excruciating pain. Shaking violently from the after effects of the anesthesia compounded the throbbing pain in my mouth and throat. Stitches, cotton and a plastic plate covering my mouth made it impossible to speak.

 

I wanted to know how the surgery went, but I could not form the question to ask the nurse. Not until I was wheeled from the recovery room to the patient room was I able to see Teri. She put her arms around me and kissed me. I looked into her eyes, waiting to hear how the surgery went. “Did they get it all? Has it spread?” I desperately wanted to know yet feared a negative response.

 

I had prayed so hard for a full recovery. I believed God could allow me to get better, and I prayed that this would be His will. What He did, however, I had never asked for. It was more than I ever dreamed of. “The doctor removed three teeth and quite a bit of tissue and bone at the site”, Teri explained, ‘but Dave, the pathology test done in the surgery room showed no cancer.” Subsequent tests showed there was no trace of cancer. Baffled, Dr. Adams went back to the initial biopsy. The tissue was definitively cancerous. He re-examined the tissue removed during surgery. No cancer whatsoever.

 

My family and I sincerely believe that God healed my cancer through the intercession of Mother Teresa. Through the grace of God I have been blessed with a second chance and I will do everything possible to live each moment in union with Him now. He has given me more than I will ever deserve and more than I asked.

  

 

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

 

1. Like the centurion, do we have such faith as to seek healing from our Lord Jesus?

 

2. Do we believe that prayer is a ministry that promotes the divine saving plan? Do we experience that prayer is “good and pleasing to God”? Do we pray for civil authorities and for everyone that all may be saved? Is our prayer authentic and does it involve the sacrifice of our lives?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

we thank you for the compassionate centurion

who begged you to save the life of his dear servant.

We also thank you for the people

whose lives the centurion’s goodness has touched

and who now intercede with him.

Help us to imitate the centurion’s care for the lowly ones

and for your own people.

Fill us with the same great faith

that inspired him to trust in you.

As you healed the centurion’s dying servant,

touch us anew with your healing power.

Lord Jesus,

we are not worthy that you should enter under our roof,

but only say the word and our souls will be healed.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

O loving God,

Jesus came to save us by dying for us.

Grant that we may unite ourselves

with your Son’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross

that all may be saved.

Teach us to pray not only with our lips,

but with our hearts and with our lives.

Make us realize that prayer is a ministry

that promotes your compassionate plan.

Teach us to be creative, daring and resourceful

in our work for the Kingdom.

We give you thanks and praise

for you are a loving God and a merciful Father.

Through Christ, with Christ and in Christ,

we glorify you, now and forever.

Amen.  

 

 

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

 

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

 

“Not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (Lk 7:9) //“I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions and thanksgiving be offered for everyone.” (I Tm 2:1)

 

 

 

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

 

Pray not only for healing, but also to be a healer. Do something kind and comforting for a sick relative, or friend, or a subordinate. // Pray that Christian disciples may work in a concerted effort to promote God’s benevolent plan to save all.  By your acts of justice and charity on behalf of the world’s poor, discover the beauty and dignity of being God’s humble instrument of salvation.

 

 

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September 17, 2019: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (24); SAINT RPBERT BELLARMINE, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Raises the Widow’s Son … He Is the True Minister of the Church”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Tm 3:1-13 // Lk 7:11-17

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 7:11-17): “Young man, I tell you arise!”

 

I was born before Vatican II and the Mass that I attended when I was a little girl was in Latin. I could not make out what was being done by the priest, nor could I understand what was being said. But I knew, from strict discipline, that inside the church I was supposed to behave. One day, during the Mass, after the parish priest had read in Latin, he took a special book and began to read a story in the vernacular – in our Bicol dialect. I was only five years old, but I listened with rapt attention about a man Jesus raising a widow’s son to life. I was fascinated and loved that story, which I never forgot.

 

In today’s Gospel (Lk 7:11-17), the raising of the dead in Naim depicts Jesus responding compassionately to a tragedy. Death has taken away, with a wicked hand, the only son of a widow, who is in a pitiable condition. Not only has she lost her only son but, as a widow, she is most vulnerable and defenseless in the Jewish society. Just as he responded benevolently with miraculous power to the good centurion’s request to heal his faithful servant, Jesus manifests in Naim his compassion and efficacious power. Seeing the bereaved mother, he is moved with pity for her and tells her not to weep. He touches the coffin and commands, “Young man, I tell you arise!” The dead man sits up and begins to speak. Jesus gives him back to his mother. The miracle elicits the marvel of the people, who give glory to God. Jesus thus manifests anew his power over life and death.

 

The miracle of life over death lives on in today’s world. When I was teaching confirmation class in Fresno, one of my students – Ian Flores – was involved in a vehicular accident. The car in which he and three high school classmates were riding was hit by a school bus. The girl driving the car was killed; one classmate was seriously injured and was fighting for her life at the ICU – she eventually recovered; one remained unscathed; and Ian was in coma. His mom told me, “He keeps on sleeping… sleeping … sleeping!” On the eighth day, our pastor Msgr. Pat McCormick said to the comatose boy, “Ian, if you want to spend Christmas at home, you better wake up!” The following day, Ian woke up and made it so difficult for the nurses that the doctor gave in to his desire to go home. When Msgr. Pat and I visited Ian at their ranch, he was limping a little and using a crutch, but otherwise he was okay. The sense of gratitude that pervaded the family was akin to the marvelous feeling that filled the widow of Naim when Jesus raised her dead son to life and gave him back to her.

 

 

B. First Reading (I Tm 3:1-13): “The bishop must be irreproachable; similarly, deacons must hold fast to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience.”

 

Today’s First Reading (I Tm 3:1-13) is about the leaders and the helpers in the Church. Saint Paul describes the qualifications in Church ministry. To be a minister of the Church is not for selfish gain, but to promote the welfare of the community. The office of the bishop is a noble task which involves regulating the life of the community and presiding at the assembly of worship. The bishop must have the ability to teach because preaching the Gospel is the central duty of the leader of the faith community. Hence, he must not be a recent convert, for the work of evangelization needs suitable preparation. On account of the importance of his office, he must be irreproachable and self-controlled, gentle and peaceful, temperate and hospitable. Besides being a person of good character, the bishop should be a unifying force both within his home and in the Church. By his life of integrity, the bishop wields a sense of respect even from people outside the Church.

 

The list of qualifications for deacons is similar to that of a bishop. The deacons must be persons of good character and repute. They must not be polygamous and must be able to manage their children and family. Since deacons are particularly subject to temptations because they are in charge of alms, Saint Paul underlines that they must not be greedy for money. Above all, they must be steadfast in truth. They should hold to the revealed truth of the faith with a clear conscience. Those deacons who do their work well win for themselves a good standing and are able to speak boldly about their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

The following profile of a modern-day bishop gives insight into the meaning of Church ministry (cf. Matthew Bunson, “Cardinal Luis Tagle: An Emerging Voice in Asia Church” in Our Sunday Visitor, December 30, 2012, p. 11).

 

On November 24, Pope Benedict XVI officially installed Archbishop Luis Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, Philippines, as a member of the College of Cardinals. The high honor capped a year in which Cardinal Tagle, 55, emerged onto the scene of global Catholicism.

 

Nicknamed by his friends “Chito”, the American-educated bishop and theologian (he earned a doctorate in theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.) had been bishop of Imus, Philippines, from 2001 until 2011 when he was transferred to the archdiocese of Manila as its new archbishop. He was a member of the International Theological Commission and earned notoriety for his remarks at the Synod of Bishops in 2005 and 2008 and at the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City. He is famous across Asia for his great concern for the poor, taking the bus to work every day and playing the guitar.

 

His profile increased when he was named by Pope Benedict XVI to the Synod of Bishops held in Rome in October that focused on the New Evangelization. He called on the Church to discover the power of silence as a sign of a new spirit of humility, declaring, “The Church’s humility, respectfulness and silence might reveal more clearly the face of God in Jesus.”

 

He was subsequently nominated by the Pope as vice president of the “Commission for the Message” and produced the formal statement on the New Evangelization at the synod. He was in Rome during the canonization of St. Pedro Calungsod. Tagle, considered a young and important voice for the rapidly growing Church in Asia.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we truly love Jesus and trust in the compassion he showed to the widow of Naim? How do we share his benevolence with the people around us?

 

2. How do we understand the meaning of Church ministry today and the role of bishops, priests and deacons in the faith community?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

the sight of tragedy moves you to pity.

The grief of the widow of Naim

fills you with compassion.

You therefore raised her dead son to life

and gave him back to her.

We thank you for your loving mercy.

We glorify you for your gift of life

and the triumph of life.

You live and reign, now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

O loving God,

we thank you for Jesus, the true minister of the Church.

We pray for all baptized Christians

that we may be totally immersed into the life of Jesus,

the one who serves.

We pray for bishops, priests and deacons

that they may be faithful to the ministry they have received.

Make them pure and blameless in your sight.

Let them serve your people with personal dedication.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.

Amen.

 

   

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

 

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

 

 “Young man, I tell you arise!” (Lk 7:14) //“A bishop must be irreproachable … deacons must be dignified, holding fast to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience.” (I Tm 3:1, 8)

 

 

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

 

If there is any occasion to participate in a funeral liturgy, do so with a conscious spirit of love and compassion for the bereaved. // Make an effort to know more about the bishop, priests and deacons in your local Church. By word, prayer and action assist them in their ministry.

 

 

*** *** ***

September 11, 2019: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (24)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Does Not Square Up to Their Expectations … He Is the Mystery of Our Faith”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Tm 3:14-16 // Lk 7:31-35

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 7:31-35): “We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.”

 

This happened in Rome many years ago. It was summer and the weather was sultry. Instead of using a black habit (that is, the Sister’s dress), I wore white for hygienic reasons. Several Sisters commented that I look better in black. A few days later, I changed again to a black habit for a practical purpose - because I was making a long trip from Rome to northern Italy by train and a black dress is less messy. Some Sisters remarked that I look better in white. I was chagrined! I could not please them either in black or in white.

 

In today’s Gospel (Lk 7:31-35), Jesus is likewise chagrined by the whims and capriciousness of the people of his generation. They are like children playing in the marketplace who call to one another: “We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge for you and you did not weep.” The spoiled brats are not happy because their expectations are not met. Similarly, the religious leaders of Israel are difficult to satisfy. Neither John nor Jesus has squared up to their standards and expectations. They find fault with John because he is too ascetic. They are unhappy with Jesus because he is lax and gluttonous. They are indecisive. Their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah reveals their stubbornness and foolishness. They lack wisdom of heart and have negated God’s plan and his gift of salvation through his Son Jesus Christ.

 

 

B. First Reading (I Tm 3:14-16): “Undeniably great is the mystery of devotion.”

 

In today’s First Reading (I Tm 3:14-16), Saint Paul speaks of his travel plans and the possibility of delay. In the event that he should be delayed, he expects them to know how to behave in the Church, which is “the household of God”. The Church of the living God is the pillar and foundation of truth. Indeed, through the divine epiphany in Jesus Christ, the faith community becomes the place of God’s presence and the guarantor and bulwark of faith. Saint Paul then cites a beautiful hymn which encapsulates the mystery of faith, who is Christ: he became man and died for all, vindicated by God and exalted before the angels, preached among the nations and believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory. Indeed, the “catholic” Church is the privileged communicator of the saving event centered on our “catholic” Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

The following article illustrates how the “mystery of devotion” Jesus Christ is proclaimed to the nations today (cf. Brandon Vogt, “Bishop Christopher Coyne: Leading the Flock in the Digital Word” in Our Sunday Visitor, December 30, 2012, p. 11).

 

In his message for the 44th World Communications Day, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged priests to “make astute use” of new media. After all, he asked, who better to “help the men and women of our digital age sense the Lord’s presence”? Many priests have heeded that call, but few better than Bishop Christopher Coyne, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. In the last few years, he’s started a popular blog titled “Let Us Walk Together” and has connected with thousands of followers through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

 

Every morning, Bishop Coyne tweets out short reflections on the Mass readings or the saints of the day, usually followed by a quote or prayer. His messages are then beamed across the world and even his brother bishops take note. One recently confessed to using Bishop Coyne’s daily Twitter reflections to draft his own morning homilies.

 

Besides the devotional messages, Bishop Coyne uses new media because it personally connects him to his flock. It’s common for parishioners to tell him, “I read your tweets every morning, and they’re such a great way to start the day.” A young couple once messaged him on Facebook, explaining their baby was about to have surgery. They asked for Bishop Coyne’ prayers and, thanks to Facebook, he was able to immediately respond with encouragement and supplication.

 

Among bishops, Bishop Coyne is the clear online leader. Back in November, this was affirmed when he was invited to be a panelist at the special USCCB bishops and bloggers meeting. In his opening remarks he explained, “It’s not a question if bishops and the Church should be involved in digital media, but how. As a living bridge between the episcopacy and the digital world, Bishop Coyne modeled that “how” throughout 2012. While his brother bishops may be hesitant about websites and social media, perhaps even afraid, they can rest easy knowing one of their own is leading the way.

    

 

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

 

1. How do we respond to God’s offer of salvation in Jesus Christ? Are we indecisive and obstinate, or are we open and receptive to divine grace?

 

2. Do we value our belonging to the Church, “the household of God, which is the Church of the living God”? How do we proclaim the “mystery of devotion”, centered on Jesus Christ, to the nations?

 

  

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

 

Loving Jesus,

you are the Father’s gift of salvation.

But we are full of whims and caprices

like the spoiled brats in the marketplace.

We refuse to let you enter into our lives.

Forgive us, Lord Jesus,

for we are foolish and stubborn.

Grant us wisdom of heart

so that we may receive divine grace.

Let us welcome you as our saving Lord,

now and forever.

Amen. 

 

***

Loving Father,

we thank you for our belonging to the Church,

“the household of God, which is the Church of the living God,

the pillar and foundation of truth”.

How marvelous is the “mystery of devotion”

centered on our Lord Jesus Christ!

Grant that we may fully embrace this saving mystery in our life

and efficaciously share the mystery of faith

to all nations and creation.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“To what shall I compare the people of this generation?” (Lk 7:31) //“Undeniably great is the mystery of devotion.” (I Tm 3:16a)

 

 

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

 

Today follow through with your decision to imitate the goodness and kindness of Christ to others, especially the needy and the unfortunate. // Invite one or more persons to visit the PDDM website: www.pddm.us and profit from the pastoral tools “LECTIO DIVINA” and “EUCHARISTIC ADORATION”.

 

*** *** ***

 

September 19, 2019: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (24); SAINT JANUARIUS, Bishop, Martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Forgives Our Sins … His Ministers

Are to Set an Example”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Tm 4:12-16 // Lk 7:36-50

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 7:36-50): “Her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.”

 

When I was old enough to understand, my mother told me this beautiful story of forgiveness. I was about two years old and the youngest in a brood of three when my father became sick with tuberculosis. Three-fourths of his lungs were gone and my mom had to take care of him full time. My mom felt she could not afford to have another baby, and when she conceived, she tried to abort the pregnancy by taking contraceptive pills. One night she had a nightmare. She dreamed that two children were pursuing her with long stemmed, deadly sickles in their hands. My mom woke up trembling and sweating. The following morning she went to church and confessed to a priest. The priest, however, protracted the sacramental absolution. He advised her to do all what she could to make the baby live. My mother went directly to her friend, a nurse practitioner and asked for help. The nurse gave her vitamins and medications to promote the pregnancy. She also gently chided my mother for her lack of faith in Divine Providence. The baby in my mother’s womb survived and was brought forth.  A strong, healthy and handsome boy, and very fair! He would grow up and become a dentist. My mother was forgiven. She was blessed with other children. My father was healed and would live serenely and fruitfully for 82 years.

 

Today’s Gospel reading (Lk 7:36-50) helps us to see the intimate relationship between forgiveness and the gift of love. The sinful woman, who bathes Jesus’ feet with tears of repentance, dries them with her hair, kisses them with devotion, and anoints them with precious ointment, expresses her profound love for Jesus, who is the font of forgiveness. She is overwhelmed with love for the one who forgives – for the one who understands – for the merciful Love in person. The divine forgiveness is always present – we just have to welcome it, respond to it and own it – for Jesus is always present to us. The loving and tender actions of the woman prove that her many sins are forgiven. Because she has embraced Jesus - God’s forgiving love made incarnate - her many sins are forgiven. Indeed, loving deeds and works of charity are indicators that we have really opened ourselves up to the divine gift of forgiveness.

 

 

B. First Reading (I Tm 4:12-16): “Attend to yourself and to your teaching; you will save both yourself and those who listens to you.”

 

In today’s First Reading (I Tm 4:12-16), Saint Paul delineates Timothy’s duties, which serve as a job description for typical Church ministers. Timothy joined Paul’s company about 18 years previously, and when the Pauline letter was written (circa 65 AD), Timothy was probably about 35 years old. Paul advises Timothy to compensate for his youthfulness with exemplary personal conduct and dedication. Timothy has been ordained as Church pastor with a specific duty to teach and to be guardian of faith. Before the believers he is to be a living witness of love and faith and must endeavor to live in integrity. In view of the saving mission, Timothy must keep watch on himself and must keep at heart his teaching ministry.

 

In the following article, one unnamed priest shares how he witnesses to Christ on a “typical” day (cf. “Your Parish Priest: Very Busy Days Bookended by Prayer” in Our Sunday Visitor, December 30, 2012, p. 12).

 

My “typical” day always begins with prayer: I pray a Morning Prayer to the Sacred Heart even before I get out of bed! This sets the tone for the rest of the day which continues with a prayer of meditation, the office of readings and morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours and then Mass. If there’s a funeral or burial, that can easily fill the rest of the morning. Otherwise, I often spend the time answering E-mails and letters, writing bulletin columns or blog posts, returning phone calls or meeting with staff members – the preschool director, the music director, the financial administrator, the plant manager or the cemetery superintendent.

 

Some days, I grab lunch with whatever staff happen to be around. At other times, it’s a “working” lunch. I’ve found that a meal is an excellent way to connect with people, especially teens and adults. In fact, I like to say, half jokingly, that I do some of my best pastoral work in restaurants!

 

Right after lunch, I like to spend a few minutes sorting through the day’s mail. Then I try to devote an hour or two to prayer and spiritual reading, preparing homilies, or thinking over the next presentation to the youth group. I cover for the chaplain of the local Catholic hospital on his days off each week, so there’s often a round of visits and calls for anointing of the sick.

 

One or two afternoons each month are devoted to visiting our homebound parishioners: those moments are often the high points of their month! When a parishioner dies, I visit the wake in the afternoon, because things around the parish only pick up in the evening. On any given day, I may have a parish council or finance council meeting, youth group meeting or activity, Catholic Daughters, Knights of Columbus, or a diocesan meeting.

 

Sometimes I don’t eat supper until very late, after which I like to walk around our property and pray the Rosary. Then, it’s time for night prayer and bed. If it sounds like a lot, it is – but the rewards are literally out of this world.

 

 

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

 

1. What insights can we derive from the “sinful woman” who had greatly loved Jesus, the forgiving Love made flesh? Do we endeavor to approach Jesus, wash his feet with tears of repentance and anoint them with the balm of love and spirit of contrition? Do we allow Jesus’ merciful love to transform us?

 

2. Do we care for our bishops, priests and deacons? Do we pray for them and assist them in their ministry? Do we promote their integrity and defend them from unjust accusations?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you forgave the sinful woman

who washed your feet with tears of repentance

and anointed them with the balm of love.

Listen to our prayers:

forgive our sins,

renew our hearts by your love,

help us to live in unity as your disciples

that we may proclaim to all your saving power.

You incarnate God’s loving mercy

and you live now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

Loving Father,

we thank you for the ordained ministers

who watch over your Church,

teaching and nourishing our faith.

Protect them from unjust accusations

and help them to live a life of holiness and integrity.

Bless them in all their endeavors

to bring the saving love of Christ to all.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.

Amen.

 

       

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

 

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

 

“Her many sins have been forgiven” (Lk 7:47) // “Set an example for those who believe.” (I Tm 4:12)

  

 

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

 

Pray that God’s merciful love may be experienced by those who have sinned against him and that they may open themselves up to his gift of forgiveness. // Make an effort to commend your pastor for the good work he does on behalf of the parish community.

 

 

*** *** ***

 

September 20, 2019: FRIDAY – SAINT ANDREW KIM TAE-GON, Priest, AND PAUL CHONG HA –SANG, AND COMPANIONS, Martyrs

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is Accompanied By Ministering Women … He Ministers Compete Well for the Faith”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

1 Tm 6:2c-12 // Lk 8:1-3

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 8:1-3): “Accompanying them were some women who provided for them out of their resources.”

 

Today’s Gospel reading (Lk 8:1-3) is a beautiful image of ministering women. While Jesus travels through towns and villages preaching the Good News about the Kingdom of God, he is accompanied not only by the “Twelve” apostles but also by women who responded to Jesus out of gratitude for the blessings received from him. These remarkable women use their own resources to help Jesus and his disciples. Jesus imparts a new dignity and role to women, involving them in his public ministry. The “ministering women” of the Gospel are a figure of the wonderful array of women who fulfill vital ministries in the Church through the ages. The backbones in most missionary movements are women and they continue to play prominent and indispensable roles in successful Christian spiritual-apostolic endeavors.

 

The ministering women in Jesus’ public ministry are intimate participants in the paschal mystery of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. When Jesus dies on the cross, the women who have followed him from Galilee are present, standing and witnessing the event at a distance. They prepare the spices and perfume for Jesus’ burial and witness how Jesus’ body is placed in the tomb. Above all, they are the first witnesses and messengers of the resurrection. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the Risen Lord’s Easter gift, women continue, through time and space, to proclaim zealously the joy of the Gospel.

 

The following account in the life of Blessed James Alberione, Founder of the Pauline Family, is an example of how women cooperate in the spread of the Gospel and in the priestly zeal (cf. Luigi Rolfo, James Alberione: Apostle for Our Times, trans. Salvatore Paglieri, New York: Alba House, 1987, p. 113-114)

 

A Great Benefactress: In those days, he came to know a truly precious cooperator to whom he felt duty bound to pay a debt of gratitude … He met her under circumstances of which we have news through the testimony of one of the very first Paulines.

 

The government had requisitioned a wing of the diocesan seminary for military use. The wing had been left vacant since many clerics had been called into military service. Among the soldiers lodged at the seminary where Father Alberione maintained a bedroom – since he still did not have one at his own house – there was a young, pale official of distinguished and aristocratic mien who one day revealed to the young priest the discomfort it caused him to have to sleep in the middle of such slovenly and poorly educated soldiers. Father Alberione felt obliged to perform an act of Christian and priestly generosity: he let the young official have his room and bed and resigned himself to sleeping on a couch in the refectory or in the hallway of his house.

 

The mother of the official, a Mrs. Amalia Cavazza-Vitali, occupant of the castle of Barbaresco, informed about what had happened, wanted to meet the priest who had been so generous towards her son; and, in finding out that he didn’t have a mattress, hurried to acquire one better than the one he had given up to her son and donate it to him. Father Alberione thanked her, but immediately passed the mattress on to one of his boys who had none. The lady bought a second one which went yet to another boy. Then, like any mother, she acquired a third and brought it to Father Alberione. She consigned it to him stating very clearly: “Remember I’m not giving this to you but only lending it and I intend to be able to come back and get it at any moment. For that reason, you can use it only. Do I make myself understood?” And so, whether he liked it or not, the priest had to accept these conditions, keep the mattress for himself and use it.

 

The mattresses were just a small part of the many gifts which Mrs. Cavazza, now an enthusiastic cooperator in the works of Father Alberione, gave to the House up to 1922 when the Lord called her to Himself. When she came to know that Father Alberione wanted to have a little chapel in the house, she gave him a beautiful chalice, which was used for the first time on June 29, 1918. Twice a week a cart left Barbaresco carrying to Alba the famous “Barbaresco” wine, coffee, meat, home-made bread, fruit, medicine, etc. – all things destined for Father Alberione but which, because of his disposition, were regularly passed on to his boys.

 

The lady wanted to do more and to give not only things but her time as well: she helped in editing The Gazette of Alba; she offered two manuscripts of her own, “The Duties of Daughters” and “Duties of Wives and Mothers”; and she assisted every time she could in reading and correcting the proofs.

 

 

B. First Reading (I Tm 6:2c-12): “But you, man of God, pursue righteousness.”

 

In today’s Second Reading (I Tm 6:2c-12), Saint Paul reminds Timothy about the danger of wealth and money. Timothy, a leader of a Christian community, must not succumb to seductions of worldly riches, but rather pursue the virtues and qualities of true discipleship. He must “compete well for the faith” in order to reach the goal of eternal life. Paul reminds Timothy of the “noble confession” he made at his baptismal consecration and ordination. Timothy’s task is to bear faithful witness to Christ and the Gospel. His duty as bishop includes the pursuit of justice and righteousness - of love, patience and gentleness - on behalf of the people he serves. His pastoral commission involves striving for justice and care for the poor.

 

The Korean martyrs Saint Andrew Kim Taegon and Sant Paul Chong Hasang exemplify the sterling qualities of Christian discipleship and Church ministry (cf. Wikipedia profiles on the Internet).

 

Saint Andrew Kim Taegon: Saint Kim Taegon Andrea (1821-1846), generally referred to as Saint Andrew Kim Taegon in English, was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is the patron saint of Korea. In the late 18th century, Roman Catholicism began to take root slowly in Korea and was introduced by laypeople. It was not until 1836 that Korea saw its first consecrated missionaries (members of the Paris Foreign Missions Society) arrive, only to find out that the people were already practicing Catholicism.

 

Kim’s parents were converts and his father was subsequently martyred for practicing Christianity, a prohibited activity in heavily Confucian Korea. After being baptized at age 15, Kim studied at a seminary in the Portuguese colony of Macau. He also spent time in study at Lolomboy, Bulacan, Philippines, where a statue of his stands in a village. He was ordained a priest in Shanghai after nine years (1844) by the French bishop Jean Joseph Ferreol. He then returned to Korea to preach and evangelize. During the Joseon Dynasty, Christianity was suppressed and many Christians were persecuted and executed. Catholics had to covertly practice their faith. Kim was one of several thousand Christians who were executed during this time. In 1846, at the age of 25, he was tortured and beheaded near Seoul on the Han River.

 

His last words were: “This is my last hour of life, listen to me attentively; if I have held communication with foreigners, it has been for my religion and for my God. It is for Him that I die. My immortal life is on the point of beginning. Become Christians if you wish to be happy after death, because God has eternal chastisements in store for those who have refused to know Him.”

 

Before Ferreol, the first Bishop of Korea, died from exhaustion on the third of February 1853, he wanted to be buried beside Kim, stating, “You will never know how sad I was to lose this young native priest. I have loved him as a father loved his son; it is a consolation for me to think of his eternal happiness.”

 

On May 6, 1984, Pope John Paul II canonized Kim along with 102 other Korean martyrs, including Paul Chong Hasang, during his trip to Korea. Their memorial is September 20.

 

***

 

Saint Paul Chong Hasang: Saint Paul Chong Hasang (1794 or 1795 – September 22, 1839) was one of the Korean martyrs. He was the son of the martyr Augustine Jeong Yak-Jong and a nephew of noted philosopher John Jeong Yak-Jong, who were among the first converts of Korea, who wrote the first catechism for the Roman Catholic Church in Korea (entitled “Jugyo Yoji”). When Yakjong was martyred with Hasang’s older brother, Yakjong’s wife and the remaining children were spared and went into a rural place. Hasang was seven years old.

 

When he grew up, Hasang chose to become a servant of a government interpreter. This enabled him to travel to Beijing multiple times, where he entreated the bishop of Beijing to send priests to Korea, and wrote to Pope Gregory XVI via the bishop of Beijing, requesting the establishment of a diocese in Korea. This happened in 1825.

 

Some years later, Bishop Laurent-Marie Joseph and two priests were sent. The bishop found Hasang to be talented, zealous and virtuous. He taught him Latin and theology, and was about to ordain him when a persecution broke out. Hasang was captured and gave a judge a written statement defending Catholicism. The judge, after reading it, said: “You are right in what you have written, but the king forbids this religion; it is your duty to renounce it.” Hasang replied, “I have told you that I am a Christian, and will be one until my death.”

 

After this Hasang went through a series of tortures in which his countenance remained tranquil. Finally, he was bound to a cross on a cart and cheerfully met his death at the age of 45.

 

The Korean Martyrs are commemorated by the Roman Catholic Church with a memorial on 20 September. 103 of them, including Hasang, were canonized by Pope Paul II in 1984.

 

 

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

 

1. Am I sensitive to the needs of the Gospel workers? Do I promote and collaborate in their ministry? How?

 

2. Like Saint Timothy and the martyrs, are we willing to compete well for our faith and to make a noble confession of our faith?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

your Son Jesus became poor

and allowed the ministering women

to provide for his needs.

Like the holy women who joined Jesus in his public ministry,

may we collaborate intimately in his saving ministry.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

Loving Father,

we pray for the ministers of the Church

that they may strive

for righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

Grant that they may compete well for the faith

and firmly profess their faith before all.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.

Amen.     

 

 

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

 

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

 

“They provided for them out of their resources.” (Lk 8:3) // “Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life.” (I Tm 6:11-12)

 

 

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

 

Endeavor to help the needy priests in any way you can. // Pray for priests who are in crisis. Do what you can to help them persevere in the race of faith.

    

 

*** *** ***

 

September 21, 2019: SATURDAY – SAINT MATTHEW, APOSTLE, EVANGELIST

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Calls Matthew to Follow Him … He Is the Source of Gifts to Build Up the Church”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Eph 4:1-7, 11-13 // Mt 9:9-13

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 9:9-13): “Follow me. And standing up, he followed him.”

 

The Fresno-based Poverello House is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization whose mission is to enrich the lives and spirits of all who pass their way, to feed the hungry, offer focused rehabilitation programs, temporary shelter, medical, dental and other basic services to the poor, the homeless, the disadvantaged, without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex or disability through Providential and community support. Its founder is Mike McGarvin, a man who had experienced God’s mercy and transforming compassion through a saintly Franciscan priest, Fr. Simon Scanlon. They met at the “Poverello Coffee House” which Fr. Simon opened in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, notorious for its poverty, prostitution and violence. Mike narrates: “Gradually my life of self-indulgent destruction was being replaced by a life of service … I began seeing people through Father Simon’s eyes. He, in turn, saw people through Christ’s eyes, and he deeply believed that Jesus walked among the poor and the outcast. It was a revelation to me. The more I got to know the people who came to Poverello, the more compassion I felt for them.”

  

Today’s Gospel reading (Mt 9:9-13) is not only a concise presentation of Matthew’s vocation story, but also a powerful theology of the Christ, as full of compassion and mercy. The liturgical scholar, Adrian Nocent explains: “St. Matthew records his own calling in a simple, straightforward way … Christ chooses and calls; the person chosen and called immediately leaves everything and follows Jesus … Jesus comes to dine with Matthew and the other disciples in Matthew’s house at Capernaum; they are joined at table by many tax collectors and sinners, to whose ranks Matthew belonged until now.  It is easy to see the point Matthew wants to make, namely, that Jesus has come into the world to save not only the Jews but others as well, including sinners. When Jesus is challenged for eating with sinners, we observe that he does not justify himself but simply speaks of himself as a physician. A physician does not have to justify his presence among the sick; neither does Jesus. Matthew is thus, once again, offering us a theology of the Christ. Jesus is characterized by mercy, because his Father is mercy itself and he, Jesus, has been sent in order to communicate God’s mercy.

 

 

B. First Reading: Eph 4:1-7, 11-13: “It was his gift that some should be apostles, others evangelists.”

 

Today’s First Reading (Eph 4:1-7, 11-13) is about the unity and growth in the Body of Christ and the various gifts received from Christ for the building up of the Church. Saint Paul urges the believers to live a life worthy of their Christian calling. The Holy Spirit, the single inner source of Christian life, moves all members toward what promotes peace and harmony. Within this basic unity, there are gifts from the Risen Christ so that each member may contribute in a unique way to the growth and progress of the Church. The one who “gave gifts to mankind” has appointed some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, others to be pastors and teachers. Saint Matthew is an example of those whose roles are essential to the life of the Church. The giftedness of the Church is in view of the unity in our faith and the growth in the knowledge of Christ. We endeavor to become mature people, reaching to the very height of Christ’s stature.

 

The following profile of a parishioner shows how one’s “gifts” are used for Church ministry and the building of the Body of Christ (cf. Jessi Emmert, “Francis O’Brien: Constant Fixture at His Parish” in Our Sunday Visitor, December 30, 2012, p. 12).

 

Francis O’Brien, a retired military officer, is a vital part of St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church in Roswell, Georgia. He leads the Rosary before the 8:00 a.m. daily Mass, serves as a lector when needed and is secretary of the parish’s pro-life committee. “He’s the type of person who is quiet”, said Yakaly Fernandez, a fellow parishioner. “He will do things without anybody knowing, and that’s what I think is amazing.” O’Brien is a fixture in the parish. “He’s there every single morning”, Fernandez said.

 

O’Brien loves his parish because of its active and vibrant culture. “We have perpetual Eucharistic adoration, which is a great thing for a parish”, he said. “I take part in that.”

 

O’Brien’s wife, Judy, is also involved at St. Peter Chanel and serves on the pro-life committee with him. The parish is the closest one to the couple’s home, and they have been attending since the parish began in 1998. O’Brien described how they have seen the church grow throughout the years. “In the beginning, Mass was being held in school gymnasiums and so on, then to the temporary sanctuary, and now we’re in the permanent church”, he said.

 

O’Brien is also involved in a Catholic outreach, “The Society of St. Francis and St. Therese” that sends out postcards to the public, offering a free course in Catholicism. He has used his retirement in a beautiful way that gives back to the Church. His passion for stewardship, evangelization, service and commitment to life represent the qualities of a strong and focused parishioner.

 

O’Brien is a symbol of the countless men and women who serve in parishes around the world. While they may not have an official title in the Church, their dedication and servants’ hearts make the ministry of the Catholic Church possible. Their silent but steadfast work may often go unnoticed, but they deserve a standing ovation for their loyalty and love.

 

  

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

 

1. What is our response to Jesus’ call addressed personally to each of us, “Follow me”? Are we willing to welcome fully into our hearts Jesus and the gift of divine mercy that he brings? 

 

2. How do we promote the unity and vitality of the Church? What are the “gifts” we have received from the Risen Christ and how do we use them for the building up of the Church?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you are kind and merciful.

In calling Matthew,

and in dining with sinners and tax collectors,

you reveal that you are truly the divine physician

who comes to heal our sickness and infirmities.

Help us to cling to your words:

“I desire mercy, not sacrifice.

I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

            ***

Loving Father,

we are many parts of the one body.

We thank you for the oneness and fullness that you give us

through Christ in the Spirit.

May the “gifts” we have received

be wisely used for service

and to build up the Body of Christ.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.

Amen.     

 

 

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

 

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

 

“Follow me.” (Mt 9:9) //“But grace was given to each of us.” (Eph 4:7) 

 

 

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

 

By your vocation, ministry and compassionate acts of mercy, resound in today’s world God’s call to Matthew and to us all: “Follow me!” // Identify your “gifts” received from the Risen Christ and, in imitation of Saint Matthew, put them to use for the building up of Christ’s Body, the Church.

---

*** 

 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM

 

 

PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER

60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314

Tel. (718) 494-8597 // (718) 761-2323

Website: WWW.PDDM.US

 


PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

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


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