Archives: Year C-S20 - Year B-S19 -Year A-S18 - Year C-S17 - Year B-S16 - Year A-S15 - Year C-S14 - Year B-S13 - Year A-S12 - Year C-S11 - Year B-S10 - Year A-S9 - YYear C-S8

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

 

A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

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N.B. The Lectio Divina for the the Second Week of Advent is ready. You can access it by going to ARCHIVES "Year C - Series 20" (cf. above) and click on "Advent Week 2".

 

Please go to our website www.pddm.us 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.

 

As the Pauline Family celebrates the 50th Death Anniversary of our Founder Blessed James Alberione (April 4, 1884 - November 26, 1971), we graciously invite you to discover his marvelous contributions to the Liturgical Movement of the Church. Please go to our website www.pddm.us and click on "Pauline Pastoral Tools".

 

 

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NOVEMBER 28, 2021: FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

 “JESUS SAVIOR: In Him Redemption Is at Hand”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 33:14-16 // I Thes 3:12-4:2 // Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 21:25-28, 34-36): “You redemption is at hand.”

            July 16, 1990: A terrible earthquake jolted the island of Luzon in the Philippines and wrought havoc and misery. People were entombed alive in the collapsed buildings. One young man was buried two weeks in the basement of a ruined hotel in Baguio City. On the 13th day he lost hope of being rescued and decided to hasten his death. He started to bang his head viciously against a concrete slab, but a pair of invisible hands gently restrained him from killing himself. A serene feeling took hold of him and there was the assurance that redemption was at hand. He relaxed his battered body on the cold slab. On the 14th day the rescuers found him and were able to break through. He was liberated from his tomb of death. As he weakly mouthed his words of thanks (“Salamat! Salamat!”) to the rescuers, his family and friends wept for joy. The young man’s advent expectation for redemption was fulfilled. 

            With the First Sunday of Advent we begin a new liturgical year – a year of grace – with its renewed assurance that our redemption is at hand. As we celebrate the entire arc of salvation history through the year, the grace of radical redemption won for us by Jesus Christ in his Paschal Mystery progressively unfolds. It makes itself present anew into the “here and now” of our life, until the day of cosmic “christification” when Christ will restore all things in himself. The liturgical year is the “sacrament” or “sacred sign” of Christ’s redeeming act in time. 

The Advent season of grace begins with apocalyptic images: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and waves …” (Lk 21:25). These cataclysmic images are not meant to frighten us, but rather, an invitation to open ourselves to the saving intervention of Christ and the grace of his kingdom. Jesus tells his followers not to panic when they see strange signs occurring. These signs are prelude to the final redemption. Indeed, the awesome scene of the coming of the Son of Man at the end of the world is a radical call to open our hearts to Christ’s redeeming love and to the pursuit of his kingdom.

 

B. Old Testament Reading (Jer 33:14-16): “I will raise up for David a just shoot.”

 

The 2006 September issue of ST. ANTHONY MESSENGER magazine dedicates a special section to “Healing After 9/11”. Its cover photo by Eric Bechtold is deeply evocative. The cover shows a beautiful rose gently opening its yellow-pink petals and glistening in the radiant sun. This symbol of life and beauty is set against the grim backdrop of an austere iron fence beside the former World Trade Center, in New York’s Ground Zero site. The cover photo, as well as the interesting articles that accompany it, conveys a lesson of hope and reminds a bruised people that goodness prevails, that grief will turn to joy, and that today’s challenge is to look forward to a healing future.

 

Replete with grace and hope and permeated with the reality of redemption, the liturgy of the First Sunday of Advent challenges us to look beyond the specter of doom and destruction that assails us. It invites us to trust in Jesus Christ who assures that our redemption is at hand. The promise of redemption by the coming of the Son of Man at the end of time acquires deeper perspective against the background of the suffering people of Israel and the prophetic vision of a “just shoot” sprouting from the royal lineage of David (cf. Jer 33:14-15). Despite everything, even destruction and exile, the prophet Jeremiah assures the people of Israel and Judah that nothing can turn God away from keeping his promise of redemption.

  

The promised virtuous branch from the branch of David is accomplished in Jesus, the Messiah, who has come and will come again on the last day. Christ will come again at the end time to restore all things in him. The goodness of the faithful God in sending us “the just shoot” and the saving act accomplished by Jesus Christ – “the righteous branch of David” - by his death and rising invite us to look with hope and joyful expectation to the parousia or end-time. It is a cosmic event and all-embracing.

 

 

C. Second Reading (I Thes 3:12-4:2): “May the Lord strengthen your hearts at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

The messianic expectation for the Lord’s coming inflames St. Paul with zeal, urgency and enthusiasm. He exhorts the Thessalonians “to be blameless in holiness” at the coming of our Lord Jesus with his holy ones – the saints. He invites them to grow in a life pleasing to God and “to do so even more”. In effect, St. Paul is reminding us that we anticipate in our individual lives Christ’s parousia and promote the cosmic transformation to be brought about by his definitive advent at the end time. Each day of our earthly life should be a portal that leads to eternal life.

 

The advent of Jesus Christ at the hour of our death is an intense personal moment that flows irreversibly to the parousia or end time, when all things would be restored in Christ. The encounter with death calls for vigilance and readiness. Though the specter of death can dishearten, the Christian vision of the “last things” – the ultimate triumph of God’s love, the offer of saving grace, the reality of eternal life, and our participation in Christ’s glory - puts us in proper perspective. This was the experience of Tony Snow, when he was battling colon cancer, to which he eventually succumbed in 2008. The former President Bush’s Press Secretary realized that we could wisely choose how to spend the interval between the “now” and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face. In the following testimony shared on the Internet, Tony Snow teaches us how to prepare for the decisive “advent” of the Lord in our personal life – for his coming at the hour of our death as our Master and Savior.

 

Blessings arrive in unexpected packages – in my case cancer. Those of us with potentially fatal diseases – and there are millions in America today – find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God’s will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence What It All Means, Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations. The first is that we shouldn’t spend too much time trying to answer the “why” questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can’t someone else get sick? We can’t answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.

 

I don’t know why I have cancer, and I don’t much care. It is what it is, a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out. But despite this – or because of it – God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don’t know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.

 

Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through the system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes us. Your heart thumps, you head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere. To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life – and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many non-believing hearts – an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live fully, richly, exuberantly – no matter how their days may be numbered.

 

Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease – smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see – but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance and comprehension – and yet don’t. By his love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise. (…)

 

Even though God doesn’t promise us tomorrow, he does promise us eternity – filled with life and love we cannot comprehend – and that one can in the throes of sickness point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather future storms. Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don’t matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?

 

When our faith flags, he throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it. It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us up – to speak of us!

 

This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back and appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid - every happiness more luminous and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God. We don’t know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us who believe, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place, in the hollow of God’s hand.

 

 

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

 

How does the promise of the “just shoot” impact you personally? When faced with specters of doom, death and destruction, are you willing to raise your heads and trust in God, believing that redemption is close at hand? Do we truly long for the definitive coming of the Messiah?

 

 

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

           

Loving Father,

we welcome with joy the various comings of Jesus Christ:

at Bethlehem, in the vicissitudes of our daily life

at the hour of our death and his final coming to “christify” all things.

We open our hearts to the saving grace he offers us

with great kindness and love.

May our Advent expectation energize us.

Let it be a torch for our faith.

May our lives be always directed to the end time,

to the perfect fulfillment of your saving plan

to restore all things in your beloved Son.

To him we cry out: “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!”

As people of Advent expectation, but already redeemed,

we look forward to the coming of your Kingdom:

a kingdom of justice, peace and love.

We love you and praise you,

we adore and serve you,

now and forever. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“Raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” (Lk 21:28)

 

 

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

 

Pray that the final coming of Christ may efficaciously shape the choices and actions of today’s Christian disciples. Make this season of Advent a privileged occasion to respond to the many tragedies in the world. An Advent “fasting” in view of a loving Christmas sharing with the poor is recommended.

 

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November 29, 2021: MONDAY – ADVENT WEEKDAY (1)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Heals Our Infirmities and He Gathers All the Nations”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 2:1-5 // Mt 8:5-11

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 8:5-11): “Many will come from the east and the west into the Kingdom of heaven.”

(Gospel Reflection by Bishop Joseph Mukala, India)

 

We are beginning a new spiritual journey with Jesus in this new liturgical year. It is indeed a new beginning for us. At this point, we cannot forget what the Responsorial Psalm invites us today, namely, to go up rejoicing to the house of the Lord. Our holy mother the Church teaches us that we are on a pilgrimage and during this pilgrimage many of us, along with the centurion of our Gospel, today request the Lord to heal us of our infirmities. But our faith is yet to be tested and verified. In the case of the centurion, the Lord gave him a super pass certificate when he said, “Truly I tell you in no one in Israel have I found such faith.” Yes, we would like to hear these words from the Lord in our regard. But we are still far from the disposition of the centurion as he approached the Lord for the cure of his servant.

 

What prevents us from having such faith as the centurion’s? Could it be that our faith is shallow due to our heavy dependence on our abilities or to the modern and present day challenges that draw us away from what is spiritual and transcendent? The centurion had to face certain challenges when he decided to go and meet the Lord and requested him to heal his servant. His own friends must have ridiculed him for seeking the assistance of a so-called Jewish preacher. His very 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 went and pleaded for the cure of his servant. With his love for his servant, along with the gift of faith that he received from God, he took the bold step in approaching Jesus with his request.

 

Look at the way Jesus responds to the request of the centurion when he said, “I will come and cure him.” 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. This is evident when he said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.”

 

At the beginning of this holy season of Advent, seek for healing that is more than physical. We all need healing of memories, such as the unjust dealing of a boss, the unkind word of a friend or a partner, etc.  Let us include all these intentions in our prayer during this period of waiting for the Lord who is born to us every day in the Eucharist and at Christmas. 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 (Is 2:1-5): “The Lord will gather all nations into the eternal peace of the Kingdom of God.”

 

Today’s Old Testament reading (Is 2:1-5) reminds me of something very inspiring that I found in the comics section of a daily newspaper. I cut it out and kept it in a folder to keep me upbeat. Bill Keane’s “Family Circus” cartoon shows the Mom looking out of the window and the Dad sitting in an armchair with a newspaper. Probably upset by grim news reports, the Dad remarks: “Sometimes I worry about the future of this country.” The Mom answers, “I don’t!” as she gazes at a vision of harmony and peace in the backyard while her children play with other kids: the eldest son is carrying piggyback a delighted black kid; the daughter and a Hispanic friend are doting over the baby doll in the baby carriage; the daughter’s twin brother is giving a lecture on space rockets to a enthusiastic brown-skinned friend; an Oriental little girl is reading a book to the attentive toddler; and a bird perched on a kid’s telescope is singing a happy song.

 

The vision of harmony and the spirit of hope presented in the cartoon, “Family Circus”, are offered to us more intensely by the liturgy of the Advent season. Today’s readings present the healing not only of the centurion’s servant, but the healing of relationships and of the nations. In the First Reading (Is 2:1-5), the prophet Isaiah presents the Lord as gathering all nations into the eternal peace of the kingdom of God. In the days to come, all nations will make their way to the mountain of God, and Jerusalem will become the center of instruction for all nations. In the mind of Isaiah, the recognition of Jerusalem as the goal of the nations is tantamount to recognizing the Lord God as sovereign. Above all, the recognition and acceptance of the Lord’s instructions are the keys to world peace, when swords will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. We too are called to “walk in the light of the Lord” that we may be able to radiate the light of salvation to all. With all the nations, we are called to make our way back to the new Jerusalem, the city of God.

 

 

C. First Reading for Year A (Is 4:2-6): “There will be splendor for the survivors.”

 

The Old Testament reading (Is 4:2-6) depicts the glorious destiny of the remnants of Israel. The survivors of the death-dealing Babylonian invasion have experienced “purgation”, that is, a cleansing of sin to make Jerusalem holy. The purge is ultimately an experience of salvation. There will be unlimited joy and splendor for the survivors and the Lord God would again be with his people. He would be present to them as he was during the march of the Israelites through the desert. God’s presence would be like a sheltering cloud and a guiding flaming fire. The prophet Isaiah beholds that “on that day, the branch of the Lord will be luster and glory”. This poetic image of hope evokes the coming of the Messiah in the time of grace that the Lord God chooses to fulfill his promise for his Chosen People, Israel.

 

The following story gives us a glimpse into the experience of the “remnants” or “survivors” of Israel and their joy of salvation (cf. Betty Sonderman, “God Bless America” in Reminisce: The 25th Anniversary Collection, ed. Catherine Cassidy, et. al, Milwaukee, Readers Digest Association, Inc., 2015, p. 66).

 

In February 1945, my parents, my brother and I had been confined in the Santo Tomas internment camp near Manila, in the Philippines, for three years after the Japanese took over the island. I was 7 when I told my mother about the shadow of a huge bird I had seen going across the hot, dry grounds of the camp a week before. She told me not to say anything about what I had seen. It was not a bird, of course, but a low-flying American plane.

 

For some time, the Filipinos outside our fence had been singing “God Bless America” as their way of letting us know that American troops were coming soon to liberate us. On a warm tropical night soon after the tanks of the 1st Cavalry Division and a flying column of American soldiers crashed through the gates of the internment camp, overpowered the guards and liberated us.

 

For the first time, we could leave our rooms at night. The next morning, the American soldiers shared their rations with internees, many of whom were near starvation.

 

There had been a lot of bombing around Manila the nights before our liberation. I recall my father telling us, “Look, there where the sky is red. That’s a rocket, and there are bombs.” “The rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air”, someone suddenly said. People had tears in their eyes. I didn’t understand the words then. Patriotic songs were forbidden in the camp.

 

When all of us arrived back in America, I was able to go to school, learning to read and write and sing. Now I love to sing, and “God Bless America” is my favorite song. Every time we sing it in my church choir, I still get a thrill.

 

 

 

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

 

Like the centurion, do we have the faith, trust and love to seek healing from our Lord Jesus? Do we welcome his transforming Advent into our life? What do we do to promote the healing of the sick, the healing of relationships, and the healing of nations? Do we look forward to the coming of the Messiah and rejoice in the joy given by God to the “redeemed”?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

we thank you for the season of Advent,

a season of new beginning and a time to seek healing.

It is a season of joy for the “redeemed”.

Please come into our life with your healing power.

Make us whole in mind, body and soul.

Bring healing to the nations and to all creation.

We rejoice in the joy that your advent brings.

Maranatha! Come, O Christ the Lord!

 

 

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.

 

“I will come and cure him.” (Mt 8:7) // “Let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Is 2:5) // “The branch of the Lord will be luster and glory for the survivors of Israel.” (Is 4:2)

 

 

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. Do what you can to promote justice and peace in your family and in the family of nations and thus hasten the definitive coming of God’s kingdom on earth.

 

 

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November 30, 2021: TUESDAY – SAINT ANDREW, APOSTLE

“JESUS SAVIOR: Andrew Is His First-Called … His Apostle Andrew Proclaimed His Saving Word”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rom 10:9-18 // Mt 4:18-22

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 4:18-22): “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”

 

The call of the first disciples (Peter and Andrew, James and John) is part of the prophetic fulfillment of the “great light” dispelling the gloom of darkness. Jesus, the “great light”, offers the gift of ministry to the fishermen by the lake: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men”. In effect, he invites them to share in his mission of radiating the life-giving light of God. He summons them to follow him who is the light of life and to abide by his light. He calls them to share intimately in his life and messianic mission of being light to the nations. The response of the fishermen is immediate and decisive. They left their nets, boats, and relations to follow Christ. Through the grace of vocation, these disciples are rendered capable of being fishers of men and of spreading the light of Christ to the world.

 

We too are called to be fishers of men and to spread the light of the Gospel. The apostle Andrew, honored in the Eastern Church with the title “Protoclete” or “First-Called”, is a model of total response to this call. Saint Andrew, the apostle, shows to us what it entails to proclaim the Gospel and to enable people of all nations to hear and respond to the word of faith. Here is his biographical profile taken from the Internet’s Wikipedia.

 

The New Testament states that Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter, by which it is inferred that he was likewise a son of John or Jonah. He was born in the village of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Both he and his brother Peter were fishermen by trade, hence the tradition that Jesus called them to be his disciples by saying that he will make them “fishers of men”. At the beginning of Jesus’ public life, they were said to have occupied the same house at Capernaum.

 

The Gospel of John states that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him and another unnamed disciple of John the Baptist to follow Jesus. Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and hastened to introduce him to his brother. Thenceforth, the two brothers were disciples of Christ. On a subsequent occasion, prior to the final call to the apostolate, they were called to a closer companionship, and then they left all things to follow Jesus.

 

In the gospels, Andrew is referred to as being present on some important occasions as one of the disciples more closely attached to Jesus. Andrew told Jesus about the boy with the loaves and fishes (John 6:8), with Philip told Jesus about the Greeks seeking him, and was present at the Last Supper.

 

Eusebius in his Church History 3,1 quotes Origen as saying Andrew preached in Scythia. The Chronicle of Nestor adds that he preached along the Black Sea and the Dnieper River as far as Kiev, and from there he traveled to Novgorod. Hence, he became a patron saint of Ukraine, Romania and Russia. According to tradition, he founded the See of Byzantium (Constantinople) in 38 A.D., installing Stachys as bishop. According to Hippolytus of Rome, he preached in Thrace, and his presence in Byzantium is also mentioned in the apocryphal “Acts of Andrew”, written in 2nd century. Basil of Seleucia also knew of Apostle Andrew’s mission in Thrace, as well as Scythia and Achaia. This diocese would later develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Andrew is recognized as its patron saint.

 

Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras in Achaea, on the northern coast of the Peloponnese. Early texts, such as “Acts of Andrew” known to Gregory of Tours, describe Andrew as bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified; yet a tradition developed that Andrew has been crucified on a cross of the form Crux decussata (X-shaped cross or “saltire”), now commonly known as a “Saint Andrew’s Cross” – supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been.

 

Cypriot tradition holds that a ship which was transporting Saint Andrew went off course and ran aground. Upon coming ashore, Andrew struck the rocks with his staff at which point a spring of healing waters gushed forth. Using it, the sight of the ship’s captain, who had been blind in one eye, was restored. Thereafter, the site became a place of pilgrimage … Other pilgrimages are more recent. The story is told that in 1895, the son of a Maria Greogiou was kidnapped. Seventeen years later, Saint Andrew appeared to her in a dream, telling her to pray for her son’s return at the monastery. Living in Anatolia, she embarked on the crossing to Cyprus on a very crowded boat. Telling her story during the journey, one of the passengers, a young Dervish priest became more and more interested. Asking if her son had any distinguishing marks, he stripped off his clothes to reveal the same marks and mother and son were thus reunited.

 

 

B. First Reading (Rom 10:9-18): “Faith comes from what is heard and what is heard comes from the preaching of Christ.”

 

Today’s First Reading deals with the confession of faith of Christian believers. Our faith in Jesus Christ must be expressed fully in our words and actions, indeed, by our very lives. Our inner conviction must be confessed and our faith in the Risen Lord must be witnessed to all. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 2, explain: “Paul is speaking of the word of faith, the object of apostolic preaching that announces Jesus dead and risen. To profess on the lips and from the heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead brings righteousness and gives access to salvation: none of those who have this faith will regret it at a time of judgment … To call on the name of Jesus is, therefore, a total act of faith in the Risen Lord who saves. It is an unconditional welcome to his power of resurrection, his strength for salvation … Such a path to salvation is open to all.”

 

The following testimony of a young lady physician gives insight into the meaning and challenges of making a confession of faith in today’s world – a faith confession already made by Saint Andrew in his life of ministry and martyrdom (cf. Cailin O’Reilly, “What God Means to Me” in Alive! September 2015, p. 10).

 

When I was younger I felt embarrassed about displaying my faith. One memory I still laugh at is the first day I moved into my halls in the University. I was so frightened about leaving home for the first time, and I decided to bring along my picture of the Sacred Heart. It was too big to fit into my luggage so I had to carry it into halls. Every person I met along the way stared at me as if I had three heads. I felt so mortified at the time as I thought everyone would make fun of me. They didn’t, thank God.

 

My picture of the Sacred Heart reminded me of the presence of God I my heart, and this is what gave me the inner strength to work for my dream of becoming a doctor. I have four brothers, one of them my twin, and I grew up in Armagh City. We are a very close family. I did my medical degree in University College Dublin, graduating in June 2014.

 

Mother Teresa once said: “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” These words epitomize what God means to me – he is love. He is reflected in how we choose to treat others and how we choose our lives. God has always been there to guide me in very choice I make. (…)

 

In Today’s society it is hard to keep God where he should be, t the very heart of our lives. It is so worth it if we try. He will help us through life which, as we all know, can be a struggle at times. When I struggle or stress, with every tear I say a prayer to God, Our Lady, my guardian angel. They carry me over every obstacle I hit.

 

It was caring for my beloved Nanny Mullen after her diagnosis with a brain tumor that inspired me to follow my vocation to care for the sick. Working alongside the hardworking nurses and dedicated members of the medical team, I am so blessed to be able to help the lives of those struggling with illnesses.

 

 

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

 

1. Like Saint Andrew, do you respond positively to the call of Christ to participate in his saving mission as the light of the world? What do you do to spread the Gospel and facilitate the people’s response to Christ, “the light to the nations”?

 

2. Do we imitate Saint Andrew in his zeal to proclaim the Gospel and in his sacrifice for the Gospel? Are we awed by the many people he touched by proclaiming the saving Word?

 

  

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

 

Loving Father,

we thank you for the miracle of vocation

and the grace of faithful response to that call.

We thank you for the prompt and radical response

of Peter and Andrew, James and John

to the call addressed to them by Jesus:

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men”.

Their intimate participation in the saving love of Jesus

transformed them into bearers of light and torchbearers of faith.

O dear Father! Let the light of Christ shine upon us.

Fill us with the warmth of his compassion

and the flame of his apostolic zeal.

Let us replicate in today’s troubled world

the saving event that happened in the Galilee of the Gentiles,

when the people of gloom had seen a great light.

Help us to imitate Saint Andrew, the “First-Called”,

in radiating the light of the Gospel to the nations on earth.

You live and reign, now and forever.

            Amen.  

 

            *** 

Lord,

in your kindness hear our petitions.

You called Andrew the apostle

to preach the gospel and guide your Church in faith.

May he always be our friend in your presence

to help us with his prayers.

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

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Mt 4:20) //“Faith comes from what is heard and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” (Rom 10:17)

 

  

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

 

By your words and example, and by material and spiritual means, promote priestly and religious vocations in the Church. Imitate Saint Andrew in his zeal to spread the Gospel. // Today resolve to share a kindly word with those around you and, in any way you can, let them hear the word of faith proclaimed with passion and devotion.

      

 

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

 

December 1, 2021: WEDNESDAY – ADVENT WEEKDAY (1)

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Healing and Feeding Good Shepherd”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 25:6-10a // Mt 15:29-37

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 15:29-37): “Jesus heals many and multiplies the bread.”

(Gospel Reflection by Bishop Joseph Mukala, India)

 

Jesus ushers in God’s kingdom in our hearts and in our lives. There is a sense of joy and feasting here. Returning to the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus goes up the mountain and sits down. Prophetic tradition speaks of the gathering, not only of the scattered people of Israel, but of all peoples on the holy mountain (cf. Is 25:6) and of God coming for them and feeding them there. Ezekiel prophesies (cf. Ezek 34:13-16) that God himself would shepherd his people and feed the sheep in pleasant pastures. Moreover, he would bandage those that are hurt and heal those who are sick. The advent of Jesus fulfills the divine promise of a healing and nourishing Shepherd. Jesus heals the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many other sick people placed at his feet. Jesus feels sorry for the hungry crowd and feeds them by multiplying the loaves of bread and fish. Witnessing the healing, the people give praise to God. Nourished by the loaves and fish, they feel satisfied. The celebration of the kingdom has begun and at the center of it all is Jesus Christ.

 

Saint Francis Xavier, known as the “Apostle of the Indies” and the “Apostle to the Far East”, incarnates the love of the healing and feeding Good Shepherd. The following notes about him, circulated on the Internet, are interesting.

 

Francis Xavier, born Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta (7 April 1506 – 3 December 1552) was a pioneering Roman Catholic missionary born in the Kingdom of Navarre (now part of Spain) and co-founder of the Society of Jesus. He was a student of Ignatius of Loyola and one of the first seven Jesuits, dedicated at Montnartre in 1534. He led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time. He was influential in the spreading and upkeep of Catholicism most notably in India, but also ventured into Japan, Borneo, the Moluccas, and into other areas which had thus far not been visited by Christian missionaries. In these areas, being a pioneer and struggling to learn the local languages in the face of opposition, he had less success than he had enjoyed in India. It was a goal of Xavier to one day reach China.

 

St. Francis Xavier is noteworthy for his missionary work, both as organizer and as pioneer. He is said to have converted more people than anyone else has done since Saint Paul. By his compromises in India with the Christians of St. Thomas, he developed the Jesuit missionary methods along lines that subsequently became a successful blueprint for his order to follow. His efforts left a significant impression upon the missionary history of India and, as one of the first Jesuit missionaries to the East Indies, his work is of fundamental significance to Christians in the propagation of Christianity in China and Japan, India (…)

 

Pope Benedict said of both Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier: "Not only their history which was interwoven for many years from Paris and Rome, but a unique desire — a unique passion, it could be said — moved and sustained them through different human events: the passion to give to God-Trinity a glory always greater and to work for the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to the peoples who had been ignored.” As the foremost saint from Navarre and one of the main Jesuit saints, he is much venerated in Spain and the Hispanic countries where Francisco Javier or Javier are common male given names. The alternative spelling Xavier is also popular in Portugal.

 

 

B. First Reading (Is 25:6-10a): “The Lord invites us to his feast and will wipe away the tears from all faces.”

   

Today’s Old Testament reading (Is 25:6-10a) depicts the definitive triumph of God’s kingdom at the end time. The fulfillment of God’s saving plan is imaged as a “feast of rich food and choice wines”. On that day of great feasting, the people redeemed would exclaim: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us” (Is 55:9). This bountiful banquet on the mountain of God is a symbol of eternal salvation, companionship and joy – of the delightful sharing in the riches of God and intimate communion in his delectable life.

 

The biblical scholar Eugene Maly comments: “One of the most pleasant of human activities is the family or community meal. In its ideal form, it is a time when those who love one another not only share the food they eat, but also share with one another their hopes and fears, their experiences and future plans. The love that already binds them is made stronger. The Scripture attests to the fact that a meal is expressive of a wide range of human attitudes and emotions … All mankind seems to be aware of the fact that a shared meal creates or strengthens a community of life among the participants. That is why this most human of activities would also be used to symbolize a community of life between human and divine participants … The Isaiah reading describes in rich imagery what is commonly referred to as the eschatological or end-time meal. In his description of this meal, the author is trying to bring home to the people the exquisite joy of that final day when they would be united with the Lord forever. A common life and common love are symbolized.”

 

Moreover, all peoples are invited to this grandiose banquet. The end-time feast is for all peoples, with God himself as the gracious host. He is the Lord of the banquet who satisfies our deepest longings. In Jesus Christ is the advent of the messianic banquet. In Jesus, God not only feeds the hungry but he also acts to make the lame walk, open the eyes of the blind, heal the sick. In him is total nourishment and healing.

 

As children of God and as disciples of Jesus, we are called to be instruments to respond to the needs of the world’s poor. The following story illustrates how God uses us to feed the hungry (cf. Carol Ermo, “Mysterious Ways” in Guideposts, September 2013, p. 39).

 

Brr. I hugged the warm Crockpot I was carrying as I walked to the building site. We’re hardy folks here in Wisconsin, but that fall day was beyond brisk. The women in my church group were bringing lunch to some Habitat for Humanity volunteers building a house in a working-class neighborhood. We’d made brownies, sandwiches and, most important, a huge batch of chili. Nearing the site, I wondered if chili would be enough to warm the bellies of the hungry crew.

 

Except there was no activity. No hammering. No saw buzzing. No drills whirring. No one working inside or out. Only one car was parked on the street. A man climbed out, pulling his jacket tight. “Didn’t anyone tell you ladies?” he said. “There’s no build today.” “No build? Why” I asked. “Windows didn’t come in”, the man explained. There’s not much to do without them. It’s so cold, we figured we’d hold off until they’re delivered.”

 

The pot of chili felt heavy. All that work we’d put in, chopping onions, browning the beef, mixing in the spices and waiting for it to cook. Now we had this enormous batch and no one to eat it. Maybe we’d split it up. My family would have supper for weeks. Then a thought popped into my head that didn’t seem to come from me. Take it to the homeless shelter.

 

The shelter? They planned way ahead and I was sure they already had a meal for the day. Then again, they could freeze the chili and serve it some other time. The women and I piled back into the car and drove to the shelter. A crowd of people huddled outside the cafeteria doors. “What’s going on?” I asked the shelter coordinator. “The group that was supposed to fix the meal today didn’t come in”, she said. “We’ve got all these people and nothing to feed them.” “You have something now”, I said.

 

There was enough chili for everyone … even for two stragglers who arrived after I thought the pot was empty. I shouldn’t have been surprised. This crew wasn’t the one we’d been planning to serve, but the Master Builder had a greater plan.

 

 

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

 

What is your response to the divine offer of total participation at the “banquet of salvation”? How do you prepare yourself for the heavenly feast? How do you image the compassionate Jesus who heals the sick and feeds the hungry?

 

 

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

 

O loving God,

you are the Lord of the banquet.

We thank you

for the “feast of rich food and choice wines”

you have prepared for us on your holy mountain.

The “banquet of salvation” at the end time

celebrates the definitive triumph of your kingdom

and the glory of your Paschal Lamb.

In our daily celebration of the Eucharist,

the supper of the Lamb,

we have a foretaste of the eternal joy

and the bounty of that heavenly feast.

Help us to imitate the compassionate Jesus,

who heals the sick and feeds the hungry.

Grant us the grace to live in charity and integrity

that we may participate fully and joyfully

in the eternal “banquet of salvation”.

You live and reign, 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.

 

“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all people.” (Is 25:6) // They all ate and were satisfied.” (Mt 15:37)

 

 

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

 

Pray that the Christian disciples may be heartened by the “banquet of salvation” prepared for us by the Lord at the end time and prefigured in the Eucharist. By your small acts of charity and good deeds, prepare to participate fully at the heavenly feasting. Endeavor to alleviate the hunger of the world’s poor and to satisfy their need for a nourishing and bountiful meal. Show your compassionate care to the sick.

 

 

*** *** ***

 

December 2, 2021: THURSDAY – ADVENT WEEKDAY (2)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is Our Rock and Foundation”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 26:1-6 // Mt 7:21, 24-27

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 7:21, 24-27): “Whoever does the will of my Father will enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

(Gospel Reflection by Bishop Joseph Mukala, India)

 

The Lord announced that the Kingdom of God is at hand (cf. Lk 17:21, Mk 1:15). Everyone is urgently searching for an entry into this kingdom where the Lord promises righteousness, peace and prosperity. The conditions that the Lord puts forward are not difficult for one who is seriously seeking the kingdom. That person is ready to dig deep and lay a firm foundation on Christ-rock so that it could stand even in difficult and trying times. While this digging is going on, we need to root out all that is not compatible with the kingdom so that the foundation may be strong. Then it could take in the shocks and violence, persecutions and rebuff, ridicule and scorn of an unbelieving world. The Church is attacked on every front. We are considered old-fashioned when we do not conform ourselves with the world on issues of life, death penalty, values, health care, etc.

 

Advent is a time to search the innermost recesses of our lives and to build a strong foundation. With a firmly grounded Christian life, nothing can detract us in our discipleship. St. Paul asserts that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, (cf. Rom 8:35). Who are the mother, brothers and sisters of Jesus? They are those who hear the word and put it into practice. Those who are transformed by it can be sure that no persecutions or attacks could overcome them.

 

 

B. First Reading (Is 26:1-6): “Let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith.”

  

Advent is a propitious time to build our lives on Christ, our Rock Foundation. That we may be solidly founded on Christ, “he who comes in the name of the Lord”, we need to live by his words and follow his heavenly Father’s will. Our lives must correspond to the truth of faith that we profess. Today’s Old Testament reading (Is 26:1-6) undergirds the Christian call for integrity in our faith. The prophet Isaiah speaks of God’s promise of a “fortified city”, built in response to the hope of the “poor”. The gates of his “strong city” are open to the just and those who keep faith in him, but not to the proud and the tyrants. Isaiah refers to the Lord as an eternal “Rock”, which is a metaphor for total dependability. Indeed, the Lord God will always protect the humble and those who trust in his saving word.

           

The following account illustrates how a sterling modern woman built a house, put her trust in God, built her family life on the Rock Foundation and drew strength from the word of God (cf. Elizabeth Sherill, “The Glory of Ruth” in Guideposts, October 2007, p. 101-104).

 

It was on a radio newscast on June 15, 2007, that I heard about the death of my friend Ruth: “Mrs. Billy Graham, wife of the well-known evangelist, died yesterday at eighty-seven.” Ruth had been ill for a long time, her face in their Christmas card photo a little thinner each year, until all I recognized were those lively and compassionate eyes. In my desk I found the file of our correspondence. Here were dozens of letters in Ruth’s bold, energetic handwriting, the words slanting backward till they almost lay on their sides. Embossed above them on each sheet was Little Piney Cove, North Carolina.

 

I saw myself driving for the first time up that steep mountain road to a rustic cabin nestled in the shelter of a cliff, seemingly the home of long-ago pioneers. Hand-hewn chestnut beams, rough plastering, an immense fireplace. In fact, on that first visit in the 1950s, the house was brand-new, designed cellar to roof by Ruth herself. Over the years the house came, for me, to stand for the woman herself: a woman for whom imagination often took the place of money. Because Bill took only a modest salary, a tight budget for the new house was her first challenge. “I wanted it to look”, she told me, “as though it had stood here forever.” But where would she find massive chestnut timbers like the pioneers used? From old abandoned cabins she tracked down in the hills and hollows. (…)

Imagination, love, humor – all were present in that house on the mountain.

 

But the chief thing the house reflected was a woman’s hourly, moment-by-moment reliance on God. In large German script on the broad wooden mantel above the fireplace six words were incised in gold: Eine Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott. These opening words of Martin Luther’s great hymn, “A mighty fortress is our God”, explained the confidence with which Ruth met the never-ending challenge of being a wife and a mother. God was the secure place from where she was able to fight all of the daily battles with dishes and disruptions and the differing needs of husband and children.

 

I don’t think Ruth’s Bible ever saw a shelf. It was open constantly, whatever room she was in, not just as an aid to prayer, but as a practical guide to every problem the day presented. Worship and daily living were, for Ruth, not separate things. Chores, games, school work, nature, study – she wove all of it into the fabric of faith.

 

 

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

 

Do we seek protection in the fortified “city of God” and strength from the Lord, the “eternal Rock”? Do we truly seek the will of the Father and his kingdom by building our life upon Christ, the foundation Rock? 

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

You are the rock-foundation of our life.

Instill our day-to-day options with your wisdom.

Make us firm in our choices for you.

Help us as we work for the advent of your kingdom.

Maranatha! Come, O Christ the Lord!

You live and reign, forever and ever.

            Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“The Lord is an eternal Rock.” (Is 26:4)  

 

 

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

 

When buffeted with challenges and difficulties in life, seek the protection of God and draw strength from his life-giving word. Share the inner strength of God with the people around you whose faith seems to be weak.

 

 

*** *** ***

 

December 3, 2021: FRIDAY – SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Joy-Giving Light”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 29:17-24 // Mt 9:27-31

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 9:27-31): “Believing in Jesus, two who were blind were cured.”

(Gospel Reflection by Bishop Joseph Mukala, India)

 

All those who sought Jesus for a cure or miracle needed to have faith in him and his power to heal. When that was not evident, he evoked that faith from them. In today’s Gospel passage, he asked whether they believed that he could do what they were imploring from him. They humbly answered “yes”. The two intercessors did not complain to Jesus that they were blind nor did they lament their situation. No! Rather, they just accepted in all humility their limitations and expressed their faith in Jesus who could cure and make them whole. Without trust and confidence in him, nothing much could be done for them. With their faith-filled “Yes”, Jesus granted them their request. The two blind men knew what the Messiah would do in his time. So they called upon him using the messianic title, “Son of David” that he might bring sight to their blindness. They were right in calling Jesus “Son of David”. Their simple faith and humility were eventually rewarded.

 

It is strange that Jesus asked them not to share the news with others. Is this possible? Jesus is not interested in being a sensation; he does not want people to have the wrong idea about his mission. But the healed blind men ignored his appeal and went about telling everyone what happened. They had regained not only physical sight, but also “in-sight”. Finally they could see who Jesus really is - the word of God and healer. They could not keep it for themselves. Indeed, the “good” news had to be shared.

 

 

B. First Reading (Is 29:17-24): “On that day, the eyes of the blind shall see.”

   

Blindness is often a metaphor for lack of knowledge and for obduracy of heart. The two blind men in today’s Gospel who followed Jesus, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!” already “know” Jesus and trust in him. Spiritually they are not blind. The miracle that restores their physical sight is a confirmation of the light of faith that enlightens their soul and enables them to perceive Jesus as the Messiah.

 

In the Old Testament reading (Is 29:17-24) there is the metaphor of blindness and deafness to indicate the mendacious state of the people in Judah. They have no “knowledge” of the ways of God and refuse to listen to his life-giving word. As a consequence of their “hardness”, tyrants oppress them and cause misery and affliction. The Lord God, however, promises redemption and transformation. The removal of ruthless tyrants is a messianic sign, as well as the return of the “knowledge of God” upon the land. The image of the deaf able to hear and the blind able to see, and the image of the Lebanon trees being transformed into an orchard and finally into a forest indicate a great reversal. God, in his marvelous goodness, is able to lead the people “out of gloom and darkness” into the light of the knowledge of God. The prophet Isaiah completes his messianic vision with the following words: “Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, and those who find fault shall receive instruction.”

 

The following is an example of a physically blind person who has learned to “really see” and to bask in the joy-giving “light” of God (cf. Karen Valentin in Daily Guideposts 2014, p. 383).

 

Janet Eckles, a fellow Latina and author, invited my family and me to her home. I’d been looking forward to meeting her after hearing about her book Simply Salsa. After losing her sight, struggling in her marriage, and grieving the murder of her teenage son, she began to encourage others in their own struggles.

 

She was every bit the radiant and energetic spirit I imagined. Meeting her was inspiring and exciting, but I was mortified when my father spoke about his fear of going blind. He’d had an optical stroke that blinded his left eye and later had cataracts removed in his right one. “I don’t know what I’d do if I ever went completely blind”, he said. “I don’t think I could handle that!”

 

Janet grabbed his hand and said with a laugh, “Are you kidding me? Going blind is the best thing that ever happened to me! I learned to appreciate things I had taken for granted before. It led me to new and exciting career, and I discovered things I could do in spite of my blindness and found adventure in that.”

 

Father wasn’t trying to offend, and Janet wasn’t at all insulted. Instead, she assured my father and reminded all of us that we can find joy and purpose in whatever circumstances come our way.

 

 

 

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

 

Do we welcome the “advent” of Christ into our life to bring about our rebirth “out of gloom and darkness” into the light of the knowledge of God?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you are our light and salvation.

Heal the blindness of our heart.

In your light we see light.

Help us to work for the advent of your joy-giving light to others

that they too may have a seeing heart.

Maranatha! Come, O Christ the Lord!

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“And out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see.” (Is 29:18) 

 

 

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

 

Pray for those who are blinded in heart that they may see light. Gently introduce someone to the radiant light of Christ in the Word and the Eucharist.

 

 

*** *** ***

December 4, 2021: SATURDAY – ADVENT WEEKDAY (1); SAINT JOHN DAMASCENE, Priest, Doctor of the Church

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Merciful One”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 30:19-21, 23-26 // Mt 9:35-10:1, 5a, 6-8

  

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 9:35-10:1, 5a, 6-8): “At the sight of the crowds, Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them.”

(Gospel Reflection by Bishop Joseph Mukala, India)

  

The Gospel reading (Mt 9:35-10:1, 5a, 6-8) underlines that Jesus Christ, the Master and the Healer, the Shepherd and the Guide, is “the Merciful One”. He visits God’s people, teaches in the synagogue and preaches the Good News of the Kingdom. He sees the crowd and is moved with pity for them because they are troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. His compassionate heart motivates him to dispatch his disciples on an “Advent mission”, that is, to proclaim the Gospel of salvation, a gift gratuitously received and that is to be gratuitously shared.

 

Pope Francis illustrates how to carry out the “Advent mission” entrusted to us by “the Merciful One” (cf. Nicole Winfield, “Pope Bolsters Charity Office to Be Near Needy” in Fresno Bee, November 29, 2013, p. A20).

 

When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis was known to sneak out at night and break bread with the homeless, sit with them literally on the street and eat with them, as part of his aim to share the plight of the poor and let them know someone cared.

 

That’s not easy to do now that he’s a pope. But Francis is still providing one-on-one doses of emergency assistance to the poor, sick and aged through a trusted archbishop. Konrad Krajewski is the Vatican Almoner, a centuries-old job of handling out alms – and Francis has ramped up the job to make it an extension of his own personal charity.

 

As Americans gathered for Thanksgiving on Thursday, Krajewski described how Francis has redefined the little known office of papal almoner and explained the true meaning of giving during a chat with journalists over coffee and pastries a few steps from the Vatican gates. “The Holy Father told me at the beginning: ‘You can sell your desk. You don’t need it. You need to get out of the Vatican. Don’t wait for people to come ringing. You need to go out and look for the poor’,” Krajewski said.

 

He gets his marching orders each morning: a Vatican gendarme goes from the hotel where Francis lives to Krajewski’s office across the Vatican gardens, bringing a bundle of letters the pope has received from the faithful asking for help. On top of each letter, Francis might write “You know what to do” or “Go find them”.

 

And so Don Corrado, as he likes to be called, hits the streets of Rome and beyond. He visits homes for the elderly in the name of the pope, writes checks to the needy in the name of the pope – even traveled to the island of Lampedusa in the name of the pope after a migrant boat capsized, killing more than 350 people.

 

Over four days on Lampedusa, Krajweski brought 1,600 phone cards so the survivors could call loved ones back home in Eritrea to let them know they had made it. He also prayed with police divers as they worked to raise the dead from the sea floor. “This is the concept: Be with people and share their lives, even for 15, 30 minutes, an hour”, he said.

 

The existence of the Vatican Almoner dates back centuries: It is mentioned in a papal bull from the 13th-century. Pope Innocent III, and Pope Gregory X, who ruled from 1271-1276, organized it into an official Holy See office for papal charity. Until Krajewski came along, the almoner was typically an aging Vatican diplomat who was serving his final years before being allowed to retire at age 75.

 

 

B. First Reading (Is 30:19-21, 23-26): “The Merciful One will show you mercy when you cry out.”

 

Today’s First Reading (Is 30:19-21, 23-26) is one of the most comforting texts in the Sacred Scriptures. It assures us that the Merciful One will show mercy when we cry out to him. He will be gracious to those who trust in him. He will guide and show us the way and will be the Teacher to counsel us. He will give us the bread we need and the water we thirst for. Nature will produce abundantly and there will be prosperity. Above all, on the day of great distress and judgment, God will be a healer for those who have recourse to him. He will bind up the wounds of his people and heal the bruises brought about by his just punishment. The Advent figure of “the Merciful One” is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

   

On December 6 we celebrate the optional memorial of a 4th century saint, Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra in Asia Minor, a model pastor noted for charity. Like Jesus, he is also a “merciful one”. He is popularized as Santa Claus, patron of children. He is also patron of bankers, pawnbrokers, sailors, perfumers, brides, unmarried women, travelers, fishermen, dock workers, brewers, poets, and prisoners, as well as of Russia, Greece, Sicily, Lorraine and Apulia in Italy, where his relics are enshrined in Bari. The life of charitable Saint Nicholas is filled with the “joy-giving light” of Christ. In celebrating Saint Nick we too share in that joy. The following personal account is heartwarming (cf. Nadine N. Doughty, “Season Started with St. Nick” in Country, December/January 2009, p. 61).

 

I wasn’t quite asleep, after all. A tiny sound of crackling cellophane roused me, and I opened my eyes. There, in the living room, I saw a plump figure – doing what, exactly? I shut my eyes quickly. It was St. Nicholas at work, and if he saw me awake, he might vanish!

 

No, it wasn’t Christmas Eve. In our family, we observed St. Nicholas’ Day weeks earlier. Every December 6, the generous saint of giving would celebrate his feast day by filling children’s stockings with goodies. My parents, who had German and Austrian roots, referred to the day as Nicolo, and every year they had my three brothers, my sister and me hang stockings on the old fieldstone fireplace. They’d even driven special nails into the mortar between the stones, just for that purpose.

 

Ready and Waiting: My red knee sock, my sister’s green one and my brothers’ white crew socks all made for a cheerful display. But it was nothing to the sight we knew would greet us the next morning! During the night, our parents said, good St. Nick would come to fill those stockings with delightful small surprises, and we’d see them as soon as we woke up. It made it almost impossible for us to fall asleep that night.

 

Sure enough, the next morning, the sight of those bulging stockings had us so excited that we usually didn’t wait until our parents were awake to raid them! What caused us such excitement? Living during the Great Depression was enough to make us see just about anything he’d leave as a genuine treat. So we’d exclaim over such riches as a pocket comb, or the notebooks we each got, every one with a cover in a different color. The older kids might get a penknife. I still recall fondly the colored pencils I got, and a blue velvet hair ribbon that I kept for years.

 

Sweet Treats: We’d all be thrilled to find apple and banana-shaped marzipan, a delectable almond-and-sugar candy that was a rare treat for us. And at the very bottom of each stocking were tucked a traditional orange and some nuts we could crack and crunch. We didn’t usually eat those oranges right away, but kept them so we could savor the anticipation of the rare and delicious flavor! After we showed everyone our treasures, the Christmas season was officially on. There’d be projects to sew, carve, draw or paint as gifts for every family member. Some had already been started, but now we knew we had to hurry to finish them in time for Christmas.

 

As we grew older, we’d start to give more elaborate Christmas gifts, often ones that required special shopping trips. Nicolo, though, remained our family’s simple, fun and special way to begin the Christmas season.

 

 

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

 

Are our hearts like that of Jesus, filled with compassion for others? What do we do to live fully our “Advent mission” as instruments of “the Merciful One”?

 

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

in you is the advent of “the Merciful One”.

You bind our wounds

and heal the bruises caused by our sinful offenses.

You nourish us with the food of eternal life

and make us drink at the font of salvation.

You have lightened our hearts with the Gospel you preach.

Now you dispatch us on an “Advent mission” to the nations.

Be with us and help us mirror to them your divine mercy.

Maranatha! Come, O Christ the Lord!

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

  

“He was moved with pity for them.” (Mt 9:36)

 

 

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

 

Pray for all missionaries in the world. By your kind words and charitable deeds to the people around you, especially the poor, the sick and the needy, let them experience the saving power of the Gospel and the compassionate heart of “the Merciful One”.

 

 

*** *** *** 

 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM

 

 

PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER

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

Tel. (559) 275-1656

Website: WWW.PDDM.US

 


PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER
3700 North Cornelia Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722 (USA)
Tel. (559) 275-1656
Website: 
WWW.PDDM.US


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