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A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy




Week 12 in Ordinary Time: June 25 – July 1, 2017



(The pastoral tool BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD: A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY & WEEKDAY LITURGY includes a prayerful study of the Sunday liturgy of Year C from various perspectives. For the Lectio Divina on the liturgy of the past week: June 18-24, 2017, please go to ARCHIVES Series 15 and click on “Corpus Christi/Ordinary Week 11”.




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“JESUS SAVIOR: He Gives Us Strength in Trials”




Jer 20:10-13 // Rom 5:12-15 // Mt 10:26-33





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 10:26-33): “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body.” 


The central message of this Sunday’s Gospel reading (Mt 10:26-33) is: do not be afraid to speak out for Jesus and proclaim his kingdom of justice and right. This courageous stance on behalf of the Lord and his reign of justice and peace is marvelously illustrated in the lives of Fr. Gregory Schaffer and Fr. Rother (cf. Kayla Ann Smith, “Standing for Guatemalans” in Maryknoll, May-June 2005, p. 19-21). Kayla, a Minnesota teen inspired by those who champion oppressed Central Americans, writes:


Father Schaffer’s true courage to stand up for the poor of Guatemala was put to the test when, in the 1980’s, there were armed campaigns pointed at the natives of Guatemala. Even though the priest from the New Ulm Diocese knew he could be killed at any time for helping the indigents of Guatemala, he remained with the people he had come to love. He was in an especially dangerous position, since he was aiding the innocent of Guatemala as well as being a Catholic priest. Through his many acts of charity, he spoke plainly and boldly that the poor cannot be ignored, and that we are called to help the less fortunate. Soon Father Schaffer found that he had been put on a death list. Although the fact of possible death would have scared many people to leave the terrorized country, Father Schaffer remained in Guatemala. He barely saved his life by convincing a military commander that he was not an ally of the guerrilla terrorists.


Father Rother, who was a priest in the neighboring town, Santiago de Atitlan, was not as fortunate as Father Schaffer. Father Rother was murdered by the death squads. The farmer’s son turned priest from Okarche, Oklahoma, paid the ultimate price for being a soldier of Christ. The loss of Father Schaffer’s fellow priest friend saddened him almost to the point of anger until he realized that Father Rother’s passing would be a powerful event that united all the people.


The Gospel reading (Mt 10:26-33) is part of Jesus’ discourse on the mission as narrated by Matthew. This inspiring message is addressed to the Twelve on how they are to conduct themselves as they proclaim the message of the Kingdom from land to land. What are the lessons that could be gleaned from the missionary discourse?


Eugene Maly answers: “First, that the kingdom message is explosive. It will make people rise up and try to stop those who preach it. It is a message that, once understood, people either accept wholeheartedly or reject violently. The Lord tells us to speak out our Kingdom conviction in public. Jesus was able to reach only a tiny part of the Near Eastern world. His followers must be his voice down through the ages and throughout the world. Despite the risk, our confidence and assurance lie, not in the acceptance of what we stand for by others (this may happen, but our experience may also be that of Jeremiah in the First Reading), but solely in the Lord’s concern for us. He takes care of his own. That, too, is a feature of the Kingdom message. It is what makes the whole missionary task possible.”


The missionary discourse of Jesus encourages the Christian followers to fearless confession in the face of opposition, contradiction and persecution. This Sunday’s Gospel passage is composed of three sayings and each saying is introduced by a “Do not fear” exhortation (cf. verses 26, 28, 31) meant to overcome the fears that may cause the disciples to abandon their mission.


The first saying is Mt 10: 26-27: “Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” The “Fear not” exhortation is based on the inevitability of the coming of God’s kingdom and Jesus’ witness to it. The Kingdom of God has arrived in Jesus’ person and in his message, and the disciples look forward to its final inward breaking at the time of the Lord’s second coming. Between the first and the second manifestation of the Kingdom an immense apostolic work and proclamation ought to be done. The kingdom of God message, proclaimed once by Jesus, must be repeated to every generation as a fearless witness to truth. Indeed, through the missionary and evangelizing work of Christian disciples, Jesus Truth will be widely proclaimed to all peoples and nations.


The second saying is Mt 10:28-30: “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the souls; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted.”  This saying appeals to God’s care for Jesus’ disciples. God’s providential care extends to the sparrow, which is one of the cheapest articles sold in the market, and to the human person whose very being is known to him through and through. Using a rabbinic tool that compares a light matter to a serious one, Jesus seeks to dispel fear and evoke trust in God’s care for his disciples. The all-knowing and compassionate God who cares for the sparrows has even greater care for the faithful disciple who sacrifices his life for the spread of the Gospel. Jesus argues that the enemies may destroy the body, but not the soul. The worst aggressions against the body do not always succeed in reaching person’s inner core where true dignity and greatness reside. God who knows when a small bird dies and perceives the destiny of each creature is mindful of the trials and anguish endured by the disciples on behalf of God’s kingdom.


The third saying is Mt 10:31-33: “So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” Jesus’ saying points to the final judgment before God, which will be based on the disciples’ faithfulness to Jesus during the conflicts that are part of their mission. Those who make the Lord’s cause their own will be assured of Jesus’ support for them on Judgment Day. At that dreadful hour, they will hear again his assurance, Do not be afraid.”



B. First Reading (Jer 20:10-13): “He has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked.”


Suffering seems to be an integral element of a God-given mission. Some suffering is inevitable for those called by God for a special ministry. The pathos and intense pain of the prophet Jeremiah illustrate this reality. Today’s Old Testament reading (Jer 20:1-13), which is a part of his fifth Confession (Jer 20:7-18), depicts the drama of a persecuted prophet and illustrates the triumph of faith in the divine presence and intervention: “But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion” (verse 11a). Jeremiah laments to God that his enemies are closing in on him for he has obeyed God’s promptings. Jeremiah has prophesied that Judah, on account of its infidelity and social injustice, would be destroyed and its people led away in captivity.


The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 4, comment: “The prophet’s distress expresses itself in moving language … He comes back to the persecutions, directed against him, whenever the irresistible thrust of the divine word obliges him to shout, Violence and plunder. Even those who seem friendly plot with his declared enemies … But after this profoundly human cry of distress, faith prevails, stronger and more tenacious than the fear that would submerge the prophet: But the Lord is with me: like a mighty champion; my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph … Thanks to this surge of trust, Jeremiah foresees that he will conquer overwhelmingly … It is to God that Jeremiah entrusts his cause, and it is upon him that he places the too heavy burden which overwhelms him. This cry toward God is prolonged by a thanksgiving in which we all are invited to share, each of us, personally and as a church. Jeremiah is really the father of this spiritual posterity of the poor, those dependents of God who in their material and spiritual distress place their cause in God’s hands.”


Like Jeremiah’s message, the Kingdom message that we – Christian disciples – are called to proclaim is confrontational and explosive. It radically calls into question and impeaches a world based on false values. Conflicts are thus unavoidable. Indeed, a Gospel proclamation that is innocuous - bothers no one - and questions nothing is no longer a Gospel.


The Church in Zimbabwe is experiencing intense trial as it fights social injustice and testifies to the Gospel values. In its endeavor to confront the civil authorities with the need for social justice and the defense of human rights, the Church in Zimbabwe is experiencing conflicts and hostility (cf. “Resistance to Injustice Continues After Outspoken Prelate Resigns” by Henry Makori in Our Sunday Visitor, October 14, 2007, p. 4).


The fight for social justice by the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe will continue despite being wounded by the recent resignation of Archbishop Pius Ncube, a leading voice against President Robert Mugabe’s oppressive rule. Archbishop Ncube unexpectedly quit his post as archbishop of Bulawayo last month after an adultery charge that for weeks drew loud jeers from the president, his ruling party and the state-controlled media.


Admittedly, the resignation stunned many people. “Personally, I did not expect this to happen. I do not think many others did”, Father Oskar Wermter of Jesuit Communications in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, said. “It is a shock, and it is very painful to all of us.” But, he said, people “Will recover and continue their resistance. Maybe it teaches them that this clash between Church and state is serious and needs real commitment.” The resignation has not diminished the Archbishop’s stature in the eyes of most Zimbabweans, said Sister Veronica Dingi, spokeswoman for the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA). “People still respect him and are still praying for him in different parishes”, she said. The major challenge for the Church at the moment, Sister Dingi said, is that of being ridiculed at every opportunity and its bishops being looked upon as having no wisdom. “That is a pain for many Catholics.”


Archbishop Ncube publicly blames his woes on “a state-driven, vicious attack, not just on myself but, by proxy, on the Catholic Church in Zimbabwe.” He said he resigned “to spare my fellow bishops and the body of the Church any further attacks.” The archbishop also said he would face the charges as an individual so the Church was not put on trial. The resignation of Mugabe’s most ardent critic – who garnered worldwide media attention for his public resistance – has also worsened fears among Catholics who suspect the regime of closely monitoring the Church because of its stand against his persecution of the people … “Anyone resisting the regime is being targeted,” said Father Wermter. “As usual, of all the Christian churches, most of the opposition comes from the Catholic Church. That is nothing new.” (…)


There are still questions in Zimbabwe as to whether the state resorted to dirty tricks against the archbishop to silence him – as it often does against political opponents. Zimbabwean bishops said the accusations were “outrageous and utterly deplorable” and “an assault on the Catholic Church.” Archbishop Ncube’s resignation means the Church here, and all Zimbabweans, have lost one of their bravest and most candid voices against oppression. But the fight is not over, according to Father Wemter. “The defense of human rights and social justice will continue, with or without him,” he said. “It is not this or that individual leading this fight; it is the Church as a whole.”



C. Second Reading (Rom 5:12-15): “The gift is not like the transgression.”


The Second Reading (Rom 5:12-15) helps us delve into the wonderful consequence of Christ’s fidelity. His unmitigated trust in the word of God overcomes the effects of sin and death wrought by the first Adam. Christ’s faithfulness to God enables him to offer alienated humanity the gift of reconciliation and reap the precious fruits of “grace abounding”. Indeed, Christ’s beneficence overturns the destruction caused by Adam’ disobedience and negation of God’s love.


The biblical scholar John Pilch comments: “Paul’s main interest is not to talk about sin or death, but rather to draw a contrasting picture of Adam and Christ, prominent figures of the beginning and the end time respectively. Adam is a type or prototype of the person to come, namely, Jesus, who would far surpass what Adam did. The world was changed by both of these individuals. Adam unleashed an active hostile force into the world (sin), which has the power to cause definitive alienation (death) from God, the source of all life … In contrast, Christ’s effect is starkly different. Through the gracious gift, namely, the redemptive death of Jesus Christ uprightness and life super-abound for all individuals who accept him.”


The following story illustrates beautifully the heartwarming message that God’s grace is greater than the power of evil or the effects of sin (cf. Facing the Enemy” by Laura Hillenbrand in Guideposts, January 2011, p. 52-57). Temptations to hate and despair can be overcome by letting the “seeds of faith” grow and by surrendering to the mighty love of God.


As a boy in California in the 1920s and early 1930s, Louie Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. Then he discovered that he had an extraordinary talent for running. He became a world-famous track phenomenon, competing in the 1936 Berlin Olympics when he was still a teenager.


World War II began, and Louie set aside athletics and joined the Army Air Corps. He was stationed in Hawaii as a bombardier, fighting harrowing air battles against the Japanese. On May 27, 1943, Louie and his crew took off to search for a missing bomber. Far out over the Pacific, engine failure sent their plane plunging into the ocean. Trapped by wires in the wreckage, Louie passed out. When he came to, the wires were gone. He swam to the surface and climbed onto a raft, joining two other survivors. They’d sent no distress call, and no one knew where they were. For weeks the men floated, followed by sharks, surviving on rainwater and the few fish and birds they could catch. On the twenty-seventh day, a plane appeared. Louie fired flares, and the plane turned toward them. But it turned out to be Japanese bomber, and its crewmen fired machine guns at the castaways. Louie leaped overboard. He had to kick and punch the circling sharks to keep them away until the firing stopped and he could climb back up onto the raft. Over and over the bomber returned to strafe the men, sending Louie back into the shark-infested water. By the time the bomber flew off the raft was riddled with bullet holes and was starting to sink. Amazingly, none of the men had been hit, but the sharks tried to drag them away. Beating them off with oars, the men frantically patched the raft and pumped air into it. Finally the sharks left.


On they drifted, starving. One man died; Louie and the other crewmen hung on. On the forty-sixth day, they saw a distant island. They rowed toward it. When they were only yards from shore, a Japanese boat intercepted them. For the next two and a quarter years, Louie was a captive of the Japanese military. First he was held in a filthy cell, subjected to medical experiments, starved, beaten and interrogated. Then he was shipped to a prison camp in Japan, where he was forced to race against Japanese runners, winning even though he knew he’d be clubbed as punishment. He joined a daring POW underground, stealing food and circulating information to other captives.


It was in the prison camp that Louie encountered a monstrous guard known as the Bird. Fixated on breaking the famous Olympian, the Bird beat Louie relentlessly and forced him to do slave labor. Louie reached the end of his endurance. With his dignity destroyed and his will fading, he prayed for rescue. When the atomic bombs ended the war, the Bird fled to escape war-crimes trials, and Louie was saved from almost certain death.


He went home a deeply haunted man. He had nightmares of being bludgeoned by the Bird. Trying to rebuild his life, he married a beautiful debutante named Cynthia, but even her love couldn’t blot the Bird from his mind. He sought solace in running, but an ankle injury, incurred in POW camp and exacerbated by the Bird’s beatings, hampered him. Just as he was reaching Olympic form again, his ankle failed. His athletic career was finished.


Devastated, he started drinking. He had flashbacks: The raft of the prison camp would appear around him, and he’d relive terrifying memories. He simmered with rage, provoking fistfights with strangers and confrontations with Cynthia. He couldn’t shake the sense of shame that had been beaten into him by the Bird. Louie thought that God was toying with him. When he heard preachers on the radio, he turned it off. He forbade Cynthia to go to church. He drank more and more heavily. In time, Louie’s rage hardened into a twisted ambition: He would return to Japan, hunt down the Bird and strangle him. It was the only way he could restore his dignity. He became obsessed, trying to raise the money for the trip, but his financial ventures kept failing.


One night in 1948, Louie dreamed he was locked in a death battle with the Bird. A scream startled him awake. He was straddling his pregnant wife, hands clenched around her neck. His daughter was born a few months later. One day, Cynthia found him shaking the baby, trying to stop her from crying. She snatched the baby away, then packed her bags and walked out.


In the fall of 1949, Cynthia made a last effort to save her husband. She asked Louie to come to a tent meeting in Los Angeles, where a young minister named Billy Graham was preaching. For two nights, Louie sat in that tent, feeling guilty and angry as Graham spoke of sin and its consequences, and God bringing miracles to the stricken. On the second night, Graham asked people to step forward to declare their faith. Louie stood up and stormed toward the exit. But at the aisle, he stopped short. Suddenly he was in a flashback, adrift on the raft. It hadn’t rained in days, and he was dying of thirst. In anguish, he whispered a prayer: If you will save me, I will serve you forever. Over the raft, rain began falling. Standing in Graham’s tent, lost in the flashback, Louie felt the rain on his face. At that moment Louie began to see his whole ordeal differently. When he’d been trapped in the wreckage of his plane, somehow he’d been freed. When the Japanese bomber had shot the raft full of holes, somehow none of the men had been hit. When the Bird had driven him to the breaking point, and he’d prayed for help, somehow he’d found the strength to keep breathing. And that day on the raft, he had prayed for rain, and rain had come. Louie’s conviction that he was forsaken was gone, replaced by a belief that divine love had been all around him, even at his darkest moments. That night in Graham’s tent, the bitterness and pain that had haunted him vanished.


A year later, Louie went to Japan. He was a joyful man, his marriage restored, his nightmares and flashbacks gone, his alcoholism overcome. He went to a Tokyo prison where war criminals were serving their sentences. He hoped to find the Bird, to know for sure if the peace he’d found was resilient. But the Bird wasn’t there. Louie was told that the guard had killed himself. Louie was struck with emotion. He was surprised by what he felt. It was not hatred. Not relief. It was compassion. Louie had found forgiveness. Louie’s Zamperini’s life is a journey of outrageous fortune, ferocious will and astonishing redemption.





1. In our Christian mission, are we brave and fearless in proclaiming the truth that is Jesus? Trusting in the irresistible power of the Kingdom of God, do we respond positively to Jesus’ exhortation: “Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.” (Mt 10:26-27)?


2. Do we trust in the divine solicitude that is called “providence”? Do we respond positively to Jesus’ exhortation: “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the souls; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted.”  (Mt 10:28-30)?



3. Are we ready to be faithful to Jesus in the midst of conflicts and trials that are part and parcel of the Christian mission? Do we respond positively to Jesus’ exhortation: “So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” (Mt 10:31-33)?





Loving Father,

by his public ministry and his paschal mystery,

your Son Jesus Christ proclaimed courageously

the absolute importance of the Kingdom value.

In our missionary task and Kingdom ministry,

help us to respond positively to his exhortation: “Do not be afraid.”

May we always trust in your divine solicitude for us,

knowing that we are worth more than many sparrows.

Fill us with courage and strength

that we may fully welcome our mission as witnesses to Christ

and fearlessly exercise our ministry as heralds of the Good News

in today’s anguished and fragmented world.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.






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


“So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Mt 10:31)





Pray for Christian missionaries who promote the Kingdom value with courage and conviction. Pray for those who are fearful when faced with the contradictions, persecutions, and violent reactions that their ministry is bound to elicit. Pray for those who have been persecuted, tortured and killed. Do what you can to aid the persecuted Christians with material, moral and spiritual means.



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June 26, 2017: MONDAY – WEEKDAY (12)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us that God Is the True Judge … He Shows Us How to Respond to Our Vocation to Glory”




Gn 12:1-9 // Mt 7:1-5





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 7:1-5): “Remove the wooden beam from your eye first.”


I was praying the rosary in the spacious and beautifully tended grounds of our Fresno convent. But I was perplexed when I saw a few trash items on the ground – a styrofoam cup, candy wrapper, empty bag of potato chips, etc. Who could have trashed this place of prayer? I picked them up and disposed of them in the garbage bin. Day after day, I would see trashed things here and there, not many, but enough to upset me. I complained how irresponsible and irreverent the “litterbugs” were. I fumed that some “pious” people coming to our convent for Mass were actually “litterbugs”. But the “evidence” was there – right? One morning, I took notice of a flock of crows – busy and noisy. One powerfully swept down from the sky. His beak was clutching an empty snack bag that he promptly trashed on the ground. An inner voice pierced my conscience: “Rash judgment! Rash judgment! You have been making a rash judgment!”


In today’s Gospel reading (Mt 7:1-5), Jesus tells us to stop judging that we may not be judged. Against the backdrop of the hypercriticism of the Pharisees and scribes, Jesus cautions against passing harsh judgment on others and denying them entry to the kingdom of God. To condemn others is not our prerogative. God alone is the true judge. We must leave judgment to the final judge. Instead of “judging” we must imitate the Divine Master’s compassionate stance and his work of healing and salvation. The measure we use to deal with others will be measured out to us. We will be judged on the basis of our own attitude – whether hypercritical or compassionate. Jesus, the son of a carpenter, uses carpentry images to deliver the irony of hypocrisy and false condemnation: the righteous with a wooden beam in the eye wants to remove the sawdust in another’s eye. In the biblical world, the “eye” represents a person’s attitude and understanding. Indeed, our pride obstructs the light of compassionate understanding and blinds us to our own faults and the duty of charity. Jesus warns against exaggerating our neighbor’s faults and minimizing our own. He wants us to remove the “wooden beam” dimension of our hypocrisy and pride that we may be able to remove charitably the “splinter” that hurts our neighbor’s eyes. He does not condemn fraternal correction, but false condemnation. Jesus Master counsels true compassion in dealing with our brothers and sisters.



B. First Reading (Gn 12:1-9): “Abraham went as the Lord directed him.”


In today’s Old Testament reading (Gn 12:1-9), we hear God calling Abraham to be the father of nations and we see the patriarch’s marvelous, obedient response to the divine call. Through Abraham’s faith and trust in Yahweh’s benevolent initiative, humanity’s compulsive path to destruction is radically changed. In calling Abraham, God offers him both a challenge and a promise of blessing. The call summons him away from his former life and challenges him to an ineffable relationship based entirely on faith and trust in God.


The vocation of Abraham is a vocation to grace and glory. It is replete with divine favor and blessing. God promises him: “I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you. I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessings in you” (Gen 12:2-3). Abraham responds to the divine command to leave his homeland to an unfamiliar land that God would show him. He “goes” with his wife Sarah. His “going” in the direction of the divine will is necessary for receiving the fullness of God’s gifts. By leaving behind his country, relatives and homeland, Abraham would become the father of a posterity that would end up as the “new people of God”. In obedient faith, Abraham travels to his true destiny of grace and glory. The remarkable response of Abraham to Yahweh prefigures the unconditional response of Jesus Christ to the divine saving plan.


The following modern day story gives insight into the pursuit of our true destiny (cf. Sandra Lee, “Recipe for Success” in Family Circle, November 1, 2007, p. 83-88). Sandra Lee is known for her best-selling Semi-Homemade cookbooks and food network show. Like Abraham and Jesus, she trod the difficult path and responded to her vocation to grace and glory.


I was about two years old when my mother, Vicky, dropped my younger sister Cindy and me off at Grandma Lorraine’s house in Santa Monica, California, one sunny afternoon in 1968, promising to return shortly. We didn’t see her again for four years. Grandma Lorraine was the mother of my birth father, Wayne. Vicky and Wayne were typical high school sweethearts. They filed for divorce about two years after they said, “I do,” somewhere around Cindy’s first birthday. I started calling Grandma Lorraine “Mommy,” and Vicky became a distant memory. Grandma Lorraine loved being in the kitchen. Some of my fondest memories are of baking with her. Grandma’s vanilla cake with butter cream frosting was my favorite. She also knew how to stretch a dollar better than anyone, mostly because she had to. She taught me to save money at an early age, opening my very own savings account when I was four … These were important lessons that would come in very handy a few years later. Grandma Lorraine reminded us what a gift life is and how important it was to embrace the joy in each and every day. She’d talk about all the possibilities that tomorrow could bring. Not long after my sixth birthday, Vicky came back into our lives. She arrived with her new husband, Richard. Vicky and Richard tried to explain that they were our mom and dad, but I wondered why these strangers wanted to take us away. Slowly I adjusted to my new life in Marina del Rey. (…)


Richard was transferred to Washington State for his job as a computer programmer, and everything changed. Vicky’s mood was becoming unpredictable and more volatile. Three years later Richard left Vicky, and at age 12 I became mom, sister, caretaker and homemaker of our family. There were six of us in the house – Richie and Johnny were born after we moved to Washington State – but I was the one looking after everyone. Vicky spent her days lying on the couch, taking pills and screaming at us. When the welfare check arrived, I’d bike to the bank to deposit it. Then I paid our bills to ensure our gas and electricity weren’t shut off. Next I’d use the food stamps to stock the kitchen as best I could. I was so glad Grandma had taught me how to cook and be frugal, because there was no other way for us to make it through. (…)


One morning before school, when I was 15, Vicky looked me in the eyes and said, “You are going to be so much more than I am when you grow up.” It was the only compliment I can remember her ever giving me. As usual I said nothing, but I couldn’t help thinking that I was going to be so much more than she in ways she couldn’t possibly imagine. I wanted to be the opposite of Vicky – kind, generous, supportive and nurturing, thoughtful and disciplined. I stared at her in disgust until I could no longer contain myself and said, “You’re right. I am going to be more than you.” The words stunned us both. She flew into an uncontrollable rage and grabbed me. Her punches were landing fast and hard – I could barely catch my breath. I lay there thinking this had to end or I would die. She beat me until she was done. I called my boyfriend, Duanne, and when he arrived at the house, he took one look at me and said, “Go pack. You are not coming back.” I moved in with Duanne’s family until I could decide what to do next. I contacted Grandma Lorraine and she told me that Wayne and his girlfriend Patty were moving to Wisconsin and would love to have me live with them. I left for Wisconsin on June 30, 1982, three days before my sixteenth birthday … I discovered I had a knack for putting together business outlines and marketing plans and decided to pursue a business degree. (…)


I decided to create a total lifestyle company … I wanted to design solution-based products that would make women heroes in their home. I noticed that one group not being served in the marketplace was women who didn’t have enough time to whip up tasty meals from scratch … I decided to refocus my energies by closing down the lifestyle company and writing my first cookbook … I decided to name my cookbook and approach to cooking Semi-Homemade … I sold SEMI-HOMEMADE COOKING primarily through television channels and small book sellers. It was an instant hit. (…)


The only way to move forward is to live an authentic life and be true to who you really are. I was dealt a hand that might have had a different outcome if I ever allowed myself to feel like a victim. Resilience is key. Learning to stand strong in the face of challenge and adversity is my secret to survival. Picking up and moving forward is the only thing we can do. And making your life matter is the most important thing of all.





1. Do I give in to a righteous tendency to judge my neighbors and condemn their “faults”? Do I endeavor to remove the “wooden beam” in my eye in order to help my brother remove the “sawdust” in his eye?


2. What is significant in the story of the call of Abraham? Do you recognize the graciousness of the almighty God in initiating an intimate relationship with patriarch Abraham? Why is Abraham a model of true faith? 





Jesus Lord,

you are God’s compassion and righteousness.

Help us to stop judging harshly

that we may not be judged.

Help us to be compassionate.

Deal kindly with us.

With a true seeing “eye”,

may we perceive the beauty of charity

and embrace our duty to care for our brothers and sisters.

Let your loving eyes be upon us.

Empower us to make life-giving choices

and teach us not to negate the Father’s love.

You live and reign,

forever and ever.




Loving Father,

you called Abraham to go forth from the land of his kinsfolk

and from his father’s house

to lead him to his glorious destiny.

We thank you for the sterling quality of Abraham’s response.

Help us to fulfill our vocation to grace and glory.

We love you and adore you, now and forever.






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


“Stop judging, that you may not be judged.” (Mt 7:1) // “I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you.” (Gen 12:2)





Resolve to avoid making rash judgment. // By your acts of charity, enable those in extreme difficulty to have a glimpse of their future destiny and respond to their vocation to grace and glory.



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June 27, 2017: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (12); SAINT CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Abide by the Golden Rule … He Teaches Us to Overcome Strife”





Gn 13:2, 5-18 // Mt 7:6, 12-14





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 7:6, 12-14): “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”


In today’s Gospel (Mt 7:6, 12-14), Jesus counsels discernment and discretion in dealing with those who are hostile to the message of salvation he brings. When our work for the Good News is rejected by those who impose rash judgments and are averse to the kingdom, he advises us not to get into a dispute. They lack understanding and refusing to understand, they will use what we say to condemn. The kingdom of God and its way of life are holy. They are like pearls of great price. The gift of salvation cannot be squandered and forced on anyone who resists them. It is sheer grace and an act of divine predilection to which we can freely respond.


Jesus Master tells his disciples to abide by the Golden Rule: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.” This wisdom saying can be verified in the Jewish tradition. Rabbi Hillel, who died when Jesus was about ten years old, was asked by a scoffer to teach him the whole Torah while he stood on one foot. Rabbi Hillel answered: “What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor; that is the whole Torah; go and study it.” Jesus Master likewise uses the principle of mutuality, but on a higher level: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”; “Stop judging and you will not be judged”; etc. By putting positively the wisdom saying “What is hateful to you do not do to your neighbor”, Jesus transforms a prescription of self-preservation into an action of love. A negative counsel becomes pro-active. Jesus’ Golden Rule, “Do to others whatever you would have them to you” is in deep affinity with the great command, “Love your neighbor as yourself” on which depends all the law and the prophets”.


Jesus Master exhorts his disciples to enter by the narrow gate. This is an exhortation to become part of the pro-active faithful and not simply to follow the crowd or abide by social pressure. He sets before his disciples the two ways: the broad way that leads to doom and destruction and the narrow way that leads to life. The narrow way is that of the cross. With Jesus, we travel through the way of the cross to eternal life and the light of glory.


The following story, circulated on the Internet, illustrates how we can incarnate in our daily life the teachings of Jesus: the Golden Rule, choosing the narrow way, holiness, caring for those in need, etc.


One day a man saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her. Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn’t look safe; he looked poor and hungry.


He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was that chill which only fear can put in you. He said, “I’m here to help you, ma’am. Why don’t you wait in the car where it’s warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson.”


Well all that she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire. But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt. As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was just passing through. She couldn’t thank him enough for coming to her aid.


Bryan just smiled as he closed the trunk. The lady asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way. He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance needed, and Bryan added, “And think of me.” He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed home, disappearing into the twilight.


A few miles down the road the lady saw a small café. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn’t erase. The lady noticed that the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan.


After the lady finished her meal, she paid with a hundred-dollar bill. The waitress quickly went to get her change for her hundred-dollar bill, but the old lady had slipped right out of the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. The waitress wondered where the lady could be. Then she noticed something written on the napkin. There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote: “You don’t owe me anything. I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you.” Under the napkin were four more $100 bills.


Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known, it was going to be hard. She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, “Everything’s going to be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson.”



B. First Reading (Gn 13:2, 5-18): “Let there be no strife between you and me for we are brothers.”


Today’s Old Testament reading (Gn 13:2, 5-18) is a vivid account of shepherd nomads and their need for grazing land and water. Both Abraham and his nephew Lot own many sheep, goats, and cattle. There is not enough pasture land for the two of them to stay together. The herdsmen of Abraham and Lot begin to quarrel. With great wisdom and noble spirit, Abraham remarks: “Let there be no strife between us for we are kinsmen.” To forestall further dispute, Abraham proposes that they separate. The patriarch magnanimously defers to Lot, who chooses to go eastward and settle in the lush and fertile Jordan Plain near Sodom. Abraham is left with the western half of Palestine from the central mountain spine to the sea coast. Lot’s decision, although inspired by human wisdom and practical concerns, works ultimately for the fulfillment of the divine plan. God blesses Abraham and promises him the land and numerous progeny to fill it.


The conciliatory act of Abraham foretells the non-violent stance of his progeny Jesus Christ, our Savior. In today’s world we all have personal responsibility to overcome strife and senseless division that vitiate human relationships. The following story is an inspiration (cf. Arlene West House, “An American Beauty” in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Cos Cob: CSS, 2008, p. 230-233).


In the 1930s, after the death of her husband, a middle-aged woman named Marguerite left Germany to make a new life in America, away from Hitler and the Third Reich. Marguerite’s younger brother Wilhelm, stayed behind with his Jewish wife and family to protect their assets, unaware of the horrors to come.


In her adopted country, Marguerite lived on a small pension and supplemented her income by raising a variety of roses, which she sold to local florists and hospitals. She sent some of the earnings from her roses to help support her brother in Germany. And, as the war advanced, she also sent money to help Jews escape from Germany.


Marguerite’s neighbors viewed her as a quiet, unassuming woman who spent most days in her garden or greenhouse. Not much was known about her, nor did the community try to befriend the foreign-born woman. But when the United States entered the war against Germany, Marguerite became suspect. While her neighbors and shopkeepers had never been friendly or particularly kind, they were now openly hostile. There were mutters and whispers about her being a Nazi, always just loud enough for her to hear.


Without fanfare, Marguerite continued to send money to Jewish families and to her brother in Germany. Then, one day, she received a letter from her sister-in-law with devastating news. Her beloved Wilhelm was dying of cancer. He was praying for a miracle: to be able to come to the United States where he could receive better medical care. At first Marguerite was panic-stricken: she didn’t have the extra money. But soon, she was overjoyed when a hospital requested an unusually large order of roses. This was the extra income she needed to make the miracle happen!


For weeks she tended her roses, nurturing and fertilizing them with tender care. Each rose meant another dollar to help bring Wilhelm to America. In August, Marguerite entered a local contest for the most beautiful roses grown. If she won, the prize money of $25 would ease her financial burden when Wilhelm and his family arrived.


On the day of the festival, she rose early to cut the flowers before they were wilted by the sun. As she stepped into the garden, she nearly fell to her knees with shock. All one hundred rosebushes, lovingly planted and nurtured over the last seven years, lay in shambles before her. Every plant was slashed and chopped to the ground. They all but bled before her eyes. She could barely take it in: her beloved flowers, and her livelihood, gone, possibly forever. And the worst of it was that Wilhelm would not be able to come to America.


Marguerite was devastated, but more determined than ever to show up at the festival. She would not give the hooligans the satisfaction of her absence. She would still enter the contest, even if they left but a petal. She walked down the garden path to see if she could salvage anything from the debris. Clinging to life by the back fence, obviously missed by the vandals, was one single red rose. It was an “American Beauty”. She took the rose into the house, cut the stem on an angle and placed it in the icebox to keep it fresh until the contest. Then, shaking with distress, she cleaned up the ruined rose garden as best she could. When she could do no more, she put on her best hat and took a trolley to the contest, holding the lone rose in her hand.


When Marguerite’s turn came to show her entry, she held up her single “American Beauty”. In her halting English, she proudly described its origin, how she had bred it, and the special fertilizer she has used to enhance the color of its petals. But, when the winners were announced, she wasn’t surprised at the absence of her name. Why would they give the prize to a rose from the garden of the enemy? She went home that evening trying to think of some other way she could earn money.


The next day, Marguerite attended church, as was her custom, to pray for strength and guidance. When she arrived home and opened the door, the scent of flowers filed the air. Someone had placed a large vase filled with summer flowers on the entryway table. As she walked toward the kitchen, she saw that every room in her home had more bouquets of flowers in Mason jars and pitchers. It was heavenly!


As she approached the kitchen, she saw a fresh coffeecake in the middle of the table. Under the cake plate was an envelope addressed to “Marguerite”. She opened it to find $300 in single bills and a card that said simply, “Many thanks from your friends in town.” Stunned and happy, Marguerite realized that this was the miracle Wilhelm had been praying for! Now she could bring him to America. The miracle did come to pass. With the $300, Marguerite bought steamship tickets. Within a few months, Wilhelm and his family arrived. Marguerite and his wife cared for him tenderly, and he received excellent medical attention that added years to his life.


For years Marguerite tried to discover who her benefactors were, but without success. Many years later, a local woman was going through the personal effects of her late grandfather, who had been a cantor in the local synagogue. She found his journal – and in it, an entry of particular interest. The journal stated that while attending the rose festival, the cantor had overheard two men in the audience brag about ripping up “the Nazi’s” rosebushes. He knew who they meant. Marguerite had never sought recognition for her charity, but many Jews in the community knew that her roses helped Jewish families escape the nightmare of the Holocaust.


That day the cantor set about calling on members of the synagogue, explaining about the vandalism and the financial loss Marguerite had suffered. The men and women in the synagogue gave with their hearts and pocketbooks for the “rose lady”. Several women who shared Marguerite’s love of gardening gathered flowers from their own gardens to honor her for all she had done for their people. Rather than have her feel an obligation, they took an oath to remain anonymous until death. They all kept the promise.


With patient love and care, Marguerite’s roses bloomed again. And Marguerite bloomed as well. She made many friends in town in the years following the war, never knowing that many of them were her secret benefactors. And she continued to send money to Germany to help Jewish families until her death in 1955.





1. Do I believe in the positive value of the Golden Rule? Do I practice the Golden Rule in the spirit of Jesus’ love command?


2. What do we do to overcome strife and ugly disputes? Do we endeavor to adopt a peaceful and conciliatory stance when confronted with divisive situations and potentially violent conflicts?





Loving Jesus,

we thank you for teaching us

about the great value of the kingdom of God.

The heavenly kingdom is a pearl of great price

that must not be lost or squandered.

Thank you for calling us to holiness

and for consecrating us for your service.

Help us to put into practice the Golden Rule:

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”

Give us the grace to enter

the narrow way that leads to life.

Grant us the grace and strength

to be pro-active in our ministry of love.

You are the way, truth and life.

We bless you and adore you, now and forever.




God our Father,

we thank you for the graciousness of Abraham,

our father in faith.

We thank you for Jesus, the prince of peace.

Make us channels of peace in today’s world

wounded with strife and brutal wars.

Help us to overcome violence and senseless divisions

by the love of the Holy Spirit.

We praise and glorify you, now and forever.






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


“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”  (Mt 7:12) //“Let there be no strife between us for we are kinsmen.” (Gn 13:8)





Living by the Golden Rule, do an act of kindness for a needy person and be patient and kind to one who challenges your patience and provokes your anger. // When dealing with divisive and destructive conflict situations, pray for the grace to imitate the conciliatory and peace-making stance of Abraham, our father in faith, and his illustrious progeny, Jesus Christ.



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June 28, 2017: WEDNESDAY – SAINT IRENAEUS, Bishop, Martyr

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Tells Us to Beware of False Prophets … He Calls Us to a Covenant Faith”




Gn 15:1-12, 17-18 // Mt 7:15-20





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 7:15-20): “By their fruits you will know them.”


This happened in Antipolo, Philippines in the ‘70s. The Sisters welcomed into our convent a young priest who introduced himself as the Vocation Promoter of the Rogationist Fathers. He was offered a fine dinner and given permission to enter the Sister Superior’s Office to use the only telephone in the house. After the phone call he told us that he needed to go. After he left the Sister Superior discovered that the grocery money for the week was gone. She called up his seminary to investigate. She was told that our “guest” had entered their seminary and stayed with them for a few months. After getting what he wanted, he took off. We were victimized by a bogus priest.


In today’s Gospel (Mt 7:15-20), Jesus tells us to beware of false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. Their evil sentiments are acted out in deceit – to the detriment of the people they claim to serve. Some of the false prophets in Jesus’ time are those who falsely claim to be spiritual leaders of the people and by their false teachings lead them to destruction. False prophets are like a rotten tree that bears bad fruit. The image of “thorn bushes and thistles” represents their grisly sin and the desolation it brings. True prophets are like a good tree that bears good fruit. Their words are true and their lives inspire people to holiness and transformation.


Papa Mike, the founder of the Poverello House in Fresno, talks about Fr. Simon Scanlon, the Franciscan priest who led him on the path of conversion, and was for him a true prophet-shepherd (cf. Mike McGarvin, Papa Mike, Fresno: Poverello House, 2003, p. 46-47).


Father Simon had once been a businessman. He and his brother owned a medical sponge business in the ‘30s and ‘40s. It was a million-dollar-a year enterprise, which was a huge amount of money back in those days. Then World War II intervened, and Simon went off to Europe. We don’t hear too much about older war veterans suffering the same sorts of symptoms as Vietnam vets, but they did. Many of the men who saw action during World War II witnessed carnage on an unbelievable scale, and Simon was one of them. The war made life as he knew it came to a halt, and he returned, not a victorious soldier, but a man whose soul had been ripped out and torn to pieces. Later in life, Father Simon told a newspaper reporter that after seeing so much bloodshed and death, nothing mattered except life. Making money no longer had any allure. He wanted to make a change, a radical change, so he signed over the business to his brother and entered the Franciscan Order of the Catholic Church. Eventually he was ordained a priest.


He ended up in a tough parish assignment, St. Boniface Church in urban San Francisco. The area was like a vast bleeding wound. It was populated by people who just barely survived, who had long ago given up on life and were now numbly eking out a daily existence on disability checks, meager old-age pensions, prostitution, or muggings. It was an area full of predators and victims.


Father Simon responded by gathering some volunteers and opening the Poverello Coffeehouse. Poverello was a safe haven, a place of refuge. It was a small storefront room where people could find acceptance, hot coffee, and a few smiles. These weren’t earth shaking things, but they were rare commodities on the streets. Father Simon was the driving force behind Poverello, but he had a small cadre of friends who aided him. Always short-staffed, he was constantly on the prowl for help. Providentially, while I was talking to him, a fight broke out between two patrons. I instinctively stepped in and broke it up. Father Simon watched with interest while I enforced peace. When everything had calmed down, I came back to chat with him some more, and he popped the question: Would I like to volunteer there at Poverello?


I hesitated. Working and partying were my priorities, and I knew I couldn’t give up work. Volunteering at Poverello would cut heavily into the time I spent smoking weed and dropping acid; but then, it felt good when I broke up that fight. For the first time in quite a while, I felt useful, and I kind of liked it. Besides, something had clicked for me with this priest guy. He intrigued me, and I thought it would be interesting to hang around him for awhile. “Yeah”, I said. “I’ll try it out.” Thus began my career as a Bouncer for Jesus.



B. First Reading (Gn 15:1-12, 17-18): “Abraham believed God and it was credited it to him as righteousness (Rom 4:3b), and the Lord made a covenant with him.”


The unwavering faith of Jesus Christ who strengthens the faith of his disciples for the paschal event of his passion, death and glory is prefigured in today’s story of Abraham (Gn 15:1-12, 17-18). The faith of Abraham in the first covenant is replicated and brought to perfection by Jesus in the new and everlasting covenant. In the Old Testament, it was God who initiated an intimate, loving relationship with Abraham, who responded totally with an irrevocable faith.


The biblical scholar Eugene Maly explains: “The fifteenth chapter of Genesis is a stunning piece of religious literature … When God called Abram from the land of his fathers, he promised him a great name and many descendants (Gen 12:1-3). Now some years later Abram is still without an heir. Yet he put his faith in the Lord, who then, in what we would call a bizarre ritual, initiated a covenant with the patriarch. Let us consider the theological insights. First of all comes the divine initiative, an unvarying element in all of biblical religion. God always acts first, and always in a saving way, here in the form of a promise. Abram believes in God. This is again, always the first and expected response of the human person. It is here an act of acceptance of, and surrender to, the promising God. There is no compelling reason, no persuasive argument. It is sheer faith … The bizarre ritual was actually a widely accepted form of treaty or covenant-making in ancient times. The animals are split in two to signify the fate of those who break the covenant. The passing between the divided pieces by a smoking brazier and a flaming torch symbolizes God’s acceptance and ratification of the covenant terms. God, as it were, puts his own life on the line for his servant Abram … The divine eagerness expressed in the Abram story spills over into a reckless giving of himself, his Son, to be with us. Only one question has meaning here: do we put our faith in him?


The following story, told in a humorous vein, gives us an interesting insight into the meaning of faith (cf. Laverne W. Hall, “Faith” in Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul, ed. Jack Canfield, et. al. Deerfield Beach: Health Communications, Inc., 1997, p. 198-100).


The fields were parched and brown from lack of rain, and the crops lay wilting from thirst. People were anxious and irritable as they searched the sky for any sign of relief. Days turned into arid weeks. No rain came.


The ministers of the local churches called for an hour of prayer on the town square the following Saturday. They requested that everyone bring an object of faith for inspiration.


At high noon on the appointed Saturday the townspeople turned out en masse, filling the square with anxious faces and hopeful hearts. The ministers were touched to see the variety of objects clutched in prayerful hands – holy books, crosses, rosaries.


When the hour ended, as if on magical command, a soft rain began to fall. Cheers swept the crowd as they held their treasured objects high in gratitude and praise. From the middle of the crowd one faith symbol seemed to overshadow all the others: a small nine-year-old child had brought an umbrella.





1. Do I try to be aware of false prophets and resist their destructive influence? Do I open myself up to the transforming presence of Jesus the true prophet?


2. How are we inspired by the “faith of Abraham”? Do we try to imitate the total and irrevocable faith of Abraham? How? 





Jesus Master,

help us to beware of false prophets.

Give us the light of the Holy Spirit

that we may discern what is evil

and detest it.

By the strength of the same Spirit

help us to be faithful to truth.

You live and reign, forever and ever.




Loving Father,

you are the God of the covenant.

Like Abraham, the “father of nations”,

we put our trust in you.

Transform us more deeply,

as we go through the daily paschal events of life,

into the image of your Servant-Son Jesus Christ.

Help us to live our covenant faith

and to experience its abundant and eternal blessings.

You live and reign, forever and ever.






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


“So by their fruits you will know them.” (Mt 7:20) //“Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as righteousness.” (Gen 15:6)





Let your daily actions bear abundant fruit of goodness and holiness to benefit the people around you and the larger society. // Pray that those whose faith is being tested may never waver, but rather be strengthened in their experiences of distress and suffering. By your kind words and deeds, endeavor to share with them your covenant faith. 



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“JESUS SAVIOR: His Apostles Peter and Paul

Are the Pillars of the Church”




Acts 12:1-11 //2 Tm 4:6-8, 17-18 // Mt 16:13-19





We celebrate today the solemn feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the two great pillars of the Church. These two great apostles remind us that the cost of Christian discipleship is dear. By their pastoral ministry and self-sacrificing service to the Gospel, they have witnessed to the nations that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God and the Savior of the world.


Today’s bible readings underline their intimate participation in Christ’s paschal mystery and his saving power. The Acts of the Apostles (12:1-10) narrates that King Herod Agrippa has Peter arrested and put into prison in Jerusalem so that he may be tried before the people after the Passover. Peter is under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. On the very night before Herod is to bring him to trial, Peter, secured by double chains and sleeping between two soldiers, is rescued by an angel from imminent death. This miraculous divine intervention on behalf of Peter evokes God’s marvelous works on the night of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and at the Passover event of Jesus Christ from death to life. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 7, remark: “This was during the week of the Passover … The deliverance of Peter, whom God frees from prison at night, and precisely at this period of the year, assumes the value of a parable. For the Church, it is still the time of Exodus. During the night of this world, it prays with confidence, remembering the Pasch of Christ and giving thanks for the marvels God has accomplished, including thanksgiving ahead of time for the crowning marvel: when Christ himself, and no longer an angel, will come back to snatch her finally forever from the hands of her enemies.”


In the Second Reading (II Tim 4:6-8, 17-18), we hear about the apostle Paul who is also a prisoner for Christ and an intimate participant in his paschal mystery. Undergoing the humiliating conditions of a captive in Rome, he entertains no illusions as to the outcome of his trial. Knowing that he would be condemned to death, he does not allow the specter of death to daunt him. Confronted by the certainty of martyrdom, he avows God’s benevolent protection and recognizes the divine saving plan at work in his life. Trusting fully in the Lord Jesus and knowing that he had done all he could to proclaim the Gospel, Paul compares his life to a spiritual sacrifice and speaks of his upcoming death as a “passage” – a Passover toward the divine kingdom. Knowing that he has competed well in his endeavor for Christ and that he has kept the faith in him, he is sure of the “crown of righteousness” that the Lord Jesus has prepared for him and all those who long for Christ’s coming. 


Today’s Gospel reading (Mt 16:13-19) speaks of Peter’s confession of faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and the subsequent investiture of Peter at Caesarea Philippi with the “keys” of the Kingdom of heaven. The “keys” symbolize the authority and governance entrusted to the apostle Peter to lead the young church after Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus declares that Peter is the “rock” upon which he would build his Church. Peter will take on a role of primacy and a service of authority on behalf of the entire spiritual edifice, the Church, whose cornerstone and ultimate foundation is Jesus Christ himself. As willed by Jesus Christ, Peter’s ministry as a “rock” foundation of the Church and his service of authority as a recipient of the “keys” will live on through time and space.


In our celebration of the God-given gift to the Church of its great apostolic pillars, Sts. Peter and Paul, we are invited to consider anew our vocation and mission as Church and to pray for the Pope and all those who have received the special mission as stewards of the mysteries of salvation. The authors of the Days of the Lord, vol. 7, conclude: “Peter and Paul, with their contrasting charisms put at the service of one and the same gospel, illustrate the nature of the Church of Christ and of the ministry entrusted to those whom the Lord chooses. Through the faith of which the apostles are witnesses and guides, the community of believers is solidly founded on Christ, the cornerstone that nothing can dislodge. Whatever may happen, despite all the trials, God delivers his friends as he freed his Christ from the power of death. Like their Master and Lord, those who exercise their responsibilities in the Christian community have only one ambition, to stay the course, to remain faithful to their mission as stewards of the mysteries of salvation, and to make themselves, without counting the cost, the servants of the servants of God, the messengers of his love.”


As we celebrate the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, I thank the Lord for the opportunity he gave me to spend several years of my apostolic life in Rome, under the shadows of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican City and Saint Paul’s Basilica on Via Ostiense. I was enrolled at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, but it was a great joy for me to help our Sisters at the souvenir shops in Saint Peter’s Basilica during my free time. I had a chance to meet pilgrims from five continents of the world and savor the “universality of the Church”. The Sisters take daily turns for Eucharistic Adoration at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in Saint Peter’s Basilica and offer special prayers for the Church and the Pope. One Wednesday afternoon, after our work at the Cupola’s souvenir shop and while walking in the courtyard to board our van, we were asked by the Vatican police to stay put. From the other part of the courtyard, there was a tremendous activity as the Pope’s entourage arrived. When we saw Pope John Paul II, we cried out, “Viva il Papa!” Pope John Paul II, who was boarding the Pope-Mobile for his Wednesday audience with the pilgrims, turned and waved to us like a loving father. Now he is a canonized saint.


I likewise remember when I would go to the SSP Provincial House at Via Alessandro Severo, near the Basilica of St. Paul, to pray at the tomb of our Founder, Blessed James Alberione, and the first Pauline priest, Blessed Timothy Giaccardo, who were both beatified by Pope John Paul II. These two great pillars of the Pauline Family were deeply influenced by Saint Paul. The first foundation of the Pauline Family in Rome, at Via Alessandro Severo, received vital assistance from the kind Benedictines at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.  In my prayer, especially in this year as we are celebrating the Pauline Centenary, I thank the Lord for the gift of the Pauline Family and our father Saint Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.





1. What insights does the celebration of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul give us about the nature and the ministry of the Church?


2. How did Saint Peter and Saint Paul participate intimately in Christ’s Paschal Mystery?


3. For the members of the Pauline Family: what will you do to make the celebration of the Pauline Centenary meaningful and transforming?





O gracious Father,

you fill our hearts with joy

as we honor your great apostles:

Peter, our leader in the faith,

and Paul, the fearless preacher.

Peter raised up the Church from the faithful flock of Israel.

Paul brought your call to the nations,

and became the teacher of the world.

Each in his chosen way

gathered into unity the one family of Christ.

Both shared the martyr’s death

and are praised throughout the world.

Grant us the grace to imitate

Saint Peter’s pastoral ministry to the Church

and Saint Paul’s zeal to proclaim the Gospel to the nations.

We give you glory and praise

and we pledge to love and serve you, now and forever.






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


“Upon this rock I will build my church.” (Mt 16:18)





Meditate on the marvels God has accomplished in the Church through the life witness and ministry of Saints Peter and Paul. Make an effort to read and reflect on the Pauline letters and be inspired by St. Paul’s teachings. In any way you can, enable the people of today to experience the pastoral and evangelizing ministry of Sts. Peter and Paul.



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(N.B. In the Pauline Family, the Solemnity of Saint Paul the Apostles is celebrated.)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Cleanses Lepers … He Is the Everlasting Covenant”




Dt 7:6-11 // 1 Jn 4:7-16 // Mt 11:25-30





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 8:1-4): “If you wish you can make me clean.”


It was in 1984 when I visited the PDDM Sisters in Nellore, India. To give me a chance to know more about the local Church, they brought me to the diocesan leper colony. It was situated in a vast isolated farmland, dotted with the humble dwellings of the lepers. The sun was scorching as we plodded through the dusty roads. The inhabitants were gentle and hospitable. We were conversing with them from a safe distance, when an elderly leper lady thoughtfully opened a battered umbrella and came near to shield me from the noonday sun. I politely rejected the proffered kindness, explaining that I needed the therapeutic warmth of the sun. I did not want to hurt her feelings, but I was afraid to stay close to a leper. I dreaded to touch a leper!


In today’s Gospel reading (Mt 8:1-4), we have a very beautiful picture of Christian compassion. In this narrative, Jesus offers a completely new and radical response to the unmitigated human suffering personified by a leper. Breaking down the barriers of hygiene and ritual purity, Jesus does the unimaginable. Responding with compassion to the leper’s faith invocation, “If you wish, you can make me clean”, Jesus stretches out his hand and touches him saying, “I do will it. Be made clean.” He touches the “untouchable” with his healing hand. He comforts the outcast with an authoritative word that brings wholeness. Indeed, the cleansing of the leper is a victorious messianic sign that the Kingdom of God has come. 


One of the exigencies of Christian life is to bring the healing ministry of Jesus to the many “lepers” of today, especially the millions of victims of Hansen’s disease all over the world who, more than all others, fit the description “the poorest of the poor”. Mother Teresa of Calcutta dedicated her ministry of charity in a special way to these lepers, impelled by the slogan that was a rewording of the ancient taboo. “Touch a leper with your compassion.” Mother Teresa, moreover, spoke of the “leprosy of the Western world”, which is, the leprosy of loneliness. In her ministry to the lonely, the unwanted, the marginalized, the rejected, the AIDS victim, etc. she had given witness that with the love of Christ, there is healing for the leprosy of our modern times. Indeed, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, together with St. Francis of Assisi, Blessed Damien of Molokai, and many other Christian disciples, had shown that it is possible to respond to the Christian missionary imperative: “Cure the sick … cleanse the lepers!” (Mt 10:8) and that it is necessary to replicate the healing gesture of Christ: “Touch a leper with your compassion.”



B. First Reading (Gn 17:1, 9-10, 15-22): “Every male among you shall be circumcised; thus is my covenant with you. Sarah shall bear you a son.”


Today’s Old Testament reading (Gn 17:1, 9-10, 15-22) presents an episode in the life of Abraham, now ninety-nine years old, thirteen years after the birth of Ishmael, whose mother is Sarah’s slave girl, Hagar. Revealing himself to Abraham as “El Shaddai” (“the God Almighty”), the Lord renews his covenant with him. The covenant is portrayed as a contract: God will give him many descendants; Abraham, on his part, is commanded to walk in the divine presence with blameless heart. What is unique in this encounter is God’s promise of an “everlasting covenant”. The covenant is not just with Abraham, but with all generations after him. It entails a new relationship: “El Shaddai”, who makes a covenant with Abraham, will be his God and the God of his descendants.


God’s covenant relationship with Abraham and his kin is physically signified through circumcision: every male is to be circumcised to indicate submission to the divine will. On his part, God will recognize the circumcised as a covenant partner. Abraham’s ninety-year-old wife Sarah plays an essential role in the fulfillment of the divine covenant promise. The barren and elderly Sarah, through divine intervention, will give birth to Abraham’s “son of the promise”, Isaac. Of him “El Shaddai” says: “I will maintain my covenant with him as an everlasting pact.” Although Abraham has suggested Ishmael to be the heir of the promise, God has an ineffable plan. The “everlasting covenant” will be fulfilled, not through Ishmael – who will likewise be blessed with numerous descendants – but through Isaac. And from Abraham’s son Isaac, a future descendant named Jesus Christ will fulfill, and bring to perfection, the “everlasting covenant”.


The beautiful Bible account of God’s predilection for Abraham and the latter’s total submission to his loving plan inspires us to live in the spirit of brotherhood with the people of today – no matter our racial and religious differences. The following story illustrates how wonderful it is to live in a spirit of compassion, harmony, and brotherhood (cf. Michael Jordan Segal, “A Beautiful Prayer” in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Cos Cob: CSS, 2008, p. 267-268).


My father is the most unselfish person I know – always thinking of others first before himself. Perhaps that is why he chose to be a rabbi, to serve God by helping other people.


Every Christmas, my father Rabbi Jack Segal volunteers at a hospital in Houston so Christian employees can spend Christmas with their loved ones. One particular Christmas he was working the telephone switchboard at the hospital, answering basic questions and transferring phone calls.


One of the calls he received was from a woman, obviously upset. “Sir, I understand my nephew was in a terrible car accident this morning. Please tell me how he is.” After the woman gave my father the boy’s name, he checked the computer and said, according to the protocol at that time, “Your nephew is listed in critical condition. I’m truly sorry. I hope he’ll get better.”


As soon as my father said “critical”, the woman immediately began to sob and she screamed, “Oh, my God! What should I do? What should I do? Hearing those words, my father softly stated, “Prayer might be helpful at this time.” The woman quickly replied, “Yes – oh, yes. But it’s been ten years since I’ve been to church and I’ve forgotten how to pray”, then asked, “Sir, do you know how to pray? Could you say a prayer for me while I listen on the phone?”


My father quickly answered, “Of course”, and began saying the ancient prayer for healing in Hebrew, the Mee Shebayroch. He concluded, “Amen”. “Thank you, thank you so much”, the woman on the phone replied. “However”, she went on, “I truly appreciate your prayer, but I have one major problem. I did not understand the prayer, since I do not speak Spanish.


My father inwardly chuckled and said, “Ma’am, that was not Spanish. I’m a rabbi, and that prayer was in Hebrew.” The woman sighed heavily in relief. “Hebrew? That’s great. That’s God’s language. Now he won’t need a translator!”





1. How do we react to people physically and spiritually afflicted with leprosy? Do we recognize the leprous elements in our modern society who bear the detestable sores of isolation and rejection, e.g. the poor and destitute, the homeless, the unattractive, the AIDS victims, etc.? Do we come to their aid?


2. How does the person of patriarch Abraham inspire us? Do we imitate his total and loving response to God and his promise of an “everlasting covenant”?





Lord Jesus,

if you will, you can make me clean.

Touch me; heal me.

Cleanse me from the “leprosy of sin”.

Free me from the sores of rejection and isolation.

You are the wounded healer

and the bearer of new life

by your passion and death on the cross

and by the power of your resurrection.

You live, forever and ever.




O loving Lord,

you are our “El Shaddai”, the “Almighty God”.

We thank you for the gift of the “eternal covenant”

you established with Abraham, our father in faith.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ,

Abraham’s illustrious descendant,

who brought to perfection this covenant

by pouring out his sacrificial blood on the tree of life.

Pour upon us the blessings of the “everlasting covenant”

and help us share them with the peoples of all nations.

You live and reign, forever and ever.






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


“He touched him.” (Mk 1:41) //“You must keep my covenant throughout the ages.”  (Gn 17:9)





Pray for the victims of Hansen’s disease all over the world and all caregivers who work to alleviate their pain and suffering. Through moral, spiritual and material support, contribute to their healing and restoration. // Pray for the Jewish people that they may continue to grow in the love of God and in faithfulness to the covenant. Do what you can to promote the unity of the peoples of the earth.



*** *** ***



“JESUS SAVIOR: He Heals the Centurion’s Servant … He Is Our Sacred Host”




Gn 18:1-15 // Mt 8:5-17





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 8:5-17): “Many will come from east to west and will recline with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”


This is a true story. A small Jewish boy realized that his teenage nanny, a Catholic, wishes him well. She even accompanies him to the synagogue when his daddy is not around. There she would encourage him to get into the serious business of praying. One day his dear nanny became seriously ill. She was in the hospital dying of pneumonia. The boy requested his dad to accompany him to her parish church so that he could pray there for her healing. The Jewish dad shook his finger at him, but finally relented. They went to the Catholic parish church.  The boy knelt in a pew and poured out his heart to God in prayer. The beloved nanny recovered. She continued to serve at that Jewish household for many, many years.


The reading (Mt 8:5-17) depicts one of the most lovable figures in the Gospel: the Roman centurion who approached Jesus saying, “Lord, my servant is lying home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He is a person of immense compassion for he pleaded for a suffering servant. He is mighty in military power but humble and gentle of heart. He is a foreigner, but sympathetic to the Jews. He is respectful of the Jewish culture for he does not wish Jesus to be defiled by going into his house – the house of a Gentile. Great is his faith in Jesus’ healing power for he humbly said to Jesus: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Jesus expressed surprise and delight at his request. He healed his suffering servant and praised his great faith. The Lord Jesus reminds us that faith – expressed in goodness, compassion and humility - entitles us to share in the promises God made to the patriarchs.



B. First Reading (Gn 18:1-15): “Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do? I will surely return to you and Sarah will then have a son.”


Sr. Mary Jesusa and I were companions in the novitiate. After first profession we were assigned to the vocation ministry. It was our duty to follow up young ladies who showed interest in religious life and our Congregation. One damp, rainy day we boarded a bus and headed for Gumaca, a Philippine town on the Pacific coast, to interview an applicant who was residing there. The bus had already gone a considerable distance when the bus conductor started to collect the passengers’ fare and give them their tickets. I was shocked to know that Sr. Mary Jesusa did not bring sufficient money to pay for the trip. She emptied her wallet, but the fare was still lacking four pesos. The bus conductor kindly let go of the insufficient fare and allowed us to travel to our destination. Without even a cent, we arrived in Gumaca at about 2:00 P.M., after a seven-hour trip. The scenery was breathtaking. The coastal town of Gumaca, bordered by the immense Pacific Ocean and dotted with plantations of tall, fruit laden coconut trees, was a veritable tropical paradise.


We sought hospitality from the parish priest who unhesitatingly offered us a nourishing meal. He also requested lodging for us at the convent of the Sisters running the parochial school. After meeting and interviewing the applicant, we attended the Bible Study that the priest was conducting in his parish, participated mostly by low-income housewives. Sr. Mary Jesusa and I were glad to break the Bread of the Word with them. We shared our faith experience as well as our “adventure” that day. Some of them were deeply touched by what we shared. We thanked the priest and the parish community for their hospitality. After the Mass the following day, the women who were with us at the Bible Study bid us goodbye. Many of them handed us small amounts of money to help pay for our return trip. A poor widow, whose son was in jail, insisted that we should take her contribution. We were greatly touched by the generosity and sacrifice of that hospitable community. They had shown receptivity not only to the Word of God, but also hospitality to those in need of help. Indeed, their charitable action was based on listening and responding to the life-giving Word they had heard.


The Old Testament reading (Gen 18:1-15) speaks of the exquisite hospitality of patriarch Abraham and the warmth and kindness that a nomadic world could give to their guests. The Lord with his two companions appears to Abraham at Mamre as he sits in the entrance of his tent, while the day is growing hot. Abraham offers to wash the feet of his three guests and refresh them. His household prepares a luscious fare of food and drink for the mysterious guests. Abraham’s hospitality to the “three men” by the oak of Mamre manifests a deeper and more astounding “hospitality” – his receptivity and obedience to the Word of the Lord who has commanded him to leave behind his country, relatives and father’s home and set out for an unknown land, promising to make of him a great nation (cf. Gn 12:2). In the context of the feast offered by the hospitable Abraham, God intends to fulfill his promise. To Abraham who waits on them at table the Lord says, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son” (Gen 18:10a). Indeed, Abraham’s hospitality to Yahweh and his faithful acceptance of his Word make possible the fulfillment of the divine promise and the covenant plan to make him a great nation.





1. Do I manifest the same faith, compassion and virtues as the Roman centurion who cares for a suffering servant?


2. Do we imitate Abraham’s hospitality and obedient stance to the divine word? Are we hospitable to the poor and the needy strangers?





Jesus Master,

we thank you for the sterling character of the Roman centurion.

He is a special model

of compassion, goodness, humility and faith in you.

With him, we cry out to you:

“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,

but only say the word,

and my soul shall be healed.”

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.




O almighty God,

marvelous is your love!

You condescend to come to us.

You fill us with hope and abundant blessings.

Like the hospitable patriarch Abraham,

we open our hearts to you.

Let us rejoice in your presence, now and forever.






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


“Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Mt 8:8) //“Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do?” (Gn 18:14)





Show compassion, respect and caring love for the people around you, especially the subordinate, and uphold their dignity. // Be hospitable to the persons around you, especially those who have been rejected and feel unloved and unwelcome. To help us delve more deeply into our vocation to be hospitable to the Word of God, make an effort to spend some moments of quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.   



Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM





60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314

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

Website: WWW.PDDM.US



60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. (718) 494-8597 or (718) 761-2323

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