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A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 14, n. 35)

Week 17 in Ordinary Time: July 24-30, 2016

 

 

(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: July 17-23, 2016, please go to ARCHIVES Series 14 and click on “Week 16 in Ordinary Time”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: July 24-30, 2016.)

 

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July 24, 2016: SUNDAY – SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY

IN ORDINARY TIME

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Pray”

 

 

BIBLICAL READINGS

Gn 18:20-32 // Col 2:12-14 // Lk 11:1-13

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 11:1-13): “Ask and you will receive.”

 

Greg Hefernan’s article, “John Wayne’s Grandson Reflects on His Priesthood” (cf. St. Anthony Messenger, June 2004, p.36-40) contains Fr. Matt Wayne Munoz’s account of the confident and persevering prayer of his grandmother, Josephine Saenz. Like St. Monica, Josephine never stopped praying for John Wayne, one of the greatest actors of all time. She was married to him from 1933 until 1945. He later remarried and fathered additional children. The Oscar-winning actor became a Catholic shortly before his death and was buried with the prayers and rites of the Church in a private family funeral. Fr. Matt, who is assigned to our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Orange County, California, testified: “My grandmother was very devout and so was my mother … In fact, my grandfather, John Wayne, was very true to God, but he wasn’t much of a church attendee … Maybe it took 40 years to sink in … He had cancer in the last days. And his dear friend Bishop Clavell, of Panama City, asked him if he wanted to be baptized. I wasn’t there when it happened, but I was at the hospital frequently to visit him with my mother. I really think my grandfather’s admiration for my grandmother is what made him take the spiritual step and say yes. I also believe my grandmother’s prayers were heard. Jesus doesn’t let us down.”

 

            Last Sunday’s Gospel reading on the visit of Jesus, the Divine Master, to the house of Martha and Mary underlines the preeminence of listening to his saving Word.  Listening to his Word in order to act upon it is the most intense expression of love and hospitality we can show to Jesus, the sweet guest of our soul. Today’s Gospel reinforces the importance of listening to Jesus and contemplating the Word he speaks to us so that it may be transformed into prayer. Indeed, prayer is a response to God’s Word. It entails an attitude of receptivity on the part of the disciples. Prayer involves attentive listening to Jesus, who communicates to us his life-giving Word. The Word of God we receive is then transformed into prayer. The praying Christian disciple listens attentively to the words of Jesus, the Master of prayer par excellence.

 

            In today’s Gospel account, the evangelist Luke records the beautiful image of Jesus as the Orante – the Master in prayer - and the reaction of his disciples to this contemplative act. The disciples know he draws strength from prayer and so it is natural for them to request him to teach them the Christian way of praying. The Lord’s Prayer is the Christian prayer par excellence and the model of all prayer for his disciples. In forming his disciples in the spirit of prayer, Jesus teaches them to address God as Abba – a very intimate word for “father”.

 

After teaching his disciples the content of the model prayer, Jesus delineates the goodness and the magnanimity of the Abba by means of stories and figures of speech. He narrates the parable of the importunate friend who is able to obtain, in the middle of the night, the three loaves of bread needed to serve an impromptu guest by knocking incessantly at the door of his neighbor already in bed. He also appeals to the common experience of a father who will never give his son a serpent if he asks for a fish or a scorpion if he asks for an egg. By using the dynamics of contrast and the power of exaggeration, Jesus reinforces his message concerning the Father’s graciousness in responding to the needs of his children who are united with Christ’s paschal journey. If a reluctant friend obliges to help an importunate friend, if a human father provides for the needs of his child, how much more will God care for his very own. Indeed, the Abba Father who loves us always responds to our prayer in ways that we may not expect, but are best for us. 

    

 

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

 

The Old Testament reading (Gn 18:20-32) is an intuitive, picturesque and “folksy” presentation of God as patient, kind and merciful – as one who could be engaged in a personal dialogue. Abraham could talk and bargain with God because of his solid relationship with him as a favored friend. The charming story of Abraham interceding for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah reveals a just God who is patient with human weakness, attentive to our needs, and kindly disposed to a friend’s prayer. Abraham’s dialogue with God teaches us that our own prayer must also be marked with candor and vehement trust. Prayer is a manifestation of trust in the loving, welcoming God. It is efficacious because it is based on a personal relationship with our “Abba” – our heavenly Father - who desires our infinite good.

 

Here is an example of a, audacious trusting prayer (cf. Rhoda Blecker in Daily Guideposts 2014, p. 42).

 

I was racing around like crazy because my husband, Keith, was in the hospital. I rushed home to feed the animals and let our dog out. Once Anjin was back inside, I thought I’d done everything I needed to and was ready to go back to the hospital. I grabbed my purse and fished for my cell phone. It wasn’t there.

 

Under normal circumstances, losing my cell phone would be nothing more than a bother, but these weren’t normal circumstances. All the phone numbers I needed were programmed into that phone, and it was the number the hospital would use to reach me. I dialed the cell number from our landline, but I couldn’t hear ringing anywhere in the house. I searched my car and the garage.

 

It had been a long time since I’d yelled at God, but I did. I planted my feet in the middle of the living room and shouted, “I don’t want to keep bugging You, God, but I will, because I need my cell phone and I need those numbers! I can’t find them myself, so I need help!”

 

I searched the house again but found nothing. Then, for the second time, I searched the car. Under the passenger seat, my groping hand encountered a smooth metal lump, which turned out to be my phone.

 

 

C. Second Reading (Col 2:12-14): “God has brought you to life along with Christ, having forgiven us all our transgressions.”

 

The meaning of Christian prayer takes on a deeper hue against the backdrop of the Second Reading (Col 2:12-14). We approach the Father with radical confidence because we have been redeemed by his own Son. God brought us to life in Christ and with Christ. Moreover, his beloved Son Jesus himself taught us how to pray properly. Our prayer is directed to our benevolent God who acts on our behalf. The heavenly Father loves us so much that he enabled us to die to our sins and rise to new life by immersing us into Christ’s sacrificial “blood bath” on the cross. Jesus removed the bond of our indebtedness when he died for our salvation. We share in his paschal mystery of death and rising through baptism. Christian prayer is thus an exquisite response to the loving God whose gracious initiative brought us to new life. But prayer is also our spontaneous cry to our heavenly Father in our deep need. It is a plea for help when confronted with crisis and difficulties.

 

The beautiful reality of God’s redeeming love that inspires a prayerful response can be gleaned in the following story (cf. Cathy Bloom, “I Am Here for You” in 101 Inspirational Stories of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Sr. Patricia Proctor, Spokane: Franciscan Monastery of Saint Clare, 2006, p. 210-211).

 

Nauseous from feelings of fear, depression, loneliness, and betrayal, I sat alone in the church 300 miles from where I used to call home. How did I reach this point at the age of fifty-five? I was now divorced for the second time, and I had moved to be near my daughter, leaving behind my family and long time friends. I felt so alone. I had been betrayed, and that left a pit in my stomach and a pain in my heart. I wondered if I would ever be free of the ache.

 

I was early for Mass, sitting in a back pew seeing nothing but darkness and shadows. Slowly the lights illuminated the church as time for Mass was approaching. The church was now bright and I looked up, my eyes going straight to the image of the risen Christ on the cross behind the altar.

 

Suddenly, I felt Jesus say to me, “Let me hold you in my arms. I am here for you. It will be okay.” His outstretched, welcoming arm beckoned me. He was there for me, and I was not alone. My heart stopped aching, but I was still unsure of what to do next with my life and not sure what could be salvaged. I went through the motions of Mass with my eyes fixed on the risen Christ image.

 

My answer came during the Our Father. As I prayed, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. I heard the words deep in my soul. I knew I needed to go to confession and that I needed the sacrament of reconciliation to renew my life. As I left Mass, I felt this was something I could actually do to help the way I was feeling and to get back on the right track in life.

 

Saturday arrived and I sought out the newly ordained Father Russ to hear my confession face-to-face. I was very nervous, and he was very calming. As I proceeded, we talked and he consoled and reassured me. I said an act of contrition, received absolution, and said my penance. Afterwards, I felt a relief that I had not experienced in years. I knew I was okay, that things would work out, and that God was there for me always.

 

There are no words to describe the internal feeling that comes over me now when I think of that special moment of spiritual rebirth. I am so thankful that I made use of the sacrament of reconciliation that day. It helped me rebuild my life and my faith.

 

 

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

 

How does the image of Christ the Orante impact our spiritual and apostolic life? Do we treasure the Lord’s Prayer, the Christian prayer par excellence? How?

 

 

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

 

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;

thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

and forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive those who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

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.

 

“Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray …’” (Lk 11:1)

 

 

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

 

Pray the Lord’s Prayer, using Luke’s version, slowly and meditatively. Pause after each petition and let its meaning sink into your heart. Teach the Lord’s Prayer to someone who does not know it. 

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July 25, 2016: MONDAY – SAINT JAMES, APOSTLE

      “JESUS SAVIOR: His Apostles Share in His Passion and Are the Earthen Vessels of His Grace”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

II Cor 4:7-15  // Mt 20:20-28

  

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Almighty Father,

by the martyrdom of St. James

you blessed the work of the early Church.

May his profession of faith give us courage

and his prayers bring us strength.

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

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

***

 

July 26, 2016: TUESDAY – SAINTS JOACHIM AND ANNE, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Judge at the Harvest … He Calls Us to True Repentance”

     

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 14:17-22 // Mt 13:36-43

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 13:36-43): “Just as the weeds are collected now and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.”

 

The Gospel (Mt 13:36-43) tells us that in response to his disciples’ request, Jesus Master gives them tools to help them understand the parable of the weeds in the field. The “sower” of the good seed is the Son of Man, the judge at the harvest.  The “good seed” are those who have been receptive to the divine word and have borne abundant fruit. The “bad weeds” are the evil ones who reject God’s offer of salvation. The “harvest” is the judgment at the end time. The judgment will determine the final destiny of the righteous and the wicked, and will purify the kingdom entirely. The wicked and the perpetrators of evil will be thrown into the “fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth”. The righteous will shine like the sun in the heavenly kingdom, for God’s brilliant presence will permeate them. Jesus’ parable invites us to be patient with the wicked and likewise assures us that unending doom is the lot of the unrepentant wicked. As Christian disciples in today’s world, we have a duty to catechize people about the “last things”: death, judgment, heaven, hell.

 

George Alford, a 67-year old surfer in New Smyrna, Florida, counts his mission to surfers and beachgoers as a very important ministry. When he goes to the beach, he plants a cross in the sand in front of his SUV to remind beachgoers that God loves them. On special occasions, he will hoist the 12-foot cross on his shoulder and carry it up and down the beaches. He testifies how God makes his ministry fruitful (cf. Kathy Alford, “Surfing for God” in St. Anthony Messenger, July 2012, p. 33).

 

One spring break, while George was carrying the cross down the beach, an inquisitive young man with multiple face piercings came walking toward the cross with a cigarette lighter in his hand. He asked, “Can I burn your cross?” “Why do you want to burn the cross?” George asked him. “He said, ‘Because I worship Satan.’”

 

“The young man wasn’t angry or hostile”, George says. “He just wanted to talk.” “That’s bad news, dude”, George replied. “No, Satan speaks to me in my mind”, the young man said. “Satan hates you. He wants to drag you into hell.” “Oh, that would be great – going to Satan’s house”, the young man responded. “No, hell’s a horrible place, full of anguish and suffering forever. You don’t want to go there.” At that point, the young man started backing away from George, and then he turned and walked away.

 

A year later, George was carrying the cross down the beach again during spring break, and he saw a young man who smiled at George and nodded. “He looked like he wanted to say something. I slowed down to give him a chance to talk, but he just smiled. I noticed that the young man had scars where piercings used to be. Later, as I walked down the beach, it occurred to me: that was the young man with the lighter!”

 

“His look had meant, ‘Look at me; I’ve changed. We’re brothers.’ I’ve prayed for another opportunity to see him again, but it didn’t happen. I still continue to pray that the Lord will bless him and help him grow in his faith.”

 

George pauses, then sums up his passion. “Changing lives: that’s the power of the cross!”

       

 

B. First Reading (Jer 14:17-22): “Remember, Lord, your covenant with us and break it not.”

 

Today’s Old Testament reading (Jer 14:17-20) depicts the “great destruction” that overwhelms the people of Judah. The military onslaught of the Babylonians has filled the fields with dead bodies. A terrible drought in the land exacerbates the misfortune. There is no rain and the ground is dried up. There is no water in the cisterns and their jars are empty. The farmers are sick at heart and people are starving to death. On account of the famine, even prophets and priests forage in a land they know not

 

The people thus make a plea to the Lord. A collective lament rises up to him: “We have sinned against you … Remember your promises and do not despise us … Do not break the covenant you made with us.”  But they continue to be filled with wrongdoing as they attempt to manipulate God’s benevolence. They try to shame him into acting in their favor. Their plea for mercy is rejected because, in their hearts, there is no repentance. They have turned away from the covenant by their idolatrous actions. And yet they expect God to continue to protect them. They even attempt to con God into ending the drought by evoking his immense power over nature: “None of the idols of the nations can send rain; the sky by itself cannot make showers fall.” But God is adamant. The idolatrous people of Judah are doomed to die in war and from starvation. Moreover, some are doomed for exile.

 

The present day drought in California gives us insight into the death-dealing situation that afflicted the people of Judah during the time of prophet Jeremiah (cf. Robert Rodriguez, “Small Farmers Losing Hope” in Fresno Bee, July 20, 2014, p. A1, A10).

 

This time of year, May Vu’s farm in Sanger should be carpeted with blooming flowers and a bounty of vegetables. But a failing irrigation pump and a nearly empty well have dried up Vu’s farm and with it, her source of income.

 

The 58-year-old Vu knows she is up against major obstacles as California struggles through one of the worst droughts in history. Still, she carefully walks the trellised rows, hunting for vegetables to harvest. The summer heat and lack of water have shriveled her crop of bitter melon, turning the Asian vegetables from a bright green to a yellow-orange color. “This is not what it should be like”, Vu says, plucking the vegetables and tossing them on the ground. “You get no money for this, no money.”

 

Across the state, the drought has put tremendous pressure on large and small farmers such as Vu, who increasingly are relying on ground water to sustain the crops. The spike in ground water use has caused water levels to drop below the reach of irrigation pumps. (…)

 

For now, with her pump pulling out just a fraction of water it normally provides, she is doing what she can to keep her plants alive. She has seen a severe drop in production. Instead of 125 boxes of vegetables a week, she is harvesting about two boxes a week. She estimates she has lost thousands of dollars in the sales.

 

Her flower garden succumbed to the dry conditions about two weeks ago. A field that once was blanketed with lilies, daisies, tulips dahlias, sunflowers, carnations and peonies is dry. Stubborn weeds have taken over, choking out what few flowers remained.

 

Vu, known for her flowers, sold them at several farmers markets including Hanford, Clovis and Fresno. She grows them in honor of her husband who died in 2006. “The flowers always made me feel happy”, Vu said. “But now, there isn’t a lot to be happy about.”

  

 

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

 

1. Do we believe that at harvest time we will be judged? How do we prepare for this deep encounter with God’s grace?

 

2. Is our prayer to God properly motivated or is it just a selfish way to con him to grant us favors?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus,

we thank you for your patient love and great justice.

You are the sower of good seed

and the judge at the final harvest.

May we bear abundant fruit

and be counted as precious in your sight.

Bring us into your heavenly kingdom

where the presence of God

will make us shine with splendor and glory.

We pray for those who reject your saving love.

Give them light and show them the way.

Let this interim time

be an occasion of healing and conversion for us all

so that we may be spared from eternal doom.

We love you, Jesus,

for you are kind and merciful.

Glory and praise be yours, now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

 Our loving and forgiving God,

we have been unfaithful.

We recognize, O Lord, our wickedness.

For your name’s sake spurn us not.

Remember your covenant with us; break it not.

We promise to turn away from sin

and to follow you with our whole heart.

You are just in all your ways.

Hence, we resolve to 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.

 

“Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Mt 13:43) //“Remember, Lord, your covenant with us and break it not.” (Jer 14:21)

 

 

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

 

When the world events tend to depress you, find strength and comfort in the reality of the “last things”. Let the Church teaching on the final judgment be a guidepost on your spiritual journey to God. // Conscious of the critical situations in drought-stricken countries/states/areas, pray for God’s blessing of the life-giving rain. Be sparing and judicious in the use of water.

   

 

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July 27, 2016: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (17)

“JESUS SAVIOR: His Kingdom Is a Treasure … He Strengthens Our Prophetic Vocation”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 15:10, 16-21 // Mt 13:44-46

  

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 13:44-46): “He sells all he has and buys the field.”

 

Jesus’ parable of the treasure hidden in the field and the parable of the finest pearl (Mt 13:44-46) underline the absolute value of the kingdom of God, the joy it brings and the total commitment it entails. The response of the treasure finder and the pearl merchant who sold all they had to buy the greatest treasure of their life is an example of how we should pursue the heavenly kingdom. It is the chance of a lifetime. It must be pursued at any cost – without regret or hesitation. The heavenly kingdom deserves our deepest love and concern. It is our utmost treasure and absolute good.

 

The following story, circulated on the Internet, gives insight into what must be our stance in order to achieve our true treasure.

 

Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best. He also loved the 3rd wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms. However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another. He also loved his 2nd wife. She was his confidant and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem, he could confide in her, and she would help him get through the difficult times. The King's 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her.

 

One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, "I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I'll be all alone." Thus, he asked the 4th wife, "I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No way!" replied the 4th wife and she walked away without another word. Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart. The sad King then asked the 3rd wife, "I have loved you all my life. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?" "No!" replied the 3rd wife. "Life is too good! When you die, I'm going to remarry!" His heart sank and turned cold. He then asked the 2nd wife, "I have always turned to you for help and you've always been there for me. When I die, will you follow me and keep me company?" "I'm sorry, I can't help you out this time!" replied the 2nd wife. "At the very most, I can only walk with you to your grave." Her answer struck him like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated. Then a voice called out: "I'll go with you. I'll follow you no matter where you go."  The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was very skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect. Greatly grieved, the King said, "I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance!"

 

In truth, we all have the 4 wives in our lives: Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die. Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others. Our 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave. And our 1st wife is our Soul, often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. However, our Soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go. Cultivate, strengthen and cherish it now, for it is the only part of us that will follow us to the throne of God and continue with us throughout Eternity. 

  

 

B. First Reading (Jer 15:10, 16-21): “Why is my pain continuous? – If you repent, you shall stand in my presence.”

 

Today’s Old Testament reading (Jer 15:10, 16-21) depicts the vocation crisis of Jeremiah. His prophecy of doom to the people of Judah has made him “a man of strife and contention”. On account of his unwelcome message, he has to quarrel and argue with everyone in the land. This unfortunate situation leads him regret the day of his birth. With bitter sarcasm, Jeremiah complains to the Lord: “I have not lent any money or borrowed any, yet everyone curses me.” He asserts that he is faithful to his prophetic ministry and because of his single-hearted devotion he does not even indulge in a good time. He whines: “Why do I keep on suffering? Why are my wounds incurable?” The disgusted prophet suspects that he could no longer rely on the Lord who must have forsaken him. Jeremiah completes his tirade: “You have indeed become for me a treacherous brook whose waters do not abide.”

 

God replies with a rebuke that Jeremiah himself needs to be converted. Indeed, Jeremiah ought to return to God and repent of his rebellious thoughts. Moreover, if instead of talking nonsense he proclaims a worthwhile, constructive message to the people, then Jeremiah will be God’s prophet again. In humbly returning to God, Jeremiah will experience anew the divine presence and protection. The Lord thus assures the prophet: “For I am with you to deliver and rescue you.”

 

The following modern day account, circulated on the Internet by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and dated July 8, 2014, gives insight into the contentious situation that Jeremiah experiences as a man of God.

 

Court Rules against Seal of Confession: Bill Donohue comments on a ruling made by the Supreme Court of Louisiana.

 

In 2008, a fourteen-year-old girl alleges that she told her parish priest that she was being abused by a now-deceased lay member of their parish. The girl alleges the disclosures came during the Sacrament of Confession. Now her parents are suing the priest and the Diocese of Baton Rogue for failing to report the alleged abuse. The State’s Supreme Court has ruled that the priest, Fr. Jeff Bayhi, may be compelled to testify as to whether the Confessions took place, and if so, what the contents of any such Confessions were.

 

Confession is one of the most sacred rites in the Church. The Sacrament is based on a belief that the seal of the confessional is absolute and inviolable. A priest is never permitted to disclose that an individual did seek the Sacrament. A priest who violates that seal suffers automatic excommunication from the Church.

 

As a result of this ruling, Fr. Bayhi may now have to choose between violating his sacred duty as a priest and being excommunicated from the Church or refusing to testify and risk going to prison. The Diocese said Fr. Bayhi would not testify.

 

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the free exercise of religion. Just as government cannot compel anyone to follow a particular religion, it likewise cannot prevent anyone from exercising the tenets of his faith. By deciding that Fr. Bayhi must choose between his faith and his freedom, the Louisiana Supreme Court has endangered the religious liberty of all Americans.

 

The Catholic League supports Fr. Bayhi and the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we pursue the kingdom of God with the creative zeal of the treasure finder and the diligence of the pearl merchant? Do we consider the heavenly kingdom, fulfilled by Jesus Christ, our ultimate treasure and utmost good?

 

2. When things go wrong and we suffer trials and difficulties, do we whine and complain to the Lord? Or do we humbly turn to God and beg him for help and protection?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus,

you invite us to pursue the kingdom of God.

Grant us the creative zeal of the treasure finder

and the diligence of the merchant searching for fine pearls.

Help us to make the right choices.

Be our help and protection

in contentious situations and difficulties.

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 sells all that he has and buys the pearl of great price.” (Mt 13:45) // “For I am with you to deliver and rescue you.” (Jer 15:20)

 

 

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

 

In your daily choices, be conscious of what brings you closer to the kingdom of God and what draws you away from it. // In fulfilling your prophetic ministry, resolve to turn to God and humbly beg his help when faced with difficult, contentious situations.

  

 

*** *** ***

 

July 28, 2016: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (17)

SAVIOR: His Kingdom Is Like a Dragnet … He Teaches Us to Be Docile to the Divine Potter”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 18:1-6 // Mt 13:47-53

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 13:47-53): “They put what is good into buckets, what is bad they throw away.”

 

In today’s Gospel (Mt 13:47-63), Jesus gives us the parable of the dragnet. The dragnet, hauled to shore by fishermen, brings with it all the fish of the enclosed area. Some of the catch are inedible and some unclean according to Jewish law, and these will have to be thrown back into the sea. The good edible fish will be separated and put into buckets. The parable of the dragnet underlines the same point contained in the parable of the weeds growing among wheat: the good and bad exist together until the end of the age, when the Son of Man will make the final judgment.

 

At the conclusion of his series of parables, Jesus asks his disciples a significant question: “Do you understand all these things?” The disciples answered an emphatic “Yes”. The Divine Master has been helping them delve into the meaning of the kingdom of God with the use of parables. The disciples are like “scribes” who study the divine word. The “storeroom” of their lives contains what is “new” – the teaching of Jesus – and what is old – the law and prophets. They are called to see the radically new act of God in Christ in the light of the Old Testament tradition. They realize that Jesus’ message of the kingdom now takes precedence over the old and gives it new meaning.

 

The following story gives insight into how we will be judged at the end time (cf. Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight: A Book of Story Meditations, New York: Image Books, 1988, p. 137-138).

 

An old woman died and was taken to the Judgment Seat by the angels. While examining her records, however, the Judge could not find a single act of charity performed by her except for a carrot she had once given to a starving beggar.

 

Such, however, is the power of a single deed of love that it was decreed that she was to be taken up to heaven on the strength of that carrot. The carrot was brought to court and given her. The moment she caught hold of it, it began to rise as if pulled by some invisible strength, lifting her up toward the sky.

 

A beggar appeared. He clutched the hem of her garment and was lifted along with her; a third person caught hold of the beggar’s foot and was lifted too. Soon there was a long line of persons being lifted up to heaven by that carrot. And strange as it may seem, the woman did not feel the weight of all those people who held onto her; in fact, since she was looking heavenward, she did not see them

 

Higher and higher they rose until they were almost near the heavenly gates. That is when the woman looked back to catch a glimpse of the earth and saw this whole train of people behind her.

 

She was indignant! She gave an imperious wave of her hand and shouted, “Off! Off, all of you! This carrot is mine!” In making her imperious gesture, she let go of the carrot for a moment – and down she fell with the entire train.

 

There is only one cause for every evil on earth: “This belongs to me!”

 

 

B. First Reading (Jer 18:1--6): “Like the clay in the hand of the potter, so are you I my hand, house of Israel.”

 

In today’s Old Testament reading (Jer 18:1-6), God commands Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house and there a message is given to him. Just as the potter must work with the clay and shape it until a useful and good vessel is obtained, so the Lord acts with Judah. The Lord shapes and disciplines his people in the same way the potter patiently moulds an earthen vessel from the clay. God is the potter and the people of Judah are the clay that he shapes into his saving design. But the clay needs to be docile and responsive to the deft hands of the potter. Indeed, the God of Israel recognizes the people’s freedom to choose good or evil. Just like the potter who re-shapes imperfect pottery into something else, God plans to chastise a people who stubbornly cling to evil. Indeed, through the prophetic ministry of Jeremiah, God is calling his people to conversion and to be open to grace.

 

The following excerpt, from the story of a heartbroken mother who hunts down her drug-addicted daughter to save her life by bringing her home, takes on special significance against the backdrop of Jeremiah’s parable of the potter and the clay (cf. Margaret Williams, “Just Come Home” in Amazing Grace for Survivors, ed. Jeff Cavins, et. al., West Chester: Ascension Press, 2008, p. 161-167). Like a lump of clay in the potter’s hands, human conversion needs docility and openness to the dew of divine grace.

 

We arrived at Marie’s and could see through the mail slot that she was sleeping on the couch. “Marie, get up!” I called. She later said it was like a flashback from school days as she got up half asleep and opened the door. Seeing us, she became angry. Marie had made up her mind that she did not want to go back to Michigan. She decided her life was with these people and it was her mission to stay and help them.

 

I told her that I loved her and wanted her to come home with me. She told me she loved me but she was not going. Meanwhile, in the other room, Marie’s siblings Mark and Gloria proceeded with the plan to call the police. It was about 10:30 a.m. One of the neighbors came to the house to see what was going on. Marie overheard Mark tell the neighbor she should leave because the police would soon be there. With that, Marie called out and said that if that’s the way we wanted it, that was all right with her. At least she would get some rest in jail. I broke down and cried. At that point, I gave up all hope of her coming home with me.

 

As Marie walked out of the bedroom, the police arrived. Two young officers came through the living room. They began to question her as she walked back to the bedroom to put on her shoes. Mark sat back on his heels, put his head in his hands and cried. The three of us gave up all hope. Suddenly, one of the other officers came out of the other bedroom and said, “Marie, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to arrest you for possession of rock” (the slang term for crack cocaine). We all looked shocked!

 

The officer walked into the front room holding a large rock in his hand – an actual fieldstone. It was a joke! Suddenly, laughter burst out, cutting all the tension. Then the other officer turned around and said, “Marie, why don’t you go home with your mom?”

 

To our amazement she answered, “All right.” We could hardly believe it. They never even mentioned the tickets. I thanked them profusely. It was like something right out of the movies.

 

Once Marie made up her mind to go home with us, the struggle was over. We went to Mark’s to pick up my luggage and still had enough time to stop for lunch before getting dropped off at the airport. On the plane ride home, Marie said that there was a saying back in the neighborhood when someone had some crack that “you gotta break me off some of that good stuff”. She looked at my rosary and said, “You gotta break me off some of that good stuff.”

 

Marie spent one year in a rehabilitation program at Dawn Farms. She has been sober for close to fifteen years now, and we are very happy and grateful to see what a wonderful person she has become.

 

 

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

 

1. Do I prepare myself for judgment day with acts of charity so that I may become an object of God’s mercy and saving grace? Do I treasure the radical newness of the Christ event and see it against the backdrop of the Law and the prophets?

 

2. Are we like clay docilely responding to the deft hands of the Divine Potter? Or are we stubborn and unyielding clay?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

at the end time,

let us be the object of your saving grace.

When the dragnet of our destiny is hauled into the eternal shore,

please count us among the redeemed.

Grant us divine wisdom so that,

as scribes of the kingdom,

we may delight in the radical newness of your saving work

and see the depth of its meaning

against the backdrop of the Law and the prophets.

Help us to be docile and responsive

to the deft hands of the heavenly Father, the Divine Potter.

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 kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.” (Mt 13:47) // “Like the clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.” (Jer 18:6)

  

 

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

 

By your acts of mercy and kindness, prepare for the definitive encounter with God’s mercy and justice at the hour of death and at the end time. // Resolve daily to be open and responsive to the saving will of the Divine Potter.

 

       

*** *** ***

 

July 29, 2016: FRIDAY – SAINT MARTHA

  “JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Living Word and Eternal Life … He was Persecuted”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 26:1-9 // Jn 11:19-27

 

 

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

 

A, Gospel Reading (Lk 10:38-42): “Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things.”

 

One thing I have in common with Sr. Mary Adele, a remarkable Sister born in a small scenic town close to Naples, Italy is a love for pasta. One day as we were enjoying a delicious, hot serving of spaghetti cooked “al dente” and topped with dense rich tomato sauce and grated Parmesan cheese, she narrated to me a modern version of the Gospel story of Martha and Mary.

 

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

 

            In the Gospel text (Lk 10:38-42) for the memorial of Saint Martha, Jesus, in the course of his paschal journey to Jerusalem, stops to rest in the home of Martha and Mary. The sisters receive him with solicitude and hospitality. Martha’s type of hospitality, however, is anxious and her intense concern misdirected. Martha’s “over-reacting” hospitality thus provokes a good-natured reproach from Jesus. He cautions her not to be anxious. It is the same advice that Jesus gives to his other disciples as they journey towards the cross and Easter glory. Indeed, Martha’s endeavor to prepare a perfect meal and her preoccupation for the “details of hospitality” detract her from the essential and primordial: to welcome Jesus in his life-giving Word.

 

 

B. Alternative Gospel Reading (Jn 11:19-27): “I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

The missionary tale in Maryknoll magazine (December 2004, p.5) narrated by Joseph G. Healey, M.M. is about a little girl who escaped the clutches of death and lived. This interesting story of a Tanzanian girl’s rescue gives us a glimpse of the marvelous work of Jesus in saving his beloved friend, Lazarus from death and bringing him back to life. 

 

One morning when Father Joseph Brannigan went to say Mass at a mission chapel in Shinyanga, Tanzania, he discovered an inert baby lying in front of the altar. The mother, explaining that the little girl was dead, asked if the priest could say Mass for her. Just then, the bundle moved. “She’s still alive,” Brannigan declared. “But she’s sick and I have no money for medicine. She’ll be dead soon anyway,” the mother replied. Giving the mother 10 shillings, the missionary sent her to the hospital with the baby. Seven years later a woman stopped Brannigan on the road. Breathlessly she explained, “My little girl lived. Here’s your 10 shillings. I’ve spent a long time looking for you.”

 

 

Today’s alternative Gospel reading (Jn 11:19-27) is also about the triumph of life over death. The raising of Lazarus from the tomb is a “sign” for it reveals Christ’s messianic and divine identity as the resurrection and life. The theological center of today’s account is found in Jn 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live; and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”Martha, the sister of the deceased Lazarus, responds fully to Jesus’ words and declares: “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” Formerly an over anxious hostess who has no time and leisure to welcome Jesus in his life-giving word, Martha has progressed deeply in her discipleship. Today’s episode shows her as listening to the words of Jesus and responding with full faith to Christ’s offer of eternal life.

 

***

 

Today, the memorial of Saint Martha, the following poem composed by Angela O’Donnell gives important insights into the saint’s personality (cf. America, February 9, 2009, p. 35).

 

ST. MARTHA

 

“She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.” (Lk 10:39)

 

A silly child she ever always was –

our mother said so a thousand times –

her quick eye caught by the flight or buzz

of some pretty creature’s mastering wings.

Lazarus tried to keep her out of sight,

to spare his clever sister women’s tasks.

I hauled the water, rose before first light,

set bread upon the board before they asked.

The day You came to us our prayers were granted.

My hands obeyed the rhythms of my labor

while Mary sat beside You like a man,

embraced within the circle of Your favor.

 

I stood apart, Your beauty kept from me,

and only when You left us did I see.

 

 

C. First Reading (Jer 26:1-9): “All the people gathered about Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.”

 

Today’s Old Testament reading (Jer 26:1-9) depicts Jeremiah’s fearless ministry of the Word and the condemnation it has brought upon him. Soon after King Jehoiakim became king of Judah, God commands Jeremiah to stand by the Temple court to speak to the worshippers about the impending doom to fall upon them if they persist in their evil ways. Through the prophet, God continues to appeal to the people to obey his life-giving words and thus avert self-destruction. But the people of Judah react angrily to the words of Jeremiah. His preaching the wrath of God provokes a general scandal. Instead of repenting, the people accuse him of blasphemy. They crowd upon him intending to kill him. They shout: “You ought to be killed for this!”

 

The following modern day account gives us insight into Jeremiah’s predicament as God’s faithful prophet.

 

June 18, 2014: Bill Donohue comments on San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone's response to those protesting his participation in the March for Marriage; it is being held tomorrow in Washington. A motley group of public officials, community activists, religious leaders, and gay advocates are upset that Archbishop Cordileone supports marriage, properly understood.  It is a striking sociological moment when elites stage a protest of an archbishop in the Roman Catholic Church simply because he believes—as the whole world has believed for thousands of years—that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. It is not a good cultural sign that this commonsensical position is considered controversial, even hateful.


 Those who are quick to brand support for traditional marriage hateful need to look in the mirror. As Archbishop Cordileone said in his excellent response to his critics: "For those who support the conjugal understanding of marriage, the attacks have not stopped at rhetoric. Simply for taking a stand for marriage as it has been understood in every human society for millennia, people have lost their jobs, lost their livelihoods, and have suffered other types of retribution including physical violence.”

The archbishop, who is chairman of the bishop's Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, offered to meet with those offended by his participation in the march. He asked “before you judge, get to know us.” But will they?

Kudos to Archbishop Cordileone for standing on principle. Let's also give a shout-out to his courageous spokeswoman, Christine A. Mugridge, for exclaiming, "We don't hate-monger, we don't pander to bigots." We are not accustomed to such straight talk coming from those in her position.

 

 

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

 

1. Are we hospitable? Why or why not? In what ways are we Martha? In what ways are we Mary? Is our Christian discipleship characterized by receptivity and true listening to the word of God? // Is our response to Christ’s faith assurance: “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25) like that of Martha, the sister of Lazarus? Are we willing to be a “sign” of resurrection in the death-dealing situations of today’s wounded world?

 

2. How does the predicament of the faithful prophet Jeremiah inspire us or daunt us? Are we ready to be persecuted for the word of God?

 

 

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

(Cf. Opening Prayer of Mass – Memorial of Saint Martha)

Father,

your Son honored Saint Martha

by coming to her home as a guest.

By her prayers

may we serve Christ in our brothers and sisters

and be welcomed by you into heaven, our true home.

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.

 

***

Lord Jesus,

help us to believe in you.

You are the true prophet who speaks the word of life.

Grant us the strength and the courage needed

to be true prophets like you.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Lk 10:42) // “I am the resurrection and the life … Do you believe this?”  (Jn 11:25-26) // “You must be put to death!” (Jer 26:8)

 

 

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

 

Introduce the laudable practice of Lectio Divina to your family members and friends. Carry out your daily tasks with personal dedication and with a loving spirit drawn out from the love of Jesus. // Pray for today’s persecuted Christians all over the world.

  

  

*** *** ***

 

July 30, 2016: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (17); SAINT PETER CHRYSOLOGUS, Bishop, Doctor of the Church; BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: The Baptist Shared in His Paschal Destiny … He Is Our Defender”

    

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 26:11-16, 24 // Mt 14:1-12

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 14:1-12): “Herod had John beheaded. John’s disciples came and told Jesus.”

 

In the Gospel (Mt 14:1-12) we hear that in upholding the integrity of moral truth against the malice of King Herod and his partner Herodias, John suffered martyrdom. His death was an intimate participation in the paschal destiny of the Messiah, of whom he was the precursor. In sharing intimately the universal work of salvation of Jesus Christ, the words of Yahweh in the Second Servant Song, could also be applied not only to Jesus but also to John: “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Is 49:6).

 

The courageous stance of John the Baptist in defense of truth and justice lives on in the Christian disciples of today’s world. This 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.

 

 

B. First Reading (Jer 26:11-16, 24): “For in truth it was the Lord who sent me to you to speak all these things for you to hear.”

 

Today’s Old Testament reading (Jer 26:11-16, 24) underlines God’s protection upon Jeremiah. The words spoken by the Lord to Jeremiah are true: “I will rescue you from the power of the wicked and violent men” (cf. Jer 15:21). Jeremiah risks his life by speaking “in the name of the Lord, our God”. Faithful to his ministry as a prophet, he confronts the people of Judah: “For in truth it is the Lord who sent me to give you this warning.” He challenges his persecutors: “Do with me whatever you think is fair and right. But be sure of this: if you kill me, you and the people of this city will be guilty of killing an innocent man.” The civil leaders and the people who believe that Jeremiah speaks in the name of the Lord defend him. And because Jeremiah has the support of a powerful friend Ahikam, the faithful prophet is not killed. Ahikam is the son of Shaphan, the royal scribe who helped promote the word of God during the reform of King Josiah. Indeed, God continues to stand by Jeremiah – to protect him and keep him safe.

 

God’s rescue of his faithful Jeremiah gives depth and perspective to the modern day account, circulated on the Internet, of the rescue of a “faithful” Christian.

 

ROME (AP) - Pope Francis met privately Thursday with a Sudanese woman who refused to recant her Christian faith in the face of a death sentence, blessing the woman as she cradled her infant born just weeks ago in prison. The Vatican characterized the visit with Meriam Ibrahim, 27, her husband and their two small children as "very affectionate." The 30-minute encounter took place just hours after the family landed at Rome's Ciampino airport, accompanied by an Italian diplomat who helped negotiate her release, and welcomed by Italy's premier, who hailed it as a "day of celebration."

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the pope "thanked her for her faith and courage, and she thanked him for his prayer and solidarity" during the half-hour meeting Thursday. Francis frequently calls attention to the suffering of those persecuted for their religious beliefs.

Lombardi said the presence of "their wonderful small children" added to the affectionate tone of the meeting. Ibrahim was presented with a rosary, a gift from the pope. Ibrahim held her sleeping infant as she stepped off the plane from Sudan, which had blocked her from leaving the country even after the country's highest court overturned her death sentence in June. An Italian diplomat carried her 18-month-old son and they were followed by her husband, Daniel Wani, who is a citizen of the United States and South Sudan. Ibrahim and her family are expected to spend a few days in Rome before heading to the United States.

Ibrahim, whose father was Muslim but whose mother was an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia, was sentenced to death over charges of apostasy. She married her husband, a Christian, in a church ceremony in 2011. As in many Muslim nations, Muslim women in Sudan are prohibited from marrying non-Muslims, though Muslim men can marry outside their faith. The sentence was condemned by the United States, the United Nations and Amnesty International, among others, and both the United States and Italy - a strong death penalty opponent with long ties to the Horn of Africa region - worked to win her release.

Sudan's high court threw out her death sentence in June, but she was then blocked from leaving the country by authorities who questioned the validity of her travel document. Lapo Pistelli, an Italian diplomat who accompanied the family from Sudan, said Italy was able to leverage its ties within the region. "We had the patience to speak to everyone in a friendly way. This paid off in the end," he said.

 

 

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

 

1. Like John the Baptist, are we prophets of truth and are we ready to undergo sacrifice for the sake of truth?

 

2. Do we believe that if we are faithful to God, he will be for us our help and defender?

 

 

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

 

God our Father,

you called John the Baptist

to be the herald of your Son’s birth and death.

As he gave his life in witness to truth and justice,

so may we strive to profess our faith in your Gospel.

When persecuted for our faith,

let us feel your saving power.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

   

 

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

 

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

 

“Herod had John beheaded in the prison.” (Mt 14:10) // “For in truth it was the Lord who sent me to you.” (Jer 26:15)

 

 

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

 

Pray for Christian disciples who promote God’s kingdom of truth and justice. In your daily life, endeavor to be a prophet of truth. // Pray for the persecuted Christians in various parts of the world and pray to God for the courage to be peaceful.

  

 *** 

Prepared by Sr. Mary Margaret Tapang PDDM

 

 

PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

SISTER DISCIPLES OF THE DIVINE MASTER

60 Sunset Ave., Staten Island, NY 10314

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

Website: WWW.PDDM.US

 


PIAE DISCIPULAE DIVINI MAGISTRI

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


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