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A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy




Lent Week 5: March 18-24, 2018



(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: March 11-17, 2018, please go to ARCHIVES Series 15 and click on “Lent Week 4”.




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 March 18, 2018: FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Grain of Wheat that Falls

to the Ground and Dies”




Jer 31:31-34 // Heb 5:7-9 // Jn 12:20-33





A. Gospel Reading (Jn 12:20-33): “If a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it produces much fruit.”


News reports and footage of war and civil disturbance in different parts of the world are very distressing, but I make them objects of intense prayer. One person who helps me in praying for world peace is a modern-day peacemaker who radically followed the life of Jesus Christ. Her life as witness for peace is recorded in the book, PEACE PILGRIM: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words (Hemet: Friends of Peace Pilgrim, 1991). Not revealing details of her life that she considered unimportant, such as her original name, age and birthplace, she wanted to be known simply as “Peace Pilgrim”. After a rigorous spiritual preparation that led her to experience a deep inner peace, she vowed to be “a wanderer until mankind has learned the ways of peace”. Alone, penniless, and with no organizational backing, she walked more than 25,000 miles, carrying in her blue tunic her only possessions: a comb, a folding toothbrush, a ballpoint pen, copies of her message and her current correspondence. She crossed America for nearly three decades, from January 1, 1953 until her death on July 7, 1981, bearing the simplest of messages: “This is the way of peace – overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love.”


Like Jesus, the little “grain of wheat” that falls to the ground and dies to produce abundant fruit, she lived out the message of peace and sacrificial love to the full. One day, a hefty teenage boy, with a violent streak and emotional illness, beat her. Even while he was hitting her, she could only feel the deepest compassion toward someone who was so psychologically sick that he was able to hit a defenseless old woman. She bathed his hatred with love even while he hit her. As a result, the hitting stopped and he wept: “You didn’t hit back! Mother always hit me back!” Peace Pilgrim remarked about the incident: “What are a few bruises on my body in comparison with the transformation of a human life? To make a long story short, he was never violent again. He is a useful person in the world today.” Indeed, Peace Pilgrim is a modern response to the Christian challenge: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be” (Jn 12: 25-26).


Living today in this time of crisis in human history and confronted with the brutal truth that war is not the way to peace, we need to steep ourselves in the purifying water of the living Word. Jesus Christ exhorts us to enter into the paschal process of liberation from a purely selfish existence towards a life of loving service for others. Today’s Gospel reading (Jn 12: 20-33) speaks of the “hour” in which Jesus would be “glorified”, which means, God would reveal his radical power in the saving event of his Son Jesus. The “hour” of glorification would entail a death and birthing process similar to that of a germinating seed. Jesus affirms: “Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” In today’s Gospel passage, the paschal image of a germinating and fruitful seed is reinforced and clarified by a reference to the suffering that Jesus would endure on the cross: “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” The season of Lent is an opportune time to be intimately united with Jesus in his sacrifice on the cross and to incarnate in our life the miracle of the “little grain” that dies in order to bear abundant fruits.



B. First Reading (Jer 31:31-34): “I will make a new covenant and remember their sin no more.”


In the March 17, 2006 issue of The Tidings, Southern California’s Catholic Weekly, page 5, I was greatly impressed by an announcement made by QueensCare, a faith-based public health care charity that follows the healthcare directives of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops: “QueensCare is pleased to announce its program for free hospital care for qualified low-income persons … Between now and 06/30/06 QueensCare will spend $5,000,000 on hospital care for low-income medically uninsured residents of Los Angeles … People meeting the qualifications may register at one of the listed churches during normal office hours. You do not need to be a church member, but you must visit in person … Immigration and citizenship status are not considered in determining eligibility for care.” There is something very refreshing in the QueensCare healthcare initiative to help the poor and needy. One can feel the spirit of love and compassion that animates this endeavor. There is a breath of “newness” in this Christian ministry. As a community of believers, we are heartened by this new, spirit-filled approach to a pressing social problem of today’s world.


This Sunday’s liturgy also speaks of “newness” – the radical newness of the New Covenant offered to us by Jesus Christ, the “little grain of wheat” that falls to the ground and dies in order to produce abundant fruit. Indeed, our spiritual journey during this Lenten season puts us in contact with fascinating Old Testament readings that enable us to glean wonderful insights regarding our covenant relationship with God. On the First Sunday of Lent, we perceived the basic content of God’ inchoative covenant with Noah: his benevolent permission to continue the history of humanity (cf. Gn 9:8-15). On the Second Sunday of Lent, we were enthralled with the sacrificial character of God’s covenant relationship with Abraham, the father of faith (cf. Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-12, 15-18). On the Third Sunday of Lent, we realized that the purpose of the Decalogue – the Ten Commandments, the fundamental law that regulates the people of Israel - is to deepen God’s covenant relationship with them and protect their identity as a people consecrated to him alone (cf. Ex 20:1-17). On the Fourth Sunday of Lent, we experienced the pathos of a broken covenant relationship and commiserated with the Jewish people, wallowing in the pain of their self-inflicted misery and weeping by the waters of Babylon, where their conquerors had driven them into exile. But in the wreckage of their sin and humiliation, the mercy of the God of the covenant is greatly revealed.


Today, on the Fifth Sunday of Lent and at the threshold of the Holy Week of the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, the Old Testament reading (Jer 31:31-34) invites us to focus our prayerful meditation on the promise of the New Covenant, announced by the prophet Jeremiah to an obdurate people at the brink of a violent catastrophe: “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah … I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people … All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.”


The promise of the New Covenant is radically actualized and perfectly fulfilled by Jesus Christ, the Son of God himself. Jesus is the New Covenant, and in his love, forgiveness, concern for others, unmitigated compassion, and above all, in his sacrificial offering on the cross, he becomes the head of the people of the new and eternal covenant.



C. Second Reading (Heb 5:7-9): “Christ learned obedience and became the source of salvation.”


The Second Reading (Heb 5:7-9) intensifies our contemplative gaze upon the passion of the Christ for it gives us a remarkable insight into the priestly character of his sufferings. This reading helps us to appreciate the life-giving meaning of the Servant-Son’s obedient stance. It inspires us to a spirit of conversion and thankfulness for the infinite goodness and eternal salvation that flow forth from the priestly sacrifice on the cross. This remarkable text expresses the paschal glorification of Christ with new depth because its shows its connection to priestly mediation.


The Jesuit biblical scholar, Albert Vanhoye, a foremost authority on the letter to the Hebrews, comments: “For Christ the path leading to the priesthood was a path of humility and suffering, a path of effective solidarity with human weakness. His priestly office consisted of prayer and supplications emerging from a situation of distress, and they were accompanied by a loud cry and tears. In this way Christ’s whole passion is presented as a priestly action that assumes human anguish in the presence of death and transforms it into an offering of prayer. This prayer was offered to God with reverent submission. Jesus did not pretend to impose his own will on God; instead, he let his Father choose the best solution. This is the reason why he was heard. The divine solution did not consist in preserving him from death; it transformed his sufferings and death into the instrument of definitive victory over evil and over death itself. Distorted by sin, human nature had to learn obedience so that it could forever be reintroduced into God’s intimacy. Since Christ was a Son he did not need this painful learning for himself, yet he accepted it because of his generous solidarity with us. Thus he became the perfect man, fully worthy of being accepted and even enthroned at God’s right hand, and he did that for the sake of all since perfection was the fruit of his complete solidarity with us.”


The following charming story circulated through the Internet illustrates the great consequence of a sacrificial act. “The Necklace” gives us a glimpse of the positive value that resulted from Christ’s priestly act of self-giving sacrifice and the abundant grace poured upon those who obey the Father’s benevolent will.


The cheerful little girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them, a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. “Oh, Mommy, please, Mommy! Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please?” Quickly the mother checked the price of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl’s upturned face. “A dollar ninety-five. That’s almost $2.00. If you really want them, I’ll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday’s only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma.”


As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her piggy bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.


Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere, Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.


Jenny has a very loving Daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night as he finished the story, he asked Jenny, “Do you love me?” “Oh, yes, Daddy. You know that I love you.” “Then give me your pearls.” “Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess, the white horse from my collection, the one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She’s my favorite.” “That’s okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night.” And he brushed her cheek with a kiss. About a week later, after the story time, Jenny’s Daddy asked again, “Do you love me?” “Daddy, you know I love you.” “Then give me your pearls.” “Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper.” “That’s okay. Sleep well. God bless, little one. Daddy loves you.” And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.


A few nights later when her Daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian style. “What is it, Jenny? What’s the matter?” Jenny didn’t say anything, but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, “Here, Daddy; this is for you.” With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny’s Daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny.


He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime store stuff so he could give her the genuine treasure. So it is, with our heavenly Father. He is waiting for us to give up the cheap things in our lives so that he can give us beautiful treasures.





Like the life-giving “grain of wheat”, Jesus Master, are we willing “to die” in order to grow and be fruitful? Are we willing to use our abilities, our talents and our lives for the service of others and risk the sacrifices that this entails? Are we willing to follow the way of peace and non-violence of the “grain of wheat”?




(Adapted from the Prayer of St. Francis)


“If a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it produces much fruit.”

Make me a channel of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring your love. Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord. And where there is doubt, true faith in you. Make me a channel of your peace. Where there is despair in life, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, only light, and where there sadness, ever joy.


“If a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it produces much fruit.”

O Master, grant that I may never seek so much to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved, as to love with all my soul.


“If a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it produces much fruit.”

Make me a channel of your peace. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, in giving of ourselves that we receive, and in dying that we are born to eternal life.





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


            “If a grain of wheat dies, it produces much fruit.” (Jn 12:24)





When confronted with a violent situation, respond to it with non-violence in a spirit of Christian love. Through word, example and deed, and through daily dying to self, contribute to the Christian imperative of building a more peaceful world.



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  “JESUS SAVIOR: Saint Joseph Is His Guardian”




2 Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16 // Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22 //

Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a orLk 2:41-51a





A. Gospel Reading (Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a): “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him.”


Steven Gemmen’s story, “Where Love Grows” in Guideposts magazine (October 2004, cf. p. 44-48), is a touching account of how he welcomed into his life the child conceived by his wife, Heather, a victim of sexual assault. Steve narrates how his anger at the rapist found its outlet in the baby. In the sixth month of his wife’s rape-pregnancy, however, Steve was given the grace to understand that the little creature in his wife’s womb had nothing to do with the crime of the father, an unidentified African-American young man who broke into their home. Steve accepted the baby as his own although there were bad times. He remarks: “And there would be strained moments because of the baby’s appearance – starting with the delivery. How do you explain to the staff in the maternity ward that a white couple will have a biracial baby? But what a beautiful, beautiful baby! Healthy, squalling, wriggling, perfect – our long awaited little girl … Our lives haven’t been the same since that terrible night. They never will be. I’d thought nothing could make me love this child. That’s true. Nothing can make us love anyone or anything. Love is not a choice. It is the sovereign gift of God. And it was his gift that the child who stirred within Heather would make the unbearable not just bearable but miraculous.”


Steve’s compassionate stance towards his wife and the baby helps us understand better the Gospel reading (Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a). It makes us appreciate the goodness of Joseph, foster-father and guardian of Jesus, born of Mary. Confronted with the unexpected pregnancy of his betrothed, Joseph may have been deeply humiliated, angered and hurt. His plans to divorce Mary may presume his suspicion that she had been raped or seduced. As a man of honor and devout observer of the Old Testament law, Joseph could not take Mary as his wife. As a man of goodness and compassion, he did not wish to expose Mary to the shameful trial of a woman suspected of adultery. He therefore decided to divorce her quietly. But an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and assured him not to be afraid to take Mary home as his wife for it is through the Holy Spirit that the child in her womb was conceived. The angel said to Joseph: “She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save people from their sins”. When Joseph woke up he did what the angel commanded him to do: he took his wife into his home.


The German scholar Karl Rahner remarks: “Joseph is the foster-father and guardian of the child, not just because his wedded bride has conceived a child from heaven, but because God himself wished him to take the place of a father to the Son of God who has come to save the world. This is why Joseph is told to give a name to the child; this is why Joseph is addressed as son of David since Jesus himself will be known and acknowledged as the son of David precisely because his earthly father is a son of David stemming from that royal lineage. Thus from our reading of this text we can see heaven entrusting to the care of Joseph the savior of the world. Through this message from above Joseph is drawn into the great, public, official story of salvation. He acts no longer in the purely private capacity of bridegroom and later husband of Mary, but plays an official role in salvation history. He is the guardian and protector of the Son of God.”


Indeed, Saint Joseph is the foster-father and guardian of the Child because God himself wished him to take the place of a father to the Son of God who has come to save the world. Directly appointed by God, Joseph of Nazareth became the guardian and protector of Jesus and Mary. Like Saint Joseph, we too are called to be guardians of today’s “Jesus” living in our midst and of today’s “Mary” who needs to be defended. In this Lenten season, we too have the task of caring faithfully for the poor “Jesus” and the vulnerable “Mary” in our fragmented society today.


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Alternative Gospel Reading (Lk 2:41-51a): “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”


            I came into contact with the pain and anxiety of one who has lost a child. The Italian lady, Sarah, and her adopted girl, Saraji, the six-year old daughter of lepers from a leper colony where she used to work as a volunteer, were guests at our convent in Bangalore, India. One afternoon, they went downtown to shop. An hour later a very distraught Sarah came back to inform us that Saraji wandered away and was lost. We prayed in earnest for her return. Sarah, accompanied by some Sisters, searched for her and after a few distressing hours, found the little girl at the police station calmly eating an ice cream cone. The mother was overjoyed when she found her child.


            Today’s Gospel passage (Lk 2:41-52) is about the finding of the child Jesus in the temple.  In the context of the Father’s saving plan, the boy Jesus is not really “lost” in the temple, but is simply obeying a divine compulsion and asserting his personal duty to his Father in heaven. The necessity to be in his Father’s house and to be busy with his Father’s affairs lies in his inherent filial relationship with God who demands from him, the Servant Son, an absolute obedience to the divine saving plan. Indeed, the “three days” that Jesus stayed in the temple is a symbolic reference to the three days of being buried in the tomb, before he would reappear as the victorious Risen Lord, accomplishing the Father’s all inclusive plan to save the human family and the cosmic family of his beloved creation. 


            According to Luke, the parents of Jesus “did not understand what he said to them” (Lk 2:50) and Mary, his mother, is portrayed as keeping all these things in her heart (Lk 2:52). Mary, the first disciple and the first “christofora”, continues her journey of faith as she ponders the meaning and destiny of her Son, who “increased in wisdom, and age and favor before God and man” (Lk 2:52). Indeed, the full understanding of Jesus’ messianic identity and saving mission needs to await the paschal event of his death and resurrection.


            With Jesus’ intimate filial relationship with the Father and his paschal destiny as a backdrop, it would be easier to understand the role of Saint Joseph, the husband of Mary, in the divine saving plan. The Holy Family of Nazareth is the cradle of life and faith for Jesus, the beloved Son of the Father. The perfect paschal sacrifice to be offered on the Cross is being prepared silently and diligently in the home of Nazareth, under the loving guidance of Mary and Joseph. This grace-filled domestic setting is where the Son of God is loved, nourished, and formed by Saint Joseph and his Blessed Spouse Mary for Christ’s mission to reunite, at the end time, the human family and the cosmic family of God’s beloved creation.



B. First Reading (II Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16): “The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father.”


God is the sole Father of Jesus. Against the background of the Old Testament reading (II Sm 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16), we realize that through Joseph of Nazareth, legal father of Jesus, Mary’s child Jesus came to be a part of King David’s lineage and with it, the fulfillment of the messianic promise. The patronage of Saint Joseph and the love and paternity he offered to Jesus contribute to the realization of the divine saving plan. In the person of the “Son” fostered by Saint Joseph is the radical fulfillment of salvation. God chooses the carpenter Joseph, a just man, to care for Jesus in his childhood and youth. A silent witness, but a vital collaborator in the completion of the messianic promise, Saint Joseph images for Jesus, for the Church, and for today’s society the divine protection and paternity.


The importance of the role of Saint Joseph as father-guardian of Jesus and the spouse of Mary, and the importance of the “father image” in general, can be gleaned in the following story (cf. Mike McGarvin, Poverello News, December 2012, p. 1-2).


From my perch in Poverello’s Dining Room (two chairs stacked together so that I don’t have far to get up) I usually just fold my hands and see what manner of life God sends my way. Needless to say, every mealtime gives me a panoramic view of life at the bottom.


As I watched one day, a mother and her ten-year-old son passed in front of me. Seldom had I seen a surlier, more depressed-looking child. Mom and son were so immersed in a heated argument that they didn’t even look up to greet me. I’d seen this pair before. The boy always sported a sad face or a snarl. Most of the time, mother and son would pass me by, locked in what seemed to be a perpetual argument. Either this was a kid born for contention, or the mom had zero skills when it came to communication. (…)


Then, recently, something happened. It was at first startling, then profound. I was doing my Poverello maitre de duties, when I saw the mother enter the Dining Room. Expecting the usual dark cloud behind her as her son followed, I was astonished to witness a transformed boy. He had a smile on his face and was actually skipping in his mother’s footsteps. I saw him bolt ahead of his mother to their table, and pull out and hold a chair for her, like a miniature gentleman. I was stunned.


I wasn’t about to let this remarkable alteration pass without trying to find out what happened. I went over to the table, and quietly asked how the boy was doing. She smiled, then inclined her head in the direction behind me, indicating a man who was belatedly joining them. “His dad’s back. He just got out of rehab. You can see that my son’s doing great.” I made room for the man to sit between his boy and wife. As I walked back to my Papa Mike’s chair, I saw the boy staring in sheer adoration and bliss at the father he hadn’t seen in months.


Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest who has spent most of his ministry working among impoverished gang members in Los Angeles, wrote: “In the soul of nearly every homie (gang member) I know there is a hole that’s in the shape of his dad.” Most of the men in our drug program grew up with absent or neglectful fathers. A father’s absence says to a child: “You don’t matter to me. You aren’t important. I have other priorities.” That is a message that propels countless kids toward lives of self-destruction, because why bother trying to make something of yourself if you think you’re nothing, a cipher that has no value to the most important man in your life?



C. Second Reading (Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22): “Abraham believed, hoping against hope.”


In today’s Second Reading (Rom 4:13, 16-18, 22), Saint Paul presents the patriarch Abraham as a model of the Christian believer. Abraham’s faith is a sign of Christian faith. Though Abraham has so many human motives for despairing of ever having God’s posterity, he submits himself in faith to God. Abraham believes and hopes, even when there seems to be no reason for hoping. He has faith in the creative power of God to do what seems impossible. God brings life out of Sarah’s dead womb. And so Abraham becomes “the father of many nations”. The faith experience of Abraham is replicated in the life of Saint Joseph. And like Abraham we too are called to believe in a God who brings life out of death, not only in the dead womb of Abraham’s wife, but above all, in raising the sacrificed body of his Son Jesus Christ to new life. As Church, a community of faith, through our baptismal rebirth in Jesus Christ we become the privileged descendants of Abraham in faith.


The faith of Abraham continues to be manifested by Christian disciples through all ages. Like the patriarch Abraham and Saint Joseph, Blessed Timothy Giaccardo’s faith was tested. This happened when he tried to obtain permission to enter the fledging Pauline Family founded by his professor and spiritual director, Blessed James Alberione. Blessed Timothy narrates his experience (cf. Tom Fogarty’s article in Concord magazine on Blessed Timothy).


Events are speeding up.

Today the Spiritual Director and Canon Chiesa told me it’s time to make a move. O God, I am nothing, needed for nothing. Help me to make this transition. I will make a Triduum of prayer for this intention: to Jesus, Creator of the world, and to Mary, hope of sinful humanity; to Mary Queen of Apostles and to Jesus our Redeemer. And on the third day I will receive the Blessed Eucharist.


Some time later.

Mary, here I am at the vigil of the great day when I desire to enter the family of Fr. Alberione, get to know my Sisters and begin to live with my dear Brothers. Now I have to ask the Bishop permission to leave the Seminary.


This request raised various difficulties – remembering also the relationships between clerics of that age and their Bishops: very different from the relationships existing today.

This evening I asked permission. The Bishop showed that he was aware of my situation and asked if I wanted to remain a cleric, become a priest and then obey Fr. Alberione rather than the Bishop. I replied in the affirmative. He thought about this reply for some considerable time and then replied that, if I wished to have his permission to leave, I could no longer wear my cassock. I told him I was quite determined to leave but would be reluctant to leave the cassock aside.


This interview took place on May 17. A week later, we read.

The Bishop called me again and asked me about my studies. He then said that, if I intended to remain a cleric, he wanted me to continue in the seminary. With Fr. Alberione I will never be a priest as I plan to be. Father cannot be all that sure that he is doing the will of God. Of course I am free to try out my call but I am being invited to that house just because I can be useful to them and when they find me useless they will throw me out. Canon Chiesa is a good priest but he has not given me practical advice on this point. And I do not have the serenity and calm to be a journalist. My love for the new idea comes from the fact that Fr. Alberione has always helped me – indeed, hypnotized me. The advice I have received contradicts the authority of the Bishop who is not personally opposed to the work but simply suggests that it remains to be seen.


The points he made were not difficult in themselves but I was shaken by them because I would have to resist the authority of the Bishop whom I esteem and love and with whom I am deeply united. I begin to doubt … is my call truly from God? And I almost begin to regret the quiet life I might live if I had not thought of leaving the seminary. But yet my will remained very firm indeed and I still wanted to follow Fr. Alberione so there was nothing to be gained by going over the same ground. I spoke to Fr. Alberione again and he said that if I don’t believe in what we are doing then I should tear up the Gospel!


After this “onslaught” there were other sacrifices he had to make.

I renounced seriously in Jesus’ favor what might prevent me following the divine call: my pride, my deep affection for the Seminary, the Clerics, the Superiors, the peaceful Seminary life and even the clerical cassock – though its loss will cause me pain and humiliation … And in this period I renewed several times the consecration of my whole being to Mary and this morning after Communion I asked Jesus to cleanse me of all my lack of attention to my tender Mother.


It was now June and Timothy began to make a move toward Fr. Alberione. But first of all as a visitor during the summer seminary vacation. The Bishop agreed to this but insisted that, outside the seminary, Timothy would no longer be a cleric.


O Jesus how I thank you for this grace which marks my life and humbles me. If I had got all I wanted I would have lost my head and would have forgotten you and would have lost interest in my formation. I have to spend all this vacation in profound humility having received a less-than-enthusiastic permission from the Bishop and no guarantee of a future permission. Lord, let me live in Fr. Alberione’s house not as a member but as a species of poor man or beggar. Long live Jesus!



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March 20, 2018: TUESDAY – LENTEN WEEKDAY (5)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Saved Us by Being Lifted Upon

the Cross”




Nm 21:4-9 // Jn 8:21-30




A. Gospel Reading (Jn 8:21-30): “When you have lifted up the Son of Man then you will know that I am he.”

(Gospel Reflection by Sr. Mary Martha Bruan, PDDM)


In the Gospel (Jn 8:21-30), Jesus refers to Himself as “I AM,” an expression that late Jewish tradition understood as Yahweh’s own self-designation (Is. 43:10).  He draws a contrast:  His enemies belong to the earth, He is from heaven.  They are of the world; He is not of the world.  Jesus came from heaven into the world.  He was sent by the Father into the world, “Kosmos,” the object of God’s love.  When the hour comes He has to depart from this world.  The death of Jesus is destined by God.  It is when Christ is lifted up on the cross that we really see “who” and “what” He is.  It is there we see Jesus’ self-oblation done for His great love for humankind.  There on the cross we see the extent of His obedience to the will of the Father, “I always do what is pleasing to Him” (Jn 8:29).


God was always gracious and forgiving to the Israelites who journeyed in the desert for forty years.  During the Lenten Season we journey for forty days towards Easter.  Lent is indeed the favorable time for us to fix our gaze, not on the bronze serpent but, on Jesus on the cross in order not to be distracted by the allurements of modern technology and the strong upsurge of materialism as we go on journeying hand in hand with Him and each other.  This is the opportune time for us to reciprocate God’s immense goodness in love and do solely whatever is in accordance to His will, but how?


We have to discipline ourselves, intensify our prayers, fast and cease to do whatever pleases our appetite, our eyes, all our senses and break through our human shelter so as to reach out to our needy brothers and sisters with relentless care.  More importantly we are to believe and participate in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus to be with Him in the place where He is going.



B. First Reading (Nm 21:4-9): “Whoever looks at the bronze serpent shall live.”


The lifting up of the bronze serpent that we hear in today’s Old Testament reading (Nm 21:4b-9) is fascinating and illumines the mystery of the cross that we venerate as Christians. The bronze serpent on the pole that brings healing to those bitten by venomous seraph snakes is a symbol of God’s benevolent saving will. Jesus, like the serpent, is lifted up on the pole of the cross, and whoever looks to him in faith will be saved. This is the triumph of the cross. Indeed, in the light of the joyful Easter event of Christ’s resurrection, the cross becomes a throne of glory.


The following story illustrates the participation of Christian disciples in the mystery and triumph of the cross (cf. Full Sail with the Wind of Grace: Peter Kibe and 187 Martyrs, written and edited by “Martyres” Editorial Committee, Tokyo: Don Bosco Sha, 2008, p. 44-46).


Genka’s daughter Maria was married to the son of Kondo Kisan, the commissioner of Tachiura (Hirado City, Nagasaki Prefecture). Kondo was a devout Buddhist. He tried to convert his daughter-in-law and make her give up her faith. Maria always responded with the same words: “I was baptized by my father and have always walked the way of God that was taught to me. I cannot give up my faith.” “If you do not renounce your faith, we cannot keep you in our household. Think well and choose either my son or your faith.” Kondo oppressed Maria with these harsh words. After two years of struggling with the situation, Maria told her husband of her decision, and returned to her father Genka.


“It must be Genka who encouraged her to leave. He must pay for this!” Kondo discussed the matter with his friend, a Buddhist monk in Hirado, and appealed to Shigenobu to punish Genka. Shigenobu was furious with Genka who not only disobeyed his orders and continued to practice his faith, but also worked as a Christian leader. Shigenobu ordered the execution of Genka together with his wife Ursula and their eldest son John Mataichi.


Genka was handed over to the commissioner of Yamada (Hirado City, Nagasaki Prefecture), Inoue Umanojo to be executed on 14 of November 1609. To Umanojo, Genka was a friend for whom he had a great respect. Genka told him of his only wish. “Lord Inoue, could you do me a favor and perform my execution at the Kurusu (cruz = cross) Trail? “Why the Kurusu Trail?” “Once a cross stood there, and my parents and friends are buried there, too.”


Umanojo nodded and they started to walk toward the Kurusu Trail. When they arrived at the spot, Genka said to Umanojo, “Lord Inoue, it was my heart’s desire to offer my life here. None of this is your fault. Please be at peace.” Genka knelt down, raised his tied hands toward heaven and silently bowed his head. Umanojo, choking down his tears, performed the execution with one stroke of his sword so that Genka would not suffer too much.


Genka’s wife Ursula and their son John Mataichi were also beheaded about the same time at a place nearby. Gaspar Nishi Genka and his wife Ursula were both 54 years old. Their oldest son John Mataichi was 24 years old. Their remains were buried at the Kurusu Trail. The Christians secretly planted a pine tree on the spot.


In 1992, the Christians of Ikitsuki built a large cross on the Kurusu Trail. It is to remind them of the importance of faith strengthened in the family, a precious heritage of Gaspar Nishi Genka.







1. In this Lenten journey, do we fix our gaze on Jesus to really see “who” and “what” he is? How does his self-oblation on the cross affect us personally?


2. Are we eager to fix our gaze on Jesus Christ crucified and seek healing from him?





Lord Jesus,

the mounted bronze serpent

that saved the ancient Israelites from sure death

prefigures your crucifixion and redeeming death at Mount Calvary.

Thank you for your obedient sacrifice.

Above all, we render praise and thanksgiving to God the Father

who loved us so much that he sent you, his Servant-Son,

to be lifted up on the cross.

Now in faith we look upon the cross of your sacrifice

and see in it the source of healing and the font of eternal life.

Through your cross, O loving Jesus,

our hope is strengthened

that we will not die from the snares of sin, but live.

We adore you.

We worship you, Lord.

We venerate your cross.

Through your cross you brought joy to the world

and for this, we revere you, now and forever.






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


“Anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent and he lived.” (Nm 21:9) // “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM.” (Jn 8:27)





By your compassion and charity, allow them to experience the healing and saving love of Christ on the cross.


*** *** ***


March 21, 2018: WEDNESDAY – LENTEN WEEKDAY (5)

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Truth that Sets Us Free”




Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95 // Jn 8:31-42





A. Gospel Reading (Jn 8:31-42): If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

(Gospel reflection by Sr. Mary Martha Bruan, PDDM)


Faith and freedom are vital in embracing the life of discipleship.  In The Gospel (Jn 8:31-42), Jesus encouraged the Jews who believed in Him to remain in his word if they want to become truly his disciples. In doing so they will know the truth and the truth will make them free.  Discipleship begins with faith which entails constant listening to the word of Jesus and learning from him.  Entering into a Master-disciple relationship involves letting the truth of the word of Jesus penetrate our being and translate itself into action.  To learn from Jesus is to learn the truth for He himself is the Truth who breaks the shackles of lies and falsehood.  In the light of Jesus’ word we see what is trivial and essential thus compels us to uphold the Gospel values of detachment and freedom. Anybody who lives in vice and sin is not free. In detaching ourselves from the slavery of pleasure, lies, deceit, selfishness and sin we go through the experience of inner freedom.  We are freed from ourselves, anxieties and fears and are now freed for God and others.


We follow Jesus in freedom and he walks with us.  With the presence of Christ in our lives we are totally free from fear and cease to be afraid of evil.  Freedom is the consequence of discipleship.  In freedom we continue to live and bear witness to the Gospel truth until we become the persons God wants us to be.


This is the freedom Jesus wants the Jews to realize.  The Jews were irritated when Jesus spoke about freedom. They claimed they have never been slaves to anyone.  They pride themselves in their belief that they are the descendants of Abraham and God’s chosen people, a way of saying that they are special.  They cling to their misplaced sense of worth and dignity and lived in falsehood.  They are enslaved by this false belief so they are not free.  Jesus our Lord and Master is reminding the Jews and all of us that we are all equal before God for we are all His children.  We are to keep his word and live according to our dignity as Christ’s disciples in today’s world, a place of blessings and challenges. We are to bear witness to the truth and love Jesus brings to us as the beloved Son of God            



B. First Reading (Dn 3:14-20, 91-92.95): “The Lord has sent his angel to deliver his servants.”


Today’s Old Testament reading (Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95) is about the rescue of the Jewish young men named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace. They willed to suffer martyrdom rather than give in to idolatry. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a gold statute made, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and issued an order that as soon as the music starts, everyone is to bow down and worship the gold statue. Some Babylonians took this opportunity to denounce the Jews. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were the King’s officials in the province of Babylon, were confronted. The Jewish young men did not try to defend themselves. They trusted in the God of Israel whom they serve and who could rescue them from the blazing furnace if he wills it. Even if he doesn’t, they will not worship nor bow down to the gold statue that the king has set up. Thrown into the fiery furnace, the three faithful ones were rescued by the angel of salvation sent by God. The fourth man in the blazing fire who looks like “a son of God” prefigures Jesus Christ, our deliverer.


The fidelity of the Jewish young men to God, and their refusal to bow to an idol, had a great impact on a nurse in an American hospital who accidentally killed her patient, terminally ill with cancer. During a night shift, instead of sodium chloride solution she injected potassium chloride solution which was fatal for the patient. Following the normal procedure, she had administered the solution that was prepared on the table, which was the wrong solution. That potassium chloride solution was not meant to be there in the first place. She wanted to hide the truth for fear of losing her job. She tried to rationalize that the cancer patient was terminally ill and was just waiting to die. But in her meditation on today’s Old Testament reading, she was struck by the courage and fidelity to God of the three young men who would not bow to false idols. She turned herself in and was suspended right there and then by the supervisor. As a single parent, she and her daughter had to survive on peanut butter sandwiches. They were also forced to use hand soap to shampoo their hair. Her case was investigated. She was reinstated in her job eight month later. Her story was published. She was awed by the outpouring of letters from doctors and nurses who have accidentally killed their patients, but did not dare reveal the truth. One medical doctor commended her: “The truth has set you free.”





1. Do we believe that Christ’s truth will set us free? Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves for his life-giving truth?


2. Are there instances in your life when you dared to be faithful to God, and the truth about God, and suffered the consequences for it? Are there instances in your life when you were not faithful to the truth?





Lord Jesus,

you are the Truth that sets us free.

Free us from the bondage of sin

and the darkness of falsehood.

Teach us to walk in true freedom.

Give us the strength to embrace suffering and death

for the sake of your truth.

Let us abide in you and be your faithful disciples.

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.


“The truth will set you free.” (Jn 8:31)





Correct yourself as soon as you discover that you are not telling the truth or that you are falsifying the truth.



*** *** ***


March 22, 2018: THURSDAY – LENTEN WEEKDAY (5)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Ratifies the New Covenant by His Blood”




Gn 17:3-9 // Jn 8:51-59





A. Gospel Reading (Jn 8:51-59): “Your father Abraham rejoiced because he saw my day.”

(Gospel Reflection by Sr. Mary Martha Bruan, PDDM)


In the Gospel (Jn 8:51-59), the Jews are taken a back and incredulous when Jesus tells them that “if anyone keeps his words, he will never see death.”  As usual the Jews take Jesus’ words literally and think He is merely talking about physical life and death.  This obstructs them from seeing that Jesus is leading them to understand that whoever accepts Him enters into a relationship with Him and goes, not from life to death, but from life to life.  These unbelieving Jews see Jesus as someone who is possessed and claims to be greater than Abraham.


The incredulity and literal-mindedness of the Jews does not prevent Jesus from making a further statement, “all true honor comes from God.”   Only eternity can reveal this true honor.  In our time we find it easy to honor oneself and dwell on the satisfaction of exposing oneself to the warmth of self-conceit.  The Jews certainly do not know God as Jesus knows Him, for the latter has the unique knowledge of God.  He knows God and is faithful in keeping His word.   The only way to know God totally is through Jesus - the fullness of truth.  In Jesus alone, the obedient and beloved Son, we see the perfect image of God. 


Jesus is bent on helping the Jews open their minds and hearts to Him, so He goes on saying, “Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.”  Abraham, ever faithful to God, enters into a covenantal relationship with Him and He makes him the “father of a host of nations.”  Here Jesus claims deliberately who He really is, the Messiah.  He is the Messiah Abraham saw in his vision.  The Jews, even if they know that Abraham had a vision of the coming of the Messiah, remain obstinate and persist in their unbelief.  It is impossible for Jesus to have seen Abraham for He is still young.  To their incredulity Jesus’ response is a self-revelation, “Before Abraham came to be, I AM.”  This calls to mind the time when Moses asks Yahweh for His name.  Yahweh makes a clarion declaration, “I am who am” (Ex. 3:14). 


          Jesus is at the beginning with God. He is timeless and exists even before Abraham came into being.  He is equal with God and therefore, above Abraham.  This is too much for the Jews and they can no longer take this blasphemy.  They were very angry with Jesus, even to the extent of throwing stones at Him. Fully aware that it is not yet His time, Jesus inevitably hides and silently leaves the temple area.  The “hour” has not yet come for Jesus’ passion, death and glorious resurrection.


             In the midst of varied noises, distractions and the humdrum of daily life Jesus, the timeless God who always is, invites us to make the most of this Lenten Season and go deeper into our contemplation of His paschal mystery. In contemplating Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection we need to be in silence, have time for our being, listen to and keep His words alive in our hearts today and continue to cling tenaciously to our Lord and Master who is the same yesterday, today and forever.



B. First Reading (Gn 17:3-9): “You will be the father of a multitude of nations.”


In today’s Old Testament reading (Gn 17:3-9), God makes an everlasting covenant with Abraham, who is ninety-nine years old. The patriarch “Abram”, called by God from the land of Ur when he was seventy-five, receives the new name “Abraham” to indicate that he would be the ancestor of many nations. The change in the patriarch’s name signifies his new relationship with God and the new life granted by the covenant. The Lord God says to him: “I will be your God and the God of your descendants.” The covenant treaty that God initiates with him includes the promise of the land of Canaan for Abraham’s descendants. On the part of Abraham, he and his future descendants must agree to keep the covenant throughout the ages. Circumcision of Abraham and his male descendants represents a sign of commitment to the covenant. Jesus Christ is the most illustrious descendant of Abraham’s covenant relationship with God. In Christ Jesus, the new Covenant in the Spirit is sealed.


The concept of a covenant treaty continues to be experienced in the here and now - particularly in the life of the Pauline Family, founded by Blessed James Alberione. The meaning of his “pact with the Lord” can be gleaned from the following words written on January 7, 1919, by Blessed Timothy Giaccardo, the first priest in the Pauline Family (cf. Luigi Rolfo, James Alberione: Apostle for Our Times, trans. Salvatore Paglieri, New York: Alba House, 1987, p. 121).


Last night our dear father invited all of us to make a pact with the Lord, the pact that he himself had made: to study for one and learn for four. This morning in the meditation he repeated to us the importance, the basis, the condition and the invitation. His words were full of fire, full of conviction and very persuasive. The basis is: faith in God who has promised to grant wisdom to those who ask Him for it … The pleasure of God that we confide in Him. The will of God that this House exist and that it prosper: and the impossibility we find ourselves in to study as much as would ordinarily be necessary in order to learn … Faith is the first means for learning: with it we, who study only one-fourth of the time, can even challenge all the other students and seminarians.


The importance of the pact: it has to be done seriously, otherwise it loses its value, like using gold to make nails to mend one’s shoes. It will give our studies a lift which has now fallen so low; with it progress will be made and miracles performed. It’s true: God does not disappoint. It’s true: practice proves it. We believe that it is so.


The conditions: (1) Faith in God and good use of time. He who has enough faith to believe that he will do four with one should make the pact. If not, he should not make it. But then neither should he study in the House. (2) Make good use of the time set aside for study. Promise this and do it, otherwise the pact is null and void. (3) Promise to make use of whatever is learned solely for the Good Press and the glory of God. This promise is a serious one to be kept even at the cost of sacrifice and little gain. Without these conditions being taken seriously, the pact would be worthless and should not be made.


He invited everyone to enter into this pact which he himself had made with God, but he left us absolutely free. God would be faithful. On our part, we must not fail, no matter what.





1. Do we make a serious effort to delve into the Christ mystery and his profound self-revelation?


2. Do we take our baptismal covenant with the Lord God seriously? How does the covenant relationship between God and Abraham, our father in faith, inspire you?





Lord Jesus,

you are holy and immortal.

You are true God and dwell in the bosom of the Most Holy Trinity.

Abraham rejoiced at your coming.

Grant that your profound revelation as one being with God

may touch us to the core.

You are the true Master of our life.

You are the Lord of history and creation.

May we 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.


“Abraham rejoiced to see my day.” (Jn 8:56) //“You must keep my covenant throughout the ages.” (Gn 17:9)  





By your daily choices show to the world that Jesus is the Divine Master and the omnipotent Lord of history and creation.




*** *** ***




“JESUS SAVIOR: He Takes Refuge in the Lord” ”




Jer 20:10-13 // Jn 10:31-42





A. Gospel Reading (Jn 10:31-42): “They wanted to arrest Jesus, but he eluded him.”

(Gospel Reflection by Sr. Mary Martha Bruan, PDDM)


The moment the Jews hear Jesus telling them that He and the Father are one, they become all the more hostile.  The Jews immediately draw a rash conclusion that Jesus commits blasphemy by claiming He is the Son of God.  The penalty stipulated in Jewish law for blasphemy is none other than stoning.  They are ready to stone Jesus with rocks. Jesus meets their hostility calmly and reminds them about the good works he has done for them.  He is going around preaching, feeding the hungry, comforting the desperate and sorrowing, curing the sick, casting out demons and performing other signs and wonders very revealing of God’s power.  The works that Jesus does out of His great love for humankind are indeed so noble and beautiful that they can only come from God. He is consecrated by God for a mission.  God consecrates Jesus, makes Him holy and sets Him apart from the rest of the people for a special mission.  He is sent by God into the world. He came to put into realization the mission God entrusts to his care.


Seeing that the Jews are not open to believe His words, Jesus appeals to them to accept His deeds. As the One sent by God, he does not base His claims on what He says, but on what He is and does.  The Jews have to judge Him according to His works and not according to what He says, for what He is doing are the works of the Father.  Whatever Jesus does reveals that He and the Father are one.  Faced with the growing hostility of the Jews who tried to arrest Him, Jesus deemed it necessary to flee. Before the human eye, fleeing is a cowardly act but, what Jesus did is not cowardice. He is not afraid of the Jews, but He knows that His “hour” has not yet come. He wants to be in silence and solitude with God when it finally comes.  He is preparing himself for the full realization of His mission to the point of expending His life for all. He wants to be in communion with the Father.  This is the reason why he decided to go to the other side of the Jordan, a very significant place for Jesus. This is where He was baptized by John the Baptist and His identity and mission as the Beloved Son of the Father was confirmed.  There, on the distant side of the Jordan, the Jews followed Jesus and remembered John the Baptist.  John spoke to them as a prophet but did not perform signs and wonders like Jesus. They regarded John as a prophet, and with their own eyes saw that everything He said about Jesus was true.


To believe in God is not mere lip service.  Whatever we say has to be accompanied with good deeds.  Our words should be in consonance with the works we do if we want to be credible in following Jesus and in communicating Him to contemporary men and women. Let us hold on to the sublime reality that our Lord and Master is with us. His obedience to the Father’s plan culminated in His death on the cross. Jesus’ death on the cross is the supreme proclamation and greatest act of His love for humanity that is acceptable to the Father.



B. First Reading (Jer 20:10-13): “The Lord God is with me, a mighty hero.”


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 20:10-13) depicts the drama of a persecuted prophet and illustrates the triumph of faith in the divine presence and intervention. Jeremiah lamented to God that his enemies were closing in on him, for he had obeyed God’s promptings and had 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: “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.”


The Kingdom message that we – Christian disciples – are called to proclaim is “good news”, but at the same time confrontational and explosive, for it 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 is experiencing intense trial as it fights social injustice and testifies to the Gospel values.


The passion of Christ continues to be the passion of the Church and of every Christian disciple. The martyrdom of Fr. Thomas Pandippall, a Carmelite of Mary Immaculate priest from India, is an example. He was brutally murdered on August 16, 2008, on his way from a mission in Burgida, Andhra Pradish, by a group of Hindu extremists who broke his hands and legs, tore out his eyes, beat him with sticks and stabbed him repeatedly (cf. “Catholic Martyrs a Daily Reality” in L’Osservatore Romano, September 3, 2008, p. 5-6). Archbishop Joji Marampudi, Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Andhra Pradesh, gave the following statements in an interview granted to L’Osservatore Romano journalist, Roberto Sgaramella:


They killed Fr. Thomas for three reasons: because he was a religious, because he was a Christian and because he was charitable to the poor. His attackers were waiting for him on his way home from one of our missions in Burgida. He was probably waylaid at about 10:00 o’clock in the evening, not far from the village of Bellampally, an area unfortunately known for acts of violence perpetrated there by groups of Hindu fanatics. They stopped him while he was returning on his motorcycle and clubbed him with sticks. They then ferociously slashed his body with knives. I myself went there the following morning and saw his blood mingled with the dust. I saw the mess they had made of his body.


He was killed because Catholic missionaries take the side of the poor in this region where, in fact, a rigid form of slavery still exists, linked to farming the land. The landowners do not recognize that the peasants have any rights and use bands of Hindu fanatics to thwart anyone who attempts to improve the standard of living of the rural population. (…)


To be a Christian and, in particular, a Catholic, is a very courageous choice, but a choice that puts one’s own life and that of one’s relatives at risk … I would like to call the authorities’ attention to our men and women missionaries. Various groups of Sisters work constantly for the needy in relatively isolated localities where there are absolutely no policemen. They work at a serious risk to themselves. They work for children and the elderly. They help mothers and the sick. They organize classes for illiterate youth. They work trusting in God’s protection alone. They do their utmost to help their neighbor and thereby bear witness to the Gospel. I am thinking of these absolutely heroic missionary Sisters. I am thinking of the missionary priests who never fail to go to the help of the lowly as, precisely Fr. Thomas.  I am thinking of our little Church of Hyderabad. It is a small Church because of the number of the faithful but certainly large from the point of view of their heroism – heroism because of their constant witness to faith in God and in the Gospel. 





1. Do we believe in Jesus’ works and do we acknowledge that his compassionate acts of love and mercy testify that he is the Son of God?


2. What were the conflicts and sufferings that the prophet Jeremiah was experiencing? How did the reality of the Lord’s protective presence strengthen him in moments of distress and trials? Do we experience in our own life the convergence of mission and suffering? 





Loving Father,

we thank you for Jeremiah,

your faithful persecuted prophet.

You are his “mighty champion” and protector.

In his painful experience as prophet of truth,

Jeremiah had recourse to you.

Most of all, dear Father,

we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ,

the ultimate suffering prophet and the incarnate word of truth.

Jesus taught us to trust in you.

In our mission of proclaiming the Kingdom value

in today’s society,

help us not to be overcome by fear.

Let your beloved Son-Servant

give us the courage to speak your prophetic word

and to confront social injustice

by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.






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


“He escaped from their power.” (Jn 10:39) // “But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion” (Jer 20:11a).





In any way you can, support the missionary endeavors of the Church, especially where there is violent conflict and persecution.  



*** *** ***


March 24, 2018: SATURDAY – LENTEN WEEKDAY (5)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Will Gather the Scattered Children

of God”




Ez 37:21-28  // Jn 11:45-56





A. Gospel Reading (Jn 11:45-56): “To gather together in unity the scattered children of God.”

(Gospel Reflection by Sr. Mary Martha Bruan, PDDM)


The gathering together into one of the dispersed children of God in today’s Gospel (Jn 11:45-56) is prophesied by Caiaphas, the High Priest, during the meeting of the chief priests and the Pharisees in the Sanhedrin. Many of those who witness Jesus raising Lazarus to life believe in him. When the news of this sign and wonder that Jesus performs reaches the Pharisees it disturbs them.  Feeling threatened by the growing popularity of Jesus, because of his preaching and the miracles he continues to perform, they are compelled to convene the Sanhedrin.  The chief priests and the Pharisees, anxious that Jesus might have a large number of followers strong enough to cause chaos and social unrest, ask the question, “What are we going to do?”  It appears that this question concerns the common good, but underneath is their intention to protect their own interests.  The chief priests and Pharisees are obsessed with preserving their social status, political power and prestige at the expense of another person - Jesus.


Caiaphas, the High Priest, proposes without any qualms “that one man should die instead of the people so that the whole nation may not perish.”  For Caiaphas, the death of Jesus will bring no trouble from the Romans.  The death of Jesus is the only answer to their present dilemma.  Jesus is going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.  The Jews believe that God speaks through the High Priest and so those in the Sanhedrin take the words of Caiaphas as prophetic. From that day onwards they conspired to kill Jesus who, for them, is becoming more and more dangerous. 


From the very beginning Jesus knows very well that it is His mission to lay down His life for the salvation of all peoples.  The culminating point of the obedience of Jesus to the will of the Father is His death on the cross.   This He has to do according to God’s plan when His “hour” comes.  Faced with the danger of the conspiracy of the chief priests and Pharisees to eliminate Jesus, He retires to Ephraim, a town near Bethel in the northern part of Jerusalem and stays there with His disciples. In silence Jesus waits for the “hour” to come when He has to die and unite all nations into one people of God.  With His death Jesus restores our dignity as God’s children. 


Journeying together for forty days during this grace-filled Lenten season, let us keep gazing upon Jesus. Let us allow ourselves to be grasped by Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Let us live in solidarity with one another even if this means going against the current of division and fragmentation, caused by the culture of materialism, secularism and consumerism.



B. First Reading (Ez 37:21-28): “I will make them into one nation.”


The Old Testament reading (Ez 37:21-28) presents Ezekiel’s prophecy about when God will bring the scattered tribes of Israel from foreign lands and make them “one nation upon the land”. Ezekiel hopes not only for the restoration of the Judean exiles in Babylon, but also for the reassembly of the exiles of Israel who were deported by the Assyrian invasion in 721 B.C. The restored people will be cared for: “there shall be one shepherd for them all”. God promises to dwell among his people and he will make an everlasting “covenant of peace” with them. The Lord God will be their God and they shall be his people.


In the morning of March 13, 2013, our community in Fresno was summoned to go to the television with the big news that “We have a Pope!” We saw the impressive image of thousands and thousands of people converging into Saint Peter’s Square. People from all nations … from all races and cultures … full of energy and excitedly rejoicing! It was a young and energetic crowd rejoicing for the gift of the Pope-Shepherd in the person of Pope Francis. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, continues his pastoral ministry in the person of the newly elected Pope Francis. The Ezekiel prophecy becomes a reality once again.





1. Do we commit acts of injustice because we rationalize that it is better for one man to die rather than allow a bigger group to perish?


2. How does the Ezekiel prophecy “There shall be one shepherd for them all” affect you? What is your response to God’s gift in the person of Pope Francis?




(From the Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions: For the Pope)


God our Father, shepherd and guide,

look with love on Pope Francis, your servant,

the pastor of your Church.

May his word and example inspire and guide the Church,

and may he, and all those entrusted to his care,

come to the joy of everlasting life.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, forever and ever.






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


“And there shall be one shepherd for them all.” (Ex 37:24) // “He prophesied that Jesus was going to gather into one the dispersed children of God.” (Jn 11:52) 





Offer special prayers and sacrifices for Pope Francis and continue Christ’s pastoral mission by extending the Good Shepherd’s peace and compassion to the people around you.  



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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