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A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

Dear Readers,

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

The PDDM Sisters

3700 North Cornelia Avenue

Fresno, CA 93722

Tel. (559) 275-1656

 

God bless you abundantly!

Prayerful wishes from the PDDM Sisters

 

 

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BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 17, n. 47)

Week 29 in Ordinary Time: October 20-26, 2019

 

 

(The pastoral tool BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD: A LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY & WEEKDAY LITURGY includes a prayerful study of the Sunday liturgy from various perspectives. For the Lectio Divina on the liturgy of the past week: October 13-19, 2019 please go to ARCHIVES Series 17 and click on “Week 28 Ordinary Time”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: October 20-26, 2019.)

 

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October 20, 2019: TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY

IN ORDINARY TIME

WORLD MISSION SUNDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us the Power of Prayer”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Ex 17:8-13 // 2 Tm 3:14-4:2 // Lk 18:1-8

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 18:1-8): “God will secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him.”

 

At times, the power of evil is so overwhelming that even persons of faith begin to falter. This is evident in the following account:

 

Archbishop Romero offers her a chair. Marianela prefers to talk standing up. She always comes for others, but this time she comes for herself. Marianela Garcia Vilas, attorney for the tortured and disappeared of El Salvador, does not come this time to ask the archbishop’s solidarity with one of the victims … This time she has something personal to say to him. As mildly as she can, she tells him that the police have kidnapped her, bound, beat, humiliated, stripped her – and they raped her. She tells it without tears or agitation, with her usual calm, but Archbishop Romero has never before heard in Marianela’s voice these vibrations of hatred, echoes of disgust, calls for vengeance.

 

When Marianela finishes, Archbishop Romero, who always gives advice and comfort, is weeping like a child without mother or home. He who always gives assurances, the tranquilizing assurance of a neutral God who knows and embraces all – Archbishop Romero doubts. He weeps and doubts.

 

Against the backdrop of today’s painful human realities experienced by those whose faith is severely tested, the Gospel of this Sunday (Lk 18:1-8) becomes exceedingly relevant and meaningful. Jesus comforts those whose faith is intensely challenged with the astounding truth: God secures the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him in faith. The evangelist Luke explains that the parable of the unscrupulous judge and the importunate widow, which Jesus addressed to his disciples, is about the need to pray always and never lose heart. The widow was relentlessly pursuing the dishonest judge and continually beseeching him to render a just decision on her behalf against her adversary. In order to get rid of the pestering widow and to stop being bothered by her any further, he finally granted her request.

 

The biblical scholar, Samuel Oyin Abogunrin, commented on this parable: “The key characters in the parable are a judge and a widow. The perversion of justice is condemned again and again in the Old Testament. Judges are to be impartial arbiters and champions of the helpless, poor, widows, orphans, foreigners, and the like … In this parable the judge appears not to uphold this standard. The widow is the figure of the oppressed and the defenseless who suffer at the hands of ruthless rulers and unjust judges. The poor widow, who is deprived of her rights by one more powerful than she, is in this parable asking only for justice. The judge stands in stark contrast to God who throughout the Bible is described as one who cannot condone evil … If an unjust judge will eventually hear the persistent pleas of a poor widow, how much more will a just judge, God, hear our cries for help if we will only be persistent in our appeals. Therefore we should never despair, but like the poor widow persist in hope.”

 

In the Gospel parable, the perverse judge acts as a foil for God, who will, at the end-time, see to it that justice is done speedily for those who persist in faith and prayer. The loving and compassionate God does justice for the poor and the oppressed. Indeed, if the persistent pleading of the helpless widow triumphs over the unjust judge, who is guided by neither divine or human law, how much more will the persistent praying of Christian disciples achieve true justice. If an unjust judge yields to the entreaties of a pestering widow, how much more will a gracious God come to the help of his disciples who cry out to him for succor.

 

The decisive question, therefore, is the one raised by the Lord Jesus: “But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18:8). The decisive question is whether Jesus’ disciples will remain faithful to him. And the issue is one of faith: faith in the God who saves. The persevering prayer of Christian disciples who suffer injustice and fight for justice in the world is geared towards the strengthening of faith. Prayer is necessary for Christ’s followers to remain faithful as they await the coming of God’s kingdom in its fullness.

 

 

B. First Reading (Ex 17:8-13): “As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight.”

 

I was the Liturgy Coordinator of the Program and Events Committee that prepared the papal liturgy for World Youth Day ’95 held in Manila, Philippines. Some of our main concerns were the peace and security of the participants as well as fair weather for the open-air liturgical celebrations with Pope John Paul II. Challenged by these concerns and cognizant of many others, we organized youth “prayer warriors” to offer special supplication for the Pope and to invoke God’s blessings upon World Youth Day ’95, a wonderful pastoral event in the life of the Church. The late Jaime Cardinal Sin of the Archdiocese of Manila was greatly pleased when he came to know of the ministry of the youth “prayer warriors”. The heartfelt prayers of the “warriors” were answered. The culminating liturgy at the Rizal National Park in Manila was blessed with fair weather and the “phenomenal” assembly of about four million participants at the Eucharistic celebration presided by the Pope was spared from harm, terrorist attack and injury. A false alarm in that incomparable throng would have provoked a horrible stampede and a sinister plot on that tightly packed crowd would have resulted in utter disaster. I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw on television Pope John Paul II safely boarding the plane that would take him to his next pastoral destination – New Guinea.

 

The Old Testament reading of this Sunday (Ex 17:8-13) depicts Moses with uplifted hands as a “prayer warrior”, a powerful symbol of the necessity and efficacy of prayer. The image of Moses interceding on the mountain with uplifted hands while Joshua and the Israelites battled the Amalekites at Rephidim illustrates the powerful, indispensable ministry of intercession. The Amalekites, who control the caravan routes between Arabia and Egypt, resent the intrusion of the Israelites, newly liberated by Yahweh from their slavery in Egypt. The Amalekites come and attack the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses orders a counter attack – the first military activity of the newly freed Israelites. The victory of the fledging Israelite army depends on divine help mediated through Moses, steadfastly brandishing “the staff of God”. Indeed, Moses – a figure of Jesus Christ - is an efficacious “prayer warrior” on account of divine predilection and because the power of “Yahweh-warrior” is upon him.

 

 

C. Second Reading (II Tm 3:14-4:2): “One who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every work.”

 

The Second Reading (II Tm 3:14-4:2) is about fidelity to the Word of God. The Christian disciple needs to listen, study and be nourished by the saving Word contained in the Scriptures in order to proclaim it faithfully. By imbibing the life-giving message of the Scriptures, those who truly belong to God become competent and equipped for every good work, especially the task of proclaiming the Word. As in prayer, one must be persistent in sharing the inspired Word of the Scriptures. The divine Word must be proclaimed perseveringly whether convenient or inconvenient. The follower of Christ is faithful to the Word and prayer. Empowered by the Word of God, Timothy and the Christian disciples of all time – well armed, thanks to “the Scripture inspired by God” – proclaim God’s saving love to all the nations.

  

A characteristic dimension of Christian prayer and service to the Word is loving concern for others. The following story illustrates the power of prayer – of a trusting, persevering and heartfelt prayer on behalf of others (cf. Arthur Callaway, “Up in the Air” in Guideposts, July 2010, p. 65).

 

Everything on this flight was going wrong. First, I was stuck in a window seat. And I never sit in a window seat. My bad knee cramps if I can’t stretch it into the aisle. The battery in my iPod was shot. I’d finished my book, and now my computer screen had died, so I couldn’t even catch up on work. I travel a lot for business, and plane rides were certainly nothing new. But a flight with nothing to distract me? This is sure going to be two long hours, I thought.

 

I laid my head back. Maybe I could get some sleep. But as soon as I closed my eyes, problems filled my mind, like the drought we were having back home in Texas. It had been over a month since we’d seen rain. My yard, my plants – everything was dying. Farmers and ranchers were suffering.

 

I opened my eyes and turned my head to look out the window. We were flying due south of Phoenix. The land far below was a patchwork of tan and brown. Then came a soft prompting: Why don’t you pray for those people down there? They need rain too.

 

I certainly had the time up here. Lord, it’s been a hot dry summer. There’s a lot of folks who need rain … I began. The plane flew on, and the scenery changed to the mountains, then cities and freeways. Sometimes all I could see were layers of clouds. But I never ran out of things to pray for: mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, the earth …

 

When I finally felt the soft thud of the landing gear against the runway, I could hardly believe so much time had passed. In fact, I had never felt so good at the end of a flight. I was energized. Hopeful. Ready to face whatever might come my way. It wasn’t until I exited the baggage claim and headed out to the parking lot with my gear that I realized something extraordinary – it was raining.

 

 

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

 

What does it mean for me personally to lift up my hands, like Moses, in prayer? As Christian disciples, do we feel the necessity to pray always without becoming weary? Are we faithful to the Word contained in the Scriptures and persevering in proclaiming its life-giving message whether convenient or inconvenient? Do we see the connection between prayer and the proclamation of the Word?

 

 

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

 

 

O loving Father,

you are loving and compassionate.

You care for us and listen to our prayers.

Grant that we may experience deeply your goodness

so that our prayers may be strengthened

by the truth of your saving Word.

Teach us to embrace the concerns of others

and those of the suffering world

so that we can pray for them with trusting hearts.

Help us to be faithful to your Word

and persevering in prayer.

We love you, almighty Father.

We glorify you, now and forever.

Amen.          

 

 

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

           

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

 

“God will see to it that justice is done for his chosen ones speedily.” (Lk 18:8)

 

 

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

 

Meditate on the meaning of intercessory prayer and our vocation to be “prayer warriors”. Endeavor to exercise the ministry of intercession on behalf of the local community, the Church, and the whole world. Assist with your prayer and concrete deeds of charity the poor people around you.

 

 

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October 21 30, 2019: MONDAY – WEEKDAY (29)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Essential One … He Was Raised for Our Justification”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rom 4:20-25 // Lk 12:13-21

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 12:13-21): “And the things you have prepared to whom will they belong?”

 

Disputes regarding family inheritance can be very bitter and destructive. A priest narrated to our Sisters an incident that he witnessed personally. He was called to assist a dying rich man. While he was praying over him and administering the last rites, the children were quarrelling in the kitchen over the inheritance. The priest was disappointed and frustrated.

 

We see in today’s Gospel (Lk 12:13-21) that this is probably the same feeling that Jesus has when someone in the crowd asks him: “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me”. Jesus’ response to the request shows that he is a wise Teacher. Refusing to be dragged into the litigation, he denies any jurisdiction over the dividing of inheritances: “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he turns to the crowd, warning them about the trap of earthly possessions: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions”. As the Divine Master, he wants to show his disciples and would-be followers the true and efficacious way of dealing with earthly possessions. Jesus does this by narrating a parable about the hoarding Rich Fool. The latter is eagerly looking forward to a life of abundance and leisure, unaware that he is to die that very night.

           

            The final words of Jesus in the parable of the Rich Fool wield a cutting edge and a tone of judgment: “Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God” (Lk 12:21). The indictment against those who are obsessed with material possessions should make us focus on what is essential. Romano Guardini asserts: “Here is the sharp division between the essential and the non-essential … Eternal possessions or temporal possessions – which are essential? Naturally, the eternal ones, for the others fade away … The more deeply people realize that Christ is the essential, the less concerned they will be about everything else.”

 

 

B. First Reading (Rom 4:20-25): “It was written for us when it says that our faith in God will be counted.”

 

In today’s First Reading (Rom 4:20-25), Saint Paul asserts that Abraham’s faith is the pattern of our Christian faith. Abraham did not doubt God’s promise, and his faith filled him with power to glorify God. Abraham showed an unwavering trust in God’s benevolent promise.  His faith made him righteous in the sight of God and put him in intimate relationship with God. That Abraham was put right with God is also true for us. We too are justified by faith. Our sins have caused us to experience “death”. But God raised Jesus from the dead for our salvation. By the paschal mystery of Christ’s death and rising, God offered us the gift of healing and the forgiveness of sins.

 

The following story illustrates that Jesus Christ, who is the cause of our salvation, is ready to comfort us and strengthen our “imperfect” faith in him (cf. Jeanne McClure, “Heaven Is Warm” in 101 Inspiration Stories of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Sister Patricia Proctor, Spokane: Franciscan Monastery of Saint Clare, 2006, p. 93-94).

 

I am an alcoholic, and the day I finally turned it over to God, I immediately went to confession for the first time in years. It was at a church I hadn’t been attending, with a priest I didn’t know.

 

At that time of my life I was working, going to school, and raising two young children on my own. I wondered what on earth I could tell the priest that would be just a small amount of information, but enough that he would quickly give me an absolution and let me leave.

 

When I got into the confessional, I forgot the words to the act of contrition and had to be coached through it. I also had my two small children crammed into the booth with me, asking questions as I tried to give as brief but as honest a confession as I could.

 

As I left the church with my absolution clutched figuratively in my hand, I felt only halfway forgiven. It had nothing to do with the priest. I felt I had made a hasty, halfway confession and was terrified that God wasn’t going to accept it. I took my children home to our cold apartment and bundled them into bed, my infant son in his playpen and my toddler daughter with me on a mattress that was on the floor. I covered us with every blanket we had in an attempt to get warm enough to sleep.

 

I was worried that God wasn’t going to accept or forgive me because I’d been way too imperfect, so I lay there in the cold and cried. Moments later, I was above the mattress and seated almost sprawled at the feet of Jesus. I rested my head on His knee and felt the soft billowing of His white robe. I never looked up; I never felt the need to. I knew who He was. And I was warm, so very warm. No one said anything and I never moved, nor did He.

 

Eventually I returned to my bed. He was gone and I was once again shivering beneath the blankets. I wrapped my arms around my little girl and pulled her close to me, my heart swollen and aching with the agony of ecstasy. I now know for certain – Heaven is warm, and the Son accepts our most inept confessions if they come from our hearts.

 

    

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

 

1. How do I deal with material goods and temporal possessions? Is it obsessively, or with true freedom and wisdom? How do I respond to Christ’s indictment: “Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God”? Do I deeply realize that Christ is the essential? How does this realization affect my daily choices and actions? 

 

2. Is our faith as steadfast and empowering as that of patriarch Abraham? Do we trust in the goodness of God who raised his Son Jesus from the dead for our salvation?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father, source of all good and rich in mercy,

you give to us the greatest gift - your Son Jesus,

the essential one and the ultimate good.

He is the Divine Master

who invites us to trust in your providence

and deal wisely with earthly possessions.

Fill us with concern for the poor, hungry and needy

so that we may share with them your blessings.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.  

 

***

O loving God,

how marvelous is the faith of Abraham!

He fully trusted in your benevolent promise.

Let us be “justified” by our steadfast faith in you,

who raised your Son Jesus from the dead for our salvation.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.

Amen.  

 

 

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

 

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

 

“One’s life does not consist of possessions.” (Lk 12:15) //“Abraham was fully convinced that what God had promised he was able to do.” (Rom 4:21)

 

 

 

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

 

Thank the Lord for the blessings you have received from him. Then ask him to inspire you how to share the goods you have received from God with others. // When the daily vicissitude challenges you, ask the good Lord to strengthen you and to grant you a faith as steadfast as that of Abraham.

 

 

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October 22, 2019: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (29); SAINT JOHN PAUL II, Pope

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Teaches Us to Be Ready … His Gift of Grace Overflows”

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rom 5:12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21 // Lk 12:35-38

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 12:35-38): “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.”

 

Christian faith entails readiness and expectation of eternal glory. In the Gospel (Lk 12:35-38), Jesus, the faith-filled person par excellence, invites us to deepen our faith and calls us anew to vigilant faith. The liturgical scholar Adrian Nocent remarks: “Each is called, during the night of faith, to stand ready for the final encounter unto which God calls. This invitation is most important. Everything else must take second place when it comes to having one’s lamp lit and trimmed, to being a faithful steward, to being always alert and watchful by the light of faith. That is the lesson of today’s celebration. The whole existence of the Church is a long, seemingly endless watch in which, century after century, she awaits her encounter with the Lord. She is ever alert and ready, confident as she is of the glory in store for her. Christ has promised that glory; more than that, he enables his Church to perceive the sign of it in the Eucharistic sacrifice.”

 

When my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I witnessed how he prepared for his final encounter with the Lord. Daily Communion and prayers were an important part of his preparation. A naturally compassionate man, he started to give his meager possessions as inheritance. I received a Hawaiian shirt, one hundred dollars in cash and two very small plastic statues of Santo Niño and Saint Joseph, which I greatly treasure. Above all, I witnessed how he was able to let go of a grudge that lurked in his heart. He requested us to wear white at his funeral. The day before the Lord took him, he was crying: “Lord, please come and take me with you!” When the final hour came, he was ready to go with the Lord.

 

 

B. First Reading (Rome 5:12, 15b, 17-19, 2b-21): “If by the transgressions of one person death came to reign, how much more will those who receive grace come to reign in life.”

 

Today’s First Reading (Rom 5:12, 15b, 17-19) helps us delve into the wonderful consequence of Christ’s fidelity. His unmitigated trust in the word of God overcame the effects of sin and death wrought by the first Adam. Christ’s faithfulness to God enabled him to offer alienated humanity the gift of reconciliation and reap the precious fruits of “grace abounding”. Indeed, Christ’s beneficence overturned the destruction caused by Adam’ disobedience and negation of God’s love.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

1. Do we respond fully to Jesus’ call to vigilant faith? How do we prepare for the triumphant return of the Son of Man who comes unexpectedly?

 

2. Do you believe that the grace won for us by Christ, by his obedience to the Father’s word, is superabundant and greater than the effects of sin? 

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

your Son Jesus Christ is our Savior.

Help us to be vigilant and ready for our final encounter with Jesus.

Make us his faithful servants in this time of waiting.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

Loving God,

we thank you for your Son Jesus.

He was faithful and obedient to your word.

When tempted to despair,

fill us with hope and strengthen us with your love.

Incline our hearts to your voice.

Fill us with healing love

and delight us with grace abounding,

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.

 

“Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.” (Lk 12:37) //“How much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.” (Rom 5:15b)

 

 

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

 

Pray that Christian disciples may learn to live in vigilant faith for the Lord’s coming. By our commitment to pursue justice, seek peace, protect human rights and give preferential concern to the poor and needy, let us allow our vigilant faith to make an impact on today’s fragmented society and prepare them for the definitive coming of the Lord’s kingdom at the end time. // By your acts of charity, justice and peace, let the saving grace of God be sown more efficaciously, especially in those with broken and despairing hearts.

 

*** *** ***

October 23, 2019: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (29); SAINT JOHN OF CAPISTRANO, Priest

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Wants Us to Be Faithful Servants … He Freed Us from Sin”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rom 6:12-18 // Lk 12:39-48

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 12:39-48): “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much.”

 

In today’s Gospel (Lk 12:39-48), Jesus exhorts us to be ever ready because his coming is as uncertain as the coming of a thief. Peter asks a question which Jesus ignores because it is impertinent. The lesson of Jesus’ parable is meant for all disciples, but especially for Church leaders who are called to greater accountability. They are to be punished in proportion to their irresponsibility. The leaders of the faith community are called to greater fidelity in fulfilling the mission Jesus entrusted to them. Jesus warns them: “Much will be required of a person entrusted with much … and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

 

            My mother mirrors for me the quality of faithful vigilance. She was an elementary school teacher for 38 years. No matter how tired or stressed she was, she would prepare the following day’s lesson plan. School supervisors would come unannounced to check. She would rather be absent than go to school without a lesson plan. She did not want them to find her unprepared for that would be a big blot on her integrity as a teacher. But I suppose, even if there were no school supervisors, she would continue her good work just the same because of her loyalty to God and her sense of responsibility for the children entrusted to her care.

 

 

B. First Reading (Rom 6:12-18): “Present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life.”

 

In today’s First Reading (Rom 6:12-18), Saint Paul speaks of our liberation from sin. We are dead to sin but alive in union with Christ Jesus. Hence, we must not let the alienating force of sin govern our living. We must give ourselves to God who, in Jesus Savior, has brought us from death to life. We must surrender our whole being to him to be used for his purpose. Although as Christians we have already been baptized and freed from sin, we can still succumb to sin’s seduction. Hence, we must not be complacent. Humbly relying on divine grace, we need to manifest our union with Christ and his definitive victory over sin by the way we live. Saint Paul reminds us that we are set free from sin in order to be slaves of righteousness.

 

The following story illustrates what it means to be freed from the slavery to sin and to choose to be a slave of righteousness (cf. “Torn Between Good and Evil” by an anonymous writer in 101 Inspiration Stories of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Sister Patricia Proctor, Spokane: Franciscan Monastery of Saint Clare, 2006, p. 98-99).

 

When I was a young girl, I was a very devout Catholic. I spent every morning before school at church and after school I would return alone to pray. When I became a teenager, I gradually started moving away from the Church. Like most girls, I started spending more time with boys than with God.

 

Later I married and after ten years and two children, I began to find my heart yearning to go back to my Catholic faith. My children were attending Catholic school, and my oldest son was in the process of making his first reconciliation when I felt my heart being pulled by Jesus.

 

My marriage was a wreck. I was working full time and spending many hours away from home. I began to fall into a bad lifestyle, but at the same time, I felt God tugging at my heart. I was extremely torn between good and evil.

 

One night I fell into a deep sleep, and in my sleep the devil came to me. The appearance of the devil was so grotesque that I cannot put it into words. He fought me. I was engaged in a complete physical altercation with Satan. I looked up for a moment and saw my two guardian angels, looking down on me with such sorrow in their faces that I knew this was it. I had to make a decision. Do I go with Satan and continue to live in sin, or do I turn my life over to Jesus?

 

At that moment I screamed out, “Leave me alone, Satan! I am a child of God!” As I said these words, he slithered away. When I awoke, I was soaking wet from head to foot, and I was shaking. I was so frightened that I had to leave all the lights on in my room.

 

I now knew the choice I had to make. I knew I could no longer live in perpetual sin. That’s when I called my local parish. After being away from the confessional for more than ten years, I wanted to start my life anew.

 

It was about six o’clock in the evening when I called the church to find out what time confessions were heard. The parish priest answered the phone. I explained that I wanted to know the confession schedule. He told me what it was and then said, “Or upon request”. He invited me to drop everything and meet him at the church. He would go over and open the church so I could make my confession immediately.

 

At seven o’clock that night I entered the confessional for the first time in many years. After examining my conscience, I made a very heartfelt confession. I actually felt the Holy Spirit lift my burdens and I knew when I walked out of that confessional that my life was going to be changed forever. It was.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we heed Jesus’ exhortation to be vigilant and faithful? How?

 

2. Are we ready to renounce being slaves to sin and, embracing the grace of God, to be slaves of righteousness?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you teach us to be ever ready for your second coming.

You warn us that from those who have received much,

much more will be demanded.

Teach us to prepare for your coming

by our faithful service and personal dedication.

Help us to be persevering and responsible servants

until you come again.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen. 

 

***

Heavenly Father,

through the sorrowful passion of your beloved Son Jesus Christ,

we are no longer slaves to sin,

but rather, slaves of righteousness.

We have been brought from death to life.

We surrender our whole being

- our mind, heart and will – to you.

We give you thanks and praise for great is your love

and you are very merciful.

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.

 

            “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much.” (Lk 12:48)  //“Present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life.” (Rom 6:13

 

 

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

 

When you are tempted to be lax in the responsibilities entrusted to you, remember the words of Jesus about faithful vigilance. Find in them inspiration for renewed commitment. // Be cognizant of the healing and transforming power of the sacrament of reconciliation. Avail yourself of this grace especially when your personal relationship with God has been ruptured by sinful actions.

 

*** *** ***

 

October 24, 2019: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (29); SAINT ANTHONY MARY CLARET, Bishop

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is a Prophet of Contradiction … In Him We Become Slaves of Righteousness”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rom 6:19-23 // Lk 12:49-53

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 12:49-53): “I have not come to establish peace but division.”

 

I was in my third year of high school when I came across Leo Tolstoy’s novel, “War and Peace”. It was irresistible. I did not go to school for three days to read it from cover to cover. I am fascinated by the Russian “prophet” Tolstoy. I appreciate his commitment to Christ’s teaching on love, compassion and non-violence. Conscience-stricken and upset by the plight of the poor, Count Tolstoy opted for a simplified life and dedicated more greatly his literary pursuits to socio-religious themes. His wife Sonya did not share his zeal for reform and for his new lifestyle that was simple and austere – for example, making himself a brew of barley and acorns because coffee was a luxury! She was chagrined that he chose to work on pugnacious tracts that put people off, when he could be producing wonderful novels that would bring in lots of money. Tolstoy did not care about money, but she had to, otherwise what would become of their children? Unable to bear any longer the divisive and oppressive situation at home and detesting the luxury found in his estate, Yasnaya Polyana, the 82-year old Tolstoy left home on November 10, 1910, accompanied only by his doctor. He fell ill on a southbound train and died at a stationmaster’s house on November 20, 1910. Leo Tolstoy is a fascinating figure – a modern day example of a prophet of contradiction.

 

Today’s Gospel (Lk 12:49-53) presents the divisions that Jesus’ mission creates even in families. The way of Jesus catalyzes separations and provokes conflicts among those who had made a radical choice for him and those who had not. Aelred Rosser remarks: “The division Jesus speaks of with such force (listing several familial relationships for emphasis) is an inevitable consequence of well-lived faith. Into every life there comes a time when the choice to be truly Christian comes into conflict with another choice – perhaps a good choice. When that moment comes, we recognize the division Jesus brought into the world. The peace that comes from making the right choice is also something Jesus brought, but it is his peace, not the kind of peace the world gives.”

 

 

B. First Reading (Rom 6:19-23): “Now you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God.”

 

In today’s First Reading (Rom 6:19-23), Saint Paul underlines that freedom from sin is freedom to serve God. The liberation from the oppression of sin wrought by Christ’s death and rising does not mean total and complete independence, but rather acceptance of God as master. To become slaves of God means “sanctification”, that is, a total dedication that demands a withdrawal from sin. The wages of sin is death, but the result of sanctification is eternal life. Indeed, God’s free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

The transforming and life-giving effect of one’s radical decision for Christ can be gleaned from the following story (cf. Oscar Wilde, “The Selfish Giant” in A Holiday Treasury, ed. Diana Wenk, New York: Nelson Doubleday, Inc., 1983, p. 97-102)

 

(…) The autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the Giant’s garden she gave none. “He is too selfish”, she said. So it was always winter there, and the North Wind, and the Hail, and the Frost, and the Snow danced about through the trees.

 

One morning the Giant was lying awake in bed when he heard some lovely music. It sounded so sweet to his ears that he thought it must be the King’s musicians passing by. It was really only a little linnet singing outside his window, but it was so long since he had heard a bird sing in his garden that it seemed to him the most beautiful music in the world. Then the Hail stopped dancing over his head, and the North Wind ceased roaring, and a delicious perfume came to him through the open casement. “I believe the spring has come at last”, said the Giant, and he jumped out of bed and looked out.

 

What did he see? He saw a most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in the wall the children had crept in, and they were sitting in the branches of the tree. In every tree that he could see there was a little child. And the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving their arms gently above the children’s heads. The birds were flying about and twittering with delight, and the flowers were looking up through the green grass and laughing. It was a lovely scene, only in one corner it was still winter. It was the farthest corner of the garden, and in it was standing a little boy. He was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, and he was wandering all around it, crying bitterly. The poor tree was still quite covered with frost and snow, and the North Wind was blowing and roaring above it. “Climb up! Little boy”, said the Tree, and it bent its branches down as low as it could; but the boy was so tiny.

 

And the Giant’s heart melted as he looked out. “How selfish I have been! he said; “now I know why the spring would not enter here. I will put that poor little boy on the top of the tree, and then I will knock down the wall, and my garden shall be the children’s playground forever and ever.” He was really sorry for what he had done.

 

So he crept downstairs and opened the front door quite softly, and went out into the garden. But when the children saw him they were so frightened that they all ran away and the garden became winter again. Only the little boy did not run, for his eyes were so full of tears that he did not see the Giant coming. And the Giant strode up behind him and took him gently in his hand, and put him up into the tree. And the tree broke at once into blossom, and the birds came and sang on it, and the little boy stretched out his two arms and flung them around the giant’s neck, and kissed him. And the other children when they saw that the Giant was not wicked any longer, came running back, and with them came the spring. “It is your garden now, little children”, said the Giant, and he took a great axe and knocked down the wall. And when the people were going to market at twelve o’clock they found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen.

 

All day long they played, and in the evening they came to the Giant to bid him good-bye. “But where is your little companion?” he said, “the boy I put into the tree.” The Giant loved him the best because he kissed him. “We don’t know”, answered the children; “he has gone away.”

 

“You must tell him to be sure and come here tomorrow”, said the Giant. But the children said they did not know where he lived, and had never seen him before; and the Giant felt very sad.

 

Every afternoon, when the school was over, the children came and played with the Giant. But the little boy whom the Giant loved was never seen again. The Giant was very kind to all the children, yet he longed for his little friend, and often spoke of him. “How I would like to see him!” he used to say.

 

Years went by, and the Giant grew very old and feeble. He could not play about any more, so he sat in a huge armchair, and watched the children at their games, and admired his garden. “I have many beautiful flowers”, he said; “but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all.”

 

One winter he looked out of his window as he was dressing. He did not hate the winter now, for he knew that it was merely spring asleep, and that the flowers were resting.

 

Suddenly he rubbed his eyes in wonder, and looked and looked. It certainly was a marvelous sight. In the farthest corner of the garden was a tree quite covered with lovely white blossoms. Its branches were all golden, and silver fruit hung down from them, and underneath it stood the little boy he loved.

 

Downstairs ran the Giant in great joy, and out into the garden. He hastened across, and came near to the child. And when he came quite close his face grew red with anger, and said, “Who hath dared to wound thee?” For on the palms of the child’s hands were the prints of two nails, and the prints of two nails were on the little feet. “Who hath dared to wound thee?” cried the Giant; “tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him.” “Nay!” answered the child; “but these are wounds of Love.”

 

“Who art thou?” said the Giant, and a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child. And the child smiled on the Giant, and he said to him, “You let me play once in your garden; today you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.”

 

And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.

 

 

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

 

1. Are we willing to embrace the detachment, renunciation and opposition that the peace of Christ may entail? Are we willing to be fully united with Christ and become, in him, a “sign of contradiction” in today’s world? 

 

2. What does it mean for us to be liberated from sin and become slaves of righteousness? Are we ready to welcome God’s free gift of eternal life in union with Jesus?

 

 

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

 

You are the prophet of contradiction.

Grant us the grace to be faithful

when our radical choice for you creates division.

Help us to embrace the detachment and opposition

that our Christian commitment entails.

Let us experience the peace that you bring and

not the deceptive peace that the world offers.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.  

 

***

Loving God,

through the passion and death of your Son Jesus,

you liberated us from the power of sin

and we rise to new life in him

who is our Lord and Savior.

Let us be slaves of righteousness

and let us rejoice in your gift of eternal life

in union with Christ Jesus.

We praise and glorify you, now and forever.

            Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Lk 12:51) //“The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:23)

 

 

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

 

While avoiding facile compromises and easy tradeoffs, endeavor to bring the peace of Christ to a distressing situation that needs healing and reconciliation. Have the courage to be a “sign of contradiction” when the situation calls for it. // Begin your day by making an act of consecration to Jesus and resolve that everything you do will be for the greater glory of God.

 

 

*** *** ***

 

October 25, 2019: FRIDAY – WEEKDAY (29)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Exhorts Us to Read the Signs of the Times … He Is Our Deliverer”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rom 7:18-25a // Lk 12:54-59

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 12:54-59): “You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

 

In today’s Gospel episode (Lk 12:54-59) we see Jesus talking to a crowd. He is disappointed that they are able to read correctly the signs of the weather, but not the signs of God’s kingdom on earth in the person of Jesus. He exhorts the people to interpret correctly the “present time”, that is, the meaning of his mission. If only they were receptive, they should be able to perceive in the ministry of Jesus – in his words and deeds – that the kingdom of God has come. They should therefore respond to his call to conversion. The certainty of divine judgment should lead people to seek full reconciliation with God. Jesus warns them not to delay decision making for the kingdom. When God’s righteous judgment comes, they will wish that they had settled the issue before – just as a losing plaintiff wisely settles a legal case with a powerful opponent on the way to the magistrate and thus escapes punishment.

 

            As Christians in the modern world, we too are called to scrutinize the “signs of the times”. We are called to recognize and understand the distinctive characteristics, expectations, longings and needs of the people of today. We are called to be receptive to the signs of the kingdom value and the tasks it entails. The following story illustrates the receptive stance of a Christian disciple to the demands of the kingdom values (cf. Sarah Ball, “Stay-at-Home Help” in Guideposts, October 2012, p. 19)

 

Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes. They all played out before me on the evening news. I clicked off the TV. Every scene of people in need made me want to rush out to do something. But rushing out to do anything was impossible for me right now. I was recovering from surgery for breast cancer. With drainage tubes in my side, expanders in my chest, not to mention all the medications I took for the pain, I could barely move. What help could I be to people in trouble?

 

I can pray for them, I thought. And pray I did. I prayed for God to comfort those who were grieving, to heal the injured, to speed recovery. But I still felt helpless. “Please, Lord, isn’t there anything I can do myself?” I can’t even lift a gallon of milk these days, I thought. How can I help anyone? I couldn’t go anywhere. And although I’ve fostered animals in the past, even taking care of one displaced pet seemed beyond me.

 

The next day I got word of another disaster looming – the one close to my home in Iowa. Weathermen were predicting massive flooding in my area. There was a call out for volunteers. Workers were frantically piling sandbags against buildings and strengthening the levees. And here I was, stuck at home – not in danger, but still on the couch. The only way I could help would be if the Lord dropped something in my lap.

 

During a call to a friend I told her about my frustrations. “My friend Francis is really in a bind”, she said. “She lives on the flood plain and has decided to evacuate her mobile home, but she can’t afford a storage facility for her things. She’s scared she’ll come home and find all of her furniture destroyed. I can’t take any of it because my place is too small.”

 

“She can store it here!” I said. “Our basement is nearly empty; there’s plenty of room. It’s perfect!” Friends moved Francis’ furniture into my house the next day. It was the answer to her prayers – and mine.

 

 

B. First Reading (Rom 7:18-25a): “Who will deliver me from this mortal body?”

 

In today’s First Reading (Rom 7:18-25a), Saint Paul tells us that each person has an internal part which desires what God desires. He exclaims: “My inner being delights in the law of God.” But there is also a negative force that pulls away from the law of God, making impossible a decision to re-center one’s whole life on Christ. The internal struggle that takes place between the law of God and the law of Sin is frustrating and weakening. That is why Saint Paul cries out in agony and longs for relief: “Miserable man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body that is taking me to death?” In anticipation of deliverance, the apostle sings a brief statement of praise: “Thanks be to God who does this through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

 

The inner conflict within us and the benevolent saving action of Christ in our life can be gleaned from the following story (cf. “My Decision” by an anonymous writer in 101 Inspiration Stories of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Sister Patricia Proctor, Spokane: Franciscan Monastery of Saint Clare, 2006, p. 70).

 

The children, the house, the finances, health and the relatives – it was just all getting to me. Some of it was caused by me and some by others, but it was all getting me down. And I mean down.

 

Since I suffer from depression and anxiety, feeling down is more serious for me than for many others who are feeling blue. I began to think that the only way for me to solve my problems was to remove myself from them. For me, that meant suicide. I thought about it and decided Wednesday would be the best day to do it. This would be after the family retreat we had planned, and the girls would have completed the jobs they were doing to raise money for a trip.

 

At the family retreat, several priests were available for reconciliation. I took advantage of this, telling my husband that I really needed to go to confession, and asked him to take care of the children for me. Then I stood in a long line with many elderly people, young people, toddlers, and babies. Finally, it was my turn.

 

I began my confession, telling the priest about my confusion and decision to commit suicide, and as we spoke, I could feel Jesus healing me through this priest. I felt much better when we were finished talking. The priest and I spoke many more times during the rest of the retreat, and he continued to counsel and help me. Although I am not completely healed, I am feeling significantly better. If it had not been for reconciliation, I would not be here and my children would be without a mother. That Wednesday has come and gone, and I thank God that I am still here.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we make an effort to read the “signs of the times” and ask the Lord for the grace not just to perceive them, but to be able to respond to them? 

 

2. What do we do when we feel the raging spiritual conflict within us? Do we have recourse to Jesus for liberation?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus,

you exhort us to read the signs of your kingdom.

Give us the grace to be receptive to the “signs of the times”

and help us to carry out our duties

on behalf of the kingdom value.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

            Amen.

 

            ***

Loving God,

you are very merciful and compassionate.

When the raging forces of sin seek to destroy us,

rescue us from their clutches

through the death and resurrection

of your Son Jesus.

Our inner being delights in your Law, O Lord!

Grant us the grace to live with you, forever and ever.

            Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

“Why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (Lk 12:56) //“Who will deliver me from this mortal body?” (II Rom 7:24)

 

 

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

 

Pray for the grace to scrutinize the “signs of the times”. In your own little way, respond positively to the demands they entail. // When assailed with inner conflict, turn to God in prayer and if possible, seek help from a Church minister. In any way you can, help the people you know who are experiencing moral-spiritual turmoil.

    

 

*** *** ***

October 26, 2019: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (29); BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Ultimate Chance … Through Him We Have Life in the Spirit”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Rom 8:1-11 // Lk 13:1-9

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Lk 13:1-9): “If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”

 

In an article by Jerry Davis in Guideposts magazine (February 2004), he tells us about a remarkable journey that led him on the right path. He was kicked out of school repeatedly as a teenager. One sleepless, cold evening in February 1963, while living on charity at the Salvation Army in Kentucky, where he sought refuge, something clicked in his mind, as if everything had suddenly been put into focus for his 19-year-old eyes. Jerry narrated: “Somebody had to be looking out for me. Somebody who wouldn’t let me push him away, no matter how hard I tried. In fact, the farther I ran from God, the closer he seemed to pull me. I slipped out of bed and knelt in a patch of moonlight. Lord, I prayed, the words finally coming. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your love. I don’t know what’s good for me. Please, I need your guidance.” The runaway college dropout found work at a Kentucky hospital and enrolled at a nearby college. That was the beginning of a long road that led to graduate school and a Ph.D. Today he is the president of a college in Missouri – the College of the Ozarks. Indeed, Jerry Davis has given us a testimony of what it means to be given another chance and what it takes to respond to that chance. His was a beautiful story of a positive response to the patient mercy of God.

 

            Today’s Gospel (Lk 13:1-9) underlines the Christian call to metanoia, which means conversion, repentance, and inner change, and encourages us with the reality of God’s patient mercy. In this account, Jesus calls for decision and conversion by referring to two contemporary disasters and by narrating the parable of the barren fig tree. Jesus dispels the popular belief that links disaster with punishment for sin. Indeed, in the present age, good fortune and disaster are not indications of a person’s spiritual state. In the judgment to come, however, the evil ones will experience the ultimate disaster - complete alienation from the life-love of God. Jesus dismisses the popular speculations regarding the personal culpability of the victims of the Galilean massacre and the Siloam accident by stressing the universal need for repentance. Unless all repent and respond positively to the Gospel, all will suffer the greater disaster of being alienated from God.

 

            The last section of the Gospel reading is Jesus’ parable of the barren fig tree which received a reprieve, or stay, from the impending punishment by the vineyard owner in response to the gardener’s compassionate plea: “Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down” (Lk 13:8-9). The biblical scholar, Samuel Oyin Abogunrin remarks: “The parable reminds us of the long-suffering of God but it also implicitly warns that those who persist in their sinful refusal to repent will suffer and eventually be cut down.”

 

 

B. First Reading (Rom 8:1-11): “The Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you.”

 

It seemed just a simple science project for the first graders in a Canadian parochial school, but it was more than that. The teacher was preparing my six-year old niece for the imminent death of her dad, Gisbert, my younger brother. Little Nicole planted some seeds in a plastic cup filled with soil. She brought the sprouting plant to her dad who was confined in the Palliative Care section of Brampton Hospital in Toronto. She placed it on the window sill for him to look at. Her dad passed away two days later. Nicole’s sprouting plant was suggestive of new life and the resurrection of the body. The seeds that died were “seeds of life”.

 

In the reading (Rom 8:1-11), Saint Paul tells us that like the seed that is buried and dies in the ground, our mortal body would die, but the spirit lives forever, and even our mortal body would be brought to life. The “seeds of life” are “seeds of the Spirit”. To accept the Spirit of Christ is to receive “new life”. We still live in the “flesh” with its tendency to sin, even after we have received the Spirit, but the indwelling Spirit vivifies the mortal flesh so that it becomes an instrument of grace and not an impediment. Moreover, through the gift of the Spirit, we receive a pledge of eternal life. Indeed, he who raised Jesus from the dead will also restore our mortal bodies by the power of his Spirit who dwells in us (cf. verse 11).

    

 

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

 

1. Do we respond to Christ’s call to conversion and apostolic fruitfulness? How do we react to the local and universal disasters that impinge upon our senses day after day through the mass media? What challenge does the parable of the barren fig tree give to us?

 

2. Do we nurture the “seeds of the Spirit” as “seeds of life”? Do we respond to the indwelling Spirit who enables us to live the life of Christ in the “here and now” and will raise our mortal bodies to eternal life? 

 

  

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

 

Father of mercy and goodness,

you revealed to us your patient mercy

by offering us the “ultimate chance”,

Jesus Christ, your beloved Son,

who loved us unto death on the cross.

Help us to welcome your forgiveness and love.

We give you glory and praise, now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

Loving God,

there is no condemnation

for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Through your Son Jesus,

free us from the shackles of sin and death.

Let the Spirit of Jesus raise us up.

We yearn for the “seeds of life”

to grow in our hearts.

May the “seeds of the Spirit” flourish fully

and bring forth abundant fruits.

We trust in the love and mercy of Jesus

and we praise 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.

 

            “If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did.” (Lk 13:4)  //“The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.” (Rom 8:11)

 

 

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

 

Pray to the Lord for the gift of repentance and sincere conversion from sin, and for the gift of spiritual renewal. Pray for prisoners, especially those who have received the death penalty, and for all those who minister to their care. Do what you can do be a means of conversion for others. // Commit yourself to sow the “seeds of life … seeds of the Spirit” by opposing direct attacks against innocent human beings and by pursuing the ways of justice, peace and right. 

 

*** 

 

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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