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A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 16, n. 34)

Week 16 in Ordinary Time: July 22-28, 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 from various perspectives. For the Lectio Divina on the liturgy of the past week: July 15-21, 2018, please go to ARCHIVES Series 16 and click on “Week 15 Ordinary”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: July 22-28, 2018.)

 

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 July 22, 2018: SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Is Our Master-Shepherd”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 23:1-6 // Eph 2:13-18 // Mk 6:30-34

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 6:30-34): “They were like sheep without a shepherd.”

 

In 1995 I traveled about eight hours by bus from Manila to San Antonio to give a seminar on liturgical music. This scenic town is situated at the foot of Mount Pinatubo, a volcano that violently erupted on July 16, 1991, after five hundred years of dormancy. The people suffered great devastation. The town I saw was still full of sand and other debris spewed out by the volcanic eruption. The people narrated how they scrambled in all directions to save their lives. They were dispersed like sheep without a shepherd. My heart was filled with pity as I listened. In a mysterious way, I was reliving the compassion of Christ for the hapless crowd that pursued him.

 

            The focus of today’s Gospel (Mk 6:30-34) is the Lord Jesus who shepherds. He shepherds the weary disciples who return from their missionary ministry, reporting to him what they had done and taught. His care for his tired and labor-spent disciples is heart-warming: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mk 6:31). He invites them to a well-deserved respite and quiet. Indeed, the disciples-apostles who have completed their first mission of preaching repentance, driving away demons and anointing the sick need some quiet rest with their Master-Shepherd.

 

The Lord Jesus likewise shepherds the pursuing crowd who hunger for the bread of the Word. His response is beautifully described in the Gospel: “His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them with many things” (Mk 6:34). Jesus accomplishes his pastoral care for them by teaching, that is, by nourishing their hungry souls with the bread of the Word. His service of teaching is a “nourishing ministry”. It is an important task in shepherding God’s people. He nourishes those who seek spiritual strength and solace by proclaiming the Gospel. The liturgical scholar Adrian Nocent remarks: “It is by teaching the sheep that Jesus gathers them together … His teaching is filled with power and creates a new people. The crowds gather around him and share his teaching with one another by telling one another of their impressions; slowly they form a united flock on which Jesus bestows his love and for which he prepares future shepherds.” 

 

 

B. First Reading (Jer 23:1-6): “I will gather the remnant of my flock and appoint shepherd for them.”

 

I watched intently the gripping movie, “Hotel Rwanda”. The chaotic scenes and the footages of the atrocious genocide brought about by the Hutus against the Tutsis evoke the biblical scenarios of “the sheep without a shepherd”. As I watched the movie, I was moved to pity. I also remembered a priest friend from Rwanda – my classmate at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of St. Anselm University in Rome in the early 1980’s. Very tall, like a pine tree and strong as an oak tree, when he was climbing with me the Aventine Hill going to our school at the Benedictine abbey, he would make his naturally long stride very, very, very slow. I, in turn, would double pace my stride in order to catch up with him. I lost contact with him after graduation from the Liturgical Institute. As I watched the movie, “Hotel Rwanda”, I could not help but wonder whether he – a Tutsi - was one of the “tall trees” cut down by the Hutus. Deep in my heart, I was also sure that just like the benevolent and kind-hearted Paul Rusebagina, the hero of the “Hotel Rwanda”, he played the part of a true “shepherd” sent by God on behalf of the troubled and hapless people of Rwanda.

 

The Old Testament reading (Jer 23:1-6) offers a good background for the Gospel episode concerning Jesus’ care and concern for “the sheep without a shepherd”. Susan Myers remarks: “In the decades preceding the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians, the kingdom of Judah was a vassal state, subject alternately to Egypt and Babylonia. Kings ruled in quick succession, often installed by the foreign nations in power at that time. At one point, there were even two kings, one in exile and one in Jerusalem. In this chaotic situation, Jeremiah proclaims the oracle we read today. The false shepherds are those rulers who are responsible for the scattering of the people in exile. Beginning as an oracle of judgment, today’s passage quickly turns to provide hope for those exiled in Babylonia. God promises to take care of the remnant of the people which remains faithful, bringing them back home again. The prophet further predicts that God will raise up one from the lineage of David who will rule with justice.”

  

The promise of a future ideal king, described as “a righteous shoot of David” is fulfilled and crystallized in Jesus Christ, the ultimate Shepherd sent by God to nourish and care for his flock. The Good Shepherd is the Divine Master who nourishes with “the bread of truth”. His love and care is meant not only for a chosen few, but for God’s entire flock – the pitiable crowd who, in their brokenness, have a claim on the care and ministry of the Master-Shepherd.

 

 

C. Second Reading (Eph 2:13-18): “Christ is our peace who made both one.”

 

In the second reading (Eph 2:13-18), we hear again of the redemptive and unifying work of Jesus. He brings peace and reconciliation and makes the Jews and Gentiles one people. He unites people of all races and brings them back to God through his paschal mystery, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. In the pastoral ministry to the people of Israel, and especially through his sacrificial act on the cross by which he accomplished the fullness of his service as Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ leads the dispersed flock back to God the Father.

  

The life-giving sacrifice of the Good Shepherd on the cross is in accord with the divine plan “to restore all things”. Every Christian disciple, by virtue of baptismal consecration and configuration to Jesus Shepherd-King has a duty to seek peace and to work for reconciliation in our fragmented world. As Christians, we have a tremendous responsibility to promote unity within us and to bring healing to our wounded society and our deeply afflicted world. God calls us to incarnate in our lives the pastoral mission of Jesus. Our loving God the Father entrusts us with the ministry to shepherd his flock and to “restore all things in Christ”, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

R.W. Dellinger’s article, “GRYD: A More Comprehensive Anti-Gang Strategy” in The Tidings, Southern California’s Catholic Weekly, is very inspiring (cf. p. 4 of the July 10, 2009 issue). It illustrates the laudable efforts of today’s concerned and responsible citizens to eliminate violence and crime in our society. Capt. Mark Olvera, of the Los Angeles Police Department, and Father Stan Bosch are examples of those who continue the pastoral mission of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, in the here and now.

 

With more than 400 street gangs and 40,000 gang members – resulting in some of the nation’s worst youth-on-youth violence – the City of the Angels has the dubious distinction of being the gang capital of the U.S.A. Through the police department, Los Angeles has long tried to arrest and suppress its way out of this deadly urban dilemma. (…)

 

LAPD Capt. Mark Olvera – a classical Flamenco guitarist who, with wife Sylvia and sons Garrett, 17, and Joseph, 15, comprise the music ministry for the Saturday vigil Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Lincoln Heights – is on the front lines of the city’s new anti-gang strategy. The outwardly calm commander of what is euphemistically called “Shootin’ Newton”, part of which has been designated a gang-reduction GRYD (Gang Reduction and Youth Development) zone, is sitting at a round table in his back office of the grey-stone station on Central Avenue at 34th Street, right across from St. Patrick Church. Three paintings hang from the back wall, including an expensive Japanese watercolor. On top of a glass-front bookcase, an army of knick-knacks stand guard. An acoustic guitar rests nearby in a corner. The 52-year-old policeman born and raised in East L.A. explains that his wife, who decorated his office, wanted to make it as comfortable as possible as he was going to spend so much time there working – often 12-hour days that stretch from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Most Saturdays, after the evening Mass, he comes in to catch up on paperwork.

 

“It’s probably not written down anywhere, but the main thing with GRYD and its gang interventionists is to stop the retaliations. Once there’s a shooting, stop pay-backs by being on the scene. That’s the first goal,” Capt. Olvera explains. “The second goal is to let us know where there are hot spots so we can deploy for them. “But at the same time, the interventionists should be working to: ‘OK, let’s be preventive. Let’s make sure there is no shooting to begin with.’ And that’s where Father Stan Bosch (GRYD supervisor for both the Newton and 77th division areas, who is a Trinitarian priest as well as a trained psychotherapist) comes in with his counseling and wraparound services. He deals with the healing part at the scene and then after counseling families and gang members. “There’s also the reentry part – Who’s coming out of the probation camps?” he adds. “We can work with the probation and then connect the youths to services and Father Stan right away to get them out of harm’s way.” (…)

 

Still, Olvera admits that GRYD, which has only been in operation in the Newton area since April 1, is a work in progress. He and his staff are examining different ways of doing things and making changes based on what works. There’s one factor, however, that has really helped the team make inroads with certain gangs so far – Father Bosch’s connection with gang members through a shared Catholic faith. “The power of the symbolism of a Catholic priest working with these kids meant a lot,” he says. “I think we can really do things with that in terms of dealing with the violence. “Also, it’s a matter of tolerance,” the LAPD commander adds. To those who think it’s OK for a gang member to be killed, he replies, “That’s not the Christian way. None of these killings is OK. And that’s what we have to change. I think with GRYD we’re on the verge of changing that attitude.”

   

 

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

 

When we are tired and weary, do we turn to Jesus and respond to his invitation: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile”?  Is the rhythm of our life similar to that of Jesus, with a balanced alternation of time generously given to others and solitude, of intense activity and rest?  Do we respond to the needs of the weary and heavily burdened with the heart of the Shepherd?

 

 

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

 

Loving Father,

your Son Jesus Christ is the Master-Shepherd.

He feeds us with the bread of the Word

and nourishes us with hope

by witnessing to your unconditional love.

By his blood on the cross,

Jesus gathers the scattered sheep into one flock.

Through his teaching ministry and work of evangelization,

the Good News of salvation becomes a reality.

O loving and gracious God,

we thank you for Jesus, our Master-Shepherd!

Through him,

peoples from all races and nations

are gathered into your presence

and rejoice in the gift of the Holy Spirit.

We praise you and love 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.

 

            “They were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.” (Mk 6:34)

 

 

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

 

Spend some moments of peace and quiet solitude with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Relish the beautiful experience of “coming away with him to a deserted place to rest awhile”. With the compassionate heart of the Shepherd, welcome those who are “like sheep without a shepherd” and share with them the bread of God’s Word.  

 

 

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July 23, 2018: MONDAY – WEEKDAY (16); SAINT BRIDGET, Religious

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Gives the Sign of Jonah … He Calls Us to Conversion”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Mi 6:1-4, 6-8 // Mt 12:38-42

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 12:38-42): “At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it.”

 

The Gospel (Mt 12:38-42) tells us that the scribes and Pharisees demand to see a “sign” from Jesus – a flashy miracle that will convince them he is truly the Messiah. The “sign” they want is one that fits their notion of a triumphant political Son of David. Jesus has given enough signs in his public ministry, both in word and deed. But their prejudice prevents them from recognizing Jesus as the Messiah. He obliges by giving them the ultimate sign: Jonah in the belly of the whale three days and three nights. The mind-baffling “sign of Jonah” refers to the paschal event of his death and resurrection. Failure to accept this sign is unfortunate and merits condemnation. The people of Nineveh, who responded with repentance to Jonah’s proclamation, and the Queen of the South, who yearned to hear the wisdom of Solomon, stand in sharp contrast to their unbelief. Indeed, Jesus is “something greater” than Jonah or Solomon. More than Jonah who preaches repentance, Jesus is our peace and reconciliation. More than Solomon and his wisdom, Jesus is the incarnate wisdom of God. He is the fullness of truth - the absolute revelation of the heavenly Father’s love.

 

Jesus continues to offer the “sign of Jonah”, and those who are sensitive to grace can perceive it. The paschal sign of his death and resurrection enfolds us. We are called to an intimate participation in it. The following story circulated on the Internet gives insight into this.

 

A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, “Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side.” Very quietly the doctor said, “I don’t know.” “You don’t know? You’re a Christian man and don’t know what’s on the other side?” The doctor was holding the handle of the door. On the other side came a sound of scratching and whining. And as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room and leaped on him with an eager show of gladness. Turning to the patient, the doctor said “Did you notice my dog? He’s never been in this room before. He didn’t know what was inside. He knew nothing except that his master was here. And when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death. But I do know one thing … I know my Master is there and that is enough.”

 

 

B. First Reading (Mi 6:1-4, 6-8): “You have been told, O man, what the Lord requires of you.”

One of the most touching songs that I learned to sing when I entered the convent is the “Reproaches”, sung at the veneration of the Cross during the celebration of the Lord’s passion on Good Friday. Composed by the Benedictine Fathers of the Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat in Manila, the music, which has an indigenous tone, is haunting. The refrain of the song is incisive: “My people, what have I done to you or in what have I grieved you. Answer me.” This refrain is taken from the prophet Micah and we hear it proclaimed in today’s Old Testament reading.

 

Today’s reading (Mi 6:1-4, 6-8) begins with a summons. The Lord invites the mountains and hills, and the foundations of the earth to witness the case he raises against Israel. In the indictment we glimpse God’s personal agony over Israel’s apostasy. The Lord reproaches his people and challenges them to answer in what way God has wronged them. God continues his reproach by enumerating the mighty saving acts he carried out on Israel’s behalf: from the Exodus to the conquest of the Promised Land.

 

Israel, the defendant, is culpable and does not refute the accusation. Feeling guilty, the people ask God what they can do to appease him: burnt offerings, peace offerings, or even human sacrifice. But God rejects their empty ritual sacrifices and reiterates what the Lord requires of them: “to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with God”. Indeed, the culpable people are required to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with God.

 

 

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

 

1. What is our response to the “sign of Jonah” that Jesus continues to offer us in our daily life?

 

2. Do we give heed to God’s exhortation: “to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with God”?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus Christ,

we thank you for the paschal “sign of Jonah”.

Please give us the grace to respond in faith

to this “mystery” and revelation of love.

Teach us to make a quest for you,

the eternal wisdom that leads to eternal life.

Loving Lord, help us to do what is required of us:

“to do the right and to love goodness,

and to walk humbly with God”.

We love you and 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 week. Please memorize it.

 

“No sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.” (Mt 12:39) // “Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Mi 6:8)

 

 

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

 

Be receptive to the “sign of Jonah” that surrounds us in daily life. By consciously participating in the paschal sacrifice of Christ, let the people around you realize that the “sign of Jonah” is a sign of salvation. // Everyday make an effort to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with God.

 

 

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July 24, 2018: TUESDAY – WEEKDAY (16); SAINT SHARBEL MAKHLUF, Priest

“JESUS SAVIOR: His Family Obeys the Will of God … He Casts Our Sins into the Depths of the Sea”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Mi 7:14-15, 18-20 // Mt 12:46-50

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 12:46-50): “Stretching out his hands toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.”

 

The Gospel (Mt 12:46-50) tells us that Jesus continues to suffer unbelief and rejection. The hostility of the Jewish religious leaders is mounting. The mother and relatives of Jesus are deeply concerned. They want to speak to him. They probably intend to take him away from danger. But Jesus makes use of the presence of his mother and kinsmen to define the true nature of his family. The true family of Jesus is constituted by those who follow the will of God – of which Mary is the model. Jesus does not reject the bond of blood kinship, but his commitment to the reign of God leads him to affirm the new and higher bond of spiritual kinship. Those who, in faith, submit to the will of God the Father are brothers and sisters and mothers to Jesus. They are true members of God’s family.

 

The following story, circulated on the Internet, shows how Mother Teresa of Calcutta testifies to how we can live in today’s world as true members of God’s family.

 

Jim Castle was tired when he boarded his plane in Cincinnati, Ohio, that night in 1981. The 45-year-old management consultant had put on a week-long series of business meetings and seminars, and now he sank gratefully into his seat, ready for the flight home to Kansas City, Kansas. As more passengers entered, the place hummed with conversation, mixed with the sound of bags being stowed. Then, suddenly, people fell silent. The quiet moved slowly up the aisle like an invisible wake behind a boat. Jim craned his head to see what was happening and his mouth dropped open. Walking up the aisle were two nuns clad in simple white habits bordered in blue. He recognized the familiar face of one at once, the wrinkled skin, and the eyes warmly intent. This was a face he’d seen in newscasts and on the cover of TIME. The two nuns halted, and Jim realized that his seat companion was going to be Mother Teresa!

 

As the last few passengers settled in, Mother Teresa and her companion pulled out rosaries. Each decade of the beads was a different color, Jim noticed. “The decades represented various areas of the world”, Mother Teresa told him later and added, “I pray for the poor and dying on each continent.”

 

The airplane taxied to the runway and the two women began to pray, their voices a low murmur. Though Jim considered himself not a very religious Catholic who went to church mostly out of habit, inexplicably he found himself joining in. By the time they murmured the final prayer, the plane had reached cruising altitude. Mother Teresa turned toward him. For the first time in his life, Jim understood what people meant when they spoke of a person possessing an “aura”. As she gazed at him, a sense of peace filled him; he could no more see it than he could see the wind but he felt it, just as surely as he felt a warm summer breeze. “Young man”, she inquired, “do you say the rosary often?” “No, not really”, he admitted. She took his hands, while her eyes probed his. Then she smiled. “Well, you will now.” And she dropped her rosary into his palm.

 

An hour later, Jim entered the Kansas City airport where he was met by his wife, Ruth. “What in the world?” Ruth asked when she noticed the rosary in his hand. They kissed and Jim described his encounter. Driving home, he said “I feel as if I met a true sister of God.”

 

Nine months later, Jim and Ruth visited Connie, a friend of theirs for several years. Connie confessed that she’d been told she had ovarian cancer. “The doctor says it’s a tough case”, said Connie, “but I’m going to fight it. I won’t give up.” Jim clasped her hand. Then, after reaching into his pocket, he gently twined Mother Teresa’s rosary around her fingers. He told her the story and said, “Keep it with you, Connie. It may help.” Although Connie wasn’t Catholic, her hand closed willingly around the small plastic beads. “Thank you”, she whispered. “I hope I can return it.”

 

More than a year passed before Jim saw Connie again. This time her face was glowing. She hurried toward him and handed him the rosary. “I carried it with me all year”, she said. “I’ve had surgery and have been on chemotherapy, too. Last month, the doctors did second-look surgery, and the tumor’s gone. Completely!” Her eyes met Jim’s. “I knew it was time to give the rosary back.”

      

 

B. First Reading (Mi 7:14-15, 18-20): “He will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins.”

 

Today’s Old Testament reading (Mi 7:14-15, 18-20) contains a prayer to God for the restoration of the good old days. The Lord is invoked to shepherd his chosen people in the fertile land of Carmel and to feed them in the rich pastures of Bashan and Gilead. They plead: “Work miracles for us, Lord, as you did in the days when you brought us out of Egypt.” To reinforce their prayer, the people declare God’s incomparable mercy and steadfast love. The emphasis on God’s incomparability is Micah’s signature: “Who is like Yahweh?” (mi-ka-yahu). Indeed, God’s loving mercy is unique and his constant love unsurpassable. The chastised people thus pray: “You will be merciful to us once again. You will trample our sins underfoot and send them to the bottom of the sea.” Recalling the covenant promise, the people trust that the Lord who has pledged his “faithfulness” (emet) and “grace” (hesed) to the Israel of old will not revoke them.

 

God’s forgiving love which has been lavishly bestowed upon us needs to be shared and “given” (cf. Corrie ten Boom, “Love Your Enemy” in Chicken Soup for Christian Soul, ed. Jack Canfield, et. al., Deerfield Beach: Health Communications, Inc., 1997, p. 2-5).

 

It was in a church in Munich that I saw him – a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.

 

It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. “When we confess our sins”, I said, “God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. And even though I cannot find a scripture for it, I believe God then places a sign out there that says, ‘NO FISHING ALLOWED’.”

 

The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.

 

And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

 

The place was Ravensbruck and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard – one of the most cruel guards. Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: “A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!”

 

And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course – how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? But I remember him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

 

“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk”, he was saying. “I was a guard there.” No, he did not remember me. “But since that time”, he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein” – again the hand came out – “will you forgive me?”

 

And I stood there – I whose sins had again and again needed to be forgiven – and I could not forgive. (…)  And I still stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion – I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. Jesus, help me! I prayed silently. I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.

 

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm and sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

 

“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart.”

  

 

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

 

1. Do we truly belong to the family of God by our faith response and obedience to the Father’s will? By our work and deeds, do we strive to be a mother, brother or sister to Jesus present in today’s poor and needy?

 

2. Do we believe that God will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins? Are we willing to share his forgiving love with other?

 

 

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

 

Loving Jesus,

you are the beloved son of God.

Baptized into the community of faith,

we become members of God’s family.

Help us to live our baptismal consecration

and obediently follow the Father’s saving will

that we may truly be a part of the divine family.

Give us the grace to be a mother, brother or sister

to the poor and needy in today’s world

that we may merit your gift of spiritual kinship.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

O merciful God,

you delight in clemency.

Forgive our disobedience and offenses.

Please cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

We give you glory and praise

for your forgiving love,

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.

 

“For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Mt 12:50) //“You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins.” (Mi 7:19)  

 

 

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

 

By your witness of charity and service to the people around you, let them know that you truly belong to the community of faith and that you are a brother, sister, or mother to Jesus. // Pray for persons who have hurt you, and whom you find difficult to forgive. Make an effort to bring God’s forgiving love and the good news of Christ’s resurrection to them.

 

 

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July 25, 2018: WEDNESDAY – SAINT JAMES, APOSTLE

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

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

2 Cor 4:7-15 // Mt 20:20-28

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Almighty Father,

by the martyrdom of St. James

you blessed the work of the early Church.

May his profession of faith give us courage

and his prayers bring us strength.

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

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

*** *** ***

 

July 26, 2018: THURSDAY – SAINTS JOACHIM AND ANNE, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Speaks in Parables … He Teaches Us to Choose the Source of Living Waters”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13 // Mt 13:10-17

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 13:10-17): “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them t has not been granted.”

 

In the Gospel (Mt 13:10-17) we see that Jesus uses stories to communicate the kingdom values. He speaks to people in parables to reveal the mysteries of the reign of God. The Gospel message demands a positive response and necessitates openness of heart. The parables and stories are meant to be meditated upon and “interiorized”. Teaching in parables is a compassionate act of the Divine Master to reach out to those in need of salvation. The simple and childlike are able to glean the life-giving wisdom of Jesus’ parables. Those who have deliberately closed their heart to Jesus are untouched by the power of the parables. Since their heart is gross, they look but do not see; they hear but do not understand. They are oblivious to the saving message and are not moved to conversion and transformation. Their lack of understanding results from their prejudice that Jesus does not meet their criteria of the Messiah.

 

The following story illustrates that to glean the life-giving meaning of stories and parables, the heart must be at work (cf. Anthony de Mello, The Song of the Bird, New York: Image Books, 1984, p. 1).

 

A disciple once complained, “You tell us stories, but you never reveal the meaning to us.”

 

Said the master, “How would you like it if someone offered you fruit and masticated it before giving it to you?”

 

No one can find the meaning for you. Not even the master.     

 

 

B. First Reading (Jer 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13): “They have forsaken me, the source of living waters’ they have dug themselves broken cisterns.”

 

In today’s Old Testament reading (Jer 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13), Jeremiah begins his ministry as a prophet. The Lord God asks him to proclaim to Israel a message of accusation, which becomes poignant against the background of God’s care for his people: “Israel, you belonged to me alone; you were my sacred possession. I sent suffering and disaster on everyone who hurt you.” God has brought them into a fertile land to enjoy its harvests and riches, but the chosen people are ungrateful. They have forgotten the great things God did for them from the Exodus to the conquest of the Promised Land. God thus accuses them of a twofold crime: they have abandoned God and have worshipped useless idols. They have turned away from God, “the source of living waters” and dug themselves “cisterns, broken cisterns that hold no water”. Infidelity and idolatry are Israel’s detestable crimes against the true God of Israel. It is shocking that Israel chooses the “broken cisterns” of death-dealing idolatry and rejects God, the font of eternal life.

 

The following article gives insight into the pathos of being forsaken (cf. Dr. Ray Guarendi, “I Failed Parenthood” in Catholic Digest, June/July/August 2014, p. 13-15).

 

Recently a mother of three children, ages 28, 23, and 15, told me that her oldest child has left the Church. The middle is lukewarm about religion, and the jury is still out on the youngest. She said that she and her husband tried hard to teach and live the Faith, but they both feel like failures. (…)

 

Young adults are moving away from the Church in swelling numbers. The soul-misshaping forces of our secular society – media, television, movies, music, celebrities, academics, advertising – are everywhere and relentless. Even when homes try to lock the ugliness out, it can seep in like a vapor and form the way someone inside thinks, feels, and believes – often quite counter to what the home is teaching.

 

Of course, not all young people are so influenced. God’s grace, one’s free will and personality, circumstances – all interact to help a child hold tight to the Faith. Nonetheless, many fine parents are feeling: at the least, a profound disappointment, but more often failure at not passing on to their offspring a sense of God and his presence. (…)

 

Many, if not most, parents did little or nothing “wrong”. They imparted the Faith as best they knew. Not having God’s omniscience, they lived and taught as limited humans. (…)

 

At parent presentations, I often ask the audience to answer a series of questions with a simple “yes” or “no”. Is there s God? Yes. Was Christ God? Yes. Could he perform miracles? Yes. Did he have a perfect understanding of human nature? Yes. Slowly and deliberately, I then ask: Could he get most people to follow him? At this, a pensive silence drifts through the group before it answers: No. My last question: “If the God-man himself didn’t convert most, why do we think we can do better?” (…)

 

He told you to raise them in the Faith, and you have done so. Now it is their life and their free choice to believe. To repeat Mother Teresa, God asks us to be faithful, not successful.

 

Though you have no assurance that all your devoted years will add up to a religious young adult, you do have other assurances. One, the more faithful a parent, the more likely the kids will follow. And two, of those who leave or outright reject the Faith, some will one day return, often more believing than ever. They were given truth to return to.

 

For now, you may have given yourself a D-, but the semester is far from over.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we make a personal effort to deepen our faith by prayerful reflection on the word of God?  Do we continue to value the life-giving meaning of Jesus’ parables?

 

2. Do we prefer the “source of living waters” or do we choose to dig ourselves “cisterns, broken cisterns that hold no water”?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

you spoke in parables

to reveal to us the mysteries of the kingdom

and to manifest the state of our heart.

Help us to be receptive to your word.

Give us the grace and wisdom we need

to delve into the meaning of your parables.

Let your life-giving message transform us.

Help us to prefer the “source of living waters”

and never choose to dig ourselves

“cisterns, broken cisterns that hold no water”

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.

 

“Knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you.” (Mt 13:11) // “They have forsaken me, the source of living waters.” (Jer 2: 13)

 

 

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

 

Pay particular attention to Jesus’ parables, especially when they are proclaimed in the liturgical assembly. Make a special effort to glean their message for you and the community. Learn to savor and tell stories. // Be deeply aware that the liturgy is the “font and summit” of Christian life and make special effort to participate consciously, actively and fruitfully in the Church’s liturgy.

 

*** *** ***

 

July 27, 2018: FRIDAY – WEEKDAY (16)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Helps Them Understand … He Calls Us to Conversion and Promises Restoration”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 3:14-17 // Mt 13:18-23

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 13:18-23): “The one who understands the word and understands it will bear much fruit.”

 

The Gospel (Mt 13:18-23) tells us that without spoon-feeding them, the Divine Master helps his disciples delve into the meaning of the parable of the sower. He underlines that the growth of the seeds of the kingdom depend on various factors. But the clincher is the fruitful result of the seeds that fall into good soil. This refers to authentic disciples of Jesus who hear the word of God, make an effort to understand and glean its personal implication, and let the Gospel bear abundant fruit in their life.

 

The miracle of the fruitful seeds lives on through the work of Christian disciples who sow and promote the spirit of the Gospel in the here and now. The story of Papa Mike, founder of the Poverello House in Fresno, gives insight into this (cf. Poverello House, May 2012, p. 1-2).

 

A man named Ed was the victim of growing neighborhood violence. An older man who had been on the streets for many years, he recently got a place to stay. He still comes here to eat, and as he was leaving one day, two young men accosted him not too far from Poverello. They beat him, knocked out a tooth or two, and took his money.

 

When he told me about it, he was understandably angry. He wanted to get his gun and take his revenge. In his younger days, I have no doubt that Ed would have done just that. However, I was able to talk him down and help him try to see the big picture, how shooting these men would cause him even more grief. Thankfully, Ed listened to me. (…) I believe that I’ve done at least a little of what the Good Lord put me here to do.

          

 

B. First Reading (Jer 3:14-17): “I will appoint over you shepherds after my own heart; all nations will be gathered together at Jerusalem.”

 

The reading (Jer 3:14-17) is a post-Exilic composition, that is, after 587 B.C. Jerusalem has already been destroyed by the Babylonians and the Ark of the Covenant has disappeared, never to be replaced. The prophet’s message offers hope to the Jewish people in Exile living in a distressing situation. Today’s reading starts with God’s summons to conversion: “Return, rebellious children for I am your Master …” The call to repentance is accompanied with a promise of blessing. The Lord God promises to bring back the dispersed people to Jerusalem which, by its new splendor, will become the center where all nations gather. Jerusalem will replace the “ark of the covenant” as “the Lord’s throne” and all nations will stream toward it to honor “the name of the Lord”. Moreover, God promises to give them “shepherds” who are after his own merciful heart. They will shepherd the people wisely and prudently. Their compassionate pastoral ministry will promote the gathering of nations in the renewed Jerusalem.

 

The following modern day account illustrates that God’s promise of “shepherds after his own heart” and the “gathering of the nations” in the new Jerusalem, the Church, continues to happen through salvation history (cf. Elmer Wurth, M.M. in Maryknoll, May/June 2015, p. 9).

 

One day in Hong Kong, a fellow called me up and asked if I would come to see his mother, who wanted to be baptized. I went and found that she was 96, nearly deaf and nearly blind. When I asked her why she decided at her age to seek baptism, she told me a fascinating story.

 

“I was the second of three wives of a wealthy business man”, she said. “He and the other wives have died. I have just this one son, the greatest son in the world. When I die, I want to go to the same heaven he goes to, not to the one where the other wives and their kids go. They were constantly fighting over my husband’s money and life was not pleasant at all. When can I be baptized?”

 

Our pastoral Sister taught her each week and I went a couple of times, too, but the woman couldn’t remember anything from one week to the next. I asked the Sister to try to teach her just the basics of the sacraments. After two months we decided she was ready as she would ever be. She was almost radiant and couldn’t thak us enough as her son, his wife and son, and a couple of friends joined her. She’s the oldest person I’ve ever baptized in 54 years as a priest, and perhaps one of the most inspiring.

 

 

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

 

1. Do I intend to be good soil that promotes the growth and fruitfulness of the seeds of God’s kingdom?

 

2. How do we respond to God’s call to conversion and to a deepening of the covenant commitment? Do we allow ourselves to be guided by “shepherds” he has given us on our behalf?

 

 

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

 

O loving Jesus,

you sow the seeds of God’s kingdom.

Let me be like the good soil

that promotes their growth and fruitfulness.

Teach me to open myself

to the miracle of life that you bring.

Give me true understanding of the message of salvation.

Help me to sow the seeds of your saving word

in the here and now.

We love you and praise you, now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

O loving and merciful God,

thank you for calling us back to you.

Let us be guided by shepherds who are after your own heart.

Let them shepherd us wisely and prudently.

Help us participate in the “gathering of the nations”

and inspire others to honor your name.

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 week. Please memorize it.

 

“But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit.” (Mt 13:21) // “All nations will be gathered together to honor the name of the Lord.” (Jer 3:17)

 

 

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

 

Reflect on what you can do to share the word of salvation with the people around you. Do what you can to make the Internet a forum of evangelization. // By your acts of charity and true piety, inspire the people around you to honor the name of the Lord.

 

*** *** ***

 

July 28, 2018: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (16); BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Will Separate the Weeds from the Wheat … He Calls Us to True Worship”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Jer 7:1-11 // Mt 13:24-30

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 13:24-30): “Let them grow together until harvest.”

 

In today’s Gospel (Mt 13:24-30) we hear the parable of the weeds among the wheat. It underlines that those who endeavor to live faithfully in this world are surrounded by those who do not. But Jesus, the sower of the good seed and the Lord of the harvest, wants us to trust that the wheat can withstand the weeds and even be stronger for it. The parable also tells us about the patience of God, who is compassionate. He allows the weeds to grow with the wheat until harvest time, when the weeds will be separated and burned and the wheat stored and treasured in the barn. He does not easily condemn, but rather, is kindly disposed to give us a chance to prove our true worth. The society in general and the Church in particular have a “mixed bag” quality. They contain side by side the best and the worst as well as the sinners and the saints. The Jesuit bible scholar Fr. Nil Guillemette comments: “Let us not forget, too, that the mixture of good and bad is not only in society at large and in the Church in particular; it is also in our own hearts. We ourselves are a mixture of weeds and wheat. By admitting this to ourselves, we can become less judgmental and more compassionate about our neighbors’ weeds.”

 

The following stories about “streaky people” are funny, but give us idea of the need to be less judgmental and more compassionate in dealing with the people around us (cf. Anthony de Mello, The Song of the Bird, New York: Image Books, 1984, p. 129).

 

A preacher put this question to a class of children: “If all the good people were white and all the bad people were black, what color would you be?”

 

Little Mary Jane replied, “Reverend, I’d be streaky!”

 

So would the preacher. So would the mahatmas, popes, and saints.

 

***

 

A man was looking for a good church to attend and he happened to enter one in which the congregation and the preacher were reading from their prayer book. They were saying, “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.”

 

The man dropped into a seat and sighed with relief as he said to himself, “Thank goodness, I’ve found my crowd at last.”

 

Attempts to hide your streakiness will sometimes be successful, always dishonest.

 

 

B. First Reading (Jer 7:1-11): “Has this house which bears my name become in your eyes a den of thieves?”

 

Today’s Old Testament reading (Jer 7:1-11) is a part of Jeremiah’s Temple Sermon, dated early in the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah (609-598 B.C.). Commanded by the Lord to stand near the temple gate, Jeremiah calls to the people: “Hear the word of the Lord!” and speaks to them God’s message of condemnation. The prophet upbraids the Jews for their presumption that they are secure notwithstanding their crimes. They claim: “We are safe! This is the Lord’s temple, this is the Lord’s temple, this is the Lord’s temple.” Naively trusting in the temple as the guarantee of God’s protection, they commit crimes with impunity. They steal, murder, commit adultery, seek other gods, etc. But God’s protection is conditional on covenant fidelity, not on the physical temple itself. Indeed, the Lord God hates their false worship and their hypocritical conviction that they can turn the temple into a “den of thieves” and still escape punishment. Jeremiah thus exhorts them: “Change the way you are living and stop doing the things you are doing!”

 

The following story gives insight into the ugliness of crimes committed by “religious” people in “the temple of the Lord” and into the healing warmth of charity and true worship (cf. Carmen Creamer, “One Bad Apple” in 101 Inspirational Stories of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, ed. Patricia Proctor, Spokane: Franciscan Monastery of Saint Clare, 2006, p. 65).

 

I have had many wonderful experiences when going to confession: however, my first time was not great at all.

 

It happened in the city of Caico, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. Padre Deoclides, a priest of the Diocese of Caico, came to the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary to listen to our confessions. While each of us was in the confessional, he touched each of us little girls in a very inappropriate manner. I can never forget that first experience.

 

It was traumatic, but with God at my side, I continued to pray and went back to confession the following month. I remained a Roman Catholic, faithfully devoted to the Church, except for two years after finishing college in 1964. In 1966, I met my husband, an American, who was in Brazil on duty. I learned that he was a convert Catholic, and with him I started going back to the Church I love.

 

We were married in the Church and have had a wonderful marriage for forty years. My husband passed away this year, and if it weren’t for my faith and the wonderful people in my Church, I don’t know what would have happened. All of our children came home for their dad’s last days and were amazed at my church community. They saw how fortunate I was to have two wonderful priests and a great nun to support me with love and compassion through those days of grief.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we try not to be judgmental, but to be patient and compassionate with the weeds and the wheat that grow side by side within our world, our Church and ourselves?

 

2. Is our ritual worship a true expression of our covenant fidelity and obedience to God?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

you are patient and kind.

You let the weeds grow with the wheat until harvest time.

Help us to manifest the beautiful qualities of the good wheat.

Judge us favorably and bring us home.

Gather us into the barn of your kingdom

that we may render fitting worship to God

with all the saints in heaven.

We love and serve you,

now and forever.

Amen.

  

 

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

 

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

 

“Gather the wheat into my barn.” (Mt 13:30) // “Reform your ways and your deeds.” (Jer 7:3)

                                                                                                              

 

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

 

Be patient with the foibles of the people around you. In your dealings with them, manifest the good qualities that will inspire them to be better persons. Let your ritual worship be a true expression of the inner worship you render to God. // Pray for the victims of the false “ministers of Christ”.

 

 

 *** 

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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