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A Lectio Divina Approach to the Sunday & Weekday Liturgy

 

BREAKING THE BREAD OF THE WORD (Series 18, n. 9)

Week 3 in Ordinary Time: January 26 – February 1, 2020

 

 

(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: January 19-25, 2020 please go to ARCHIVES Series 18 and click on “Ordinary Week 2”.

 

Below is a LECTIO DIVINA APPROACH TO THE SUNDAY - WEEKDAY LITURGY: January 26 – February 1, 2020.)

 

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January 26, 2020: THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

N.B. Today we celebrate the SUNDAY OF THE WORD OF GOD recently instituted by Pope Francis.

 “JESUS SAVIOR: He Is the Great Light

that Shines in Our Darkness”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

Is 8:23-9:3 // 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17 // Mt 4:12-23

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mt 4:12-23): “Jesus went to Capernaum, so that what had been said through Isaih might be fulfilled.”

          

On the evening of January 9, 2005, the feast of the Lord’s Baptism which concludes the Christmas season, I dismantle the crib and other décor. I complain silently: “Christmas is so short and there is not enough time to savor it.” After packing the holiday stuff, I console myself by listening to some nice Christmas music by Perry Como. As he sings “The Christmas Feeling”, these words catch my attention: “How I love that Christmas feeling! How I treasure its friendly glow … Christmas helps you to remember, to do what other folks hold dear. What a blessed place the world would be if we have that Christmas feeling all year!” A few days later, I came across a family-oriented magazine, which contains Denise Mallas’ article, “My Merry Christmas Sign” (cf. Family Circle, December 21, 2004, p. 20-21). Her insights dispel my post-holiday blues. Denise writes:

 

Last year, as I packed up the last of Christmas things, I remembered the little wooden Merry Christmas sign in the living room. I had forgotten it. I went to get it. It still hung on the wall. I reached for it, then slowly drew my arm back. My heart told me to leave it there. I just wasn’t ready to close Christmas for the year yet. I wanted that little piece of it to remain with my family just a while longer …

 

There is something about the Christmas season that none of us really wants to give up. We don’t want to pack away that warm feeling of loving our fellow man. We want to keep that giving spirit in our hearts. We want to love being alive and sharing our lives with others. We want to keep our families close to us. We want our friends to keep knowing how much we care.

 

My little sign … it will still be there on the wall. I can’t help but smile each time I walk by. It will stay there, daily reminding me that the spirit of loving each other does not end with the Christmas season but should happen each and every day. You see… LOVE IS ALWAYS IN SEASON.

 

 

The idea that the spirit of Christmas is not over, but rather, in a continual process of realization in our lives, is what this Sunday’s liturgy is trying to communicate. The fullest meaning of the Christmas feast we celebrate is this: Jesus, the Son of God, came to be the light of the world. With his saving work, the darkness of sin and death has vanished. The reign of God is at hand. United with Christ, his disciples are called for a special mission to the nations – to spread the Good News that the great light of liberation has dawned. Indeed, Christmas is the festival of the great light, Jesus Christ.

  

            What Isaiah utters as prophecy about “the great light” becomes full reality in Jesus of Nazareth. Hearing that John the Baptist has been arrested, Jesus withdraws from the Judean region and returns to the Gentile-permeated Galilee. In New Testament times, Galilee is at least half Gentile in population, half pagan in cult, and bilingual (using Greek and Aramaic). Leaving his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus settles in the strategically situated lakeside town of Capernaum, on the border of Zebulun and Naphtali. The location of the commercially prosperous Capernaum is ideal for reaching a larger audience, both Jews and foreigners. In fulfillment of the prophetic words of Isaiah, Galilee would be the first to hear of Yahweh’s salvation … its people would be the first to experience the public ministry of the great light, Jesus Christ.

 

This Sunday’s Gospel passage (Mt 14:12-23) about Jesus’ public ministry that began in “Galilee of the Gentiles” is a summary presentation of “the dawning of the ages” – the messianic realization of the time of salvation. In a few power-packed verses, the evangelist Matthew sketches the gradual unfolding and realization of the messianic plan. The arrest of John the Baptist (v. 12) signals the beginning of the new Covenant to be ratified in Jesus’ blood. Jesus’ proclamation of the coming of the Kingdom to the “Galilee of the Gentiles” depicts him as the realization of Isaiah’s prophecy about the “great light” to the nations (v. 16). His call of the first disciples by the lake of Capernaum (v. 18-22) augurs the time of the Church, the community of Christian disciples. The first healings he wrought confirm the efficacious and transforming salvation he brings as the longed-for Messiah. Indeed, Jesus’ inaugural ministry in Galilee, the crossroad of pagan cultures and commerce, prefigures his universal mission and the mission of the Church to be the light of salvation.

 

 

B. First Reading (Is 8:23-9:3): “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

 

Today’s Gospel passage is to be read against the backdrop of Isaiah’s prophecy about the great light shining in the land of darkness (cf. Is 8:23-9:3). This Old Testament passage that is proclaimed today is likewise used as part of the First Reading at the Christmas midnight Mass. In this fascinating oracle, we hear Isaiah offering words of consolation to a devastated nation. In 734 B.C. the Assyrians, led by Tigleth-Pileser III, conquer the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali. Since the region of Zebulun and Naphtali is farthest north and closest to Assyria, this area is the first in Israel to experience the destroying wrath of the invaders. This Galilean territory is then detached from the kingdom of Israel and erected into an Assyrian province. The prophet Isaiah, however, knows that God will not forget his people and thus encourages those in exile and the remnants in the devastated land. The prophet expresses the joy of future liberation as a great light shining on the land of gloom. This prophecy is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus in the land, proclaiming the light of the Gospel to the nations.

 

As his disciples, we are called to participate fully in the radiance of Jesus Christ and to spread the light of his Gospel. The liturgical scholar, Adrian Nocent remarks: “The light of the Good News ia always being offered to us, for the work of evangelization goes on. But we are not simply to observe the work or to be recipient of it – we are to share in it. The prophecy read today and the Gospel pericope are addressed to us in order to stir us to action. In fact, Christ stirs us to action at two levels. There is the inner spiritual movement incumbent upon us: the kingdom is at hand, proclaimed to us by the light we received at our baptism, and we must therefore unwearyingly carry on the work of our own conversion. But we must also leave all things and follow Christ in order to share with him the task of preaching the gospel. The gospel is demanding, for we must take steps that are costly to our weak nature if we are to see the light and accept it. And yet the extension of the kingdom depends in part on us. The Church is already established, of course, and its supporting pillars are the apostles. But each of us is called to work for the expansion of the Church and the spreading of the Good News. The sacrifices required of us in the pursuit of this goal may be hard ones. The apostles, the first ones whom Christ called, responded without hesitation.”

 

In the November 2007 issue of Maryknoll magazine is an article about the Maryknoll nun, Sr. Bernie Lynch whose vocation story inspired others to serve (cf. Margaret Gaughan, “Bernie, Still A Nun”, p. 33-35). The pictures of Sr. Bernie as a postulant doing garden work, as a novice at prayer and at play, and as a newly professed Sister bathing a baby in Chinatown and aboard a ship heading for her assignment in Peru are some of the most impressive pictures I have ever seen expressing grace, beauty and joy in the Lord. Responding to the “great light” Jesus Christ, Sr. Bernie became a light giver and has inspired others to be light givers.

 

Whatever happened to Bernie the nun? Bernie, the subject of the popular 1956 book “Bernie Becomes a Nun”, is still a nun. “I get e-mails and letters from people who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, telling me that “Bernie Becomes a Nun” was part of their required reading in the eighth grade,” says Maryknoll Sister Bernadette Lynch, the Brooklyn, N.Y. native whose journey to the convent comes alive in the pages. “Many Sisters say the book inspired them to enter the convent.”

 

Lynch, who served in Latin America for almost 40 years and is now a member of the Maryknoll Sisters mission awareness team that visits U.S. schools and parishes, says she regarded her role in the making of the renowned book as “part of my mission assignment.” The book, she explains, started out as an article in Cosmopolitan magazine. The author, Maryknoll Sister Maria Del Rey Danforth, wanted to present religious life – not just Maryknoll, but any Catholic religious order – as an attractive option for young women through the story of someone their age who embraced it.

 

She teamed up with photographer George Barris and they looked for a young Sister to follow as she re-enacted her path to the convent. “I was chosen because I fit the criteria: they needed someone who had both parents living, was not an only child (I had two sisters) and whose home was within 50 miles of Maryknoll, “ says Lynch, omitting the fact that she was also photogenic. Lynch who at age 19 had joined Maryknoll in 1949, was doing her practice teaching in New York City when the project with Danforth and Barris began in 1954. To accommodate her teaching schedule, most of the photos were taken during summer vacation and school breaks. (…)

 

The Cosmopolitan article was so well received that Farrar, Straus and Cudahy Publishers of New York expanded it into a book, which hit bookstores at about the time Lynch left for her first overseas assignment in Peru. She began teaching grade school and doing parish catechetical instruction in the cities of Lima and Arequipa, and later moved to the highlands to work with indigenous women. In 1978 she helped open a house of prayer in Peru’s Juli Prelature, where she served for 13 years. “My faith journey was deepening and I wanted to share prayer with people,” the 77-year-old missioner explains … Lynch left Peru in the early 1990s to respond to a growing need for missioners to work with people with HIV/AIDS, serving first in El Salvador and then in Guatemala.

 

In her current work of mission education and promotion, she is again a storyteller. Now, however, she tells the stories of others. They are people she met during her years in overseas mission …”These people are missioners,” Lynch tells U.S. audiences. “You don’t have to be a nun or a priest to be a missioner. We are called to be missioners in our own way.” Much has changed in religious life and in all of life since Bernie became a nun, but the effervescent Sister with the winning smile is committed to the same mission: making God’s love visible and inspiring others to do the same.

 

 

C. Second Reading (1 Cor 1:10-13 17): “That all of you may agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you.”

 

The reading (1 Cor 1:10-13, 17) is about the unfortunate division in the Church of Corinth. The church leader Chloe reports the presence of cliques and contentious groups among the Corinthians. Some identify themselves as followers of Paul; others favor the dazzling eloquence of Apollos; others champion Cephas or Peter; and there are others who simply claim they belong to Christ. The division belies the purpose of common baptism. In an effort to let them come to their senses, Paul asks rhetorically: “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” Indeed, the Christ in whom they are baptized has been crucified for all – to unify all. Paul’s specific mission as an apostle is to proclaim the Gospel and he does it without relying on human wisdom, but by the power of the Spirit lest the union the cross signifies be jeopardized.

 

Christian discipleship is a call to unity. The Christian community must be united if it were to be an efficacious presence of Christ in the world. The following article gives insight into the current quest for Christian unity (cf. Kurt Koch, “The Spiritual Ecumenism of Conversion” in L’Osservatore Romano, January 23, 2015, p. 1).

 

In the Church of Rome, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ends with the Bishop of Rome celebrating Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, with the participation of representatives of other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities. This well-established tradition of prayer for Christian unity within the ecumenical community was launched by Blessed Pope Paul VI on 4 December 1965. Shortly before the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, he invited ecumenical observers to a liturgical celebration in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls to thank them for their participation at the Council and to take his leave of them.

 

He used these deeply sensitive words: “Thus, your departure will not put to end, for Us, to the cordial spiritual relationships that your presence in the Council gave rise to. It does not end, for Us, a dialogue which began in silence but which impels us on the contrary to study how e may be able to successfully continue it. The friendship endures.” (Speech during the Celebration to Implore Christian Unity, 4 December 1965)

 

It is particularly appropriate to recall, with gratitude this liturgical event celebrated 50 years ago, as it was the first public prayer for Christian unity presided by a Pope within the ecumenical community.

 

 

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

 

Are we intent on keeping the spirit and joy of Christmas alive through the year? Do we believe that the love Jesus, brought to us in the mystery of the incarnation and the entire paschal mystery, is always in season?  How do we participate in the mission of Jesus, the great light, to dispel the darkness of sin and death from the people dwelling in the land of gloom? 

  

 

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

  

Loving Father,

your beloved Son Jesus, the “great light”,

is your most precious gift to us.

We thank you, Father,

for in his saving love and healing ministry,

the anguish of body and spirit flees away

and the darkness of doubt is brightened by faith.

We thank you for the prompt and radical response

of Peter and Andrew, James and John

to the call of Jesus:

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men”.

Their participation in the saving love of Jesus

transforms them into bearers of light.

O dear Father,

fill us with compassion and apostolic zeal.

We adore you; we bless you;

we thank you 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.

 

“The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light.” (Mt 4:16) 

 

 

 

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

 

Meditate on the miracle of the light dispelling darkness and on the miracle of vocation to ministry. In any way you can, and especially in your service to the poor, the sick and the lonely, participate in Christ’s mission as a “great light”. 

 

 

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January 27, 2020: MONDAY – WEEKDAY (3); SAINT ANGELA MERICI, Virgin

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Was an Object of Blasphemy … The Shepherd-King David Prefigures Him”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

2 Sm 5:1-7,10 // Mk 3:22-30

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 3:22-30): “It is the end of Satan.”

 

In today’s Gospel episode (Mk 3:22-30), the scribes who have come from Jerusalem to observe are vicious. Having witnessed the exorcisms performed by Jesus, they accuse him of demonic possession and collusion. The Divine Master refutes their tortured reasoning, tainted with cold venom and vitiated with jealousy. Indeed, Satan is not so foolish as to align with Jesus in destroying his very self. Rather, Jesus expels demons through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus is the “stronger one” who overpowers Satan and subdues his household. Jesus exorcises through the power of the Holy Spirit. To declare that the power at work in Jesus is “demonic” and that the Holy Spirit that animates him is “unclean” is blasphemy. The animosity of the scribes is such that they willfully reject the power of God’s saving grace to work in them. Hence, in this sense, forgiveness is not for them.

 

The following story could give us an idea of the misunderstanding and rejection that Jesus suffered both from his kinsmen and opponents – the same experience that his disciples and people of good will continue to have today (cf. Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight: A Book of Story Meditations, New York: Image Books, 1988, p. 124).

 

A family of five was enjoying their day at the beach. The children were bathing in the ocean and making castles in the sand when in the distance a little old lady appeared. Her gray hair was blowing in the wind and her clothes were dirty and ragged. She was muttering something to herself as she picked up things from the beach and put them into a bag. The parents called the children to their side and told them to stay away from the old lady. As she passed by, bending every now and then to pick things up, she smiled at the family. But her greeting wasn’t returned. Many weeks later they learned that the little old lady had made it her lifelong crusade to pick up bits of glass from the beach so children wouldn’t cut their feet.

 

 

B. First Reading (2  Sm 5:1-7, 10): “You shall shepherd my people Israel.”

 

The Old Testament reading (2 Sm 5:1-7, 10) is about the anointing of David as king not only of the tribe of Judah, but of the united Israelite kingdom. After the death of Saul and his son Jonathan, the fight between the forces supporting Saul’s family and those supporting David goes on for a long time. As David becomes stronger and stronger, his opponents become weaker and weaker. David does not seize power, but waits for the Lord to give him the kingship. At the death of Saul’s general Abner and of Saul’s son Ishbosheth, all the tribes of Israel rally to David at Hebron and urge him to be their king, saying: “We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, even when Saul was still our king, you led the people of Israel in battle, and the Lord promised you that you would lead his people and be their ruler.” David makes a sacred covenant with them. They anoint him as king of Israel. After the anointing, King David captures Jerusalem, reputed to be impregnable, and makes it the capital of his kingdom. The prophetic anointing by Samuel that designates him as leader-shepherd of God’s people is politically realized in Hebron.

 

The shepherd-king David is a figure of Jesus Christ, the ultimate Shepherd-King. The pastoral service and ministry of guidance of Jesus for God’s people is continued through the ages by his anointed ministers. The Irish martyr, Bishop Terence Albert O’Brien (cf. “Lives of the Saints: The Irish Martyrs” in Alive! January 2014, p. 15).

 

In January 1649, the forces of the English Parliament under Oliver Cromwell put King Charles to death. That settled the English Civil War on the island of Britain. In Ireland, however, some unfinished business had yet to be attended by the regicides and to this task Cromwell applied himself with murderous vigor. (…)

 

He laid siege to Drogheda and within a short time resistance crumbled, opening the way to utter savagery. Next came Wexford and Clonmel. At that point, having set the standard for atrocity, Cromwell returned to England leaving his “bloodied” troops to finish his work under the command of his son-in-law, Henry Ireton.

 

Ireton’s biggest challenge was Limerick, destined also to be his last, for reasons he did not expect. Limerick was a walled city, garrisoned by a force of Old English Royalists and Catholics. The gates were shut against Ireton when his army arrived to take it on 4 June 1651. Terms were offered to the defenders but under no condition would the Cromwellians concede their demand for the right of Catholics to freedom of conscience and worship.

 

The Puritan whip was to be applied mercilessly. Priests and religious in the city were to be deported as criminals and any who had been active in the resistance were to be executed. Among the latter was the Dominican, Bishop Terence Albert O’Brien, who had been ordained Bishop of Emily some years before when hopes were high in Ireland that a new era of freedom for Catholics was about to begin. The outcome of the Civil War and Cromwell’s arrival in Ireland had changed all that and Bishop O’Brien now found himself making a last ditch stand for faith and fatherland in the besieged city.

 

Earlier in his career O’Brien, now aged 50, had been prior of some of the Dominican houses in Muster, and had also been Provincial of the Order in Ireland. As negotiations for surrender progressed it became clear to Ireton that O’Brien was a leader of the resistance to any agreement which would not give tolerance for Catholics. To overcome this he first tried bribery, offering him an enormous bribe of 40,000 pounds and safe conduct out of the country if he would end his opposition. O’Brien refused to abandon his position and continued to press for tolerance.

 

The siege continued and the plight of the besieged grew worse. Starvation was followed by disease as the inhabitants and the refugees who had crowded into the city began to succumb to the dreaded bubonic plague. Bishop O’Brien’s role as a negotiator for peace now changed to that of a pastor succoring, spiritually and temporally, dying men and women while the Roundheads continued their relentless siege.

 

 

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

 

1. Are we guilty of jealousy and unable to recognize the grace at work in other persons? What do we do about this?

 

2. Are we ready to share in Christ’s pastoral and guiding ministry for God’s people in today’s world?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

you were misunderstood and viciously accused.

But as for us, we embrace your love.

Let the power of your Holy Spirit be with us.

Help us to bring order and justice

to a world convulsed with the violence of evil and sin.

You live and reign, forever and ever.

Amen.

 

***

Lord Jesus,

let the power of your Holy Spirit dwell in us

and make us share in your pastoral care

and guidance for God’s flock.

We adore and bless you, our saving Lord.

We thank 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 day. Please memorize it.

 

   “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness.” (Mk 3:26) //“You shall shepherd my people Israel and shall be the commander of Israel.” (II Sm 5:2)

 

 

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

 

Pray for perpetrators of blasphemy against God, especially those who do this making use of the means of social communication. Make an effort today to spread the Good News to the people around you. // Make an effort today to share the Good News and to be a shepherd for someone who needs help and guidance.

 

 

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January 28, 2020: TUESDAY – SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, Priest, Doctor of the Church

 “JESUS SAVIOR: His True Family Does the Will of God …

His Worship Is True”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

2 Sm 6:12b-15, 17-19  // Mk 3:31-35

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 3:31-35): “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

 

In today’s Gospel (Mk 3:31-35), the relatives of Jesus misunderstand his public ministry as “crazy” and “overdone”. They want to take charge of him. They probably have pleaded with Mary to come and see the frantic situation involving her son Jesus. They arrive when a crowd is sitting around Jesus and listening to him. The relatives send in a message, asking for him. Jesus uses the moment to declare what true family means to him. Those who do the will of God are his mother, his brother and his sister. Jesus redefines the sacred boundary of the family in a radical way. The biological family is replaced with the larger family of God, that is, those who do the will of God, of whom his mother Mary is foremost. Jesus subordinates natural kinship to a higher bond of relationship based on the obedience of faith. Indeed, the “family of God” inaugurated by Jesus is greatly inclusive and faith-intensive.

 

The following missioner tale illustrates the beauty and warmth of belonging to a spiritual family based on the love and service of God and his people (cf. Jason Obergfell, “Missioner Tales” in Maryknoll, May/June 2011, p. 11).

 

Recently, Maryknoll Sister Marilyn Bell passed away in Bolivia after countless years of service here. She was a tough woman who was active until a few months before her death, which is why she died in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where I serve as a Maryknoll lay missioner, rather than in the United States. Although no one from Marilyn’s biological family in the States was able to attend her funeral, her death brought together her Maryknoll family of priests, Brothers, Sisters and lay missioners who also serve in Bolivia.

 

Just last year being in mission in Bolivia, I was unable to attend the funeral of my grandmother, but now I was able to attend Sister Marilyn’s funeral as a “grandson” in our Maryknoll family. It was an experience that revealed what we only strive to describe with words. The Maryknoll family of missioners, thrown together by chance but held together by love for one another, is a lived example of Jesus’ message – we are all family. Sister Marilyn’s family in Bolivia wasn’t just limited to Maryknollers. The church was filled with Bolivians who had become her family because of her love for them. Being a model of God’s family, bound together by our love for one another, may just be the most important thing any of us will accomplish in mission or in life.

 

 

B. First Reading (2 Sm 6:12b-15, 17-19): “David and all the children of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts of joy.”

 

Today’s Old Testament reading (2 Sm 6:12b-15, 17-19) depicts the transport of the ark of God from the house of Obed Edom to Jerusalem, the city of David, establishing it as the religious and political capital of Israel. The transfer of the Ark to Jerusalem by King David is one of his most important deeds. The presence of the Ark sanctifies the city and blesses the rule of David. The grace-filled event calls for a celebration. At the festal procession King David, clothed only with the linen garment used by priests at liturgical functions, dances with all his might to honor the Lord. It is a time for joy, music and gift-giving. Above all, David, as God’s anointed, is a sacred person. He can offer burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord and is able to bless the people in the name of the Lord of hosts.

 

The following story gives us a taste of the joy and gratitude that the Israelites experienced at the transfer of the Ark to Jerusalem (cf. “A Parting Gift Brings a Long-Awaited Church” in Extension Magazine, Christmas 2013, p. 14-15).

 

When he was a boy, Tom Deehan emigrated from Ireland with his parents and sisters. The family settled in the Astoria neighborhood of the New York borough of Queens, where his father was a trolley car conductor and his mother was a seamstress. “They came with nothing”, said his cousin Bill O’Donnell of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

 

Tom graduated from Fordham University in New York and entered the seminary, but he left to serve in the Army during World War II. After the war, he moved to Florida, attended law school and had a long career with Eastern Airlines.

 

Tom spent much of his life caring for others – so much so that he delayed getting married. But later in life, he fell in love with a woman who had cancer. Despite her prognosis, the couple still wanted to get married. They had less than a year together as husband and wife. “Even though they were together for a short time, he was very devoted to her”, said Bill.

 

After retiring in the early 1990s, Tom moved to Mountain Home, Arkansas, where he was a parishioner at St. Peter the Fisherman Church. He loved his church and attended every funeral Mass because he believed everyone deserved mourners, his cousin said. Tom also attended 7:15 a.m. Mass every day. It was on his way home from morning Mass last spring that he found himself praying about making a gift to Catholic Extension. (…)

 

Tom knew his health was deteriorating, and he wanted to make a difference before he died, so the staff at Catholic Extension told him there was church in his own state that needed help. Holy Spirit Church had been using a run-down shack for its church building. But, with help from Catholic Extension, it had purchased the tire store and was in the process of converting it into a bigger, new church building. “He gave a generous offering to Catholic Extension to finish the project”, said Julie. “We were hoping he could be there for the dedication of the new church, but the last time he spoke to us, he said, ‘I don’t know if I’ll make it. My next stop is heaven.’”

 

Tom died on June 18, leaving no children or relatives behind, with the exception of his cousin and his godson, Tom Devine of Laurel, Maryland. But his funeral was packed with mourners – a fitting tribute to a man who had always mourned and prayed for others.

 

And on October 12, in a Mass celebrated by Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, the new Holy Spirit Church in Hamburg was dedicated. It includes seating for 250, along with a beautiful and spacious parish hall in what used to be oil changing pits. Said Father John Wall, president of Catholic Extension, “If only Tom Deehan could have seen the hundreds of people waiting in line for the dedication Mass. But his generosity will long be remembered, not only by this extraordinary new church, but also by the plaque inside that bears his name.”

  

 

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

 

1. Do we strive to belong truly to the family of God by our life of obedient faith and serving love?

 

2. Do we treasure our belonging to the Church of God and offer him true worship?

 

  

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

 

O Jesus, you are our brother.

You revealed to us the criterion for belonging to the family of God:

by doing the Father’s saving will.

We thank you for Mother Mary.

She exemplifies in her life the obedient faith

that makes us belong to God’s family.

Teach us to be faithful children of God our Father.

You live and reign, and forever.

Amen.

 

***

O dear Jesus,

you teach us the meaning of true worship.

Let us cherish our belonging to the Church

and offer the Father a perfect sacrifice of praise.

May our Church worship be transformed into daily self-giving

and our charitable deeds be united with you in the Eucharistic sacrifice.

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.

 

“For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mk 3:35) //“David and all the house of Israel were bringing the ark of the Lord with shouts of joy.” (II Sm 6:15)

 

 

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

 

By your acts of charity and compassion to the poor and vulnerable, prove to the world that you belong to the family of God. // By your acts of charity and compassion to the poor and vulnerable, prove to the world that you are a “living stone” in the Church of God.

 

 

*** *** ***

January 29, 2020: WEDNESDAY – WEEKDAY (3)

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Sows the Seedling of the Word …

His Kingdom Will Last Forever”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

2 Sm 7:4-17 // Mk 4:1-20

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 4:1-20): “A sower went out to sow.”

 

Today’s Gospel (Mk 4:1-20) depicts Jesus as sitting in the boat on the sea, with a large crowd gathered on the shore. The eager crowd of country folks has the potential of opening their hearts to the word of Jesus. To them he addresses the parable of the sower and the seed. The seed sown by the sower falls on the path, on rocky ground, among thorns and on rich soil. In the first three cases nothing happens, but in the last case an abundant harvest is produced. Indeed, the coming of the kingdom of God means the abundance of all good. Jesus is the sower who sows abundantly the word of the Kingdom. The “seed” of the word is lavishly sown because the Lord wants to address all without discrimination.

 

Saint John Chrysostom asserts: “The sower does not make distinctions between different soils; he simply throws the seed. Similarly, Jesus does not distinguish between rich and poor, learned and unschooled, careless and fervent, courageous and timid. His word concerns everybody.” Though the parable underscores the inherent fecundity of the seed of God’s kingdom, it also emphasizes the responsibility and the positive response to be given by the recipients of the “seed” of the divine word. We need to believe and be more open to God’s word.

 

The following is a testimony regarding the power of God’s word and one’s personal response to the offer of God’s kingdom (cf. Janet Perez Eckles in Daily Guideposts 2015, p. 90). Janet lost her sight at the age of 31, when her sons were 3, 5 and 7. She uses her own example of victory to teach others to triumph over trials. She lives in Orlando, Florida, and is warmed by the love of Gene, her husband of thirty-eight years, and the joy of her two grandchildren.

 

“Retinitis pigmentosa”, the doctor said, and finally the dreaded day came. I awoke, held my hands in front of my face, and saw nothing. At thirty-one, I was facing the rest of my life as a blind person. It terrified me.

 

“I can’t do this, God. I hate my life”, I whispered. How could God let a young mother go blind? Why would He refuse to answer my prayers for sight? Family and friends tried to support me, but none could understand the depth of my pain.

 

Then a friend called. “Come to my church. You’ll enjoy the service.” A trace of hope flickered, and I went. The message of Matthew 6:33 shook me. God was asking me to seek Him first. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I soaked in God’s Word. He promised to be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I believed it. I received it. And I applied it to my every moment as a wife and mom.

 

My life is peaceful now. Rest comes knowing God guides my footsteps, holds my future, and erases my fear.

   

 

B. First Reading (2 Sm 7:4-17): “I will raise up your heir after you and I will make his Kingdom firm.”

 

Susan Myers comments on the reading (2 Sm 7:4-17): “Today’s passage recounts David’s desire to build a temple for the ark and the subsequent message from God. God’s message is a promise of favor for David and his descendants, a promise that gives hope to Israel through the ages and to which Christians have also laid claim. The point of today’s reading centers on a play of words. David’s concern is to build a house for God, but God speaks of a different kind of house, promising to establish David’s lineage forever. Through the court prophet, Nathan, God pledges faithfulness to David and favor to his descendants … After the dissolution of the Davidic monarchy, the promise of God to David was understood by some to refer to a Messiah from the line of David, a savior who would restore Israel to its glory.”

 

The following profile of an Italian teenager illustrates that in his young life the messianic kingdom and blessing promised to David continue to live on (cf. Anne Nolan, “Teen Computer Geek To Become a Saint” in Alive! January 2014, p. 6).

 

Carlo Acutis was born in London on 3rd May 1991, to Italian parents who had moved to England in search of work. Some years later the family returned home to Milan. In September 2006 Carlo, aged 15, was diagnosed with leukemia, and less than a month later, on 12th October, he died. But instead of being forgotten by all but his family, his name has spread further and further afield. And an official process has now begun which, it is hoped, will lead to him being declared a saint.

 

Carlo was a normal teenager with many friends and was exceptionally gifted in computer programming, building his own website, and in film editing. The other side of him was his immense desire for holiness. At one point he said, “You must want holiness with all your heart. And if this desire has not arisen in your heart, you must ask insistently for it from the Lord.” At the same time he had a particular care for those on the fringes, classmates with no friends, the handicapped, immigrants, beggars and children. He worried about friends whose parents were divorcing, and invited them to his home to support them.

 

At an early age Carlo was introduced by his parents to the lives of the saints and was greatly inspired by them, especially by St. Francis and by the children of Fatima, Francesco and Jacinta Marto. From the time he made his first Holy Communion, aged 7, he went to daily Mass and each day he recited the rosary. He would frequently say, “The Eucharist is my highway to heaven”, and from this comes the title of a new book (in Italian) about his life.

 

His mother, Antonia, tells how shortly before he was taken to the hospital and before anyone suspected he had cancer, he spoke to his parents. He told them: “I offer all the suffering I will have to suffer to the Lord, for the Pope and the Church, for not to go to Purgatory and to go straight to Heaven.” He had a special devotion to Our Lady, and visited her shrine in Pompeii, near Naples, dozens of times with his parents. He would say, “The Madonna is the only woman in my life.”

 

He also liked to say, “All people are born with their own originality, but many die as photocopies.” Part of his originality was his courage in defending Christian values, and a religion teacher recalled that in one classroom discussion he was the only person to oppose the killing of the unborn.

 

Having discovered the joy of loving Jesus, he wanted others to share it. He was not afraid to speak about holiness, and he built his websites in order to lead others to the Savior. Carlo is a reminder to all of us that vibrant young people too can be holy, and that even in today’s world it is possible to be a saint.

  

 

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

 

1. Are we thankful for the goodness and generosity of Jesus the Sower? Do we truly believe in the power of the word of God?

 

2. Do we believe that in the person of Jesus Christ, born of David’s lineage, God’s promise of faithful love and eternal kingdom is radically fulfilled? Do we trust that we too are part and parcel of this promise?  

 

  

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

(Cf. Prayer by Nerses Snorhali in Jesus, Fils unique du Pere in Sources chretiennes 203, Paris: Cerf, 1973, p. 133)

 

I hardened myself like a rock;          

I became like the path;

the thorns of the world have choked me

and have made my soul unfruitful.

But, O Lord, Sower of good,

make the seedling of the Word grow in me

so I may yield fruit in one of these three:

Hundredfold, sixtyfold, or even thirtyfold.

Thank you, loving Jesus,

Amen.

 

***

(Cf. Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29)

Refrain: Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

1. The favors of the Lord I will sing forever;

     through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.

     For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;

     in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.  (R.)

2. “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,

     I have sworn to David my servant:

     Forever I will confirm your posterity

     and establish your throne for all generations.”  (R.)

3. “He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,

     my God, the Rock, my savior.’

     Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,

     and my covenant with him stands firm.”  (R.)

       

 

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.

 

“And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit.” (Mk 4:8) //“Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.” (2 Sm 7:16) 

 

 

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

 

Pray that the seed of the Kingdom may find rich soil to make it grow and be fruitful. Be attentive to the word of God in the liturgical assembly and in the daily events of life. // Endeavor to make the kingship of Christ, the Son of David, real and palpable by our works of justice and love and by our preferential option for the world’s poor.

 

*** *** ***

 

January 30, 2020: THURSDAY – WEEKDAY (3)

  “JESUS SAVIOR: He Reveals the Mystery of the Kingdom … He Is God’s Blessing to Us”

 

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

2 Sm 7:18-19, 24-29 // Mk 4:21-25

 

 

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

  

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 4:21-25): “A lamp is to be placed on a lamp stand. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you .”

 

Jesus Master continues to reveal himself not only through miraculous deeds, but also by his teaching. His parables were not meant to conceal the mystery of the Kingdom but to enable his audience to take his word to heart more personally and more profoundly. A lit oil lamp is not put under the bed or covered with a bushel basket, but placed on a stand to maximize its light-giving. The parables of Jesus, when received with humble hearts, are like an oil lamp that shines brightly from a stand. They shed light on the heavenly kingdom that Jesus proclaims. They challenge the audience to conversion and, when pondered dutifully and lovingly, they evoke their faith response.

 

Today’s Gospel (Mk 4:21-25) also contains a parable-like saying of Jesus about the measure that is given is the measure that is received and that to one who has more will be given while the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is a powerful invitation to respond wisely and generously to the kingdom of God. The wise person who seeks to grow in the knowledge of God is fully rewarded. Those who foolishly refuse to listen to Jesus would end up terrible losers. Indeed, the Divine Master calls us to an attentive hearing and true understanding of his saving word. Jesus calls his disciples to a deep spirituality.

 

The following charming story gives insight into what true light means and what deep spirituality entails (cf. Anthony de Mello, Taking Flight: A Book of Story Meditations, New York: Image Books, 1988, p. 161).

 

A Guru asked his disciples how they could tell when the night had ended and the

day begun. One said, “When you see an animal in the distance and can tell whether it is a cow or a horse.” “No”, said the Guru. “When you look at a tree in the distance and can tell if it is a neem tree or a mango tree.” “Wrong again”, said the Guru. “Well, then, what is it?” asked his disciples. “When you look into the face of any man and recognize your brother in him; when you look into the face of any woman and recognize in her your sister. If you cannot do this, no matter what time it is by the sun it is still night.”

 

 

B. First Reading (2 Sm 7:18-19, 24-29): “Who am I, Lord God, and who are the members of my house?”

 

The reading (2 Sm 7:18-19, 24-29) contains David’s prayer of thanksgiving and intercession. In grateful response to the Lord’s benevolence, David acknowledges his own littleness to the Lord’s greatness. King David is overwhelmed that God has made promises not only about him and his family, but also about his descendants in the years to come. In his prayer, David recalls with gratitude Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and how the Lord God has made them his own people. Finally, he invokes God to bless his descendants so that they may enjoy his favor and that the divine blessing may be with them forever.

 

The following modern-day account of praying for a family member gives us a glimpse into the nature of King David’s prayer (cf. Julia Attaway, Daily Guideposts 2010, p. 304).

 

“How’s John doing?” a woman from my prayer group asked. I hadn’t touched base with her in a while. We changed my son’s anxiety medication over the summer, and instead of improving, my twelve-year-old son spent two weeks in the hospital. “He’s up and down. Some days he seems fine, and he is. Other days, he seems fine, and a minute later we’re wondering if we should call 911.”

 

There was a pause in the conversation. Then, gently, my friend commented, “The unpredictability must be hard.” It was my turn to pause and collect my thoughts. “Yes”, I said, “but I don’t focus as much on that now. What I’m finally beginning to grasp is that part of the point is learning to say thank you each day my son is alive.” Still another pause, “It took me a long time to get there”, I added.

 

“How do your other kids handle it?” my friend asked. “They pretty much know to go to another room and entertain themselves when John starts to blow. They enjoy him when he’s able to be fun and keep themselves safe when he’s not.”

 

“I’ll keep praying for you.”

 

“Thanks. It’s hard, but it’s harder to be John. He’s a great kid with some really difficult problems. He thinks it’s horrible. I wish he could know fully just how precious he is to God – and to us.” My friend nodded. There wasn’t much else to say, but a lot to pray for.

 

 

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

 

1. Do I cherish the light of the Word of God and make it shine like a burning lamp on a stand? Do I dedicate myself to the meditation of God’s Word and the study of the parables of Jesus?

 

2. Do we respond to God’s benevolence with prayer of thanksgiving? Do we make prayers of intercession for our loved ones?

 

 

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

 

Jesus Lord,

your Word is a light that brightens our path.

Help us to respond generously to your saving Word.

Let it transform us and may we continue to grow in your love.

You are our Divine Master, our way, truth and life.

We love and adore you, now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

Jesus Lord,

you incarnate God’s mercy and compassion.

Teach to respond to divine goodness with thanksgiving.

Help us to intercede for our needy loved ones.

We praise 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 day. Please memorize it.

 

“Is a lamp not to be placed on a lamp stand?” (Mk 4:21) //“Bless the house of your servant that it may be before you forever.” (II Sm 7:29)

 

 

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

 

Make an effort to study and meditate upon the Gospel parables. // Be grateful to God for blessings received and humbly intercede for the needs of your family members and loved ones.

 

 

*** *** ***

 

January 31, 2020: FRIDAY – SAINT JOHN BOSCO, Priest

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Makes the Seed Grow … He Brings about Fruits of Conversion”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

2 Sm 11:1-4a, 5-10a, 13-17 // Mk 4:26-34

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 4:26-34): “A man scatters seed on the land and would sleep and the seed would sprout and grow; he knows not how.”

 

The farming images we have in today’s reading (Mk 4:26-34) are beautiful and powerfully symbolic. The parable of the growing seed while the farmer sleeps (verses 26-29) teaches us that the growth of the Kingdom is inevitable and that it is God’s initiative. The image of the sleeping farmer shatters the illusion of those who believe that the coming of the Kingdom is under human control. The Kingdom grows by the power of God. Like a seed that breaks forth from the ground, God’s Reign has already irrupted into the world through Jesus’ ministry.

 

The parable of the mustard seed (verses 30-34) underlines the contrast between an insignificant beginning and the full growth of God’s kingdom. The tiny seed grows into a full-blown tree. This symbolizes the organic continuity between Jesus’ ministry, so disappointing to Israel’s hopes, and the future of the Kingdom of God, that would encompass both the Israelites and the Gentiles – indeed peoples from all nations and cultures.

 

We are called to promote the growth of the Kingdom of God and the integration of creation. The following story illustrates the value of our personal contribution to bringing about the fruition of the divine saving plan (cf. Fr. Eric Haarer, “The Old Man in the Plaza” in Catholic Digest, July-August 2011, p.66-67).

 

Barcelona, Spain is an amazing city … I had been walking all day and it was hot, in the 80s. I wanted a rest away from the hustle and bustle, so I ambled down a side street and sat on a low wall in a tiny plaza near the Gothic Quarter. To my right was a small fountain, basically a pipe in the wall that spilled drinking water into a cement basin. In front of me stood a sickly looking sapling. It received little light in this narrow plaza, and its leaves were drooping and discolored from thirst and exhaust. An older, well-dressed gentleman at the fountain was filling an empty plastic soda bottle. He walked over to the tree and poured the water at its base. He returned to the fountain for more, and again watered the tree. And again. And again. I stopped counting after 12 trips and was on my way before he finished.

 

This simple act of kindness touched me deeply. It reminded me of something Mother Teresa said about her work in India: “We don’t do great things; we do small things with great love”. (…) This gentle man was tending the Earth, and in this “small thing done with great love”, he did his part to bring hope and new life into the world. Certainly he brought it to one foot-sore pilgrim.

 

 

B. First Reading (2 Sm 11:1-4a, 5-10a, 13-17): “You have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah to be your wife (see 2 Sm 12:10).”

 

The reading (2 Sm 11:1-4a, 5-10a) depicts David’s corruption and sin. While his army is out to war, the king stays in Jerusalem. One idle afternoon after taking a nap and while walking about on the palace roof, David spots the beautiful Bathsheba taking a bath in her house. He sends for her and makes love to her. The fact that Bathsheba is the wife of one of his army officers does not deter him from possessing her. Bathsheba becomes pregnant and the king devises an elaborate ploy to cover his paternity. He sends for Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, and makes three attempts to send him to sleep with his wife. Uriah’s moral uprightness contrasts with David’s lust and evil design. When asked why he does not go home to his wife after a long absence, Uriah answers King David: “The men of Israel and Judah are away in battle and the Covenant Box is with them; my commander Joab and his officers are camping out in the open. How could I go home, eat and drink, and sleep with my wife? By all that’s sacred, I swear that I could never do such a thing!” In frustration, David devises a way out by instigating Uriah’s death under a cloak of war. David adds salt to injury by sending the “death command” to his general Joab in a letter carried by the victim himself. The crime of David, God’s anointed one, is hateful. His adultery and murder call for judgment.

 

David’s lust caused him to commit one sin after another. The life of Saint Mary of Egypt (died c. 421 A.D.) likewise shows the unfortunate consequences of an unbridled sexual passion (cf. “St. Mary of Egypt: A Saint to Invoke against Sexual Promiscuity” in Our Sunday Visitor Special Supplement 2013, p. 14-16)

 

The sexual revolution of the 1960s dramatically altered the moral landscape of the Western world. But of course, sexual promiscuity was not invented in the 1960s; it has always been with us, although it may have been more rampant in some places and some periods of history than others.

 

St. Mary of Egypt was born into a family of Egyptian Christians. At age 12, she ran away from home and went to live in Alexandria, the most cosmopolitan, most sophisticated and in many ways one of the most corrupt cities in the Mediterranean world. She supported herself as a singer and a dancer. At some point, we don’t know when, she lost her innocence.

 

Mary’s sexual appetite took over her personality. She cruised the streets of Alexandria, looking for partners. Her favorite diversion was to corrupt innocent young men. But many years later, as she told St. Zosimus – the monk who wrote down her autobiography – she never accepted money from the men she slept with; she never became a prostitute.

 

Once, while walking along the wharves at the harbor, she saw a group of men boarding a ship. She asked one of the sailors who the men were, and where they were they going. He said they were pilgrims, heading to Jerusalem to celebrate there the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. On impulse, Mary decided to go, too. By the time the ship reached the Holy Land, Mary had seduced every pilgrim and every member of the crew.

 

In Jerusalem she continued her usual routine of looking for new partners. On the holy day, a throng of pilgrims made their way through the narrow streets of Jerusalem to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Mary, out of curiosity, joined them. But when she reached the threshold of the church, some invisible force held her back. She could not enter. All at once the wickedness of her life overwhelmed her and she began to cry.

 

Near the door was a carving of the Blessed Virgin. Turning to the sacred image, Mary prayed for the first time in years. “Help me”, she begged our Lady, “for I have no other help.” With that, the power that had kept her from entering the church withdrew and Mary went in. She found a priest and made a full confession.

 

After the Mass and veneration of the Holy Cross, Mary left Jerusalem, crossed the Jordan River and headed out into the desert. There she became a hermit, living a life of prayer and penance for nearly 50 years.

 

Toward the end of her life she encountered the monk Zosimus, to whom she told her story. Then she begged him to return to her on Holy Thursday with the Blessed Sacrament – it had been decades since she had been able to receive Holy Communion. Zosimus returned, as he had promised, but he found that Mary had died. He buried her, then went back to his monastery and began to make known the story of Mary of Egypt.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we believe in small beginnings and in the power of God to make his kingdom grow and embrace all nations and creation? What do we do to promote the growth?

 

2. Are we aware of our human weakness and propensity to sin and of our great need for the grace of God to make us faithful? What are the crimes and sins we have committed that keep us from being the servants and children of God?

 

 

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

 

Lord Jesus,

how marvelous is the growth of the heavenly kingdom!

It is a seed sown in human history by your messianic ministry.

Its power irrupts into our lives and we are a part of its growth.

We thank you for the power of life

and the universal expanse of the kingdom of God.

Grant that we may continue to give our very best

– no matter how humble and insignificant –

to promote the growth and fruition of God’s Reign

upon earth and in all creation.

We love you and praise you, now and forever.

Amen.

 

***

Lord Jesus,

you are our saving Lord

who enabled us to experience God’s loving mercy.

Deliver us from sin and wickedness

and by the grace of God, make us faithful.

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.

 

“Once it is sown, it springs up.” (Mk 4:32) //“Some officers of David’s army fell and among them Uriah the Hittite died.” (II Sm 11:17)

 

  

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

 

Pray for social justice and the integration of creation. In view of the integration of God’s creation, practice proper waste management in your household using the ecological principles: reduce, reuse and recycle. // Pray for the victims of violence and injustice and for the conversion of those who commit adultery. Make an act of reparation for those whose sexual appetites have gone awry and beyond control and offer prayer of intercession for their spiritual healing.

 

 

*** *** ***

February 1, 2020: SATURDAY – WEEKDAY (3); BVM ON SATURDAY

“JESUS SAVIOR: He Calms the Raging Sea … He

Overcomes our Sinfulness”

 

 

BIBLE READINGS

2 Sm 12:1-7a, 10-17 // Mk 4:35-41

 

 

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

 

A. Gospel Reading (Mk 4:35-41): “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

(Gospel Reflection by Andy Ruperto, Fresno, CA – U.S.A.)

  

            Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him? Lord, who are You? Is this not the question we must constantly ponder? In today’s Gospel we again see Jesus’ disciples continuing on their journey of faith and asking, “Lord, who are You? You have power over the wind and the sea!”

 

            In this event, we must place ourselves in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. The wind and waves are beginning to violently shake the boat. The disciples are stumbling around and yelling, trying to get things under control. I do not know what it must have been like being in a potentially life-threatening storm, but I do remember being in a motorboat with family on a lake. When the front of the boat took on some water, because it was too heavy, there were screams and a bit of hysteria. How much more so if we were in a violent storm?

 

            In the meantime, our Lord is asleep in the stern. So, then the disciples ask – “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” This is a question I sometimes ask in different life situations. God, do You not know what I’m going through?” “Why is this happening to me?” Sometimes I ‘feel’ like my life is ending or that I cannot go on. There are too many storms – confusion, stress, studies, relationships, finances … So I ask, “Lord, do You not care that I am perishing?”

 

            Jesus then comes in power, and stills the storms with His word and says, “Peace! Be still.” This is the peace that comes from Jesus and it is a peace not as the world gives it. Christ is the only way to true peace. Here, our Lord Jesus shows His power over the wind and sea and amazes the disciples. Jesus is GOD. He is powerful. He is mighty. He can do anything. He can calm these modern-day storms. He is also humble and sometimes we cannot see through the veil of humanity.

 

            A friend once told me that the hard part for God is not the miracles, but changing human hearts. It seems that in this event, our Lord Jesus was using the storm to awaken the disciples’ hearts to faith. He asks them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

 

            The “good news” of the reading today is one that was constantly repeated by our late Holy Father, John Paul II. It was the message, “Do not be afraid!” Our Lord tells us not to let our hearts be troubled. He is with us, and so what can we fear? He will take care of us. It is our faith that enables us not to fear. Let us always call on the name of Jesus in the stormy chapters of our lives. In these times let us quickly say, “Jesus, I trust in You. Jesus, I trust in You …”

 

 

B. First Reading (2 Sm 12:1-7a, 10-17): “I have sinned against the Lord.”

 

In the reading (2 Sm 12:1-7a, 10-17), we hear how the prophet Nathan, the mouthpiece of God, denounces the sins of David. Indeed, the chosen one of God, the hero of the people and the object of God’s grace, has sinned terribly. The intervention of a prophet is needed to make him conscious of his crime.  The threat of God’s punishment brings David to his senses. Greatly chastised, David responds to the call to conversion. He acknowledges his personal responsibility: “I have sinned against the Lord”. Recognizing our sin and taking responsibility for it is the first step to repentance. The key to forgiveness is taking responsibility for our evil deed and being sorry for it. We need to see our anomalous situation and resolve to turn away from our wicked ways in order to experience the gift of God’s forgiveness. Confronted by the light of truth, David comes to his senses and is filled with sorrow for the awfulness and horror of his crimes. To the repentant David, the prophet Nathan communicates the gift of forgiveness from a loving and merciful God.

 

The merciful forgiving God continues to bring people back to him as the following account recalls (cf. Pauline Wilson, “Confession after Abortion” in 101 Inspirational Stories of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, ed. Sister Patricia Proctor, Spokane: Franciscan Monastery of Saint Clare, 2006, p. 108-109).

 

When I was seventeen years old, living at home, I unfortunately became pregnant. … All I could think about was getting rid of the baby so my parents would never find out … The day I went to have the abortion, I woke up and asked the Lord to please forgive me. I was scared and just wanted to get it over with. My boyfriend picked me up at the corner and we drove to the abortion clinic in silence. We walked and waited for them to call me back. I have never felt as guilty in my entire life as I did when I knew I was about to kill my unborn child.

 

I had the abortion and tried to forget about it as I went through life. I later married a wonderful man and had two beautiful children. Despite all this, I carried around the guilt of that day and never got over it. For more than fifteen years I was haunted with thoughts of the child I knew I would have had. I hated myself for going through with the abortion.

 

As an infant I was baptized in the Catholic Church and now I wanted my children to be baptized as well. I also wanted to be confirmed since I had never received that sacrament. I worked toward the day that I would be confirmed and my children would be baptized. Unfortunately, the very thought of going to confession for the first time scared me, but I knew this was what I needed to do to get rid of the guilt I had been carrying around.

 

My very first confession was made to Father Pellegrino from Saints Peter and Paul Church in West Valley City, Utah. I practiced over and over what I needed to tell him, hoping I would not feel like a complete idiot. As I drove to the church that night, I had a knot in my stomach and just wanted to turn around and go home, but something kept telling me that everything would be okay.

 

The wait in line seemed like an eternity as the events of my past abortion flashed over and over in my mind. Father Pellegrino called me in and listened to my confession as I cried and poured my heart out to him, I asked for the Lord’s forgiveness and felt a feeling of peace as Father prayed over me. As I left to go home, the dark cloud that had been following me around for the last fifteen years finally disappeared.

 

 

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

 

1. Do we believe in faith that God is in control? Do we place our trust in Jesus whom even the wind and sea obey? Do we derive strength from the fact that the Lord Jesus masters the storms and the raging seas?

 

2. Are we touched by David’s acknowledgment of personal responsibility for his sins? How? What do we do when we fall into a sinful situation? Do we repent and seek out God’s forgiveness? Do we trust in the merciful love and care of God for us?  

 

 

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

 

(Prayer n. 1 by Andy Ruperto, Fresno, CA-USA)

So, Lord, who are You?

You are my refuge, savior and teacher in the storms.

You are GOD!

I have often tried to control the storms myself.

Let me learn to go through them with You,

having recourse to You when I find myself in trouble.

Peace! Be still my soul!

Know that Jesus is GOD and that He does care

and that He loves me.

Mother Mary,

you know our Lord so intimately.

Please purify our faith in Him.

Form us into His likeness and into fearless saints.

Amen.

 

***

Loving God,

when the guilt of sin torments us,

help us to call on Jesus.

He overcomes the violence of our sinfulness.

Forgive our sins

by the power of his passion, death and resurrection.

Let us live again in Jesus, our merciful Savior.

We adore 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.

 

“Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” (Mk 4:41) //“I have sinned against the Lord.” (II Sm 12:13)

 

  

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

 

Offer comfort and assistance to those whose faith is wavering. Share with those who are overwhelmed in the sea of sorrows the comforting presence of Jesus who masters the winds and the raging seas. // Be an instrument of God’s forgiving love, especially where there is injustice and abuse. Endeavor to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation more meaningfully and worthily and invite others for this celebration.

 

*** *** *** 

 

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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