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Lay CHua Tu Nhan.. Xin Lang nghe

Jesus meets a woman about to be stoned
“Let the one among you who is guiltless
be the first to throw a stone at her!”

John 8:1-11

1. Opening prayer

Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.
Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.

2. Reading

a) A key to the reading:

Today’s text leads us to a meditation on the conflict between Jesus and the Scribes and Pharisees. Because of his preaching and his manner of acting, the doctors of the law and the Pharisees do not like Jesus. So they seek every possible way to accuse and eliminate him. They bring before him a woman caught in adultery to ask him whether they should observe the law that said that such a woman was to be stoned. They wanted to provoke Jesus. By posing as people concerned for the law, they were using the woman to argue with Jesus. The same story happens time and time again. Under the pretence of concern for the law of God, the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have condemned and massacred many people. This goes on today too. Under the guise of concern for the law of God, many people are deprived of communion and even excluded from the community. Laws and customs are created to exclude and marginalize certain categories of people.
As we read John 8:1-11, it is good to consider the text as it were a mirror reflecting our own likeness. As we read, let us try to note well the attitudes, words and action of those who appear in the story: the Scribes, the Pharisees, the woman. Jesus and the people.

b) A division of the text as a help to the reader:

Jn 8:1-2: Jesus goes to the temple to teach the crowd
Jn 8:3-6a: His adversaries provoke him
Jn 8:6b: Jesus’ reaction, he writes on the ground
Jn 8:7-8: Second provocation, and same reaction from Jesus
Jn 8:9-11: Final epilogue

c) Text:

John 8:1-111 and Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in the middle 4 they said to Jesus, 'Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, 5 and in the Law Moses has ordered us to stone women of this kind. What have you got to say?' 6 They asked him this as a test, looking for an accusation to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. 7 As they persisted with their question, he straightened up and said, 'Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her.' 8 Then he bent down and continued writing on the ground. 9 When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until the last one had gone and Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained in the middle. 10 Jesus again straightened up and said, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' 11 'No one, sir,' she replied. 'Neither do I condemn you,' said Jesus. 'Go away, and from this moment sin no more.'

3. A moment of prayerful silence

so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

4. Some questions

to help us in our personal reflection.

a) What struck or pleased you most in this text? Why?
b) Several persons and groups appear in this episode. What do they say and do?
c) Try to step into the woman’s shoes: how did she feel?
d) Why did Jesus begin to write with this finger on the ground?
e) What can and must our community do to welcome those excluded?

5. For those who wish to go deeper into the theme

a) Literary context:

Scholars say that John’s Gospel grew gradually, that is, that it was written bit by bit. Over some time, up to the end of the first century, members of John’s community in Asia Minor, recalled and added details to events in Jesus’ life. One of these events, to which some details were added, is our text, the episode concerning the woman about to be stoned (Jn 8:1-11). A little before our text, Jesus had said: "If any man is thirsty, let him come to me! Let the man come and drink who believes in me!” (Jn 7:37). This statement provoked much discussion (Jn 7:40-53). The Pharisees even ridiculed the people, considering them ignorant for believing in Jesus. Nicodemus reacted saying: “Surely the law does not allow us to pass judgement on a man without giving him a hearing and discovering what he is about?” (Jn 7:51-52). After our text we come across another statement by Jesus: "I am the light of the world!" (Jn 8:12), which again provoked discussion among the Jews. The episode of the woman whom the law would have condemned, but who is pardoned by Jesus (Jn 8:1-11), is inserted between these two statements and their subsequent discussions. These statements before and after, suggest that the episode was inserted here to shed light on the fact that Jesus, light of the world, enlightens the life of people and applies the law better than the Pharisees.

b) A commentary on the text:

John 8:1-2: Jesus and the crowd
After the discussion reported at the end of chapter 7 (Jn 7:37-52), all go home (Jn 7:53). Jesus has no home in Jerusalem, so he goes to the Mount of Olives. There he finds a garden where he can spend the night in prayer (Jn 18:1). The next day, before sunrise, Jesus is once more in the temple. The crowd draws near to listen. Usually, the crowd sat in a circle around Jesus when he taught. What would Jesus have been teaching? Whatever it was, it must have been great because the crowd went there before dawn to listen to him!

John 8:3-6a: His enemies’ provocation
Suddenly, the Scribes and Pharisees arrive and bring with them a woman caught in flagrant adultery. They place her in the middle of the circle between Jesus and the crowd. According to the law, this woman had to be stoned (Lv 20:10; Dt 22:22.24). They ask: "Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and in the Law Moses has ordered us to stone women of this kind. What have you got to say?” This was a provocation, a trap. If Jesus said: "Apply the law", the Scribes would have said to the crowd: he is not as good as he appears to be because he orders the woman to be killed. If Jesus said: "Do not kill her”, they would have said: "He is not as good as he appears to be since he does not observe the law!" Under the appearance of fidelity to God, they manipulate the law and use a woman to accuse Jesus.

John 8:6b: Jesus’ reaction: he writes on the ground
This situation looked like a sure trap. But Jesus is neither frightened nor nervous. Rather the opposite. Quietly, like one in control of the situation, he bends down and begins to write on the ground with his finger. What does writing on the ground mean? Some think that Jesus is writing the sins of his accusers. Others say that it was just the sign of one who is in control of the situation and pays no attention to the accusations made by others. But it is possible that this may have been a symbolic action, an allusion to something much more common. If you write a word on the ground, the next morning it will be gone, swept away by wind or rain, gone! We find a similar allusion in Jeremiah where we read that the names of the attributes of God are written on the ground, that is, that they have no future. The wind and the rain carry them away (cf Jr 17:13). Perhaps Jesus is saying to those around him: the sin of which you accuse this woman, has been forgiven by God as I write these letters on the ground. From now on these sins will not be remembered!

John 8:7-8: Second provocation and the same reaction from Jesus
Faced with this quiet attitude of Jesus, it is the adversaries who become nervous. They insist and want to know Jesus’ opinion. Jesus, then, stands up and says: "Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to throw a stone at her!" And bending down he again starts to write on the ground. He does not engage in a sterile and useless discussion concerning the law, because, in reality, the problem lies elsewhere. Jesus shifts the centre of the discussion. Instead of allowing the light of the law to be focussed on the woman so as to condemn her, he asks that his adversaries examine themselves in the light of what the law demands of them. Jesus does not discuss the letter of the law. He discusses and condemns the evil attitude of those who manipulate people and the law to defend their own interests that are contrary to God, the author of the law.

John 8:9-11: Final epilogue: Jesus and the woman
Jesus’ reply upsets the adversaries. The Pharisees and the Scribes retreat shamefaced one by one “beginning with the eldest”. The opposite of what they had planned happened. The one condemned by the law was not the woman but those who believed themselves to be faithful to the law. Finally, Jesus is left alone with the woman. Jesus stands up, goes to her and says: "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you!" She answers: "No one, sir!" Then Jesus says: "Neither do I condemn you. Go away, and from this moment sin no more!" Jesus will not allow any one to use the law of God to condemn a brother or sister, when that person is also a sinner. Any one who has a plank in his eye cannot accuse the one who only has a splinter in his. “Hypocrite! Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly to take out he splinter that is in your brother’s eye” (Lk 6:42).
This episode, better than any other teaching, shows that Jesus is the light of the world (Jn 11:12) who reveals the truth. It brings to light the hidden and most intimate things within a person. In the light of Jesus’ words, those who seemed to be defenders of the law are revealed to be full of sin. They recognise this and go away beginning with the eldest. And the woman, thought to be guilty and meriting the death sentence, stands before Jesus, absolved, redeemed, dignified (cf. Jn 3:19-21). Jesus’ action gives her new life and restores her dignity as woman and daughter of God.

c) Further information:

Laws concerning women in the Old Testament and people’s reactions

From the time of Ezdra and Nehemiah, the official tendency was to exclude women from any public activity and to consider them unsuitable to carry out any function in society, except that of spouse and mother. What contributed greatly to the marginalization of the woman was precisely the law on purity. A woman was declared impure for being mother, spouse and daughter, for being a woman. For being mother: in giving birth she became unclean (Lv 12:1-5). For being daughter: a son born made her unclean for forty days (Lv 12:2-4); and worse, a daughter born made her unclean for 80 days! (Lv 12:5). For being spouse: sexual relationship made both the woman and the man unclean for a whole day (Lv 15:18). For being woman: menstruation made a woman unclean for a whole week and rendered others unclean. Any one who touched a woman during menstruation had to go through a ritual of purification (Lv 15:19-30). It was not possible for a woman to hide her uncleanness, because the law obliged other people to denounce her (Lv 5:3). This legislation made daily life at home unbearable. For seven days every month, the mother of a family could not rest in bed or sit on a chair, much less touch her children or husband so as not to contaminate them! This legislation was the result of a mentality, according to which a woman was inferior to a man. There are some sayings that reveal this discrimination against women (Eccl 42:9-11; 22:3). Marginalization became such that women were considered to be the origin of sin and of death and the cause of all evils (Eccl 25:24; 42:13-14). Thus the privilege and dominion of man over woman kept on being preserved.

In the context of the times, the situation of women in the world of the Bible was neither better nor worse than that of other people. It was a general culture. Even today, there are many who continue in this same way of thinking. But like today, so also previously, from the beginning of the Bible history, there have always been those who opposed this exclusion of women, especially after the exile, when foreign women, considered dangerous, were expelled (cfr. Ez 9:1-3 and 10:1-3). Women’s resistance grew at times when their marginalization was worst. In several wisdom books we discover the voice of such resistance: the Canticle of Canticles, Ruth, Judith, Esther. In these books, women appear not so much as mothers or spouses, but as persons who could use their beauty and femininity to fight for the rights of the poor and thus defend the Covenant of the people. These were fights not so much for the temple, nor for abstract law, but for the life of the people.

The resistance of women against their exclusion finds an echo and a response in Jesus. Here are some episodes of Jesus’ response towards women:
* The prostitute: Jesus welcomes and defends her against the Pharisee (Lk 7:36-50).
* Jesus defends the woman bent double against the chief of the synagogue (Lk 13:10-17).
* The woman considered impure is welcomed without criticism and is healed (Mk 5:25-34).
* The Samaritan woman, considered a heretic, is the first to receive Jesus’ secret that he is the Messiah (Jn 4:26).
* The pagan woman is helped by Jesus and she helps him to discover his mission (Mk 7:24-30).
* The mothers with children, rejected by the disciples, are welcomed by Jesus (Mt 19:13-15).
* Women are the first persons to experience the risen Jesus (Mt 28:9-10; Jn 20:16-18).

6. Praying Psalm 36 (35)

God’s goodness will unmask hypocrisy

Sin is the oracle of the wicked in the depths of his heart;
there is no fear of God before his eyes.

He sees himself with too flattering
an eye to detect and detest his guilt;
all he says is malicious and deceitful,
he has turned his back on wisdom.
To get his way
he hatches malicious plots even in his bed;
once set on his evil course
no wickedness is too much for him.

Yahweh, your faithful love is in the heavens,
your constancy reaches to the clouds,
your saving justice is like towering mountains,
your judgements like the mighty deep.

Yahweh, you support both man and beast;
how precious, God, is your faithful love.
So the children of Adam take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the bounty of your house,
you let them drink from your delicious streams;
in you is the source of life,
by your light we see the light.
Maintain your faithful love to those who acknowledge you,
and your saving justice to the honest of heart.
Do not let the foot of the arrogant overtake me
or wicked hands drive me away.
There they have fallen, the evil-doers,
flung down, never to rise again.

7. Final Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practice the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

Jesus welcomes and defends
the woman with the ointment.
Poor people’s trust in Jesus
Luke 7:36 to 8:3

1. Opening prayer

“Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind with which you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your suffering and death. Thus, the cross which had seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the resurrection and source of new life.

Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation, in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the power of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.”

2. Reading

a) A key to the reading:

The text of this Sunday’s Gospel puts before us two related episodes. The first episode is quite emotional. A woman who was thought to be a sinner in the city, has the courage to go into Simon’s house, a Pharisee, during a meal, to meet Jesus, wash his feet and cover them with kisses and ointment. The second episode describes Jesus’ community of men and women.

As you read the text, imagine being in the Pharisee’s house at table and look carefully at the attitudes, actions and words of those present, the woman, Jesus and the Pharisees. Read again the brief information that Luke gives concerning the community that grew around Jesus and try to examine carefully the words used to show that the community was made up of men and women who followed Jesus.

c) A division of the text to help with the reading:

Luke 7:36-38: A woman washes Jesus’ feet in the house of a Pharisee
Luke 7:39-40: The Pharisee’s reaction and Jesus’ reply
Luke 7:41-43: The parable of the two debtors and the Pharisee’s reply
Luke 7:44-47: Jesus applies the parable and defends the girl
Luke 7:48-50: Love generates forgiveness and forgiveness generates love
Luke 8:1-3: The men and women disciples of Jesus’ community

c) Text:

Luke 7:36 to 8:336 One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to a meal. When he arrived at the Pharisee's house and took his place at table, 37 suddenly a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town. She had heard he was dining with the Pharisee and had brought with her an alabaster jar of ointment. 38 She waited behind him at his feet, weeping, and her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair; then she covered his feet with kisses and anointed them with the ointment.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, 'If this man were a prophet, he would know who this woman is and what sort of person it is who is touching him and what a bad name she has.' 40 Then Jesus took him up and said, 'Simon, I have something to say to you.' He replied, 'Say on, Master.' 41 'There was once a creditor who had two men in his debt; one owed him five hundred denarii, the other fifty. 42 They were unable to pay, so he let them both off. Which of them will love him more?' 43 Simon answered, 'The one who was let off more, I suppose.' Jesus said, 'You are right.' 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, 'You see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 For this reason I tell you that her sins, many as they are, have been forgiven her, because she has shown such great love. It is someone who is forgiven little who shows little love.' 48 Then he said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' 49 Those who were with him at table began to say to themselves, 'Who is this man, that even forgives sins?' 50 But he said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'
8:1 Now it happened that after this he made his way through towns and villages preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. With him went the Twelve, 2 as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and ailments: Mary surnamed the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 Joanna the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their own resources.

3. A moment of prayerful silence

so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

4. Some questions

to help us in our personal reflection.

a) What struck you most in the text? Why?
b) What does the woman do and how does she do it?
c) What is the Pharisee’s attitude towards Jesus and towards the woman: what does he do and say?
d) What is Jesus’ attitude towards the woman: what does he do and say?
e) The woman would not have done what she did unless she was absolutely certain that Jesus would welcome her. Do present day people who are marginalized have the same certainty in our regard as Christians?
f) Love and forgiveness. Who are the women who follow Jesus? What binds them together?
g) Jesus’ community: Who are the women who follow Jesus? What do they do?

5. For those who wish to go deeper into the theme

a) The literary and historical context of the text:

In chapter 7 of his Gospel, Luke describes the new and surprising things that happen among the people since Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of God. In Capernaum, he praises the faith of the foreigner: “Amen I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith! (Lk 7:1-10). In Naim he raises the widow’s son from death (Lk 7:11-17). The way Jesus proclaims the Kingdom surprises the Jewish brethren so that even John the Baptist is surprised and sends word to ask: “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Lk 7:18-30). Jesus criticises the wavering of his adversaries: "They are like children who do not know what they want!" (cfr. Lk 7:31-35). And here, at the end of the chapter, that is our text (Lk 7:36 to 8:3), something else that is new begins to appear and to surprise in the Good News of the Kingdom: Jesus’ attitude towards women.
At the time of the New Testament in Palestine, women were marginalized. They took no part in the synagogue nor could they witness in public life. From the time of Ezra (IV century B.C.), resistance towards women kept growing as we note in the stories of Judith, Esther, Ruth, Naomi, Susanna, the Sulamite woman and many others. This resistance towards women did not find an echo in Jesus who welcomed them. In the episode of the woman with the ointment (Lk 7:36-50) we see anti-conformism in Jesus’ welcome of the woman. In the description of the community that was growing around Jesus (Lk 8:1-3), we see men and women gathered around Jesus, equal in standing as disciples.

b) A commentary on the text:

Luke 7:36-38: A woman washes Jesus’ feet in the house of a Pharisee
Three totally different persons meet: Jesus, a Pharisee and a woman who was said to be a sinner. Jesus is in Simon’s house, a Pharisee who had invited him to eat in his house. A woman comes in, kneels at Jesus’ feet, weeps, bathes his feet with her tears, loosens her hair to wipe Jesus’ feet, kisses them and anoints them with ointment. The act of loosening her hair in public was a sign of independence. This is the scene that causes the debate that follows.

Luke 7:39-40: The Pharisees’ reply and Jesus’ reply
Jesus does not retreat, does not reprove the woman but rather welcomes what she does. The woman is someone who, according to the observant Jews of the time, could not be welcomed. Seeing what was going on, the Pharisee criticises Jesus and condemns the woman: "This man, were he a prophet, would surely know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner!" In reply to the Pharisee’s provocation, Jesus tells a parable; a parable that will help the Pharisee and all of us to see the invisible call of the love of God who reveals himself in that scene.

Luke 7:41-43: The parable of the two debtors and the Pharisee’s reply
The parable recounts the following: A creditor had to debtors. One owed him 500 denarii and the other 50. A denarius was equivalent to a day’s wage. Thus the wages for fifty days! Neither of the two could pay. Both were forgiven. Which of them will love him more? The Pharisee replies: "He to whom he forgave more!" The parable presupposes that earlier, both the Pharisee and the woman had received some favour from Jesus. Now, in their attitude towards Jesus, they show their appreciation for the favour received. The Pharisee shows his love, his gratitude, by inviting Jesus to his house. The woman shows her love, her gratitude with her tears, with kisses and with the ointment. Which of these actions shows a greater love; eating or the kisses and ointment? Does the measure of one’s love depend on the size of the present offered?

Luke 7:44-47: Jesus applies the parable and defends the woman
When he had received the correct answer from the Pharisee, Jesus applied it to the situation which arose with the coming in of the woman during the meal. He defends the sinful woman against the criticism of the practising Jew. What Jesus is saying to the Pharisees of all times is this: "He to whom little is forgiven, loves little!" The personal security that I, the Pharisee, create for myself because of my observance of the laws of God and of the Church, frequently prevents me from experiencing the gratuitous love of a forgiving God. What matters is not the observance of the law as such, but the love with which I observe the law. Using the symbols of the love of the sinful woman, Jesus answers the Pharisee who considered himself just: «You see this woman? I came into your house, and you poured no water over my feet, but she has poured out her tears over my feet and wiped them away with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but she has been covering my feet with kisses ever since I came in. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. For this reason I tell you that her sins, many as they are, have been forgiven her, because she has shown such great love. It is someone who is forgiven little who shows little love». It is as if he said: "Simon, in spite of the banquet you offer me, you have little love!" Why? The prophet Jeremiah had once said that in the future, in the new covenant, “no longer will they need to teach their friends and kinsmen how to know the Lord. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more”. (Jer 31:34). It is awareness of being freely forgiven that makes one experience the love of God. When the Pharisee calls the woman a “sinner”, he is considering himself to be a just man who observes and practices the law. He is like the Pharisee from the other parable who said: “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men, robbers, dishonest, adulterers, or even like this publican” (Lk 18:11). Simon must have thought: “O God, I thank you because I am not like this sinful woman!” But the one who went home justified was not the Pharisee but the publican who had said: “Be merciful to me a sinner!” (Lk 18:14). From the beginning, Pharisees always consider themselves sinless, because in all things they observe the law of God, they go to Mass, pray, give alms and pay their taxes. They place their security in what they do for God, not in the love and the forgiveness of God towards them. That is why Simon, the Pharisee cannot experience the gratuitousness of God’s love.

Luke 7:48-50: Love generates forgiveness and forgiveness generates love
Jesus says to the woman: "Your sins are forgiven you." Then the guests begin to think: "Who is this who even forgives sins?" But Jesus says to the woman: "Your faith has saved you. Go and sin no more!" Here we see Jesus’ new attitude. He does not condemn but welcomes. It is faith that enables the woman to know herself and to accept herself and God. In her exchange with Jesus, a new force breaks forth in her that enables her to be reborn. An important question comes to our mind. Would the sinful woman in the city have done what she did had she not been absolutely certain that Jesus would welcome her? This means that for the poor people of Galilee in those days, Jesus was someone to be trusted absolutely! “We can trust him. He will welcome us!” Do the marginalized people of today have this same certainty towards us Christians?

Luke 8:1-3: The disciples of Jesus’ community
Jesus went to the villages and towns of Galilee, proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God and the twelve were with him. The expression “following Jesus” shows the condition of a disciple who follows the Master seeking to imitate his example and sharing in his fate. It is surprising that besides the men there were also women who “followed Jesus”. Luke places the men and women disciples on an equal level. He also says that the women served Jesus with their goods. Luke also mentions the names of some of these women disciples: Mary Magdalene, born in the city of Magdala. She had been delivered of seven demons. Joanna, the wife of Cuza, Herod Antipa’s procurator, who was governor of Galilee. Susanna and many others.

c) Further information:

i) Luke’s Gospel has always been considered the Gospel of women. Indeed, Luke is the one who most records occasions that show the relationship of Jesus with women. However, the novelty, the Good News concerning women, is not simply because of the many citations of their presence around Jesus, but in Jesus’ attitude towards them. Jesus touches them, allows them to touch him, without fear of being contaminated (Lk 7:39; 8:44-45.54). The difference between Jesus and the masters of the time is that Jesus accepts women as followers and disciples (Lk 8:2-3; 10”39). The liberating force of God, which acts in Jesus, raises women to assume their place of dignity (Lk 13:13). Jesus feels the suffering of the widow and joins in her sorrow (Lk 7:13). The work of the woman who prepares food, is seen by Jesus as a sign of the Kingdom (Lk 13:20-21). The persevering widow who fights for her rights is presented as a model of prayer (Lk 18:1-8), and the poor widow who shares her meagre goods with others is presented as the model of gift and of dedication (Lk 21:1-4). At a time when the witness of women was not considered valid, Jesus chooses women as witnesses of his death (Lk 23:49), of his burial (Lk 23:55-56) and of his resurrection (Lk 24:1-11.22-24).

ii) The Gospels record different lists of the names of the twelve disciples who followed Jesus. The names are not always the same, but there are always twelve names, evoking the twelve tribes of the new people of God. There were women who also followed Jesus, from Galilee to Jerusalem. Mark’s Gospel defines their attitude in three words, three verbs: following, serving, going up to Jerusalem (Mk 15:41). The Evangelists do not give a list of the women disciples who followed Jesus, but their names are known to this day through the pages of the Gospels, especially of Luke, and they are:: Mary Magdalene (Lk 8:3; 24:10); Joanna the wife of Chuza (Lk 8;,3); Susanna (Lk 8:3); Salome (Mk 15:45); Mary, James’ mother (Lk 24:10); Mary, Cleophas’ wife (Jn 19:25); Mary, the mother of Jesus (Jn 19:25).

6. Prayer: A hymn to Love (1 Cor 13:1-13)

Above all, love!

1 Though I command languages both human and angelic -- if I speak without love, I am no more than a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.
2 And though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains -- if I am without love, I am nothing.
3 Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned -- if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever.
4 Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, 5 it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. 6 Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. 7 It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. 8 Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent; and if knowledge, it will be done away with. 9 For we know only imperfectly, and we prophesy imperfectly; 10 but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will be done away with.
11 When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child; but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways. 12 Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known.
13 As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of them is love.

7. Final Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practice the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

Theresianum, BumbergVatican Council II, when speaking of the universal right to education, declares that "Since every man of whatever race, condition, and age is endowed with the dignity of a person, he has an inalienable right to an education corresponding to his proper destiny and suited to his native talents, his sex, his cultural background, and his ancestral heritage. At the same time, this education should pave the way to brotherly association with other peoples, so that genuine unity and peace on earth may be promoted. For a true education aims at the formation of the human person with respect to his ultimate goal, and simultaneously with respect to the good of those societies of which, as a man, he is a member, and in whose responsibilities, as an adult, he will share.
As a consequence, with the help of advances in psychology and in the art and science of teaching, children and young people should be assisted in the harmonious development of their physical, moral, and intellectual endowments. Surmounting hardships with a gallant and steady heart, they should be helped to acquire gradually a more mature sense of responsibility toward ennobling their own lives through constant effort, and toward pursuing authentic freedom. As they advance in years, they should be given positive and prudent sexual education. Moreover, they should be trained to take their part in social life, so that by proper instruction in necessary and useful skills they can become actively involved in various community organisations, be ready for dialogue with others, and be willing to act energetically on behalf of the common good". (Declaration on Christian Education, n.1)
The Carmelite Constitutions (n.98) exhort its members "we shall be prepared to undertake - in keeping with the legal and pastoral provisions of the Church and of our Order - various forms of apostolate requested by the Church, in accordance with the needs of time and of place". In conformity with these recommendations of the Church and of the Order, Carmelites seek to commit themselves, wherever they may be, to the apostolate of the formation of young people in schools and in other structures.

Some Schools Run by Carmelites


Colegio San Juan de la Cruz
Zulema Lallana (Principal)
Román Velasco Arenas, O.Carm. (Responsible)
Phone: + 54-11-4244 0956
Email: rvelascoarenas @

Instituto Nuestra Señora del Carmen  
Silvina E. Patiño (Principal)
Francisco Ortiz Pérez, O.Carm. (Responsible)
Phone: + 54-11-4244 0956
Email: fco.ortizperez @


Whitefriars College
Paul Cahill, O.Carm. (Principal)
Phone: + 61-39-8728200
Email: principal @


C. Paroquial Nossa Senhora do Carmo
Edmilson Borges de Carvalho, O.Carm. (Principal)
Phone: + 55-44-34231404
Email: freiedmilson @
Emerson Garcia (Co-principal)
Phone: + 55-44-34218220
Email: emersonparoquial @

Nossa Senhora do Carmo
Alberto de Souza, O.Carm. (Principal)
Phone: + 55-61-33462477
Email: freialberto @


El Carmelo CEMEV
Lauro Negri, O.Carm. (Rector)
Phone: + 57-5-6292826
Email: carmelomisionero @
Oliday Silva (Coordinator)
Phone:  + 57-5-6292826
Email: olycarmen @

Democratic Rep. Congo

Collège Saint Élie
Aliti’ang’o Unyuthowun (Principal)
Innocent Ndjabba, O.Carm. (Chaplain)
Phone: +  243-

École Primaire Carmel
Théophile Logosabo (Principal)
Jean Pierre Sumbu, O.Carm. (Chaplain)
Phone: + 243-

Lycée Butembo
Kisokero Kambale (Principal)
Phone: + 243-998777932
Email: lycee_butembo @
Jean de la Croix Dino, O.Carm. (Chaplain)

Dominican Republic

Colegio San Pío X      
Ignacio Oryazabal, O.Carm. (Principal)
Phone: + 1-809-688 7144


Roland Hinzer, O.Carm. (Principal)
Phone: + 49-951-952240
Email: direktorat @


Mount Carmel College
Phone: + 91-994-7383242

Mount Carmel School
Phone: + 91-851-2238758


SMAK Santo Paulus
Br. Antonius Sumardi, O.Carm.
Phone: + 62-331-421727
Email: @

SMAK Santo Albertus
Maximilian Kolbe Agung Wahyudianto, O.Carm. (Principal)
Phone: + 62-341-564556
Email: sma @


Terenure College
Éanna Óhóbáin, O.Carm. (Principal of High School)
Phone: + 353-1-4904621
Email: fr.eanna @
Michael Troy, O.Carm. (Principal of Grade School)
Phone: + 353-1-4904621
Email: + mfptroy @


Santa Maria del Carmine
Nicola Barbarello, O.Carm. (Responsible)
Phone: + 39-08-81636175
Email: nicolabarbarello @


Saint Elias College
Charles Mallia, O.Carm. (Rector)
Phone: + 356-21484121
Email: rector @


Colegio Nuestra Señora del Carmen
Rodolfo Aznarán, O.Carm. (President)
Phone: + 51-1-7195787
Email: raznaran @
Domingo Lanseros (Principal)
Phone: + 51-1-7195794
Email: lanseros @

I.E. 7701 Nuestra Señora del Carmen
Herbert Pinedo Paz (Principal)
Phone: + 51-1-2471107
Email: instedu7701_nsc @
Eduardo Rivero, O.Carm. (Assessor)
Phone: + 51-1-4460137
Email: frayedu21 @

Institución Educativa Nuestro Salvador
Lia Carrión (Principal)
Phone: + 51-1-2930272
Email: nscarmelita @
Kevin Lafey, O.Carm. (Pastor)
Phone: + 51-1-2930263
Email: klafey @


Fr. Urios High School of Prosperidad
Alaindelon Balasabar, O.Carm.
Phone: + 63-85-2413499
Email: spring_carm @

Mount Carmel College of San Francisco
Alaindelon Balasabar, O.Carm.
Phone: + 63-85-242-3583
Email: spring_carm @

Mount Carmel College of Scalante
Perfecto Ll. Adeva, O.Carm. (President)
Phone: + 63-34-4540212

Mount Carmel High School of Rosario
Alaindelon Balasabar, O.Carm.
Phone: + 63-
Email: spring_carm @

Puerto Rico

Academia Santa Teresita
Tomás Ciscar, O.Carm. (Principal)
Phone: + 1-787-7274260

Nuestra Señora del Rosario
Jorge Betancourt, O. Carm. (Principal)
Phone: + 1-787-8712005
Gabriel Torres Rivera, O.Carm. (Assessor)
Phone: + 1-787-8712222
Email: orgab16 @


Mare de Déu del Carme
Francesc Rubio Hortelano (Principal)
Phone: + 34-93-7351170
Email: direccio @
Xavier Domingo Garmón Calvo, O.Carm. (Responsible)
Phone: + 34-93-73548 77
Email: administracio @

Nuestra Señora del Carmen
Tomás Leal Rodríguez, O.Carm. (Principal)
Phone: + 34-95-2841244
Email: KARMEL @

San José de Begoña
Pablo Herrasti Barbancho, O.Carm. (Principal)
Phone: + 34-91-3584136
Email: sjosebm @

Santa María del Carmen
Juan Pérez Yañez, O.Carm. (Principal)
Phone: + 34-91-3774569
Email: smcarmen @

Virgen del Carmen (Castellón)
Francisco Brun Pérez (Principal)
Phone: + 34-964-521795
Email: francisco @
Juan Gregorio Señor Benedí, O.Carm.
Phone: + 34-964-521795
Email: goyo @

Virgen del Carmen (Onda)
Pedro José Quintana Jiménez (Principal)
Phone: + 34-964-601385
Email: vcarmeno @
Luis Torres Pérez, O.Carm. (Responsible)
Phone: + 34-964-601395
Email: vcarmeno @

United States

Carmel Catholic High School
Judith Mucheck (President)
Phone: + 1-847-3883359
Email: jmucheck @

Crespi Carmelite High School
Thomas Schrader, O.Carm. (President)
Phone: + 1-818-3451672 x 326
Email: tschrader @
Paul Henson, O.Carm. (Principal)
Phone: + 1-818-3451672 x 316
Email: phenson @

Joliet Catholic Academy
Faith Szambelancyk, OSF (President)
Phone: + 1-815-7410588
Email: faith @
Jeff Budz (Principal)
Phone: + 1-815-7410587
Email: jbudz @

Mount Carmel High School
Carl Markelz, O.Carm. (President & Principal)
Phone: + 1-773-3241020
Email: cmarkelz @

Salpointe Catholic High School
Fred Tillotson, O.Carm. (Head of School)
Phone: + 1-520-3276581
Email: president @


Kriste Mambo
Phone: + 263-29-2376


The way God calls men and women to commit themselves to the building of the Kingdom is indeed mysterious and beyond our knowledge! Eight centuries ago, some Christians from different countries, inspired by the Spirit of God and by their own desire to serve the Lord faithfully, gathered on Mount Carmel in Palestine. These were the first Carmelites. Since then, the Lord has not ceased to call men and women to follow Him in the Carmelite Family. Faithful to their call to contemplation, fraternity and service, these men and women have spread to many countries in the world.
The Kingdom of God has not yet come in its fullness and the Spirit continues to call men and women to commit themselves to the Kingdom in the bosom of the Carmelite Family. Indeed, in recent times, the Carmelite Family has experienced an increase in religious and lay vocations..... and, at times, even in countries where the Carmelites are not present yet! In order to face the challenge of these young people and to welcome them into the Family, the Carmelite Order is committed to several missionary activities.
In response to the Spirit who is calling these men and women from various parts of the world to commit themselves to the building of the Kingdom of God and to the service of humanity, the Carmelite Order has committed itself in faith and with courage to realise these projects. It is the Spirit of God who gave birth to the Carmelite Family and who for eight centuries has blessed and guided it. It is obvious that these projects are costly and will meet with difficulties, but with the help of God and of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the good will of the Carmelite Family and the help of all Christians, zealous for the spread of the Kingdom of God, all is possible.  If, in some way, you would like to help to make these projects come true, you are invited to contact:

Father Albertus Herwanta, O.Carm.
Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani
Via Giovanni Lanza, 138, 00184 Roma, Italia.
Fax: (+39) 0646201847 Tel: (+39) 0646201835
Email: aherwanta @

The Carmelite Constitutions (no. 91) speaking of the apostolic mission of the Order in the Local Church declare that "the Carmelite mission shares in the mission of Jesus, who was sent to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God and to bring about the total liberation of humanity from all sin and oppression. Our ministry as Carmelites is, therefore an integral part of our charism. We are guided in this by the teaching of the pastors of the Church; by our tradition and by the values it upholds; by the signs of the times; and above all, by attentive listening to the Word, having regard also for its interpretation from the perspective of the poor. We are to evaluate and renew our service (diakonia) in the Church, so that we may better respond to the questions raised by the cultural, social and religious circumstances of the people. In our mission, we must take into account the talents and charisms of the brethren, and be aware of the natural limitations of our contribution."

While preserving its universal character, the Carmelite Order endeavours to be fully involved in the life of local churches. This implies close co-operation with the various elements of these churches. Within local churches, we strive to offer the contribution of our charism to the task of evangelisation by fostering a deeper grasp of the contemplative dimension of life, of fraternity, and concrete commitment to justice.
To the extent that it is possible, we undertake - in keeping with the legal and pastoral provisions of the Church and of our Order - various forms of apostolate requested by the Church, in accordance with the needs of time and of place. We achieve this through parish work, service to the faithful in churches, instruction of young people in schools and elsewhere, preaching of retreats, study, spiritual direction, guidance about spiritual problems, and other initiatives.

During her life on earth, the Blessed Virgin Mary showed herself to be the perfect image for the disciple of Christ. For this reason, in her apostolic mission the Church follows the example of the Virgin Mother of God - the perfect model of the following of Christ - especially in her commitment to our redemption, which Mary actively participated in from her "Fiat" to the Incarnation, to her presence at the foot of the Cross, and in her solidarity with the first Christian community gathered in prayer.

Veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the obligation to spread this devotion, are intrinsic parts of our Order's mission within the Church. In keeping with the intention of the Church itself, therefore, we generously promote veneration of the Blessed Virgin, especially in the liturgy. The example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as it emerges from the liturgy itself, will inspire the faithful to imitate their Mother and, through her, her Son. This will lead them to celebrate the mysteries of Christ with the same dispositions and attitudes with which the Virgin contemplated her Son in Bethlehem, in Nazareth, and in his self-emptying, and exulted together with all of her new children at his Resurrection.
As Carmelites, we express our devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel by celebrating her Commemoration every year with special solemnity. All other Marian feasts included in the liturgical calendar are also celebrated solemnly. The Marian shrines in which we exercise our apostolate and to which the faithful traditionally come in large numbers, are held in high regard. They strive to be more and more centres where the Word is prayerfully heard and where there is liturgical life. In particular, our shrines endeavour to become centres of reflection on the path taken by Mary and centres of evangelisation, with special attention to popular devotion to the one who is Mother of God, of the Church, and of all humanity. Shrines also have an exemplary function: they are places of welcome, attracting vocations; places of solidarity, providing services to needy brothers and sisters; places of ecumenical commitment with meetings and prayers.
Faithful to the spiritual heritage of our Order, we seek to channel our diverse works to the goal of promoting the search for God and the life of prayer. In our various apostolates we are inspired by Mary: her presence among the Apostles; her motherhood of the Church, which she received at the foot of the Cross; her attentiveness to the Word of God, and her total obedience to the divine will. To this end, we Carmelites foster and nourish among the people the memory of Mary and devotion to her.

Luke 22:14-23,56

The death of Jesus:

when love goes to the extreme

Luke 22:14-23,56

1. Opening prayer

Holy Spirit,

poured out on the world by the divine suffering and death,

guide us to contemplate

and understand the way of the cross

of our Savior

and the love with which He walked this way.

Grant us eyes and hearts of true believers,

so that we may perceive

the glorious mystery of the cross.

“Thanks to the cross we no longer wander through the desert,

because we know the true path;

we no longer live outside the house of God, our King,

because we have found the entrance to it;

we no longer fear the fiery spears of the devil,

because we have found a spring of water.

Through Him we are no longer alone,

because we have found the spouse again;

we do not fear the world,

because now we have found the Good Shepherd.

Thanks to the cross

the injustice of the powerful does not frighten us,

because we sit at table with the King” (St. John Chrysostom).

2. Reading

a) A key to the reading:

The liturgical context: the ancient tradition of proclaiming the Gospel of the passion and death of Jesus Christ during the celebration of the Sunday before Easter goes back to the time when the celebrations of Holy Week were reduced to a minimum. The aim of the reading is to lead the hearers to contemplate the mystery of the death that prepares for the resurrection of the Lord and that, therefore, is the condition by which the believer enters into the “new life” in Christ. The custom of reading this long Gospel passage in parts, not only helps to make the reading less monotonous so as to facilitate an attentive listening, but also in order to involve emotionally the participation of the listeners, almost making them feel present and taking part in the narrative.

The two readings before the Gospel of this Sunday help us with an interpretation that gives a certain perspective to the text: the Servant of JHWH is Jesus, the Christ, a divine person who, through His ignominious death, comes into the glory of God the Father and communicates His own life to those who listen to Him and welcome Him.

The Gospel context: it is well known that the literary nucleus around which the Gospels were written was the Paschal Mystery: Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. We have here, therefore, a text that is ancient and homogeneous in its literary composition, even though it was written through a gradual process. However, its importance is paramount: in it we are told the fundamental event of the Christian faith, what every believer must face and conform to (even though the text of the liturgy of this Sunday ends with the burial of Jesus).

As usual, Luke comes through as an efficient and delicate narrator who pays attention to details and is capable of letting the reader glimpse something of the feelings and inner motivations of the main characters, above all of Jesus. The terrible and unjust suffering Jesus undergoes is filtered through His unalterable attitude of mercy towards all, even His persecutors and murderers. Some of these are touched by the way He faces suffering and death, so much so that they show signs of faith in Him: the torment of the passion is rendered soft by the power of the divine love of Jesus.

In the third Gospel, Jesus goes to the holy city only once: that decisive moment for  human history and for the history of salvation. The whole of Luke’s Gospel is like a long preparation for the events of the last days that Jesus passes in Jerusalem, preaching acting at times even grandiosely (esp. the driving of the merchants from the temple 19:45-48), and at other times mysteriously or in a provocative manner (esp. the reply concerning the tribute to Caesar, 20:19-26). It is not by chance that Luke puts together in these last days many events and words that the other synoptic Gospels place elsewhere in the public life of Jesus. All this takes place while the plot of the chiefs of the nation thickens and becomes ever more concrete, until Judas offers them a perfect and unexpected chance (22:2-6).   

In this last and definitive stage of the life of the Lord, the third Evangelist uses various terms such as a “passing” or an “exodus” (9:31), a “taking up” (9:51) and an “attaining of the end” (13:32). Thus, Luke leads us to understand, before the fact, how to interpret the terrible and scandalous death of the Christ to whom they had entrusted their life: He accomplishes a painful and difficult stage to understand, but one “necessary” in the economy of salvation (9:22; 13:33; 17:35; 22:37) in order to bring to success (“fulfillment”) His journey towards glory (cf. 24:26; 17:25). This journey of Jesus is the paradigm of the journey to be achieved by each of His disciples (Acts 14:22).

b) A division of the text to help us in its reading:

The story of the Last Supper: from 22:7 to 22:38;

The prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani: from 22:39 to 22:46;

The arrest and the Jewish trial: from 22:47 to 22:71

The civil trial before Pilate and Herod: from 23:1 to 23:25

The sentence, crucifixion and death: from 23:26 to 23:49

Events after the death: from 23:50 to 23:56.

c) The text:

The story of the Last Supper

When the hour came, Jesus took his place at table with the apostles. He said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer, for, I tell you, I shall not eat it again until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said, "Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you that from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me." And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you. "And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table; for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed." And they began to debate among themselves who among them would do such a deed. Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest. He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as 'Benefactors'; but among you it shall not be so. Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves. It is you who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. "Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers." He said to him, "Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you." But he replied, "I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day, you will deny three times that you know me." He said to them, "When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?" "No, nothing, " they replied. He said to them, "But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, He was counted among the wicked; and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment." Then they said, "Lord, look, there are two swords here." But he replied, "It is enough!"

The prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani

Then going out, he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, "Pray that you may not undergo the test." After withdrawing about a stone's throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done." And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief. He said to them, "Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test."

The arrest and the Jewish trial

While he was still speaking, a crowd approached and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas. He went up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said to him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked, "Lord, shall we strike with a sword?" And one of them struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said in reply, "Stop, no more of this!" Then he touched the servant's ear and healed him. And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards and elders who had come for him, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? Day after day I was with you in the temple area, and you did not seize me; but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness." After arresting him they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest; Peter was following at a distance. They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter sat down with them. When a maid saw him seated in the light, she looked intently at him and said, "This man too was with him." But he denied it saying, "Woman, I do not know him." A short while later someone else saw him and said, "You too are one of them"; but Peter answered, "My friend, I am not." About an hour later, still another insisted, "Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean." But Peter said, "My friend, I do not know what you are talking about." Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times." He went out and began to weep bitterly. The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him. They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying, "Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?" And they reviled him in saying many other things against him. When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. They said, "If you are the Christ, tell us, " but he replied to them, "If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God." They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied to them, "You say that I am." Then they said, "What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth."

The civil trial before Pilate and Herod

Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate. They brought charges against him, saying, "We found this man misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Christ, a king." Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" He said to him in reply, "You say so." Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds, "I find this man not guilty." But they were adamant and said, "He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to here." On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean; and upon learning that he was under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time. Herod was very glad to see Jesus; he had been wanting to see him for a long time, for he had heard about him and had been hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at length, but he gave him no answer. The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile, stood by accusing him harshly. Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him, and after clothing him in resplendent garb, he sent him back to Pilate. Herod and Pilate became friends that very day, even though they had been enemies formerly. Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people and said to them, "You brought this man to me and accused him of inciting the people to revolt. I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found this man guilty of the charges you have brought against him, nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us. So no capital crime has been committed by him. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him." But all together they shouted out, "Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us." — Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion that had taken place in the city and for murder. — Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus, but they continued their shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Pilate addressed them a third time, "What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him." With loud shouts, however, they persisted in calling for his crucifixion, and their voices prevailed. The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted. So he released the man who had been imprisoned for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked, and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.

Luke 22:14-23,56

The sentence, crucifixion and death

As they led him away

they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian,

who was coming in from the country;

and after laying the cross on him,

they made him carry it behind Jesus.

A large crowd of people followed Jesus,

including many women who mourned and lamented him.

Jesus turned to them and said,

"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me;

weep instead for yourselves and for your children

for indeed, the days are coming when people will say,

'Blessed are the barren,

the wombs that never bore

and the breasts that never nursed.'

At that time people will say to the mountains,

'Fall upon us!'

and to the hills, 'Cover us!'

for if these things are done when the wood is green

what will happen when it is dry?"

Now two others, both criminals,

were led away with him to be executed.

When they came to the place called the Skull,

they crucified him and the criminals there,

one on his right, the other on his left.

Then Jesus said,

"Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."

They divided his garments by casting lots.

The people stood by and watched;

the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said,

"He saved others, let him save himself

if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God."

Even the soldiers jeered at him.

As they approached to offer him wine they called out,

"If you are King of the Jews, save yourself."

Above him there was an inscription that read,

"This is the King of the Jews."

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,

"Are you not the Christ?

Save yourself and us."

The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply,

"Have you no fear of God,

for you are subject to the same condemnation?

And indeed, we have been condemned justly,

for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,

but this man has done nothing criminal."

Then he said,

"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

He replied to him,

"Amen, I say to you,

today you will be with me in Paradise."

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land

until three in the afternoon

because of an eclipse of the sun.

Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.

Jesus cried out in a loud voice,

"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit";

and when he had said this he breathed his last.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said,

"This man was innocent beyond doubt."

When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened,

they returned home beating their breasts;

but all his acquaintances stood at a distance,

including the women who had followed him from Galilee

and saw these events.

Events after the death

Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, had not consented to their plan of action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea and was awaiting the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried. It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it, they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils. Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.

Luke 22:14-23,56

3. A moment of prayerful silence

so that the Word of God may enter into our hearts and shed light on our lives.

4. A few questions

to help us in our meditation and prayer.

a) At the end of this long reading, what feeling prevails in me: is it relief for having come to the end, admiration for Jesus, pain for His pain, joy for the salvation achieved, or something else?

b) I re-read the text and pay special attention to the way the many “powerful” acted: the priests, the scribes and Pharisees, Pilate, Herod. What do I think of them? How would I have thought, acted, spoken and decided in their place?

c) I read the passion once more and, this time, pay attention to the action of the “little ones”: the disciples, the people, individuals, the women, the soldiers and others. What do I think of them? How would I have acted, thought and spoken in their place?

d) Finally, I look at my way of acting in my daily life. With which of the main or lesser characters can I identify myself with? Which character would I like to identify myself with?

5. A key to the reading

for those who wish to go deeper into the theme.

A commentary on the text with special emphasis on some key points:

22:14: When the hour came He took His place at table, and the apostles with Him: Although Luke is writing for a Christian community mostly of gentile origin, he stresses that the Last Supper of Jesus is part of the Jewish rite of pesach. Just before the supper he describes the preparations (vv. 7-13).

22:15: I have longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: this recalls the words in 12:50: “There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is My distress till it is over! (cf.  Jn 12:32). Luke gives us a ray of light on the interior dimension of Jesus as He prepares to suffer and die: what impels Him is, as always for Him, the radical choice of conforming to the will of the Father (cf. 2:49), but in these words we glimpse a very human desire for fraternity, for sharing and for friendship.

22:17: Then, taking a cup, He gave thanks: we have not yet come to the Eucharistic chalice strictly speaking, but only to the first of four cups of wine that are drunk at a paschal meal.

22:18: From now on, I tell you, I shall not drink wine until the kingdom of God comes: this is the second explicit reference to His nearing death. It is a repetition of the proclamations concerning the passion (9:22.44; 12:50; 18:31-32) and, like those, it refers implicitly to the resurrection. However, the proclamation, even in all the seriousness of the moment, contains intimations of hope and of the eschatological expectation, together with the certainty that the Father will not abandon Him to death. Jesus is aware of what He has to face, but is quite serene, interiorly free, certain of His final destiny and of the final results of what He is about to experience.

22:19-20: the story of the Eucharistic institution is quite similar to the one mentioned in Paul (1Cor 11:23-25) and has a pronounced sacrificial character: Jesus offers Himself, not things, as an oblation for those who believe in Him.

22:21: Here with Me on the table is the hand of the man who betrays Me: eating with him, Jesus allows even Judas to enter into communion with Him, and yet He knows well that this disciple is about to betray Him definitively. The contrast is strident and made so on purpose by the Evangelist, as is true also elsewhere in this passage.

22:28: You are the men who have stood by Me faithfully in My trials: unlike Judas, the other disciples have “stood by Jesus in His trials”, because they have stayed with Him at least up to the present moment. The Lord, then, acknowledges that they have reached a high level of communion with Him so that they deserve special honor in the glory of the Father (v. 29).  

It is Jesus Himself, then, who creates a close parallel between the constant communion of His disciples (those of then and those of today) with His suffering and the final and eternal sharing in His glory (“eat and drink”, v. 30).

22:31-37: Simon, Simon! Satan, you must know, has got his wish to sift you all like wheat; but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail: this passage seems to come from another context. Jesus’ reference to Satan and his actions against the disciples recalls what the evangelist had said concerning the cause of Judas’ betrayal (22:3) and is almost parallel with Luke’s view of the passion as the final assault of Satan against Jesus (cf. 4:13; 22:53).  

Peter is protected from the snares of the tempter by the prayers of Jesus Himself and because he chose firmly to be a disciple of the Lord, also because he has a special mission towards his brothers and sisters in the faith (v. 32b). Jesus hastens to warn him: for him, as for the other disciples too, the terrible passion of Jesus will cost them a hard fight against Satan and many ambushes that, in various forms, will assail the disciples who will be close to Jesus during the various stages of the passion (vv. 35-36) on account of the terrible trial that He will have to endure (v. 37); these last words explicitly refer to the text in Isaiah concerning the “suffering Servant” (Isa 53:12), with whom Jesus is clearly identified.

22:33-34: Lord… I would be ready to go to prison with you, and to death… I tell you, Peter, by the time the cock crows today you will have denied three times that you know Me: Peter is a generous man, also a little impatient, as we see from his words, which seem to force Jesus to tell him about the denials. As in verses 24-27 the chiefs of the Christian community were faced with their responsibility as “servants” of the faith of the brothers and sisters entrusted to them, so now they are reminded of their duty to be prudent and vigilant towards themselves and towards their weakness.

22:39-46: the story of the moral-spiritual agony in the garden of Gethsemani follows the text of Mark (14:32-42)closely, except for some details, especially those referring to the consoling appearance of the angel (v.43).   

As the most difficult and insidious moment of his life approaches, Jesus intensifies his prayer. As Luke says, Gethsemani was the “usual” (v.37) place where Jesus often spent nights in (21:37) prayer.

22:47-53: The real passion begins with the arrest of Jesus. This passage presents the following events as “the reign of darkness” (v.53) and shows Jesus as He who overcomes and will overcome violence by patience and the ability to love even His persecutors (v.51); that is why the sad but loving words He addresses to Judas stand out: "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (v.48).

22:54-71: The Jewish trial does not evolve that night. Nothing is said of Jesus as prisoner until morning. This lack of news concerning Jesus immediately after His arrest and until the beginning of the case is typical of Luke.

22:60-62: “My friend,” said Peter, “I do not know what you are talking about"… the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter and Peter remembered what the Lord had said… And he went outside and wept bitterly: the two looks meeting each other, who knows how they happened in the confusion of that interminable night, mark the moment when Peter becomes aware: notwithstanding his gallant declarations of fidelity, he realizes what Jesus had told him a little earlier. In that look, Peter experiences first hand the mercy of the Lord of which he had heard Jesus talking: it does not hide the reality of sin, but heals it and brings men and women back to a full awareness of their own condition and of the personal love of God for them.

22:70-71: So you are the Son of God then? … It is you who say I am… What need of witness have we now? We have heard it for ourselves from His own lips: the Jewish trial begins officially at first dawn of that day (v.66) and concentrates on seeking proofs (some true, in Luke, but cf. Mk 14:55-59) to sentence Jesus to death. According to Luke, then, the chiefs of the Jews did not bring forth false witnesses, but – even in their savage aversion towards Jesus – they behaved towards Him in a somewhat correct juridical manner.

In replying positively to the question “You are the Son of God then?”, Jesus shows that He is fully aware of His divine dignity. Through this awareness, His suffering, death and resurrection are eloquent witness of the benign will of the Father towards humanity. Thus, however, He “signs” his own sentence of death: it is a blasphemy that profanes the Name and the very being of JHWH since He declares himself explicitly to be “son”.

23:3-5: Are you the king of the Jews? … It is you who say it… He is inflaming the people with His teaching: we are passing from a Jewish juridical process to a Roman one: the Jewish chiefs hand over the condemned person to the governor so that he may carry out their sentence and, to give him an acceptable reason, they “domesticate” the movements of their sentence, presenting them in a political light. Thus, Jesus is presented as subverting the people and usurping the royal title of Israel (which by then was but a memory and a purely honorific title).

The means used by Jesus to carry out His crime, as chance would have it, is His preaching: the words of peace and mercy that He spread freely are now used against Him!       

Jesus confirms the accusation, but it is certain that He is not accused of seeking royal status, only one of the reflections of His divine nature. This, however, neither Pilate nor the others are able to understand.

23:6-12: He passed Him over to Herod: Perhaps Pilate intuited that they were trying to play a “dirty trick” on him, so he probably tries to distance himself from the prisoner by invoking respect for jurisdiction: Jesus comes from a district, which at that historical time, did not come under Roman responsibility but that of Herod Antipas.         

The latter is presented in the Gospels as someone quite ambiguous: he admires and at the same time is averse to John the Baptist, because the prophet had taken him to task over his matrimonial position, which was irregular and almost incestuous, and finally has him arrested and then put to death so as not to show a poor figure before his guests (3:19-20; Mk 6:17-29). Then he tries to get to know Jesus just out of curiosity, because he had heard of His fame as a worker of miracles, and he concocts a case against Him (v.10), He questions Jesus personally, but then – before the obstinate silence of Jesus (v. 9) – leaves Him to the mockery of the soldiers as had happened at the end of the religious process (22:63-65) and as will happen when Jesus is crucified (vv. 35-38). He ends up sending Jesus back to Pilate.

Luke concludes this episode with an interesting footnote: Pilate’s gesture begins a new friendship between him and Herod. The circumstances speak clearly as to the purity of the motivation of this friendship.

23:13-25: You brought this man before me… as a political agitator; …I have found no case against the man in respect of the charges you bring against Him: as he suspected from the first meeting with Jesus (v.4) and as he will repeat later (v.22), Pilate pronounces Him innocent. He tries to convince the chiefs of the people to let Jesus go, but they have already decided that He should die (vv.18,21,23) and insist on a sentence of death.         

What is the substance of the governor’s interrogation?  Not much, according to the few phrases that Luke reports (v.3). And yet, Jesus replied positively to Pilate, declaring Himself “king of the Jews”! At this point, it is clear that Pilate does not consider Jesus a dangerous man on the political level, nor for public order, perhaps because the tone of Jesus’ declaration left no doubt on these scores.

The intention of the Evangelist is quite clear in that he seeks to attenuate the responsibility of the Roman governor. The latter, however, is known from historical sources as a “man of inflexible nature and, on top of his arrogance, hard, capable only of extortion, violence, robbery, brutality, torture, executions without trial and fearful and unlimited cruelty” (Philo of Alexandria) and that “he liked to provoke the nations entrusted to him, sometimes by being rude and at other times by hard repression” (Josephus Flavius).

23:16.22: I shall have Him punished and then let Him go…: the fact that Jesus was held to be innocent would not have spared Him a hard “punishment”, inflicted solely so as not to let down the expectations of the chiefs of the Jews.

23:16.18.25: Away with Him! Give us Barabbas! He released the man they asked for, who had been imprisoned for rioting and murder, and handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they pleased: in the end, Pilate gives in completely to the insistent demands of the chiefs of the people, even though he does not pronounce any formal sentence on Jesus.  

Barabbas, a real delinquent and political agitator, thus becomes the first person saved (at least at that moment) by the sacrifice of Jesus.

23:26-27: They seized on a man, Simon from Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and made him shoulder the cross and carry it behind Jesus. Large numbers of people followed Him, and of women too, who mourned and lamented for Him: Simon and the women were not only privileged witnesses of the passion, but, in Luke, they are models of discipleship, people who show in action to the reader how to follow the Lord. Besides, thanks to them and to the crowd, Jesus is not alone as He approaches death, but is surrounded by men and women who are deeply and emotionally close to Him, even though they need conversion, a matter that He recalls to them in spite of His terrible condition (vv.28-31).      

Simon of Cyrene is “seized”, but Luke does not say that he was reluctant to help the Lord (cf. Mk 15:20-21).

The “large numbers of people” are also quite involved in what is happening to Jesus. This is in strident contrast with the crowd that, a little earlier, was demanding the sentence of death from Pilate.

23, 34: Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing: Luke brings out the main concern of the crucified Lord who, in spite of being in atrocious physical pain from the process of crucifixion, prays for them to the Father: He is not concerned with His own condition nor with the historical causes that produced it, but only with the salvation of all humankind. Stephen the martyr will act like Him (Acts 7:60) to show the paradigmatic character of the life and death of Jesus for the existence of every Christian.

To emphasize this strong orientation of Jesus, Luke omits the anguished cry reported by the other synoptic Gospels: “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?”

23:33.39-43: They crucified Him there and the two criminals… Jesus… remember me when You come into Your kingdom… Indeed, I promise you… today you will be with Me in paradise: the episode of the dialogue with one of His condemned companions is emblematic of the way Luke understands the death of Jesus: an act of self-giving made for love and in love to bring salvation to the greatest number of people in whatever condition or situation they may find themselves.

”Today” (v. 43): the thief had spoken in the future, but Jesus replies using a verb in the present: the salvation He gives is immediate, the “final days” begin with this saving event.

”You will be with Me” (v. 43): this expression indicates the full communion in force between God and those He welcomes to Himself in eternity (cf. 1Thess 4:17). According to some apocryphal writings of the late Judaic period, the Messiah Himself had “to open the gates of paradise”.

23:44-46: It was now about the sixth hour… Jesus cried out in a loud voice, He said, Father into Your hands I commit My spiritWith these words He breathed His last: Jesus’ last words, by their good nature, seem to contrast with the preceding declaration that He cried aloud.

Having come to the end of His human life, Jesus makes a supreme act of trust in the Father, for whose will He had suffered so much. In these words we can glimpse a hint at the resurrection: the Father will hand Him back this life that Jesus now entrusts to Him (cf. Ps 16:10; Acts 2:27, 13:35).       

Luke writes very concisely of the last moments of Jesus: he is not interested in dwelling on details that would offer satisfaction to some macabre curiosity, like the one that drew and still draws so many spectators at a capital sentence in many places of the world.

23:47-48: When the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God: “This was a great and good man”. So too the crowds… went home beating their breasts: the saving efficacy of the sacrifice of Jesus acts almost immediately, simply on the evidence of what had happened: pagans (such as the centurion who commanded the platoon in charge of the execution), and the Jews (the people), begin to change. The centurion “glorifies God” and seems to be just a step from becoming a Christian believer. The Jewish people, perhaps without being aware, go back using gestures of repentance as Jesus had asked of the women of Jerusalem (v. 38).

23:49: All those who knew Him watched from afar: at a prudent distance, knowing the Roman attitude that forbade excessive gestures of mourning for those condemned to be crucified (on pain of being crucified themselves), the group of disciples is present dumbfounded by the whole scene. Luke gives no hint as to their emotions or attitudes: perhaps the pain and violence dazed them to the point of making them incapable of any outward reaction.

Similarly, the women disciples do not take part in any way in the work done by Joseph of Arimathea for the burial of Jesus: they just watch (v. 55).

23:53: Joseph took Him down from the cross, wrapped Him in a sheet and placed Him in a tomb dug in the rock: Jesus has really undergone torture. He is really dead, like so many others before and after Him, on the cross, in a common body of flesh. This event, without which there would be no salvation or eternal life for any one, is verified by the fact that it is necessary to bury Him. This is so true that Luke expands on some details concerning the speed with which the rite of burial was carried out by Joseph (vv. 52-54).

23:56: On the Sabbath they observed the day of rest, according to the commandment: as the Creator rested on the seventh day of creation, thus consecrating the Sabbath (Gen 2:2-3), so now the Lord observes the Sabbath in the tomb.

None of His people, now, seem to be able to hope for anything: Jesus’ words concerning the resurrection seem to have been forgotten. The women limit themselves to preparing some oils to make the burial of the Master a little more dignified.

The Gospel of this “Passion Sunday” concludes here, leaving out the story of the discovery of the empty tomb (24:1-12) and allowing us to savor the bitter sweet sacrifice of the lamb of God, we are left in a sad and suspended state where we remain immersed, even though we know the final result of the Gospel story. This terrible death of the young Rabbi of Nazareth does not lose its significance in His resurrection, but acquires an entirely new and unexpected value, which does not take away anything from the dimension of having been killed in sacrifice freely accepted, because of the “excessively” high respect for our human powers of understanding: it is pure mystery.

6. Isaiah 50:4-10

"The Lord God helps me"

The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught,

that I may know how to sustain with a word Him that is weary.

Morning by morning He wakens,

He wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.

The Lord God has opened my ear,

and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward.

I gave my back to those who struck me

and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;

I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

For the Lord God helps me;

therefore I have not been confounded;

therefore I have set my face like flint,

and I know that I shall not be put to shame;

he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me?

Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary?

Let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord God helps me;

who will declare me guilty?

Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment;

the moth will eat them up.

Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His servant,

who walks in darkness and has no light,

yet trusts in the name of the Lord and relies upon his God?

7. Closing prayer

of the Eucharistic prayer for this Sunday

Almighty and eternal God, You have given the human race Jesus Christ our Savior as a model of humility. He fulfilled Your will by becoming man and giving His life on the cross. Help us to bear witness to You by following His example of suffering and make us worthy to share in His resurrection.

Lectio Divina:

1) Opening prayer

Almighty God,
our creator and guide,
may we serve you with all our hearts
and know your forgiveness in our lives.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Luke 7,31-35

Jesus said: ‘What comparison, then, can I find for the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children shouting to one another while they sit in the market place: We played the pipes for you, and you wouldn’t dance; we sang dirges, and you wouldn’t cry.
‘For John the Baptist has come, not eating bread, not drinking wine, and you say, “He is possessed.” The Son of man has come, eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.’

3) Reflection

In today’s Gospel we see the novelty of the Good News which opens its way and thus persons who are attached to ancient forms of faith feel lost and do not understand anything more of God’s action. In order to hide their lack of openness and of understanding they defend and seek childish pretexts to justify their attitude of lack of acceptance. Jesus reacts with a parable to denounce the incoherence of his enemies: “You are similar to children who do not know what they want”.
Luke 7, 31: To whom, then, shall I compare you? Jesus is struck by the reaction of the people and say: “What comparison, then, can I find for the people of this generation? What are they like?” When something is evident and the persons, out of ignorance or because of bad will, do not perceive things and do not want to perceive them, it is good to find an evident comparison which will reveal their incoherence and the ill will. And Jesus is a Master in finding comparisons which speak for themselves.
Luke 7, 32: Like children without judgment. The comparison which Jesus finds is this one. You are like “those children, shouting to one another while they sit in the market place: we played the pipes for you, and you would not dance; we sang dirges and you would not cry!” Spoiled children, all over the world, have the same reaction. They complain when others do not do and act as they say. The reason for Jesus’ complaint is the arbitrary way with which people in the past reacted before John the Baptist and how they react now before Jesus.
Luke 7, 33-34: Their opinion on John and on Jesus. “For John the Baptist has come, not eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say: he is possessed. The Son of man has come eating and drinking, and you say: look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners”. Jesus was a disciple of John the Baptist; he believed in him and was baptized by him. On the occasion of this Baptism in the Jordan, he had the revelation of the Father regarding his mission as Messiah-Servant (Mk 1, 10). At the same time, Jesus stressed the difference between him and John. John was more severe, more ascetical, did not eat nor drink. He remained in the desert and threatened the people with the punishment of the Last Judgment (Lk 3, 7-9). Because of this, people said that he was possessed. Jesus was more welcoming; he ate and drank like everybody else. He went through the towns and entered the houses of the people; he accepted the tax collectors and the prostitutes. This is why they said that he was a glutton and a drunkard. Even considering his words regarding “the men of this generation” (Lk 7, 31), in a general way, probably, Jesus had in mind the opinion of the religious authority who did not believe in Jesus (Mk 11,29-33).
Luke 7, 35: The obvious conclusion to which Jesus arrives. And Jesus ends drawing this conclusion: “Yet, wisdom is justified by all her children”. The lack of seriousness and of coherence is clearly seen in the opinion given on Jesus and on John. The bad will is so evident that it needs no proof. That recalls the response of Job to his friends who believe that they are wise: “Will no one teach you to be quiet! - the only wisdom that becomes you!” (Job 13, 5).

4) Personal questions

When I express my opinion on others, am I like the Pharisees and the Scribes who gave their opinion on Jesus and John? They expressed only their preconceptions and said nothing on the persons whom they judged.
Do you know any groups in the Church who would merit the parable of Jesus?

5) Concluding Prayer

How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh,
the people he has chosen as his heritage.
From heaven Yahweh looks down,
he sees all the children of Adam. (Ps 33,12-13)


Tuesday - Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

guide us, as you guide creation
according to your law of love.
May we love one another
and come to perfection
in the eternal life prepared for us.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Luke 8,19-21

Jesus’ mother and his brothers came looking for him, but they could not get to him because of the crowd.
He was told, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside and want to see you.’ But he said in answer, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.’

3) Reflection

• The Gospel today presents the episode in which the relatives of Jesus and also his Mother want to speak with him, but Jesus does not pay attention to them. Jesus had problems with his family. Sometimes the family helps one to live the Gospel and to participate in the community. Other times, the family prevents this. This is what happened to Jesus and this is what happens to us.
• Luke 8, 19-20: The family looks for Jesus. The relatives reach the house where Jesus was staying. Probably, they had come from Nazareth. From there to Capernaum the distance is about 40 kilometres. His Mother was with them. Probably, they did not enter because there were many people, but they sent somebody to tell him: “Your Mother and your brothers are outside and want to see you”. According to the Gospel of Mark, the relatives do not want to see Jesus, they want to take him back home (Mk 3, 32). They thought that Jesus had lost his head (Mk 3, 21). Probably, they were afraid, because according to what history says, the Romans watched very closely all that he did, in one way or other, with the people (cf. Ac 5, 36-39). In Nazareth, up on the mountains he would have been safer than in Capernaum.
• Luke 8, 21: The response of Jesus. The reaction of Jesus is clear: “My mother and my brothers are those who listen to the Word of God and put it into practice”. In Mark the reaction of Jesus is more concrete. Mark says: Looking around at those who were sitting there he said: “Look, my mother and my brothers! Anyone who does the will of God, he is my brother, sister and mother (Mk 3, 34-35). Jesus extends his family! He does not permit the family to draw him away from the mission: neither the family (Jn 7, 3-6), nor Peter (Mk 8, 33), nor the disciples (Mk 1, 36-38), nor Herod (Lk 13, 32), nor anybody else (Jn 10, 18).
• It is the Word of God which creates a new family around Jesus: “My mother and my brothers are those who listen to the Word of God, and put it into practice.” A good commentary on this episode is what the Gospel of John says in the Prologue: “He was in the world that had come into being through him and the world did not recognize him. He came to his own and his own people did not accept him”. But to those who did accept him he gave them power to become children of God: to those who believed in his name, who were born not from human stock or human desire, or human will, but from God himself. And the Word became flesh, he lived among us; and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1, 10-14). The family, the relatives, do not understand Jesus (Jn 7, 3-5; Mk 3, 21), they do not form part of the new family. Only those who receive the Word, that is, who believe in Jesus, form part of the new family. These are born of God and form part of God’s Family.
The situation of the family at the time of Jesus. In the time of Jesus, the political social and economic moment or the religious ideology, everything conspired in favour of weakening the central values of the clan, of the community. The concern for the problems of the family prevented persons from being united in the community. Rather, in order that the Kingdom of God could manifest itself anew, in the community life of the people, persons had to go beyond, to pass the narrow limits of the small family and open themselves to the large family, toward the Community. Jesus gives the example. When his own family tried to take hold of him, Jesus reacted and extended the family (Mk 3, 33-35). He created the Community.
The brothers and the sisters of Jesus. The expression “brothers and sisters of Jesus” causes much polemics among Catholics and Protestants. Basing themselves on this and on other texts, the Protestants say that Jesus had more brothers and sisters and that Mary had more sons! The Catholics say that Mary did not have other sons. What should we think about this? In the first place, both positions: that of the Catholics as well as that of the Protestants, start from the arguments drawn from the Bible and from the Traditions of their respective Churches. Because of this, it is not convenient to discuss on this question with only intellectual arguments. Because here it is a question of the convictions that they have and which have to do with faith and sentiments. The intellectual argument alone does not succeed in changing a conviction of the heart! Rather, it irritates and draws away! And even if I do not agree with the opinion of the other person, I must respect it. In the second place, instead of discussing about texts, both we Catholics and the Protestants, we should unite together to fight in defence of life, created by God, a life totally disfigured by poverty, injustice, by the lack of faith. We should recall some phrase of Jesus: “I have come so that they may have life and life in abundance” (Jn 10, 10). “So that all may be one so that the world will believe that it was you who sent me” (Jn 17, 21). “Do not prevent them! Anyone who is not against us is for us” (Mk 9, 39.40).

4) Personal questions

• Does your family help or make it difficult for you to participate in the Christian community?
• How do you assume your commitment in the Christian community without prejudice for the family or for the community?

5) Concluding Prayer

Teach me, Yahweh, the way of your will,
and I will observe it.
Give me understanding and I will observe your Law,
and keep it wholeheartedly. (Ps 119,33-34)





"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the confidence of things not seen," says the author of Hebrews (11:1)  This feast of the Great Encounter is a celebration of centuries of confidence in things not yet realized but promised by God, salvation and complete union with God.  This feast celebrates the fact that God keeps His promises!  Not only does God keep His promises to a chosen people through a purified lineage and a virgin mother but also to particular individuals.  God revealed His plan to a "prophetess", Anna, who as an eighty-four year old widow never left the temple "worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day" (Luke 2: 37), and a "just" man, Simeon.

Scriptures apply the word "just" to a person who has faith and experience of God, and to God, the Son, the Holy and Just One (Acts 3: 14).  Thus throughout the Bible certain persons are set apart and called just, righteous, or upright most particularly: Noah in Genesis 6:9; Lot, 2 Peter 2:7; Joseph, foster father of the Lord Jesus, Matthew 1:19; John the Baptist, Mark 6: 20; St. Simeon, Luke 2: 25; St. Joseph of Arimathea, Luke 23: 50; and Cornelius, Acts 10: 22.   In three of his epistles St. Paul links faith with the just: "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1: 17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).

Luke's Gospel speaks of Simeon as a just man "waiting for the Consolation of Israel" and for his personal consolation: "And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ." (Luke 2: 25-26)   In response to his meeting with the child Jesus and His most pure mother Mary are the words of Simeon's Canticle which are sung at Vespers:

Now You shall dismiss your servant, in peace O Lord according to your word:
for my eyes have seen your salvation, which You have prepared before the face
of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people

One of the stichera of the feast projects Simeon's haste to rest in peace:

Dismiss me now, O Master, that I may tell Adam how my eyes have seen the
Eternal God made man without undergoing change, and bringing about the salvation of the world. (BDW, p. 629)

I find these words comforting acknowledgement of the community of saints who always rushes to encourage and support one another by prayer and deed. Anna, also, "gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke 2: 38).

This feast called "Hypapanty" (Hypapante), a Greek word meaning "meeting" is the first encounter of Jesus, our Savior, with His people.  Christ comes into the midst of the temple, the gathering place of all the people of God and even of some Gentiles assembled to pray and to fulfill the laws of God handed down by Moses.   Jesus, too, wishing to be like us in all things, save sin, that He might sanctify every aspect of human life, enters the Temple carried by His mother and accompanied by St. Joseph to make the customary offering of two turtledoves or pigeons (see Leviticus 12:2-5). Mary, the all pure Theotokos, submits to the rite of Purification as an act of obedience to the customary laws. Jesus submits to the laws of God and customs so that He might illumine all human life for He is the Sun of Justice as the Troparion of the feast declares:

Hail O Woman full of grace, Virgin and Mother of God: from you has risen the Sun of Justice, Christ our God, enlightening those who stand in darkness. You, too, just Elder Simeon, rejoice, for you carried in your arms the Redeemer of our souls, our Resurrection. (Byzantine Daily Worship, p. 627)

Simeon then prophesies "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against..." (Luke 2: 33), the fall of unbelievers and the rising of believers through the waters of baptism.  Christians are people of the Resurrection and the Eastern Churches emphasize this continually by standing at the Liturgy on Sunday, which is a celebration of the Resurrection, and in the "risen" bread of the Holy Eucharist.

Yet Christ is also "a sign which shall be spoken against," a sign of contradiction through the Cross.  To die on a Cross, the shame of a social outcast or a criminal, was the way Our Savior brought about our salvation.  In the opposing directions of the Cross,  Christ gathers all peoples without discrimination "as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings" (Luke 13: 34). Christ comes to save all, to bring us back into unity with God, without exclusion.

This feast is important today as a message of hope and a message of encouragement.  In a society of instant products, faith in promises, confidence that God has a Plan and it is in progress is not easy.  We need the messages of faith and hope shown in the feasts to remind ourselves that God is still in charge of the world no matter how much evil there is in it.  We need the reminder that in the fullness of time God is acting.  When we fail to celebrate the separate events of the journey to salvation we may miss the message.  Let us therefore meet in the assembly of the Church to celebrate our unfailing hope in the promises of God: "I leave you not as orphans...We will come to him and make Our home with him...the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I have said to you" (John 14: 18, 23, 26).

by Mary Grace Ritchey

Canonical Visitations

St. Matthew, the Evangelist

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer


You call Your children

to walk in the light of Christ.

Free us from darkness

and keep us in the radiance of Your truth.

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

who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" He heard this and said, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

3) Reflection

• The Sermon on the Mountain takes chapters 5, 6 and 7 of the Gospel of Matthew.   The purpose of the narrative part of chapters 8 and 9 is to show how Jesus put into practice what He had just taught.  In the Sermon on the Mountain, He teaches acceptance (Mt 5:23-25. 38-42.43).  Now He puts it into practice accepting the lepers (Mt 8:1-4), the foreigners (Mt 8:5-13), the women (Mt 8:14-15), the sick (Mt 8:16-17), the possessed (Mt 8:28-34), the paralytics (Mt 9:1-8), the tax collectors (Mt 9:9-13), the unclean persons (Mt 9:20-22), etc.  Jesus breaks the norms and the customs which excluded and divided persons, that is with the fear and the lack of faith (Mt 8:23-27) the laws on purity (9:14-17), and He clearly says which are the requirements for those who want to follow Him. They should have the courage to abandon many things (Mt 8:18-22).  In the same way in the attitudes and in the practice of Jesus we see in what the Kingdom and the perfect observance of the Law of God consists.

• Matthew 9:9: The call to follow Jesus.  The first people called to follow Jesus are four fishermen, all Jewish (Mt 4:18-22).  Now Jesus calls a tax collector, considered a sinner and treated as an unclean person by the community of the most observant of the Pharisees. In the other Gospels, this tax collector is called Levi. Here, his name is Matthew, which means gift of God or given by God.  The communities, instead of excluding the tax collector and of considering him unclean, should consider him a Gift of God for the community, because his presence makes the community become a sign of salvation for all!  Like the first four who were called, in the same way also Matthew, the tax collector, leaves everything that he has and follows Jesus.  The following of Jesus requires breaking away from many things.  Matthew leaves the tax office, his source of revenue and follows Jesus!

• Matthew 9:10: Jesus sits at table with sinners and tax collectors. At that time the Jews lived separated from the tax collectors and sinners and they did not eat with them at the same table. The Christian Jews should break away from this isolation and sit at table with the tax collectors and with the unclean, according to the teaching given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mountain, the expression of the universal love of God the Father (Mt 5:44-48).  The mission of the communities was that of offering a place to those who did not have it. But this new law was not accepted by all.  In some communities, persons coming from paganism, even if they were Christians, were not accepted around the same table (cf. Ac 10:28; 11:3; Ga 2:12). The text of today’s Gospel shows us Jesus who sits at table with tax collectors and sinners in the same house, around the same table.

• Matthew 9:11: The question of the Pharisees. Jews were forbidden to sit at table with the tax collectors and with sinners, but Jesus does not follow this prohibition.  Rather He becomes a friend to them. The Pharisees seeing the attitude of Jesus, ask the disciples: “Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” This question may be interpreted as an expression of their desire to know why Jesus acts in that way.  Others interpret the question like a criticism of Jesus’ behavior, because for over five hundred years, from the time of the slavery in Babylon until the time of Jesus, the Jews had observed the laws of purity.  This secular observance became a strong sign of identity.  At the same time it was a factor of their separation in the midst of other peoples.  Thus, because of the laws on purity, they could not nor did they succeed to sit around the same table to eat with tax collectors.  To eat with tax collectors meant to get contaminated, to become unclean.  The precepts of legal purity were rigorously observed, in Palestine as well as in the Jewish communities of the Diaspora.  At the time of Jesus, there were more than five hundred precepts to keep purity.  In the years 70’s, at the time when Matthew wrote, this conflict was very actual.   

• Matthew 9:12-13: “Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice. Jesus hears the question of the Pharisees to the disciples and He answers with two clarifications: the first one is taken from common sense: “It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick”. The second one is taken from the Bible: “Go and learn the meaning of the words: Mercy is what pleases Me, not sacrifice”. Through these clarifications, Jesus makes explicit and clarifies His mission among the people: “I have not come to call the upright but sinners”.  Jesus denies the criticism of the Pharisees; He does not accept their arguments, because they came from a false idea of the Law of God.  He Himself invokes the Bible: “Mercy is what pleases Me, not sacrifice”. For Jesus, mercy is more important than legal purity.  He refers to the prophetic tradition to say that mercy has greater value for God than all sacrifices (Ho 6:6; Is 1:10-17).  God has profound mercy, and is moved before the failures of His people (Ho 11:8-9).  

4) Personal questions

• Today, in our society, who is marginalized and excluded?  Why? In our community, do we have preconceptions or prejudices? Which? Which is the challenge which the words of Jesus present to our community?  

• Jesus asks the people to read and to understand the Old Testament which says: “Mercy is what pleases Me and not sacrifice”.  What does Jesus want to tell us with this today?

5) Concluding Prayer

Blessed are those who observe His instructions,

Blessed are those who observe His instructions,

who seek Him with all their hearts,

and, doing no evil, who walk in His ways. (Ps 119:2-3)

Lectio Divina:

The one who wants to do the Will of the Father
should listen to the words of Jesus and put them into practice.
Matthew 7,21-27


Opening prayer

your love never fails.
Hear our call.
Keep us from danger
and provide for all our needs.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
on God, for ever and ever. Amen.




Jesus said to his disciples: 'It is not anyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. When the day comes many will say to me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?" Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, all evil doers! 'Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!'



a) Key for the reading:

The text proposed to us in today’s Liturgy, closes the evangelical discourse of Jesus, which was opened with the Beatitudes (Mt 5, 1-12). Jesus “seeing the crowds, went onto the mountain and, when he was seated… he taught them” (Mt 5, 1-2). After having announced and inaugurated the new time of conversion in view of the Kingdom of Heaven which is close at hand (Mt 4, 17), Jesus presents a complete program of a new style of life founded on his Person: He is the “Good News of the Kingdom” (Mt 4, 23) on which are founded the new times. In this particular text of the seventh chapter, Jesus affirms that one enters the Kingdom of Heaven consciously choosing the values of that Kingdom with decision and responsibility. This is a decision which is translated in works which can be known: the works of the “children of God” (Mt 5, 9). Here Jesus refers, not so much to external works or extraordinary manifestations, but he refers particularly, to the foundation of every life of discipleship: to “do the will of my Father who is in Heaven” (Mt 7, 21). There are, in fact, so many who prophesize in the name of Jesus, drive out the demons and work prodigies in the commitment of evangelization (Mt 7, 22). But Jesus does not recognize them since they are “workers of iniquity” (Mt 7, 23). The indignant words addressed to these are hard and terrible in so far as Jesus openly declares: “I have never known you, away from me all evil doers” (Mt 7, 23). These are phrases which remind us the of words of the Good Shepherd, in the Gospel of John: “I am the Good Shepherd, and I know my sheep, and my sheep know me” (Jn 10,14). Here we see clearly how Jesus does not allow himself to be made fun of, he the Just Judge knows who belong to him and who do not! In John’s Gospel, we find the same theme, for example in reference to Judas Iscariot and of the choice of the Twelve: Jesus answered: “Did I not choose the Twelve of you? Yet, one of you is a devil!” He meant Judas, son of Simon Iscariot: since this was the man, one of the Twelve, who was to betray him. (Jn 6, 70); “I am not speaking about all of you; I know the ones I have chosen; but what Scripture says must be fulfilled: “He who shares my table takes advantage of me.” (Jn 13,18); “No, you did not choose me, I have chosen you and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name” (Jn 15, 16). This is a theme which is also common in the Old Testament. For example we find it in Hosea in relationship to the People of God who in spite of having “rejected the good”, cries out: “My God, we Israel know you!” (Ho 8,2-3). The parable of the ten virgins (Mt 12, 11-12; Lc 13, 25), of the two houses (Lk 6, 46) speak to us about this. But also other passages of the Acts and of the Letters of Paul make us notice this reality (Acts 8, 9-13; 2 Tm 3, 8-9; 1 Co 4, 20; Ph 3, 7-9) which already existed in the primitive Church: that is the presence of those who carry out their ministry in the name of Jesus, but, in fact, they are workers of iniquity, disobedient to the will of God (Hb 4, 6) and, therefore, they are foreign to the Kingdom of Heaven. From here follows Paul’s exhortation to the disciples to live: “Work willingly for the sake of the Lord and not for the sake of human beings. And wholeheartedly do the will of God” (Eph 6, 6).

Jesus recognizes as his own only those who do the will of the Father (Mt 12, 50; 21, 29-31; Mk 3, 35), because he is also recognized by them (Jn 7, 17). He warns his disciples about false prophets “who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves” (Mt 7, 15) In this text (Mt 7,22) the term “prophesized” refers to the ministry of teaching with authority, done in the name of Jesus, within the Christian community. Paul also refers to this in 1 Co 12,28 and Eph 4,11. This is one of the gifts together with exorcism and the manifestation of other wonders, which contribute to the edification of the Church facilitating the proclamation of the Good News. This is why this is a gift like all the other gifts which bears within itself great responsibility. The “workers of iniquity”, even if gifted with these gifts, cause harm to and ruin the Church (the house of God) by their hypocrisy. Perhaps this is also the sense of the parable of Jesus about the two houses being built, one on sand and the other one on rock. This is why, it is not so important to work so much but rather to build on the Word of God, putting it into practise with docility and charity, because without charity which unites us to God and to his will we are nothing and nothing which is useful (1Cor 13,1-13). “The prophecies will disappear; the gift of tongues will cease and the science will vanish” (1 Co 13,8). Only “charity will remain, will have no end” (1 Cor 13,8).

b) A few questions:

i) Read attentively the Gospel text and the key to the reading. Find in the Bible all the quotations of parallel texts. You can also find others which will help you to understand and deepen Matthew’s text.
ii) Underline that which struck you in the texts and the key for the reading.
iii) Which do you think is the principal message of Jesus in this discourse?
iv)The Gospel tells us that “when Jesus had finished these discourses, the crowds were amazed with his teaching” (Mt 7, 28). Is this also your reaction? Why?
v) The crowds noticed that Jesus “taught them as one who has authority and not like their Scribes” (Mt 7, 29). Which do you think was the intuition that the crowd had? Does this have something to do with the coherence of the life style of Jesus with his message?
vi) How can I contribute to the edification of the church?



In silence accept the words of Jesus in your heart. By practicing these words, you will end by being transformed into him.

Conclude your prayer by reciting Psalm 31 (1-3, 22, 24)

In you, Yahweh, I have taken refuge,
let me never be put to shame,
in your saving justice deliver me, rescue me,
turn your ear to me, make haste.

Be for me a rock-fastness,
a fortified citadel to save me.
You are my rock, my rampart;
true to your name, lead me and guide me!

In a state of terror I cried,
'I have been cut off from your sight!'
Yet you heard my plea for help when I cried out to you.
Be brave, take heart,
all who put your hope in Yahweh.



“Since, as we see it, a person is justified by faith and not by doing what the Law tells him to do.” (Rm 3,28).

Ordinary Time 

1) Opening prayer


you show your almighty power

in your mercy and forgiveness.

Continue to fill us with your gifts of love.

Help us to hurry towards the eternal life your promise

and come to share in the joys of your kingdom.

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

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

2) Gospel Reading - Luke 10:1-12

In those days the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of Him in pairs to all the towns and places He himself would be visiting.

H He said to them, 'The harvest is rich but the laborers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers to do his harvesting. Start off now, but look, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Take no purse with you, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road.

Whatever house you enter, let your first words be, "Peace to this house!" And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house.

Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is put before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, "The kingdom of God is very near to you."

But whenever you enter a town and they do not make you welcome, go out into its streets and say, "We wipe off the very dust of your town that clings to our feet, and leave it with you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God is very near." I tell you, on the great Day it will be more bearable for Sodom than for that town.’

3) Reflection

• Context: Chapter 10, which begins with this passage, presents a characteristic of revelation. In 9, 51 it is said that Jesus “resolutely turned his face toward Jerusalem”. This journey, an expression of his being Son, is characterized by a two-fold action: He is closely united “to the fact of being taken away” (v. 51), and his “coming” through the sending out of his disciples (v. 52). There is a bond of union in the double movement: “to be taken away from the world” to go toward the Father, and to be sent to men. In fact, it happens that sometimes the one sent is not accepted (9, 52 and, therefore, He has to learn how to be “delivered”, without allowing himself, because of this, to be modified by the rejection of men (9, 54-55). Three brief scenes make the reader understand the meaning of following Jesus who is going to Jerusalem to be taken out of the world. In the first one, a man is presented who desires to follow Jesus wherever He goes. Jesus invites him to abandon all that he has - all that gives him well-being and security. Those who want to follow Him have to share his destiny of a nomad life. In the second scene it is Jesus who takes the initiative and He calls a man whose father has just died. The man asks to delay in responding to the call in order to comply with the law and to his duty to bury the parents. The urgency of announcing the Kingdom exceeds this duty. The concern of burying the dead is useless because Jesus goes beyond the doors[1]  of death and He fulfils this even for those who follow him. In the third scene, a man is presented who offers himself spontaneously to follow Jesus but He places a condition: to bid farewell to his parents. To enter into the Kingdom one does not delay. After this three-fold renunciation, the expression of Luke 9, 60, “Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God”, introduces the theme of chapter 10. 

• The dynamic of the account. The passage which is the object of our meditation begins with somewhat dense expressions. The first one, “After these things, it sends us back to the prayer of Jesus and to his firm decision to go to Jerusalem. The second one concerns the verb “appointed”: He appointed seventy-two others and sent them out...” (10, 1). Where it is said concretely that He sent them ahead of him, it is the same resolute Jesus who is journeying to Jerusalem. The recommendations that He addresses to them before sending them are an invitation to be aware of the reality to which they are sent: abundant harvest in contrast to the few laborers. The Lord of the harvest arrives with all his force but the joy of that arrival is hindered by the reduced number of laborers. Therefore, the categorical invitation to prayer: “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers to do his harvesting” (v. 2). The initiative of sending out on mission is the competence of the Father but Jesus transmits the order: ”Start off now” and then He indicates the ways of following (vv. 4-11). He begins with the luggage: no purse, no sack nor sandals. These are elements that show the fragility of the one who is sent and his dependence on the help that they receive from the Lord and from the people of the city. The positive prescriptions are synthesized first in arriving to a house (vv. 5-7) and then in the success in the city (VV. 8-11). In both cases, the refusal is not excluded. The house is the first place where the missionaries have the first exchanges, the first relationships, valuing the human gestures of eating and drinking and of resting as simple and ordinary mediations to communicate the Gospel. “Peace” is the gift that precedes their mission, that is to say, fullness of life and of relationships; the true and real joy of the arrival of the Kingdom. It is not necessary to seek comfort and it is indispensable to be welcomed. Instead, the city becomes, the most extensive field of the mission. It is there that life, political activity, the possibility of conversion, acceptance, and rejection are developed. This last aspect is linked to the gesture of shaking off the dust (vv. 10-11). It is as if the disciples, in abandoning the city that has rejected them, would say to the people that they possess nothing as an expression of the end of the relationship. Finally, Jesus recalls the guilt of that city which will close itself to the proclamation of the Gospel (v. 12). 

4) Personal questions

• You are invited every day by the Lord to announce the Gospel to those close to you (in the house) and to all persons (in the city). Do you assume a poor, essential style in witnessing your identity as a Christian? 

• Are you aware that the success of your witness does not depend on your individual capacity but only on the Lord who orders and on your availability?

5) Concluding Prayer

Your face, Yahweh, I seek;

Do not turn away from me. 

Do not thrust aside your servant in anger, 

without you I am helpless. 

Never leave me, never forsake me, God, my Savior. (Ps 27,8-9)

Lectio Divina:

In Nazareth, where there was no faith,
Jesus could work no miracles!
Everybody’s Mission: to recreate the community
Mark 6:1-6

1. Opening prayer

Lord Jesus, send Your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, You helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of Your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.

Create in us silence so that we may listen to Your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May Your word guide us so that we, too, like the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, may experience the force of Your resurrection and witness to others that You are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of You, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed the Father to us and sent us Your Spirit. Amen.

2. Reading

a) A key to the reading:

On this 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Church presents to us the rejection of Jesus on the part of the people of Nazareth. Passing through Nazareth was painful for Jesus. What was His first community is now no longer such. Something has changed. Those who first accepted Him now reject Him. As we will see later, this experience of rejection led Jesus to go ahead and to change His way of acting.

Has something changed in your relationship with your family or with your friends, since you began to participate in the community? Has participation in the community helped you to accept and to have greater trust in people, especially in the simplest and poorest people?

b) A division of the text to help in the reading:

Mark 6:1: Jesus arrives in Nazareth, His community of origin

Mark 6:2-3: The reaction of the people of Nazareth to Jesus

Mark 6:4: The way in which Jesus accepts the criticism

Mark 6:5-6: The lack of faith prevents Him from working the miracle

c) The text:

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

3. A moment of prayerful silence

that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

4. Some questions

to help us in our personal reflection.

a) Which part of this text did you like the most and what impressed you most? Why?

b) What is the attitude of Nazareth toward Jesus? Why do they not believe in Him?

c) Because of the lack of faith of the people, Jesus cannot work many miracles in Nazareth. Why is faith so important? Would it be that Jesus cannot work miracles without the faith of people?

d) What are the elements that characterize the mission of the disciples?

e) Which point of the mission of the apostles has greatest importance for us today? Why?

5. For those who wish to go more deeply into the theme

a) Context of yesterday and of today:

i) Throughout the pages of his Gospel, Mark indicates that the presence and actions of Jesus constitute a growing source of joy for some and a reason for rejection by others. The conflict grows and the mystery of God appears which envelop the person of Jesus. With chapter 6 of the narrative we find ourselves in a curve. The people of Nazareth close themselves up before Jesus (Mk 6:1-6). And Jesus, before this closing up of the people of His community, opens Himself to the people of another community. He directs Himself toward the people of Galilee and sends His disciples on mission, teaching them how the relationship should be with people, so that it will be a true community relationship, which does not exclude, as it had happened among the people of Nazareth (Mk 6:7-13).

ii) When Mark wrote his Gospel, the Christian communities lived in a difficult situation, without horizons. Humanly speaking there was no future for them. The description of the conflict which Jesus faces in Nazareth and in sending out the disciples, which extends the mission, makes it creative. For those who believe in Jesus there can be no situation without a horizon.

b) Commentary on the text

Mark 6:1-3. Reactions of the people of Nazareth to Jesus

It is always good to go back to our own land. After a long absence, Jesus also goes back and, as usual on Saturday, He goes to a meeting of the community. Jesus was not the coordinator, but just the same, He speaks. This is a sign that the people could participate and express their opinion. But the people did not like the words pronounced by Jesus.  They were scandalized. Jesus, who was known to them since He was a child, how is it that now He is so different? The people of Capernaum had accepted the teaching of Jesus (Mark 1:22), but the people of Nazareth remained scandalized and had not accepted it. What was the reason for this rejection? “Is this not the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary?” They did not accept God’s mystery present in such a common person, one like themselves! In order to be able to speak of God, He would have to be different from them!

The expression “brothers of Jesus” causes many polemics between Catholics and Protestants. Basing themselves on this and in other texts, the Protestants say that Jesus had more brothers and sisters and that Mary had more children! We Catholics say that Mary did not have other children. What are we to think about this? In the first place, the two positions, that of Catholics and that of the Protestants, take arguments from the Bible and from the ancient Tradition from their respective Churches. For this reason, it is not appropriate to discuss these questions using rational arguments, which are the fruit of our own ideas. It is a question of deep convictions which have something to do with faith and the sentiment of the people.

The argument supported by ideas alone does not  bring about a conviction of faith, the roots of which are found in the heart! It only irritates and disturbs! But even if I do not agree with the opinion of another, I must always respect it. In the second place, instead of discussing the texts, all of us, Catholics and Protestants, should unite much more to fight in the defense of life, created by God, a life which is so transfigured by poverty, injustice, the lack of faith. We should remember other words of Jesus: “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance” (Jn 10:10). “So that all may be one, so that the world may believe it was You who sent Me” (Jn 17:21). “You must not stop him. Anyone who is not against us is for us” (Mk 9:39-40).

Mark 6:4-6b. Reactions of Jesus to the attitude of the people of Nazareth

Jesus knows very well that “the saint of the house does not work miracles.” And He asserts, “A prophet is despised only in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house!” In fact, where faith is not accepted, people can do nothing. Prejudice prevents it. Jesus, even if He wanted, can do nothing and remains surprised by their lack of faith.

c) Information on the Gospel of Mark:

This year the Liturgy presents the Gospel of Mark to us in a particular way. Because of this it is worthwhile to give some information which will help us to uncover the message which Mark wants to communicate to us.

· The design of the face of God on the wall of the Gospel of Mark

Jesus dies approximately in the year 33. When Mark writes his Gospel about the year 70, the Christian communities lived already dispersed in the Roman Empire. Some say that Mark writes for the community of Italy. Others say that he does it for those of Syria. It is difficult to know it with certainty. Nevertheless, one thing is certain. The problems were not lacking: the Roman Empire persecuted the Christians, the propaganda of the Empire infiltrated the communities, the Jews from Palestine rebelled against the Roman invasion, there were internal tensions due to diverse tendencies, doctrines and leaders…

Mark writes his Gospel to help the communities find a response to their problems and concerns. He collects various episodes and parables of Jesus and joins them together as bricks on a wall. The bricks were already ancient and known. They came from the community, where they were transmitted orally in meetings and celebrations. The design formed by the bricks was new. It came from Mark, from his experience of Jesus. He wanted the community, reading what Jesus did and said, to find a response to these questions: “Who is Jesus for us and who are we for Jesus? How can we be His disciples? How can we proclaim the Good News of God that He has revealed? How can we travel on the path that He traced?

· Three keys to understanding the division of the Gospel of Mark

1st Key: The Gospel of Mark was written to be read and listened to in community. When a book is read alone, one can always turn back, to join one thing to another, but when one is in community and a person is reading the Gospel to us, it is not possible to say, “Stop! Read that again! I did not understand well!” As we shall see, a book written to be listened to in  community celebrations has a different way of dividing the theme from a book written to be read by one alone.

2nd Key: The Gospel of Mark is a narrative. A narrative is like a river. Going through the river in a boat, one is not aware of the divisions in the water. The river has no divisions! It is constituted by one flow alone, from the beginning to the end. In the river, the divisions, are made beginning from the bank of the river. For example it is said: “ What a beautiful part which goes from that house up to the curve where there is a palm, three curves after that.” But in the water no divisions can be seen. Mark’s narrative runs like a river. Its divisions, those who listen, find them on the margin, that is to say, in the places through which Jesus passed by, in the geography, in the persons whom He meets, along the roads He travels. These indications on the margin help those who listen to not get lost in the midst of so many words and actions of Jesus and by Jesus. The geographic framework helps the reader to walk with Jesus, step after step, from Galilee to Jerusalem, from the lake to Calvary.

3rd Key: the Gospel of Mark was written so as to be read in one sitting. This is what the Jews did with the brief books of the Old Testament.  Some scholars affirm that the Gospel of Mark was written to be read completely in the course of the night of the long Paschal vigil. Or, in order to not get the people who listened tired, the reading had to be divided and to have some pauses. Besides, when a narrative is long, as that of the Gospel of Mark, its reading has to be interrupted quite often. In certain moments there is need for a pause, otherwise the listeners would be lost. These pauses were foreseen by the author of the narrative himself . These pauses were marked by short summaries, between two long readings. Practically, the same thing that happens in television. Every day, at the beginning of the news  some scenes of the preceding transmission are repeated. When they end, some scenes of the next day are presented. These summaries are like the hinges which collect what has been read and open to what will follow. They allow one to stop and to begin anew, without interrupting or disturbing the sequence of the narrative. They help those who listen to place themselves in the river of the narrative which flows. In the Gospel of Mark there are diverse summaries of this type, or pauses, which allow us to discover and follow the thread of the Good News of God which Jesus has revealed to us and that Mark tells us. In the whole, there is a question of seven blocks or longer readings, intermingled with short summaries or hinges, where it is possible to make a pause.

· A division of the Gospel of Mark

Below we give a possible division of the Gospel of Mark. Others divide it in a different way. The importance of a division is that it opens one of the many windows inside the text, and that it helps us to discover the direction of the road which Jesus opened for us toward the Father and the brothers and sisters.

Mark 1:1-13                     Beginning of the Good News

                                               Prepare the announcement

                                                         1st Reading

Mark 1:14-15                   pause, summary, hinge

Mark 1:16-3:16               The Good News grows

                                               The conflict becomes present

                                                          2nd Reading

Mark 3:7-12                     pause, summary, hinge

Mark 3:13-6:6                  The conflict grows

                                               The Mystery appears

                                                         3rd Reading

Mark 6:7-13                     pause, summary, hinge

Mark 6:14-8:21                The Mystery grows

                                               It is not understood

                                                         4th Reading

Mark 8:22-26                   pause, summary, hinge

Mark 8:27-10:45              They continue not to understand

                                             The dark light of the Cross appears

                                                         5th Reading

Mark 10:46-52                 pause, summary, hinge

Mark 11:1-13:32              The dark light of the Cross grows

                                               Rupture and death appear

                                                          6th Reading

Mark 13:33-37                  pause, summary, hinge

Mark 14:1-15:39               Rupture and death grow

                                               Victory over death appears

                                                          7th Reading

Mark 15:40-41                  pause, summary, hinge

Mark 15:42-16:20            The victory over death increases

                                                The Good News reappears

                                                          8th Reading

Mark 16:9-20

In this division the titles are important. They indicate the path of the Spirit, of inspiration, which the Gospel follows from the beginning until the end. When an artist has an inspiration, he tries to express it in a work of art. A poem or an image which is produced encloses in itself this inspiration. Inspiration is like an electric force which runs invisibly through the wires and lights the lamp in our houses. In the same way,   inspiration runs invisibly through the letters of the poem or the form of the image to reveal  in us a light similar or almost similar to that which shone in the soul of the artist. This is the reason why artistic works attract and shake people so much. The same thing happens when we read and meditate on the Gospel of Mark. The same Spirit or Inspiration which impelled Mark to write the text continues to be present in the words of his Gospel. Through our attentive and prayerful reading, this Spirit acts and begins to act in us. And thus, little by little, we discover the face of God who has revealed Himself in Jesus and which Mark communicates to us in his book.

6. Prayer of Psalm 145

Always give thanks for everything!

I shall praise You to the heights,
God my King,
I shall bless Your name for ever and ever.
Day after day I shall bless You,
I shall praise Your name for ever and ever.
Great is Yahweh and worthy of all praise,
His greatness beyond all reckoning.
Each age will praise Your deeds to the next,
proclaiming Your mighty works.
Your renown is the splendor of your glory,
I will ponder the story of Your wonders.
They will speak of Your awesome power,
and I shall recount Your greatness.
They will bring out the memory of Your great generosity,
and joyfully acclaim Your saving justice.
Yahweh is tenderness and pity,
slow to anger, full of faithful love.
Yahweh is generous to all,
His tenderness embraces all His creatures.
All Your creatures shall thank You,
Yahweh, and Your faithful shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingship
and tell of Your might,
making known Your mighty deeds to the children of Adam,
the glory and majesty of Your kingship.
Your kingship is a kingship for ever,
Your reign lasts from age to age.
Yahweh is trustworthy in all His words,
and upright in all His deeds.
Yahweh supports all who stumble,
lifts up those who are bowed down.
All look to You in hope
and You feed them with the food of the season.
And, with generous hand,
You satisfy the desires of every living creature.
Upright in all that He does,
Yahweh acts only in faithful love.
He is close to all who call upon Him,
all who call on Him from the heart.
He fulfills the desires of all who fear Him,
He hears their cry and He saves them.
Yahweh guards all who love Him,
but all the wicked He destroys.
My mouth shall always praise Yahweh,
let every creature bless His holy name for ever and ever.

7. Final Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May Your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice what Your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, Your mother, not only listen to but also practice the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

The mission of the twelve

Mark 6:7-13

1. Opening prayer

Father, grant that we may see in Your Son the face of Your love, the Word of salvation and mercy, so that we may follow Him with generous heart and proclaim Him in word and deed to our brothers and sisters who look for the Kingdom and His justice. Pour out Your Spirit upon us that we may listen attentively and that our witness may be authentic and free, even in difficult times and in times when we do not understand. Who lives and reigns forever and ever.

2. Reading

a) The context:

After the calling ("institution" in the text) of the twelve (Mk 3:13-19), Jesus teaches and heals as part of their schooling. Now the time has come for their first public practice: as a first experience, they have to go and proclaim. Two by two, they go among the people with tasks, which in Mark seem to be rather simple: a generic proclamation to conversion and various types of warnings against evil. Jesus does not let the violent refusal of Himself in Nazareth frighten Him, a fact first recalled by Mark: Mk 6:1-6. He does not suspend His mission, because our closed minds cannot block Him.

The other two Synoptic Gospels (Mt 10:1-42; Lk 9:1-10) recount with greater precision the tasks and challenges the twelve will meet. However, in all the Gospels it is important to note that the mission comes from Jesus and only after they have learned from Him the manner and the content. The number "twelve", which is also the number of the tribes of Israel, is so often repeated in connection with the foundation of the new community, even to the glories of the Apocalypse, signifying continuity and the surpassing of the preceding saving economy. The sending "two by two" must be understood according to the Jewish mentality that accepts any witness only if it is brought by a "community" ( a minimum of two) and not by one person. “Two” also appears in other instructions from Jesus (Mt 18:19-20).

b) The text:

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick— no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

3. A moment of silent prayer

to re-read the text with our heart and to recognize in the words and structure, the presence of the mystery of the living God.

4. Some questions

to see the important points in the text and begin to assimilate them

a) In Mark, why is the driving out of the unclean spirits so important?

b) What is the meaning of this insistence on poverty of means?

c) What is the content of this first proclamation?

d) Why does Jesus place poverty and courage and freedom together?

e) Why does the proclamation have to be itinerant and not stable?

f) What do the other Synoptic Gospels explain better?

5. A deepening of the reading

"He began to send them out two by two"

The mission of the disciples does not come from personal enthusiasm or from a desire for greatness. It begins when Jesus thinks that they are ready to speak, based on what they have heard and assimilated. According to Mark, until then they had seen many miracles and heard some teachings, important among the teachings being the theme of the seed that grows in several ways. They have also witnessed some arguments between Jesus and the leaders.

They were to model themselves on Jesus' practice as healer, His call to conversion, His availability to move among the people, and His itinerant preaching. They are certainly not mature yet. Under Jesus' supervision they will learn and better themselves: they will come up with the right words and the proper gestures. They will experience the enthusiasm that comes from great success, but in the end, they will have to go beyond even their focus on miracles in order to announce the death and resurrection of the Savior.

"He gave them authority over the unclean spirits"

This concerns "exousia" which Jesus practiced too: they are therefore empowered and authorized to use the same power. For Mark, it almost seems that this is the main exercise at this time; in fact, he concentrates on this aspect of Jesus as "thaumaturge" and one who drives out evil spirits.

We need to understand that "unclean spirits" meant many things: mental illnesses, forms of epilepsy, destructive spiritual forces, every form of psychological disorder, physical malfunctions, etc.

Power is exercised in walking among these sufferings, accepting the challenge to faith in God provided by these challenges, accepting to live in solidarity, accepting the dignity of each human being. We must not identify "unclean" with sexual or legal impurity. It is a matter of "purity" as God sees it, that is, love, solidarity, justice, mercy, collaboration, welcoming, etc. That is why the twelve will have to call "to conversion" from these prejudices, perverse and "unclean" forms to live as children of God.


"Nothing for their journey, except a staff…"

Their mission must be an itinerant one, not sedentary; that is, the mission must constantly stimulate the going, new encounters, detachment from results, interior and exterior freedom. Hence the recommendation, found in all the Synoptic Gospels, to practice material poverty in dress and food, in security and guarantees. It was probably also a matter of the shortness of the experience: as a first exercise, it was not supposed to last long, and so, they had to travel light, free, focused more on the importance of the proclamation than on the consolidation of results.

When this text was written, the situation of the community of disciples was a lot more developed and consolidated. Thus, the memory of these recommendations not only served to recall this first joyful and adventurous experience, but also to confront the present style of life and customs with those of the time of Jesus, now so long ago. Thus, the text aims at remembering and at a new missionary impetus, less fearful of the demands of comfort and security.

"When you leave, shake off the dust…"

The Lord's recommendations bring together two aspects, which only appear to be in contradiction. On the one hand, the disciples must be completely available to meet the people, without thinking of gain or survival. They must seek out sick people - that is, those sick for personal or social reasons, from the oppression of the law or from  human evil - and free them, pour the oil of consolation on them, heal their wounds and interior hurts. But, on the other hand, they must also avoid accepting any form of hypocrisy and irresponsible do-gooders.

Besides charity and care for the suffering, they must also have the courage to unmask hypocrisy, react to closed minds and accept personal failure. Where they are not received, they must leave without regrets or weakness. Rejection or hypocrisy render proclamation and witness sterile. He asks for a clear and unequivocal break, a thing that Jesus Himself, perhaps, had not experienced much. He always tried to go back and dialogue. He suffered from the closed minds of the Pharisees and the scribes. He challenged their tenacious and insidious teachings. Yet now He imposes on His disciples the direction not to waste time on those who will not receive them. Probably, in this recommendation there is also an adaptation to the situation of the community: they must not regret the break with the Israelite community. There had been a closed attitude and a ferocious and aggressive refusal: well, Jesus had foreseen this too. There was no need to grieve. They must go to other people and they must not waste time trying to win back what could not be won back.

6. Psalm 85

Prayer for justice and peace

Show us Thy steadfast love,
O Lord, and grant us Thy salvation.
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for He will speak peace to His people, to His saints,
to those who turn to Him in their hearts.
Surely His salvation is at hand for those who fear Him,
that glory may dwell in our land.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss. 
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.
Yea, the Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before Him,
and make His footsteps a way.

7. Closing prayer

Lord our God, keep Your Son’s disciples from the easy ways of popularity, of cheap glory, and lead them to the ways of the poor and scourged of the earth, so that they may recognize in their faces the face of the Master and Redeemer. Give them eyes to see possible ways of peace and solidarity; ears to hear the requests for meaning and salvation of so many people who grope in the dark; enrich their hearts with generous fidelity and a sensitiveness and understanding so that they may walk along the way and be true and sincere witnesses to the glory that shines in the crucified resurrected and victorious One. Who lives and reigns gloriously with You, Father, forever and ever. Amen.

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