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Luke 4, 1-13

The temptations of Jesus.
Victory by means of prayer and the Bible
Luke 4, 1-13


a) Initial Prayer

Oh Lord, at the beginning of this Lenten time you invite me to meditate, once more, on the account of the temptations, so that I may discover the heart of the spiritual struggle and, above all, so that I may experience the victory over evil.
Holy Spirit, “visit our minds” because frequently, many thoughts proliferate in our mind which make us feel that we are in the power of the uproar of many voices. The fire of love also purifies our senses and the heart so that they may be docile and available to the voice of your Word. Enlighten us (accende lumen sensibus, infunde amorem cordibus) so that our senses, purified by you, may be ready to dialogue with you. If the fire of your love blazes up in our heart, over and above our aridity, it can flood the true life, which is fullness of joy.

b) Reading of the Gospel:

Luke 4, 1-131 Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert, 2 for forty days being put to the test by the devil. During that time he ate nothing and at the end he was hungry. 3 Then the devil said to him, 'If you are Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf.' 4 But Jesus replied, 'Scripture says: Human beings live not on bread alone.' 5 Then leading him to a height, the devil showed him in a moment of time all the kingdoms of the world 6 and said to him, 'I will give you all this power and their splendour, for it has been handed over to me, for me to give it to anyone I choose. 7 Do homage, then, to me, and it shall all be yours.' 8 But Jesus answered him, 'Scripture says: You must do homage to the Lord your God, him alone you must serve.' 9 Then he led him to Jerusalem and set him on the parapet of the Temple. 'If you are Son of God,' he said to him, 'throw yourself down from here, 10 for scripture says: He has given his angels orders about you, to guard you, and again: 11 They will carry you in their arms in case you trip over a stone.' 12 But Jesus answered him, 'Scripture says: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' 13 Having exhausted every way of putting him to the test, the devil left him, until the opportune moment.

c) Moment of prayerful silence:

To listen silence is necessary: of the soul, of the spirit, of the sensibility and also exterior silence, with the tension to listen to what the Word of God intends to communicate.


a) Key for the reading:

Luke with the refinement of a narrator mentions in 4, 1-44 some aspects of the ministry of Jesus after His Baptism, among which the temptations of the devil. In fact, he says that Jesus “Filled with the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert, for forty days” (Lk 4, 1-2). Such an episode of the life of Jesus is something preliminary to his ministry, but it can also be understood as the moment of transition of the ministry of John the Baptist to that of Jesus. In Mark such an account of the temptations is more generic. In Matthew, it is said that Jesus “was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil” (Mt 4, 1), these last words attribute the experience of the temptations to an influence which is at the same time heavenly and diabolical. The account of Luke modifies the text of Matthew in such a way as to show that Jesus “filled with the Holy Spirit” , leaves the Jordan on his own initiative and is led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, where “he is tempted by the devil” (4, 2). The sense which Luke wants to give to the temptations of Jesus is that those were an initiative of the devil and not a programmed experience of the Holy Spirit (S. Brown). It is as if Luke wanted to keep clearly distinct the person of the devil from the person of the Holy Spirit.

Another element to be kept in mind is the order with which Luke disposes the order of the temptations: desert – sight of the kingdoms of the world – pinnacle of Jerusalem. In Matthew, instead, the order varies: desert – pinnacle – high mountain. Exegetes discuss as to which is the original disposition, but they do not succeed in finding a unanimous solution. The difference could be explained beginning with the third temptation (the culminating one): for Matthew the “mountain” is the summit of the temptation because in his Gospel he places all his interest on the theme of the mountain (we just have to remember the sermon on the mountain, the presentation of Jesus as “the new Moses”); for Luke, instead, the last temptation takes place on the pinnacle of the temple of Jerusalem because one of the greatest interests of his Gospel is the city of Jerusalem (Jesus in the account of Luke is on the way toward Jerusalem where salvation is definitively fulfilled) (Fitzmyer).

The reader can legitimately ask himself the question: In Luke, just as in Matthew, were there possible witnesses to the temptations of Jesus? The answer is certainly negative. From the account of Luke it appears clearly that Jesus and the devil are one in front of the other, completely alone. The answers of Jesus to the devil are taken from Sacred Scripture, they are quotations from the Old Testament. Jesus faces the temptations, and particularly that of the worship which the devil intends from Jesus himself, having recourse to the Word of God as bread of life, as protection from God. The recourse to the Word of God contained in the Book of Deuteronomy, considered by exegetes as a long meditation on the Law, shows Luke’s intention to recall this episode of the life of Jesus with the project of God who wishes to save mankind.

Did these temptations take place historically? Why do some, among believers and non believers, hold that such temptations are only some fantasy on Jesus, some invention of a story? Such questions are extremely important in a context such as ours which seeks to empty the accounts in the Gospel, from its historical and faith content. Certainly, it is not possible to give a literary and ingenuous explanation, nor to think that these could have happened in an external way. That of Dupont seems to us to be sufficiently acceptable: “Jesus speaks about an experience which He has lived, but translated into a figurative language, adapted to strike the minds of his listeners” (Les tentationes, 128). More than considering them as an external fact, the temptations are considered as a concrete experience in the life of Jesus. It seems to me that this is the principal reason which has guided Luke and the other Evangelists in transmitting those scenes. The opinions of those who hold that the temptations of Jesus are fictitious or invented are deprived of foundation, neither is it possible to share the opinion of Dupont himself, when he says that these were “a purely spiritual dialogue that Jesus had with the devil” (Dupont, 125). Looking within the New Testament (Jn 6, 26-34; 7, 1-4; Hb 4, 15; 5, 2; 2, 17a) it is clear that the temptations were an evident truth in the life of Jesus. The explanation of R.E. Brown is interesting and can be shared: “Matthew and Luke would have done no injustice to historical reality by dramatizing such temptations within a scene, and by masking the true tempter by placing this provocation on his lips” (the Gospel According to John, 308). In synthesis we could say that the historicity of the temptations of Jesus or the taking root of these in the experience of Jesus have been described with a “figurative language” (Dupont) or “dramatized” (R.E. Brown). It is necessary to distinguish the content (the temptations in the experience of Jesus) from its container (the figurative or dramatized language). It is certain that these two interpretations are much more correct from those who interpret them in a an ingenious literary sense.

Besides Luke, with these scenes intends to remind us that the temptations were addressed to Jesus by an external agent. They are not the result of a psychological crisis or because He finds himself in a personal conflict with someone. The temptations, rather, lead back to the “temptations” which Jesus experienced in His ministry: hostility, opposition, rejection. Such “temptations” were real and concrete in his life. He had no recourse to His divine power to solve them. These trials were a form of “diabolical seducing” (Fitsmyer), a provocation to use His divine power to change the stones into bread and to manifest himself in eccentric ways.

The temptations end with this expression: “Having exhausted every way of putting him to the test, the devil left Jesus (4, 13). therefore, the three scenes which contain the temptations are to be considered as the expression of all temptations or trials” which Jesus had to face. But the fundamental point is that Jesus, in so far that He is the Son, faced and overcame the “temptation”. and, even more: He was tested and tried in His fidelity to the Father and was found to be faithful.

A last consideration regarding the third temptation. In the first two temptations the devil provoked Jesus to use His divine Filiation to deny the human finiteness: to avoid providing for himself bread like all men; requiring then from Him, an illusory omnipotence. In both of these, Jesus does not respond saying: I do not want to! But appeals to the Law of God, His Father: “It is written… it has been said…” A wonderful lesson. But the devil does not give in and presents a third provocation, the strongest of all: to save Himself from death. In one word, to throw himself down from the pinnacle meant a sure death. The Devil quotes Scripture, Psalm 91, to invite Jesus to the magic and spectacular use of divine protection, and in last instance, to the denial of death. The passage of the Gospel of Luke launches a strong warning: the erroneous use of the Word of God, can be the occasion of temptations. In what sense? My way of relating myself to the Bible is placed in crisis especially when I use it only to give moral teachings to others who are in difficulty or in a state of crisis. We refer to certain pseudo spiritual discourses which are addressed to those who are in difficulty: “Are you anguished? There is nothing else you can do but pray and everything will be solved”. This means to ignore the consistency of the anguish which a person has and which frequently depends on a biochemical fact or of a psycho-social difficulty, or of a mistaken way of placing oneself before God. It would be more coherent to say: Pray and ask the Lord to guide you in having recourse to the human mediations of the doctor or of a wise and knowledgeable friend so that they can help you in lessening or curing you of your anguish. One cannot propose Biblical phrases, in a magic way, to others, neglecting to use the human mediations. “The frequent temptation is that of making a Bible of one’s own moral, instead of listening to the moral teachings of the Bible” (X. Thévenot).

In this time of Lent I am invited to get close to the Word of God with the following attitude: a tireless and prayerful assiduity to the Word of God, reading it with a constant bond of union with the great traditions of the Church, and in dialogue with the problems of humanity today.


a) Psalm 119:

How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the Law of Yahweh!
Blessed are those who observe his instructions,
who seek him with all their hearts,

Let us renew ourselves in the Spirit
And put on the new man
Jesus Christ, our Lord,
in justice and in true sanctity.
(St. Paul).


and, doing no evil,
who walk in his ways.
You lay down your precepts
to be carefully kept.

Let us follow Jesus Christ
and serve Him
with a pure heart and good conscience.
(Rule of Carmel)

May my ways be steady
in doing your will.
Then I shall not be shamed,
if my gaze is fixed on your commandments.

Let us follow Jesus Christ
and serve Him
with a pure heart and good conscience. (Rule of Carmel)

I thank you with a sincere heart
for teaching me your upright judgements.
I shall do your will;
do not ever abandon me wholly.

Let us renew ourselves in the Spirit
And put on the new man
Christ Jesus, our Lord,
created according to God the Father
in justice and in true sanctity. Amen
(S. Paul).

b) Final Prayer:

Lord, we look for you and we desire to see your face, grant us that one day, removing the veil, we may be able to contemplate it.
We seek you in Scripture which speaks to us of you and under the veil of wisdom, the fruit of the search of people.
We look for you in the radiant faces of our brothers and sisters, in the marks of your Passion in the bodies of the suffering.
Every creature is signed by your mark, every thing reveals a ray of Your invisible beauty.
You are revealed in the service of the brother, you revealed yourself to the brother by the faithful love which never diminishes.
Not the eyes but the heart has a vision of You, with simplicity and truth we try to speak with You.


To prolong our meditation we suggest a reflection of Benedict XVI:
“Lent is the privileged time of an interior pilgrimage toward the One who is the source of mercy. It is a pilgrimage in which He himself accompanies us through the desert of our poverty, supporting us on the way toward the intense joy of Easter. Even in the “dark valley” of which the Psalmist speaks (Psalm 23, 4), while the tempter suggests that we be dispersed or proposes an illusory hope in the work of our hands, God takes care of us and supports us. […] Lent wants to lead us in view of the victory of Christ over every evil which oppresses man. In turning to the Divine Master, in converting ourselves to Him, in experiencing His mercy, we discover a “look” which penetrates in the depth of ourselves and which can encourage each one of us.”

Jesus, the Scribes and the widow
The different way of accounting in the Kingdom of God
Mark 12:38-44

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 to us the Father and sent us Your Spirit. Amen.

2. Reading

a) A key to the reading:

The Gospel text of this Sunday presents us with two opposing but connected facts: on the one hand, we have Jesus criticizing the scribes who used religion to exploit poor widows; and on the other hand, we have the example of the poor widow who gave to the temple even what she had to live on. These facts are relevant even today!

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

Mark 12:38-40: Jesus criticizes the exploitation of the scribes
Mark 12:41-42: Jesus watches people who place their alms in the treasury of the temple
Mark 12:43-44: Jesus reveals the value of the poor widow’s action

c) Text:

In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds, "Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation." He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood." or Mk 12:41-44 Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood."

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 pleased or struck you most in this text? Why?
b) What does Jesus criticize and what does He praise in the doctors of the law?
c) What social and religious imbalances of that period do we find in the text?
d) How is it that the widow’s two coins are of more value than the great amount put in by the rich? Look carefully at the text and see what follows. Why does Jesus praise the poor widow?
e) What message does this text convey to us today?

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

a) Yesterday’s and today’s context:

The context in Jesus’ time.
Mark’s text 12:38-44 recounts the last part of Jesus’ activities in Jerusalem (Mk 11:1 to 12:44). Those were very intense days, full of conflicts: the driving out of the sellers in the temple (Mk 11:12-26), many discussions with the authorities: (Mk 11:27 to 12:12), with the Pharisees, with the Herodians and the Sadducees (Mk 12:13-27) and with the doctors of the law (Mk 12:28-37). This Sunday’s text (Mk 12:38-44) reports a final word of criticism by Jesus concerning the bad behavior of the doctors of the law (Mk 12:38-40) and a word of praise for the good behavior of the widow. Almost at the end of His activities in Jerusalem, Jesus sits in front of the treasury where people were putting their alms for the temple. Jesus draws the disciples’ attention to the action of a poor widow and teaches them the value of sharing (Mk 12:41-44).

The context in Mark’s time.
During the first forty years of the Church’s history, from the 30’s to the 70’s, the Christian communities, for the most part, were made up of poor people (1Cor 1:26). Later some rich people or those who had various problems joined them. The social tensions that existed in the Roman Empire began to be felt in the life of the communities. For instance, divisions came to the fore when the communities came together to celebrate the Lord’s supper (1Cor 11:20-22), or when they met together (Jas 2:1-4). Thus, the teaching concerning the action of the widow was very real for them. It was like looking into a mirror, because Jesus compares the behavior of the rich to that of the poor.

Today’s context.
Jesus praises the poor widow because she could share more than the rich people did. Many poor today do the same. People say, “The poor never allow another poor person to die of hunger.”  But sometimes even this is not true. Donna Cícera, a poor lady who went from the country to the periphery of a great city used to say, “In the country, I was very poor, but I always had something to share with another poor person who knocked on my door. Now that I am in the city, when I see a poor person who knocks on my door, I hide for shame because I have nothing to share!” Thus we see on the one hand rich people who have everything, and on the other poor people who have almost nothing to share, and yet share the little they have.

b) A commentary on the text:

Mark 12:38-40: Jesus criticizes the doctors of the law.
Jesus draws His disciples’ attention to the hypocritical and exploiting behavior of some doctors of the law. “doctors” or scribes were those who taught people the law of God. But they taught it only by word, because their lives witnessed to the opposite. They liked going about the squares wearing long tunics, accepting the greetings of people, taking first places in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets. In other words, they were people who wished to appear important. They used their knowledge and their profession as a means of climbing the social ladder and of enriching themselves, and not for serving. They liked to visit widows and recite long prayers in exchange for money! Jesus ends by saying, “The more severe will be the sentence they receive!”

Mark 12:41-42: The almsgiving of the widow.
Jesus and the disciples were seated in front of the treasury of the temple and watched people placing their alms in the treasury. The poor gave a few cents, the rich put in bills of great value. The treasury became full. All gave something for the upkeep of the cult, to support the priests and for the maintenance of the temple. Some of the money was used to help the poor, since in those days there was no social security. The poor depended on public charity. The neediest among the poor were the orphans and widows. They had nothing. They completely depended on the charity of others. But, even though they had nothing, they made an effort to share with others the little they had. Thus, a very poor widow places her alms in the treasury, just a few cents!

Mark 12:43-44: Jesus shows us where to find God’s will.
What is of greater value: the few cents of the widow or the thousand coins of the rich? For the disciples, the thousand coins of the rich were far more useful to perform acts of charity than the widow’s few cents. They thought that peoples’ problems could be solved by means of a lot of money. On the occasion of the multiplication of the loaves, they said to Jesus, “Are we to go and spend two hundred denarii on bread for them to eat?” (Mk 6:37) Indeed, for those who think this way, the two cents of the widow are of no use. But Jesus says, “This poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury”. Jesus has different criteria. In calling the attention of the disciples to the action of the widow, He teaches them and us where we must look for the manifestation of God’s will, that is, in sharing. If today we shared the goods that God has placed in the universe for the whole of humanity, there would be neither poverty nor hunger. There would be enough for all and there would be some left over for others.

c) Further information: Almsgiving, sharing, wealth

The practice of almsgiving was very important for the Jews. It was considered a “good work” (Mt 6:1-4), because the law of the Old Testament said: “There will never cease to be poor people in the country, and that is why I am giving you this command: Always be open handed with your brother, and with anyone in your country who is in need and poor” (Deut 15:11). Alms placed in the treasury, whether for the cult or for the maintenance of the temple or for those in need, orphans and widows, were considered an act pleasing to God. Almsgiving was a way of sharing with others, a way of recognizing that all goods and gifts belong to God and that we are but administrators of these gifts, so that there may be abundance in this life for all.

It was from the book of Exodus that the people of Israel learned the importance of almsgiving, of sharing. The forty years’ journey in the desert was necessary to overcome the desire for accumulation that came from the Pharaoh of Egypt and that was well implanted in the minds of the people. It was easy to leave Pharaoh’s country. It was difficult to free oneself of Pharaoh’s mentality. The ideology of the great is false and deceiving. It was necessary to experience hunger in the desert so to learn that what is necessary for life is for all. This is what the manna teaches: “No one who had collected more had too much, no one who had collected less had too little” (Ex 16:18).

But the tendency to accumulate was there all the time and was very strong. And it constantly reappears in the human heart. It is precisely because of this tendency to accumulate that the great empires in the history of humanity were formed. The desire to possess and to accumulate is at the very heart of the ideology of these human empires or kingdoms. Jesus points to the conversion required to enter the Kingdom of God. He says to the rich young man, “Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor” (Mk 10:21). This same requirement is echoed in the other Gospels: “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it” (Lk 12:33-34; Mt 6:9-20). Then Jesus adds the reason for this demand: “For wherever your treasure is, that is where your heart will be too”.

The practice of sharing, of almsgiving and of solidarity is one of the marks of the Spirit of Jesus, given to us on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13), and that He wishes to make present in the communities. The result of the outpouring of the Spirit is precisely this: “None of the members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from the sale of them, to present it to the apostles” (Acts 4:34-35ª; 2:44-45). These alms received by the apostles were not accumulated but were rather “then distributed to any who might be in need” (Acts 4:35b; 2:45).

On the one hand, the arrival of rich people into the communities made it possible to expand Christianity, because these offered better conditions to the missionary movement. However, on the other hand, the accumulation of goods blocked the movement of solidarity and sharing inspired by the force of the Spirit of Pentecost. James wishes to help such people to understand that they had gone the wrong way: “Well now you rich! Lament, weep for the miseries that are coming to you. Your wealth is rotting, your clothes are all moth-eaten.” (Jas 5:1-3). We all need to become students of that poor widow who shared what she had to live on, so as to learn the way to the Kingdom (Mk 12:41-44).

6. Praying a Psalm 62 (61)

God is strength and love

In God alone there is rest for my soul,
from Him comes my safety;
He alone is my rock, my safety,
my stronghold so that I stand unshaken.
How much longer will you set on a victim,
all together, intent on murder,
like a rampart already leaning over,
a wall already damaged?
Trickery is their only plan,
deception their only pleasure,
with lies on their lips they pronounce a blessing,
with a curse in their hearts.

Rest in God alone, my soul!
He is the source of my hope.
He alone is my rock,
my safety, my stronghold,
so that I stand unwavering.
In God is my safety and my glory,
the rock of my strength.
In God is my refuge;
trust in Him, you people, at all times.
Pour out your hearts to Him,
God is a refuge for us.

Ordinary people are a mere puff of wind,
important people a delusion;
set both on the scales together,
and they are lighter than a puff of wind.
Put no trust in extortion,
no empty hopes in robbery;
however much wealth may multiply,
do not set your heart on it.
Once God has spoken,
twice have I heard this:
Strength belongs to God,
to You, Lord, faithful love;
and You repay everyone as their deeds deserve.

7. Final Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank You 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.

Last Discourse
Mark 13:24-32

1. Opening prayer

Shaddai, God of the mountain,
You who make of our fragile life
the rock of Your dwelling place,
lead our mind
to strike the rock of the desert,
so that water may gush to quench our thirst.
May the poverty of our feelings
cover us as with a mantle in the darkness of the night
and may it open our heart to hear the echo of silence
until the dawn,
wrapping us with the light of the new morning,
may bring us,
with the spent embers of the fire of the shepherds of the Absolute
who have kept vigil for us close to the divine Master,
the flavor of the holy memory.

2. Lectio

a) The text:

Jesus said to his disciples: "In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken." And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds' with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky. "Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

b) A moment of silence:

Let the sound of the Word echo in us.

3. Meditatio

a) A few questions:

- After that tribulation. Life bears the signs of labor, the seal of a death pregnant with new life. Can we count ourselves among the elect gathered from the four winds?
- The Son of man coming in the clouds: Will we be capable of raising our eyes from our miserable things so as to see Him coming on the horizon of our story?
- From the fig tree learn: We have so much to learn and we need not look far. Nature is the first book of God. Are we willing to go through its pages or do we tear its pages, thinking that we own it?
- All things pass away; only the Word of God remains forever. How many are the vain words, the dreams and pleasures inexorably swallowed by time that carries away everything that has an end! Is the rock on which we have built our lives the rock of the Word of the living God?
- Of that day or that hour no one knows: it is not for us to know. The Father knows. Are we open to putting our trust in Him?

b) A key to the reading:

The great change of the cosmos described by Mark lies between metaphor and reality and proclaims the imminence of the end of time as an introduction to an immensely new world. The coming of the Son in the clouds opens up for humanity a heavenly dimension. He is not an intransigent judge, but a powerful Savior who appears in the splendor of divine glory to reunite the elect, to make them share in eternal life in the blessed reign of heaven. Mark does not mention a judgment, threat or sentence…so as to bring hope and increase the expectation, he proclaims the final victory.

v. 24-25. After that tribulation the sun will be darkened… a new reality is contrasted with the great tribulation. The Evangelist thinks that the parousia is near at hand, even though the hour of its coming is uncertain. The confusion of the cosmos is described in terms typical of apocalyptic language, in a stylized and accurate form: the four elements are ranged two by two in a parallel manner. The reference to Isa 13:10 is clear when he speaks of the sun and the moon being darkened and to Isa 34:4 when he speaks of the shaking of the powers in heaven.

v. 26. Then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. This is the peak of Mark’s eschatological discourse. The time of expectation is over; this is the time for restoring everything in Christ. The end of the world is no more than the promise of the glorious parousia of the Son foreseen by Dan 7:13. The clouds point to the presence of God who in all His self-revelations uses clouds to come down to earth. The attributes of divine sovereignty, power and glory, mentioned by Jesus before the Sanhedrin (Mk 14:62) are not a threat to humankind, but the solemn proclamation of the messianic dignity that transcends the humanity of Christ.

v. 27. And then He will send out the angels, and gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of heaven. By this first act of the Son of man, the meaning of the true parousia is made clear: the eschatological salvation of the people of God spread throughout the world. All the elect will be reunited. No one will be forgotten. There is no mention of punishment of enemies nor of punitive catastrophes, but only of unification. It will be the only place because from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven the angels will gather people around Christ. This, indeed, is a glorious meeting.

v. 28. From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. The parable of the fig tree points to the certainty and nearness of the proclaimed events, especially the coming of the Son of Man, prefigured in the imminent passion, death and resurrection. The imperative addressed to the listeners, Learn!, reveals the implied meaning of the similitude: it is an invitation to penetrate deeply into the meaning of Jesus’ words in order to understand God’s plan for the world. When the fig tree loses its leaves in late autumn, later than other plants, even past springtime, it announces the coming of summer.

v. 29. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that He is near, at the very gates. Human beings may know God’s plan from the events that take place. What are the things that have to take place? Mark spoke of the abomination of desolation in v. 14. That is the sign, the sign of the end that is the parousia, the coming of the Son of man. Those things that are the beginning of woes will bring humankind to a new birth, because He is near, at the very gates.

v. 30. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before these things take place. Many hypotheses have been put forward concerning the meaning of this generation. It is more a Christological expression than a chronological affirmation. The early Church kept affirming the uncertainty of the precise moment, even though it held on to the hope that the Lord would come soon. Every believer, in any age, who reads this passage, can think of him/herself as being part of this generation.

v. 31. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. The certainty that the words of the Lord will never pass away adds confidence to whoever reflects on the decline of the world and the things of the world. To build on the Word of God means that the abomination of desolation will not last and that the sun, moon and stars will not lose their splendor. The present time of God becomes for human beings the only way to their own being because, if in their speech the present never becomes the past, then they need not fear death.

v. 32. But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. The end is certain, but the knowledge as to when it will come is reserved to the Father. Jesus never made any precise statement on this matter. Thus, anyone who pretends to have some presumed teaching of his own is lying. The end is one of the many unfathomable secrets that belong to the Father. The mission of the Son is to establish the kingdom, not the revelation of the fulfillment of human history. Thus Jesus shares deeply in our human condition. Through His voluntary kenosis, He even complies with the possibility of not knowing the day or the hour of the end of the world.

c) Reflections:

Tribulation is like daily bread in human life and it is the sign of the coming of the Son of God. A life pregnant with a new face cannot not know the pain of childbirth. The children of the Most High, dispersed to the ends of the earth, far from one another, will be gathered from the four winds by the divine breath that breathes over the earth. The Son of Man comes in the clouds, whereas our eyes are fixed on the ground, on our puny works, lost between the tears of delusion and those of failure. If we could raise our eyes from our miserable things to see Him coming on the horizon of our history, then our life will be filled with light and we shall learn to read His writing in the sand of our thoughts and will, of our falls and dreams, of our attitudes and learning. If we have the courage to leaf through the pages of daily life and there gather the seeds fallen into the furrows of our being, then our hearts will find peace. Then vain words, pleasures swallowed by time, will only be a lost memory because the rock on which we would have built will be the rock of the Word of the living God. If no one knows the day or the hour, then it is not for us to go guessing. The Father knows and we trust in Him.

4. Oratio

Wisdom 9:1-6, 9-11

O God of my fathers and Lord of mercy,
who hast made all things by Thy Word,
and by Thy wisdom hast formed man,
to have dominion over the creatures Thou hast made,
and rule the world in holiness and righteousness,
and pronounce judgment in uprightness of soul,
give me the wisdom that sits by Thy throne,
and do not reject me from among Thy servants.
For I am Thy slave and the son of Thy maidservant,
a man who is weak and short-lived,
with little understanding of judgment and laws;
for even if one is perfect among the sons of men,
yet without the wisdom that comes from Thee
he will be regarded as nothing.
With Thee is wisdom,
who knows Thy works and was present when Thou didst make the world,
and who understand what is pleasing in Thy sight
and what is right according to Thy commandments.
Send her forth from the holy heavens,
and from the throne of Thy glory send her,
that she may be with me and toil,
and that I may learn what is pleasing to Thee.
For she knows and understands all things,
and she will guide me wisely in my actions
and guard me with her glory.

5. Contemplatio

Lord, I gaze upon the tender branch of the fig tree that is my life and I wait. As the shadows of evening lengthen along my path, I think back on Your words. What peace floods my heart when my thoughts dwell on You! In Your own good time, my waiting for You will be fulfilled. In my time Your expectations of me will be fulfilled. What a mystery is time, past, future and the eternal present! Today’s waves break on the burning experience of Your presence and remind me of games in the sand that are always washed away by the sea. And yet, I am happy - happy that I am nothing, happy with the sand that will not last, because once more Your Word goes on writing. We seek to pause in time, writing and talking, achieving excellent works that stand the ravages of centuries. You, however, pause to write on sand to achieve works of love that have the perfume of a caressed gazelle standing still, that have the sound of formless voices that are the basis of daily life, the taste of a doused vendetta of a returned embrace… works that do not last except in the heart of God and in the memory of the living who are sensitive to the flight of a dove in the heaven of their existence. Tender love of my soul, may I, each day, look up to the clouds and be consumed by the nostalgia of Your return. Amen.

The origin of the Order in Spain remains shrouded in mist, though the researches of such scholars as Frs. Otger Steggink, Pablo Garrido and Balbino Velasco Bayon, have done much to clarify the problem.

According to a 16th century English Carmelite, the General Chapter of London in 1254 decreed the founding of houses of the Order in Spain. In fact a number of houses are known to have been in existence not long after that date. The impetus for this movement came from the Southern French Provinces of Province and Aquitaine, part of which lay under the crown of Aragon.

A Province of Spain is listed in the General Chapter of 1281. In 1354 Catalonia was separated from the Province of Spain, and in 1416 the latter was divided into Aragon and Castile. The Carmelite Order in Spain received its definitive form in 1498 when Andalusia was separated from Castile. Aragon took precedence over the others as the most ancient. In the 18th century it reached its maximum development with 24 convents and 745 members.

After the suppression of 1835 the Aragonese convents of Onda and Caudete with Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia revived the Province of Spain in 1890. By 1906 Aragon, under the title Arago-Valentine, was again a Province with 50 members. The Province suffered a set-back in the Civil War (1936-1939), when 28 of its members were killed, but it has since grown and expanded across the seas to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Jesus is the Messiah King
He takes us with him into his kingdom of the world to come
We listen to the truth, standing by his throne,
which is the cross
John 18: 33-37

1. Opening prayer

Father, your Word knocked at my door in the night. He was captured, bound, and yet he was still speaking, still calling, and as always he was saying to me: “Arise, hurry up and follow me!” At dawn, I saw him a prisoner of Pilate and, in spite of all the suffering of the passion, of the forsakenness he felt, he knew me and waited for me. Father, let me go with him into the Praetorium where he is accused, condemned to die. This is my life today, my interior world. Yes, every time your Word invites me, it is a little like going into the Praetorium of my heart, a contaminated and contaminating place, awaiting the purifying presence of Jesus. You know that I am afraid, but Jesus is with me, I must not fear any more. I stay, Father, and listen attentively to the truth of your Son speaking to me. I watch and contemplate his actions, his steps. I follow him, such as I am, throughout the life you have given me. Enfold and fill me with your Holy Spirit.

2. Reading

a) Placing this passage in its context:

These few verses help us to further understand the story of the Passion and lead us almost into an intimate relationship with Jesus, in a closed place, set apart, where he is alone, facing Pilate: the Praetorium. He is questioned, he answers, in turn asks, continues to reveal his mystery of salvation and to invite people to come to Him. It is here that Jesus shows that he is king and shepherd; he is bound and crowned while under sentence of death. Here he leads us to the green pastures of his words of truth. This passage is part of a larger section, vv. 28–40, which tells us about the trial of Jesus before the governor. After a whole night of interrogation, beatings, jeers and betrayals, Jesus is handed over to the Roman authority and is condemned to death, but it is in this very death that he reveals himself as Lord, the One who came to give his life, the just One for us unjust, the innocent One for us sinners.

b) An aid to the reading of the passage:

vv.33-34: Pilate goes back into the Praetorium and begins to question Jesus. His first question is “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus does not reply directly but draws Pilate into making it absolutely clear what he means by such kingship, he leads Pilate to think further. King of the Jews means the Messiah and it is as Messiah that Jesus is judged and sentenced.
v.35: In his reply, Pilate seems to despise the Jews, who are clearly the ones accusing Jesus, the high priests and the people, each bearing responsibility, as we read in the prologue: “He came to his own domain, and his own people did not accept him” (Jn 1: 11). Then comes Pilate’s second question to Jesus: “What have you done?”, but he does not get a reply to this question.
v.36: In Jesus’ reply to Pilate’s first question, three times he uses the expression “my kingdom”. Here we have a wonderful explanation as to what really is the kingdom and the kingship of Jesus: it is not of this world, but of the world to come, he does not have guards or servants to fight for him, only the loving committing of his life into his Father’s hands.
v.37: The questioning comes back to the first question and Jesus still answers in the affirmative: “Yes, I am a king”, but goes on to explain his origin and his mission. Jesus was born for us, he was sent for us, to reveal the truth of the Father from whom we have salvation and allow us to listen to his voice and to follow him by being faithful to him all our life.

c) The text:

John 18: 33-3733 Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus, and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" 34 Jesus answered, "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?" 35 Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?" 36 Jesus answered, "My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world." 37 Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice." 38 Pilate said to him, "What is truth?"

3. A moment of prayerful silence

so as to enter into the Praetorium and to listen carefully to each word that comes from the mouth of Jesus.

4. A few questions

To help me draw closer to the king and to hand over to him my whole existence.

a) I look at the movements of Pilate, his wish to make contact with Jesus, even though is not aware of doing so. In my own life, why is it difficult for me to enter into, ask, call and hold a dialogue with the Lord?
b) The Lord wishes to have a personal relationship with me. Am I capable of getting involved or of allowing myself to be drawn into a real, intense, vital relationship with the Lord? And if I am afraid of doing so, why? What is it that separates me from him, that keeps me at a distance from him?
c) “Handed over”. I stop at these words and try to reflect on them, to hold them in my heart and to confront them with my life, my behaviour of every day.
d) Three times Jesus repeats that his kingdom “is not of this world”, and, thus, invites me forcefully to go on to another reality. Once again he upsets me, putting before me another world, another kingdom, another power. What kind of kingdom am I expecting?
e) The final crack of the passage is amazing: “Listen to my voice”. I, who am so absorbed in a thousand tasks, commitments, meetings, where shall I turn my ear to? Whom shall I listen to? Of whom shall I think? Every morning I receive new life, but really to whom do I think I owe this regeneration?

5. A Key to the reading

Jesus, the bound king handed over

In these lines a strong verb stands out, repeated again and again from the beginning of the story of the Passion: it is the verb to hand over, said, here, first by Pilate and then by Jesus. The “handing over of the Christ” is a theological reality, yet at the same time vital, of supreme importance, because it leads us on a journey of wisdom and excellent training. It might be useful to seek out this verb in the pages of Scripture. It first appears that the Father himself handed over Jesus his Son as a gift for all and for all time. In Romans 8: 32 we read: “Since God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all, we may be certain, after such a gift, that he will not refuse anything he can give.” However, I also see that Jesus himself, in the most intimate of fusions with the will of the Father, hands himself over to, offers his life for us, in an act of supreme freely given love. St. Paul says: “Follow Christ by loving as he loved you, giving himself up in our place…” (Eph 5, 2. 25), and I also recall the words of Jesus: “I lay down my life for my sheep… No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will” (Jn 10: 15, 18). Thus, above and beyond all handings over lies this voluntary handing over, which is purely a gift of love. In the Gospels we see the evil handing over of Judas, properly called the traitor, that is, the one who “hands over”, the one who said to the high priests: “What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?” (Mt 26, 15); see also Jn 12: 4; 18: 2. 5. Then it is the Jews who hand over Jesus to Pilate: “If he were not a criminal, we should not be handing him over to you” (Jn 18: 30, 35) and it is Pilate who represents the gentiles, as Jesus had said before: “The Son of Man… will be handed over to the pagans” (Mk 10: 33). Finally Pilate hands him over to the Jews to be crucified (Jn 19: 16). I contemplate these passages, I see my king bound, chained, as John the Evangelist tells me in 18: 12 and 18: 24. I go down on my knees, I bow before him and ask the Lord for the courage to follow these dramatic yet wonderful passages that are like a hymn of the love of Jesus for us, his “yes” repeated to infinity for our salvation. The Gospel takes me gently into this unique night, when Jesus is handed over for me, as Bread, as Life made flesh, as entirely love. “On the same night he was betrayed [handed over], the Lord Jesus took some bread… and he said: This is my body, which is for you” (1 Cor 11: 23). Then I begin to understand that happiness for me is hidden even in these chains, these knots, with Jesus, with the great king, and that it is hidden in these passages, which speak of one handing over after another, to the will of God and to the love of my Father.

Jesus, the Messiah king

The dialogue between Jesus and Pilate: in this strange and mysterious questioning, what stands out is that, at first, Pilate calls Jesus “king of the Jews” and later only “king”, as though there was a process, whereby he comes to a fuller and truer understanding of the Lord Jesus. “King of the Jews” is a formula used with a very rich meaning by the Jewish people of that time, and it contains the basis, the nucleus of the faith in the expectation of Israel: it clearly signifies the Messiah. Jesus is questioned and judged on whether he is or is not the Messiah. Jesus is the Messiah of the Lord, his Anointed, his Consecrated, he is the servant sent into the world for this, to fulfil in his person and in his life all that the prophets, the law and the psalms had said concerning him. Words that speak of persecution, of suffering, of weeping, wounds and blood, words of death for Jesus, for the Anointed of the Lord, for the one who is our breath and in whose shadow we shall live among the nations, as the prophet Jeremiah says in Lam 4: 20; words that speak of pitfalls, of insurrections, conspiracies (Ps 2: 2) and snares. We see him disfigured, as a man of suffering, unrecognisable except by that love, which, like him, knows suffering only too well. “For this reason the whole House of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ!” (Acts 2: 36). Yes, my king is a bound king, a king handed over, cast aside, despised; he is a king anointed for battle, but anointed to lose, to sacrifice himself, to be crucified, to be immolated like a lamb. This is the Messiah: the king whose throne is the cross, whose purple is his blood poured out, whose palace is the hearts of men and women, poor like him, but made rich and consoled by a continuous resurrection. These are our times, the times of consolation by the Lord, when he sends the Lord Jesus all the time, the Jesus whom he destined to be our Messiah.

Jesus, the martyr king

“I came to witness to the truth”, says Jesus, using a very strong term, which, in Greek, contains the meaning of martyrdom. A witness is a martyr, one who affirms by his life, his blood, everything that he is and has, the truth that he believes. Jesus witnesses to the truth, which is the Word of the Father (Jn 17: 17) and he gives his life for this Word. Life for life, word for word, love for love. Jesus is the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of God’s creation (Rev 3: 14); in him there is only “yes”, for ever and from the beginning, and in this “yes” he offers us the whole truth of the Father, of himself, of the Spirit, and in this truth, in this light, he makes of us his kingdom. “They who trust in him will understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with him in love” (Wis 3: 8-9). I do not seek further words, I only stay near the Lord, on his breast, like John on that night. Thus he becomes my breath, my sight, my “yes” pronounced to the Father, to my brothers and sisters, in witness of my love. He is the faithful one, the one present, the Truth that I listen to and by whom I let myself be transformed.

6. Psalm 21 (20)

A hymn of thanksgiving for the victory,
which comes from God

Ref. Great is your love for us, Lord!

In thy strength the king rejoices, O Lord;
and in thy help how greatly he exults!
Thou hast given him his heart's desire,
and hast not withheld the request of his lips.

For thou dost meet him with goodly blessings;
thou dost set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
He asked life of thee; thou gavest it to him,
length of days for ever and ever.

His glory is great through thy help;
splendour and majesty thou dost bestow upon him.
Yea, thou dost make him most blessed for ever;
thou dost make him glad with the joy of thy presence.

For the king trusts in the Lord;
and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
Be exalted, O Lord, in thy strength!
We will sing and praise thy power.

7. Closing prayer

Father, I praise you, I bless you, I thank you that you have led me together with your Son, Jesus, into Pilate’s Praetorium, into this foreign and hostile land, and yet a land of revelation and of light. Only you, in your infinite love, can transform every distance and every darkness into a place of encounter and life.
Thank you for bringing about the time of consolation, when you sent your Lamb, seated on the throne, a sacrificed yet living king. His blood is life-giving dewdrops, anointing of salvation. Thank you because He always speaks and sings to me your truth, which is all love and mercy. I would like to be an instrument in the hands of my king, Jesus, to pass on to all the consoling notes of your Word.
Father, today I have listened to you in this Gospel. Please grant that my ears may never tire of listening to you, to you Son, to your Spirit. Grant that I may be born again from truth so that I may give witness to truth.

Is there a relation between Carmelite Liturgy and Carmelite Spirituality? In order to find an answer to this question, it is necessary to go back to the early days of the Order, to a time between 1206 and 1214, when Albert Avogrado, Patriarch of Jerusalem, proposed a way of life to a group of hermits. The hermits were living on Mount Carmel in Palestine, near the fountain of Elijah, and they had requested St. Albert to prepare a rule of life for them. The way of life which Albert wrote out for the hermits has inspired many people, religious and lay, male and female. Throughout the centuries and down to the present time, it has led them to an intimate contact with God. Not only was Albert Avogadro Patriarch of Jerusalem, he was also a member of the Canons Regular who lived according to the Augustinian Rule. As such, he was familiar with religious life.

From ancient times, there were two churches in Jerusalem, both erected on sacred sites: The Basilica of the Martyrs at Golgotha and the Anastasis Rotunda which was built over the tomb of Jesus, and was therefore also sometimes called the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or the Church of the Resurrection.[i] In this church the liturgical services were conducted by the Canons Regular of St. Augustine, who originated in France and had accompanied the crusaders.[ii] Their rite was originally Roman, the rite which was in use in almost all Western European regions. It is understandable that the presence of sacred sites, especially the Tomb from which Christ arose, should exert a strong influence on the liturgy of the canons. For this reason, the liturgy of the Holy Sepulchre did not celebrate the tomb of Christ as the place of burial, but as the place of resurrection. “From this tomb the Lord arose,” as we read in a liturgical manuscript used by the Canons Regular of St. Augustine in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,[iii]

Around this tomb, a number of liturgical customs originated which later developed into a special Liturgy: the Holy Sepulchre Liturgy, and later, into the Resurrection Liturgy of the Carmelites. One of these customs was that every Saturday, in preparation for Sunday, the day of the Resurrection of the Lord, a solemn procession to the chapel of the Resurrection took place, where, on Sundays, the High Mass was solemnly celebrated in honour of the Resurrection.[iv] Throughout the entire period from Easter to Advent, the night between Saturday and Sunday was, to all intents and purposes, controlled by the commemoration of the Resurrection. Furthermore – and this was very special – on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, namely the Sunday before Advent, the Resurrection of the Lord was again solemnly celebrated as a great feast, just like Easter Sunday.

It was this liturgy that the Carmelites adopted and took along with them when they were obliged to flee from the Holy Land. In imitation of the Liturgy of the Holy Sepulchre, the early Carmelites attributed a special significance to Sunday by solemnly commemorating on that day the Resurrection of the Lord in Holy Mass and in the Liturgy of the Hours. Furthermore, during most of the ecclesiastical year, the Resurrection of the Lord was commemorated each day at the Conventual Mass and the Divine Office, and on the last Sunday of the Ecclesiastical Year the Carmelites solemnly commemorated the Resurrection of Jesus, just as in the liturgy of the Holy Sepulchre.[v] On this Sunday, all of the texts of the Liturgy of the Hours and of the Solemn Mass were taken integrally from the formularies of Easter Sunday. It was a sort of second Easter, but now celebrated at the end of the Ecclesiastical Year.

About the year 1312, this liturgy was described and reintroduced into the Order by the famous Carmelite, Sibert de Beka, by means of an Ordinal, a sort of ceremonial for the celebration of liturgical rites. Since that time and for many centuries afterwards, the Liturgy of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Resurrection Liturgy, was the way in which the Carmelites celebrated the Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharist. Nevertheless, down the centuries, this Liturgy underwent many adaptations. Due to many excesses, the Council of Trent, held in the sixteenth century, felt the necessity to reform drastically the Liturgy of the Holy Sepulchre. Even so, the remembrance of the Resurrection Liturgy continued in the Liturgy of the Hours of the Carmelites until the second Vatican Council in the twentieth century.

After this Council, the Carmelites abandoned their own Liturgy and adopted the Roman Liturgy. In doing so, they renounced a part of their proper spiritual patrimony, that patrimony which had inspired the Carmelites throughout the centuries and had influenced their spirituality. Nevertheless, it is gratifying to note that, in recent years, there is within the Order an increasing interest in the Resurrection Liturgy. At the Liturgical Seminar held in Rome in July 2008, Carmelite liturgists verified that, in many parts of the Order, the Resurrection Liturgy had become the common property of all members and was seen as a part of the spirituality and identity of Carmel, with special emphasis on eschatological aspects[vi]. Before analyzing this bond with the spirituality of Carmel, it is necessary to explain how the veneration of the Holy Cross developed throughout the centuries.


[i]   Louis van Tongeren, Exaltatio crucis. Het feest van Kruisverheffing en de zingeving van het kruis in het Westen tijdens de vroege middeleeuwen; Een liturgisch-historische studie (Tilburg: University Press, 1995) 27.

[ii]   Postquam igitur (Godefridus Bullionis) regnum obtinuit (an. 1099) paucis diebus interpositis, sicut vir religiosus erat, in his quae ad decorem domus Dei habebant respectum, solicitudinis suae coepti offerre primitias. Nam protinus in ecclesia Dominici Sepulcri et Templo Domini canonicos instituitY ordinem et institutionem servans, quas magnae et amplissimae, a piiss principibus fundatae ultra montes servant ecclesiae. So we are told, at the end of the twelfth century, in the Historia Hierosolymitana by a certain William, archbishop of Tyrium. Cf. Analecta Ordinis Carmelitarum, 1 (1909-10) 64.

[iii]  ms. Barberini Lat. 659 (Rome: Biblioteca Vaticana) fol. 80.

[iv]    Edmund Caruana, The Ordinal of Sibert de Beka with special reference to Marian Liturgical Themes. An historical-liturgical-theological investigation. (Rome: Anselmian­um, 1976) 7-8.

[v]     James Boyce, “The Liturgy of the Carmelites,” Carmelus, 43 (1996) 9.

[vi]    Eschatology is a part of theology concerned with what are believed to be the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred as last things: death, resurrection, heaven.

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

God of power and mercy,
only with your help
can we offer you fitting service and praise.
May we live the faith we profess
and trust your promise of eternal life.
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 14,15-24

One of those gathered round the table said to Jesus, 'Blessed is anyone who will share the meal in the kingdom of God!' But he said to him, 'There was a man who gave a great banquet, and he invited a large number of people. When the time for the banquet came, he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, "Come along: everything is ready now." But all alike started to make excuses.
The first said, "I have bought a piece of land and must go and see it. Please accept my apologies."
Another said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen and am on my way to try them out. Please accept my apologies."
Yet another said, "I have just got married and so am unable to come."
'The servant returned and reported this to his master. Then the householder, in a rage, said to his servant, "Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame."
"Sir," said the servant, "your orders have been carried out and there is still room."
Then the master said to his servant, "Go to the open roads and the hedgerows and press people to come in, to make sure my house is full; because, I tell you, not one of those who were invited shall have a taste of my banquet." '

3) Reflection

• The Gospel today continues the reflection around themes linked to the table and the invitation. Jesus tells the parable of the banquet. Many people had been invited, but the majority did not go. The master of the feast was indignant because of the absence of those who had been invited and then sent his servants to call the poor, the crippled the blind and the lame. And even after that, there was still place. Then he ordered his servant to invite everybody, until his house was full. This parable was a light for the communities of the time of Luke.
• In the communities at the time of Luke there were Christians, who had come from Judaism and Christians who came from the Gentiles, called pagans. Not withstanding the difference in race, class and gender, they lived profoundly the ideal of sharing and of communion (Ac 2, 42; 4, 32; 5, 12). But there were many difficulties because some norms of legal purity prevented the Jews to eat with the pagans. And even after they had entered into the Christian community, some of them kept this old custom of not sitting at table with a pagan. This is the reason why Peter had a conflict with the community of Jerusalem because he entered into the house of Cornelius, a pagan and for having eaten with him (Ac 11, 3). Before these problems of the communities, Luke kept a series of words of Jesus regarding the banquet. (Lk 14, 1-24). The parable on which we are meditating is an image of what was happening in the communities.
• Luke 14, 15: Blessed are those who will eat the bread of the Kingdom of God. Jesus had finished telling two parables: one on the choice of places (Lk 14, 7-11), and the other on the choice of the guests who were invited (Lk 14, 12-14). While listening to this parable someone who was at table with Jesus must have picked up the importance of the teaching of Jesus and must have said: “Blessed are those who eat the bread of the Kingdom of God!” The Jews compared the future time of the Messiah to a banquet, characterized by gratitude and communion (Is 25, 6; 55, 1-2; Sal 22, 27). Hunger, poverty and the lack of so many things made the people hope that in the future they would obtain what they were lacking and did not have at present. The hope of the Messianic goods, usually experienced in banquets, was a perspective of the end of time.
• Luke 14, 16-20: The great banquet is ready. Jesus responds with a parable. There was a man who gave a great banquet and he invited a great number of people”. But the duty of each one prevents the guests from accepting the invitation. The first one says: I have bought a piece of land and must go and see it!” The second I have bought five yoke of oxen and am on my way to try them out!” The third one: “I have just got married and so am unable to come!” In the limits of the law those persons had the right not to accept the invitation (cf. Dt 20, 5-7).
• Luke 14, 21-22: The invitation remains, it is not cancelled. The master of the banquet was indignant in seeing that his invitation had not been accepted. In last instance, the one who is indignant is precisely Jesus because the norms of the strict observance of the law, reduced the space for people to be able to live the gratuity of an invitation to the house of friends, an invitation characterized by the fraternal spirit and by sharing. Thus the master of the feast orders the servants to invite the poor, the blind, the crippled, the lame. Those who were normally excluded because they were considered unclean, are now invited to sit around the table of the banquet.
• Luke 14, 23-24: There is still place. The room is not full. There is still place. Then, the master of the house ordered the servants to invite those passing on the street. Those are the pagans. They are also invited to sit around the table. Thus, in the banquet of the parable of Jesus, everybody sits around the same table, Jews and pagans. At the time of Luke, there were many problems which prevented the realization of this ideal of the common banquet. By means of the parable; Luke shows that the practice of the banquet came precisely from Jesus.
After the destruction of Jerusalem, in the year 70, the Pharisees took over the government in the Synagogues, demanding the rigid fulfilment of the norms which identified them as the Jewish people. The Jews who converted to Christianity were considered a threat, because they destroyed the walls which separated Israel from other people. The Pharisees tried to oblige them to abandon the faith in Jesus. And because they did not succeed, they drove them away from the Synagogues. All this brought about a slow and progressive separation between the Jews and the Christians which was a source of great suffering, especially for the converted Jews (Rm 9,1-5). In the parable, Luke indicates very clearly that these converted Jews were not unfaithful to their people. All the contrary! They are the ones who are invited and accept the invitation. They are the true continuators of Israel. Those who were unfaithful were those who did not accept the invitation and did not want to recognize Jesus the Messiah (Lk 22, 66; Ac 13, 27).

4) Personal questions

• In general, which are the persons who are invited and which are the persons who in general are not invited to our feasts?
• Which are the reasons which today limit the participation of persons in society and in the Church? And which are the reasons that some give to exclude themselves from the community? Are they just reasons?

5) Concluding prayer

Full of splendour and majesty his work,
his saving justice stands firm for ever.
He gives us a memorial of his great deeds;
Yahweh is mercy and tenderness. (Ps 111,3-4)

Luke 9:28-36

The Transfiguration of Jesus
A new way of fulfilling the prophecies
Luke 9:28-36

1. Opening prayer

Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us 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:

A few days earlier, Jesus had said that he, the Son of Man, had to be tried and crucified by the authorities (Lk 9:22; Mk 8:31). According to the information in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, the disciples, especially Peter, did not understand what Jesus had said and were scandalised by the news (Mt 16:22; Mk 8:32). Jesus reacted strongly and turned to Peter calling him Satan (Mt 16:23; Mk 8:33). This was because Jesus’ words did not correspond with the ideal of the glorious Messiah whom they imagined. Luke does not mention Peter’s reaction and Jesus’ strong reply, but he does describe, as do the other Evangelists, the episode of the Transfiguration. Luke sees the Transfiguration as an aid to the disciples so that they may be able to overcome the scandal and change their idea of the Messiah (Lk 9:28-36). Taking with him the three disciples, Jesus goes up the mountain to pray and, while he is praying, is transfigured. As we read the text, it is good to note what follows: “Who appears with Jesus on the mountain to converse with him? What is the theme of their conversation? What is the disciples’ attitude?”

b) A division of the text as an aid to the reading:

i) Luke 9:28: The moment of crisis
ii) Luke 9:29: The change that takes place during the prayer
iii) Luke 9:30-31: The appearance of the two men and their conversation with Jesus
iv) Luke 9:32-34: The disciples’ reaction
v) Luke 9:35-36: The Father’s voice

c) The text:

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and Luke 9:28-36spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah" - not knowing what he said. 34 As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

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 pleased you most in this episode of the Transfiguration? Why?
b) Who are those who go to the mountain with Jesus? Why do they go?
c) Moses and Elijah appear on the mountain next to Jesus. What is the significance of these two persons from the Old Testament for Jesus, for the disciples for the community in the 80s? And for us today?
d) Which prophecy from the Old Testament is fulfilled in the words of the Father concerning Jesus?
e) What is the attitude of the disciples during this episode?
f) Has there been a transfiguration in your life? How have such experiences of transfiguration helped you to fulfil your mission better?
g) Compare Luke’s description of the Transfiguration of Jesus (Lk 9:28-36) with his description of the agony of Jesus in the Garden (Lk 22:39-46). Try to see whether there are any similarities. What is the significance of these similarities?

5. A key to the reading

for those who wish to go deeper into the theme.

a) The context of Jesus’ discourse:

In the two previous chapters of Luke’s Gospel, the innovation brought by Jesus stands out and tensions between the New and the Old grow. In the end, Jesus realised that no one had understood his meaning and much less his person. People thought that he was like John the Baptist, Elijah or some old prophet (Lk 9:18-19). The disciples accepted him as the Messiah, but a glorious Messiah, according to the propaganda issued by the government and the official religion of the Temple (Lk 9:20-21). Jesus tried to explain to his disciples that the journey foreseen by the prophets was one of suffering because of its commitment to the excluded and that a disciple could only be a disciple if he/she took up his/her cross (Lk 9:22-26). But he did not meet with much success. It is in such a context of crisis that the Transfiguration takes place.
In the 30s, the experience of the Transfiguration had a very important significance in the life of Jesus and of the disciples. It helped them overcome the crisis of faith and to change their ideals concerning the Messiah. In the 80s, when Luke was writing for the Christian communities in Greece, the meaning of the Transfiguration had already been deepened and broadened. In the light of Jesus’ resurrection and of the spread of the Good News among the pagans in almost every country, from Palestine to Italy, the experience of the Transfiguration began to be seen as a confirmation of the faith of the Christian communities in Jesus, Son of God. The two meanings are present in the description and interpretation of the Transfiguration in Luke’s Gospel.

b) A commentary on the text:

Luke 9:28: The moment of crisis
On several occasions Jesus entered into conflict with the people and the religious and civil authorities of his time (Lk 4:28-29; 5:21-20; 6:2-11; 7:30.39; 8:37; 9,9). He knew they would not allow him to do the things he did. Sooner or later they would catch him. Besides, in that society, the proclamation of the Kingdom, as Jesus did, was not to be tolerated. He either had to withdraw or face death! There were no other alternatives. Jesus did not withdraw. Hence the cross appears on the horizon, not just as a possibility but as a certainty (Lk 9:22). Together with the cross there appears also the temptation to go on with the idea of the Glorious Messiah and not of the Crucified, suffering servant, announced by the Prophet Isaiah (Mk 8:32-33). At this difficult moment Jesus goes up the mountain to pray, taking with him Peter, James and John. Through his prayer, Jesus seeks strength not to lose sense of direction in his mission (cf. Mk 1:35).

Luke 9:29: The change that takes place during the prayer
As soon as Jesus starts praying, his appearance changes and he appears glorious. His face changes and his clothes become white and shining. It is the glory that the disciples imagined for the Messiah. This transformation told them clearly that Jesus was indeed the Messiah expected by all. But what follows the episode of the Transfiguration will point out that the way to glory is quite different from what they imagined. The transfiguration will be a call to conversion.

Luke 9:30-31: Two men appear speaking with Jesus
Together with Jesus and in the same glorious state there appear Moses and Elijah, the two major exponents of the Old Testament, representing the Law and the Prophets. They speak with Jesus about “the Exodus brought to fulfilment in Jerusalem”. Thus, in front of the disciples, the Law and the Prophets confirm that Jesus is truly the glorious Messiah, promised in the Old Testament and awaited by the whole people. They further confirm that the way to Glory is through the painful way of the exodus. Jesus’ exodus is his passion, death and resurrection. Through his “exodus” Jesus breaks the dominion of the false idea concerning the Messiah spread by the government and by the official religion and that held all ensnared in the vision of a glorious, nationalistic messiah. The experience of the Transfiguration confirmed that Jesus as Messiah Servant constituted an aid to free them from their wrong ideas concerning the Messiah and to discover the real meaning of the Kingdom of God.

Luke 9:32-34: The disciples’ reaction
The disciples were in deep sleep. When they woke up, the saw Jesus in his glory and the two men with him. But Peter’s reaction shows that they were not aware of the real meaning of the glory in which Jesus appeared to them. As often happens with us, they were only aware of what concerned them. The rest escapes their attention. “Master, it is good for us to be here!” And they do not want to get off the mountain any more! When it is question of the cross, whether on the Mount of the Transfiguration or on the Mount of Olives (Lk 22:45), they sleep! They prefer the Glory to the Cross! They do not like to speak or hear of the cross. They want to make sure of the moment of glory on the mountain, and they offer to build three tents. Peter did not know what he was saying.
While Peter was speaking, a cloud descended from on high and covered them with its shadow. Luke says that the disciples became afraid when the cloud enfolded them. The cloud is the symbol of the presence of God. The cloud accompanied the multitude on their journey through the desert (Ex 40: 34-38; Nm 10:11-12). When Jesus ascended into heaven, he was covered by a cloud and they no longer saw him (Acts 1:9). This was a sign that Jesus had entered forever into God’s world.

Luke 9:35-36: The Father’s voice
A voice is heard from the cloud that says: “This is my Son, the Chosen, listen to him”. With this same sentence the prophet Isaiah had proclaimed the Messiah-Servant (Is 42:1). First Moses and Elijah, now God himself presents Jesus as the Messiah-Servant who will come to glory through the cross. The voice ends with a final admonition: “Listen to him!” As the heavenly voice speaks, Moses and Elijah disappear and only Jesus is left. This signifies that from now on only He will interpret the Scriptures and the will of God. He is the Word of God for the disciples: “Listen to him!”
The proclamation “This is my Son, the Chosen; listen to him” was very important for the community of the late 80s. Through this assertion God the Father confirmed the faith of Christians in Jesus as Son of God. In Jesus’ time, that is, in the 30s, the expression Son of Man pointed to a very high dignity and mission. Jesus himself gave a relative meaning to the term by saying that all were children of God (cf. John 10:33-35). But for some the title Son of God became a resume of all titles, over one hundred that the first Christians gave Jesus in the second half of the first century. In succeeding centuries, it was the title of Son of God that the Church concentrated all its faith in the person of Jesus.

c) A deepening:

i) The Transfiguration is told in three of the Gospels: Matthew (Mt 17:1-9), Mark (Mk 9:2-8) and Luke (Lk 9:28-36). This is a sign that this episode contained a very important message. As we said, it was a matter of great help to Jesus, to his disciples and to the first communities. It confirmed Jesus in his mission as Messiah-Servant. It helped the disciples to overcome the crisis that the cross and suffering caused them. It led the communities to deepen their faith in Jesus, Son of God, the One who revealed the Father and who became the new key to the interpretation of the Law and the Prophets. The Transfiguration continues to be of help in overcoming the crisis that the cross and suffering provoke today. The three sleeping disciples are a reflection of all of us. The voice of the Father is directed to us as it was to them: “This is my Son, the Chosen; listen to him!”

ii) In Luke’s Gospel there is a great similarity between the scene of the Transfiguration (Lk 9:28-36) and the scene of the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Olives (Lk 22:39-46). We may note the following: in both scenes Jesus goes up the mountain to pray and takes with him three disciples, Peter, James and John. On both occasions, Jesus’ appearance is transformed and he is transfigured before them; glorious at the Transfiguration, perspiring blood in the Garden of Olives. Both times heavenly figures appear to comfort him, Moses and Elijah and an angel from heaven. Both in the Transfiguration and in the Agony, the disciples sleep, they seem to be outside the event and they seem not to understand anything. At the end of both episodes, Jesus is reunited with his disciples. Doubtless, Luke intended to emphasise the resemblance between these two episodes. What would that be? It is in meditating and praying that we shall succeed in understanding the meaning that goes beyond words, and to perceive the intention of the author. The Holy Spirit will guide us.

iii) Luke describes the Transfiguration. There are times in our life when suffering is such that we might think: “God has abandoned me! He is no longer with me!” And then suddenly we realise that He has never deserted us, but that we had our eyes bandaged and were not aware of the presence of God. Then everything is changed and transfigured. It is the transfiguration! This happens every day in our lives.

6. Psalm 42 (41)

“My soul thirsts for the living God!”

As a hart longs for flowing streams,
so longs my soul for thee, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?

My tears have been my food day and night,
while men say to me continually, "Where is your God?"
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.
My soul is cast down within me,
therefore I remember thee from the land of Jordan
and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the thunder of thy cataracts;
all thy waves and thy billows have gone over me.

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love;
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
"Why hast thou forgotten me?
Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?"
As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
"Where is your God?"

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

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 practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

(1360-1431) Nuno Alvares Pereira, founder of the house of Braganza, was born in Cernache do Bonjardim, Portugal, on 24th July 1360. As Constable of the Kingdom of Portugal, he was the general who led the successful war of independence against Spain. He became a national hero and his deeds were commemorated by L. Camoes in the Lustiadas. Following the death of his wife, he joined the Carmelites in 1423 in Lisbon, in the house which he himself had founded for the Carmelites. He asked to become a simple lay brother and took the name of Brother Nuno of Saint Mary. He died in the convent on Easter Sunday, 1st April 1431, having given throughout his life a witness of prayer, penitence, love of the poor and filial devotion to our Lady. His cult was approved in 1918.

• Lisbona (Portogallo), Chiesa del TOC: Presunto ritratto 
• Lisbona (Portogallo), Chiesa del TOC: Presunto ritratto
• Lisbona (Portogallo), Chiesa del TOC: Presunto ritratto
• Incisione (sec. XVIII ?): B. Nuno con quadro della Madonna del Carmine
• Lisbona (Portogallo), Chiesa del TOC: Altare del B. Nuno con statua a grandezza naturale
• Sameiro (Portogallo), Comunità carmelitana: Statua devozionale
• Genova (Italia), Chiesa di S. Agnese e di N. S. del Carmine: Domenico Cresti, detto il Pasignano, Vestizione del B. Nuno.
• Roma (Italia), Centro Int. Sant’Alberto: Vestizione del B. Nuno
• Roma (Italia), Centro Int. Sant’Alberto
• Fatima (Portogallo), Casa Beato Nuno: Altorilievo
• Lisbona (Portogallo), Parrocchia “Santo Condestavel”: Mosaico dell’abside
• Lisbona (?) (Portogallo): Facciata con statua del Beato Nuno
• Lisbona (?) (Portogallo): Facciata con statua del Beato Nuno
• Lisbona (Portogallo): Tomba del Beato Nuno
• Immaginetta devozionale
• Fatima (Portogallo), Casa Beato Nuno: Riproduzione della spada del B. Nuno
• Batalha (Portogallo): Monumento equestre del B. Nuno come Gran Connestabile
• Batalha (Portogallo): Monumento equestre del B. Nuno come Gran Connestabile
• Straubing, Germania: Convento carmelitano
• The Friars, Aylesford, Kent: Ceramica del B. Nuno (Adam Kossowski)
• Chiesa carmelitana, Dublino, Irlanda: Vetrata del B. Nuno


Jesus is the Bread of Life

“Anyone who eats this Bread will live forever”

John 6:51-58

1. Opening prayer

 Lord Jesus, send Your Spirit to help us 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 silence in us 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 the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ we meditate on the last part of the long discourse on the Bread of Life. During this discourse, the Gospel of John helps us to understand the deep meaning of the multiplication of the bread and of the Eucharist. During the reading, we will try to be attentive to the words of Jesus which help people to understand the sign of the Bread of Life.

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

John 6, 51-58

John 6:51: The initial affirmation which summarizes everything

John 6:52: The contrary reaction of the Jews

John 6: 53-54: Jesus’response affirms what He said before

John 6:55-58: Jesus draws the conclusion for life

c) The Text:

51 I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, for the life of the world.' 52 Then the Jews started arguing among themselves, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?' 53 Jesus replied to them, ‘ In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Anyone who does eat My flesh and drink My blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood lives in Me and I live in that person. 57 As the living Father sent Me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats Me will also draw life from Me. 58 This is the bread which has come down from heaven; it is not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live forever.

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) Which part of the text struck me the most? Why?

b) How many times in the text is the word life used,  and what does it tell us about life?

c) Jesus says, “I am the living Bread which has come down from heaven”. What does this mean? Look for an answer in the text.

d) What does this text tell us about the Person of Jesus: titles, functions, etc.?

e) In what way does this text help us to understand better the significance of the Eucharist?

5. For those who desire to go deeper into the discourse of the Bread of Life.

a) Context in which our text is situated in the discourse of the Bread of Life:

The discourse on the Bread of Life (Jn 6:22-71) is a sequence of seven brief dialogues between Jesus and the persons who were with Him after the multiplication of the loaves. Jesus tries to open the eyes of people, making them understand that it is not sufficient to struggle to get the material bread. The daily struggle for material bread does not touch the roots if it is not accompanied by mysticism. The human being does not only live by bread! (Deut 8:3) The seven brief dialogues are a very beautiful catechesis which explains to people the profound significance of the multiplication of the loaves and of the Eucharist. Throughout the dialogue appear the exigencies which the living out of faith in Jesus traces for our life. People react. They remain surprised by the words of Jesus. But Jesus does not give in.He does not change His requirements. And because of this, many abandon Him. Even now the same thing happens: when the Gospel begins to demand a commitment, many people abandon it. Insofar as the discourse of Jesus advances, less people remain around Him. At the end, only the twelve remain and Jesus cannot even counton them!

Here is the sequence of the seven dialogues which compose the long discourse on the Bread of Life:

John 6: 22-27:

1st Dialogue: People seek Jesus because they want more bread

John 6: 28-33:

2nd Dialogue: Jesus asks the people to work for the true bread

John 6: 34-40:

3rd Dialogue: The true bread is to do the will of God

John 6: 41-51:

4th Dialogue: He who opens himself to God accepts Jesus and His proposal

John 6: 52-58:

5th Dialogue: Flesh and Blood: expression of life and of the total gift

John 6: 59-66:

6th Dialogue: Without the light of the Spirit these words cannot be understood

John 6: 67-71:

7th Dialogue: Peter’s confession

b) Comment on the seven dialogues which make up the discourse of the Bread of Life:

The year 2005 is the Year of the Eucharist. This is the reason why, instead of commenting only on the eight verses of the Gospel of this Sunday (John 6: 51-58), we have thought of giving a general key to understand the seven brief dialogues which make up the whole discourse. A global vision of the whole will help to clarify the meaning and the importance of the eight verses of the liturgical text of this day of Corpus Christi.

1st Dialogue - John 6: 22-27: The people look for Jesus because they want more bread

22 Next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side saw that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not got into the boat with His disciples, but that the disciples had set off by themselves. 23 Other boats, however, had put in from Tiberias, near the place where the bread had been eaten. 24 When the people saw that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. 25 When they found Him on the other side, they said to Him, 'Rabbi, when did you come here?' 26 Jesus answered,  ‘In all truth I tell you, you are looking for Me not because you have seen the signs but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat. 27 Do not work for food that goes bad, but work for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, for on Him the Father, God Himself, has set His seal.

The people see the miracle, but they do not understand that it is a question of a sign of something greater and more profound. They stop only on the superficial aspect of the fact, in the distribution of the food. They look for the bread of life, but only for the body. According to the people, Jesus does something which Moses had already done in the past:  feed everyone. And the people wanted the past to be repeated. But Jesus asks the people to take one more step. Do not work for food that goes bad, but work for food that endures for eternal life.

2nd Dialogue – John 6: 28-33: Jesus asks the people to work for the true bread

28 Then they said to Him, 'What must we do if we are to carry out God's work?' 29 Jesus gave them this answer, 'This is carrying out God's work: you must believe in the One He has sent.' 30 So they said, 'What sign will You yourself do, the sight of which will make us believe in You? What work will You do? 31 Our fathers ate manna in the desert; as scripture says,“He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”' 32 Jesus answered them. ‘ In all truth I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven, the true bread; 33 for the bread of God is the bread which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’

The people asked,‘What must we do if we are to carry out God’s work?’ And Jesus answers, ‘ Believe in the One God has sent!’  That is, believe in Jesus. And the people react,‘Give us a sign to understand that You are truly the One sent by God. Our fathers ate the manna that Moses gave them! According to the people, Moses is and continues to be the great leader, in whom to believe. If Jesus wants the people to believe in Him, He has to give them a greater sign than that given by Moses. Jesus answers that the bread given by Moses was not the true bread, because it did not guarantee the life of anyone. All died in the desert. The true bread of God is the one which overcomes death and gives life! Jesus tries to help people to liberate themselves from the schema of the past. For Jesus, fidelity to the past does not mean to close up oneself in the things of the past and to refuse or reject renewal. Fidelity to the past means to accept what is new, which is the fruit of the seed planted in the past.

3rd Dialogue - John 6: 34-40: The true bread is to do the will of God.

34 'Sir,' they said, 'give us that bread always.' 35 Jesus answered them, ‘I am the bread of life. No one who comes to Me will ever hunger; no one who believes in Me will ever thirst. 36 But, as I have told you, you can see Me and still you do not believe. 37 Everyone whom the Father gives Me will come to Me; I will certainly not reject anyone who comes to Me, 38 because I have come from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me. 39 Now the will of Him who sent Me is that I should lose nothing of all that He has given to Me, but that I should raise it up on the last day. 40 It is my Father's will that whoever sees the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and that I should raise that person up on the last day.’

The people said,  ‘Lord, give us that bread always!’ They thought that Jesus was speaking of a special bread. Then, Jesus answers clearly,‘I am the bread of life!’ To eat the bread of heaven is the same as believing in Jesus and accepting the path that He has shown us, that is, “My food is to do the will of the Father who is in heaven!” (Jn 4: 34). This is the true food which nourishes the person, which always gives us  new life. It is a seed that guarantees resurrection!

4th Dialogue – John 6: 41-51: He who opens himself to God accepts Jesus and His proposal

41 Meanwhile the Jews were complaining to each other about Him, because He had said, 'I am the bread that has come down from heaven.' 42 They were saying, 'Surely this is Jesus son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know. How can He now say, "I have come down from heaven?" ' 43 Jesus said in reply to them, 'Stop complaining to each other. 44 'No one can come to Me unless drawn by the Father who sent Me, and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets,  They will all be taught by God; everyone who has listened to the Father, and learned from Him, comes to me. 46 Not that anybody has seen the Father, except Him who has His being from God: He has seen the Father. 47 In all truth I tell you, everyone who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate manna in the desert and they are dead; 50 but this is the bread which comes down from heaven, so that a person may eat it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, for the life of the world.'

The discourse becomes more demanding. Now it is the Jews, that is, the leaders of the people, who murmur, “Is He not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can He say that He has come down from heaven?” They considered themselves capable of knowing and of recognizing the things that come from God. But they are mistaken. If they were truly open to the things of God, they would feel the impulse of God in themselves which attracts them toward Jesus and would recognize that Jesus comes from God (Jn 6: 45). In the celebration of the Passover, the Jews remembered the bread of the desert. Jesus helps them to take a step forward. The one who celebrates the Passover remembering only the bread which the fathers ate in the desert, will die just as all of them died! The true meaning of the Passover is not that of recalling the manna which in the past fell from heaven, but to accept Jesus, the Bread of Life who came down from Heaven and to follow the path that He has traced. It does not mean to eat the flesh of the paschal lamb, but the flesh of Jesus, who came down from heaven to give life to the world!

5th Dialogue - John 6: 52-58: Flesh and Blood: the expression of life and of the total gift.

52 Then the Jews started arguing among themselves, 'How can this man give us His flesh to eat?' 53 Jesus replied to them, ‘ In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Anyone who does eat My flesh and drink My blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood lives in Me and I live in that person. 57 As the living Father sent Me and I draw life from the Father, so whoever eats Me will also draw life from Me. 58 This is the bread which has come down from heaven; it is not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’

The Jews reacted,  “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” They did not understand these words of Jesus, because the profound respect for life demanded that from the time of the Old Testament it was forbidden to drink  blood, because the blood was the sign of life (Deut 12:16, 23). Besides, it was close to the Passover and in a few days everyone would have eaten the meat and the blood of the Paschal Lamb in the celebration of the night of the Passover. They took  the words of Jesus literally.That is why they did not understand. To eat the flesh of Jesus meant to accept Jesus as the new Paschal Lamb.His blood will free them from slavery. To drink the blood of Jesus meant to assimilate His  way of life which characterized the life of Jesus. What gives life is not to celebrate the manna of the past, but rather to eat this new bread which is Jesus, His flesh and His blood. Participating in the Eucharistic Supper, we assimilate His life, His gift of self, His dedication.

6th Dialogue – John 6:59-66: Without the light of the Spirit these words cannot be understood,

59 This is what He taught at Capernaum in the synagogue. 60 After hearing it, many of His followers said, 'This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?' 61 Jesus was aware that His followers were complaining about it and said, 'Does this disturb you? 62 What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where He was before? 63 'It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 'But there are some of you who do not believe.' For Jesus knew from the outset who did not believe and who was to betray Him. 65 He went on, 'This is why I told you that no one could come to Me except by the gift of the Father.' 66 After this, many of His disciples went away and accompanied Him no more.

Here ends the discourse of Jesus in the synagogue at Capernaum. Many of His disciples thought,‘Jesus is exaggerating too much! He is putting an end to the celebration of the Passover! He is taking the central place of our religion!’ For this reason many people abandoned the community and no longer followed Jesus. Jesus reacted by saying, “It is the spirit who gives life; the flesh has nothing to offer. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life”. We should not take  what he says literally. It is only with the help of the light of the Holy Spirit that it is possible to understand the full meaning of everything that Jesus says (Jn 14: 25-26; 16: 12-13).

7th Dialogue - Jn 6: 67-71: Confession of Peter.

67 Then Jesus said to the Twelve, 'What about you, do you want to go away too?' 68 Simon Peter answered, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life, 69 and we believe; we have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.' 70 Jesus replied to them, 'Did I not choose the Twelve of you? Yet one of you is a devil.' 71 He meant Judas son of Simon Iscariot, since this was the man, one of the Twelve, who was to betray Him.

At the end only the twelve remained. Jesus said to them, “What about you, do you want to go away too?” For Jesus, what is important is not the number of people who are around Him. He does not change the discourse when the message does not please others. Jesus speaks to reveal the Father and not to please others.

He prefers to remain alone, more than being accompanied by persons who do not accept the Father’s project. The response of Peter is beautiful: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life!” Even without understanding everything, Peter accepts Jesus and believes in Him. In spite of all his limitations, Peter is not like Nicodemus, who wished to see everything clearly, to confirm his own ideas.

a) To deepen more: Eucharist and New Exodus

In describing the multiplication of the loaves, the Gospel of John suggests a parallel with Exodus: Jesus who walks on the water and the discourse of the Bread of Life. This parallel shows that through the Eucharist a new Exodus takes place. The Eucharist helps us to live in a permanent state of Exodus:

i) The multiplication of the loaves (Jn 6:1-15):

Jesus has before Him a hungry crowd and the challenge to guarantee bread for all. Even though Moses had to face this challenge during the time of itinerancy of the people in the desert (Ex 16: 1-35; Num 11: 18-23). After having eaten, the people fed and satisfied recognize in Jesus the new Moses, the “Prophet who is to come into the world” (Jn 6:14), according to what has been announced in the Law of the Covenant (Deut 18:15-22).

ii) Jesus walks on the water (Jn 6:16-21):

In Exodus, the people are itinerant in order to obtain freedom and face and overcome the sea (Ex 14:22). Jesus also, like Moses, dominates and overcomes the sea, preventing the boat of his disciples from being  swallowed up by the waves, and does in such a way that they get safely to the other shore.

iii) The discourse on the Bread of Life (Jn 6: 22-58):

The discourse evokes Chapter 16 of the book of Exodus which describes the story of the manna. When Jesus speaks of “a food which does not perish” (Jn 6:27) He hears some people “murmuring” or complaining against Jesus (Jn 6: 41), do the same thing that the Israelites in the desert, who doubted the presence of God in their long journey (Ex 16: 2; 17: 3; Num 11:1). The Jews doubted the presence of God in Jesus of Nazareth (Jn 6: 42). Jesus is the true Manna who gives us eternal life.

6. Psalm 85 (84)

Justice and Peace embrace one another

Yahweh, You are gracious to Your land,

You bring back the captives of Jacob,

You take away the guilt of Your people,

You blot out all their sins.

You retract all Your anger,

you renounce the heat of your fury.

Bring us back, God our Savior,

appease Your indignation against us!

Will You be angry with us for ever?

Will You prolong your wrath age after age?

Will You not give us life again,

for Your people to rejoice in You?

Show us, Lord, Your faithful love,

grant us Your saving help.

I am listening. What is God's message?

Yahweh's message is peace for His people,

for His faithful, if only they renounce their folly.

His saving help is near for those who fear Him,

His glory will dwell in our land.

Faithful love and loyalty join together,

Saving justice and peace embrace.

Loyalty will spring up from the earth,

and justice will lean down from heaven.

Yahweh will Himself give prosperity,

and our soil will yield its harvest.

Justice will walk before Him,

treading out a path.

7. Final Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank You 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.

Lectio Divina:
  • Thursday, December 31, 2009
  • Friday, January 1, 2010
  • Saturday, January 2, 2010
  • Sunday, January 3, 2010
  • Sunday, January 3, 2010
  • Monday, January 4, 2010
  • Tuesday, January 5, 2010
  • Wednesday, January 6, 2010
  • Thursday, January 7, 2010
  • Friday, January 8, 2010
  • Saturday, January 9, 2010
  • Sunday, January 10, 2010
  • Monday, January 11, 2010
  • Tuesday, January 12, 2010
  • Wednesday, January 13, 2010
  • Thursday, January 14, 2010
  • Friday, January 15, 2010
  • Saturday, January 16, 2010
  • Sunday, January 17, 2010
  • Monday, January 18, 2010
  • Tuesday, January 19, 2010
  • Wednesday, January 20, 2010
  • Thursday, January 21, 2010
  • Friday, January 22, 2010
  • Saturday, January 23, 2010
  • Sunday, January 24, 2010
  • Monday, January 25, 2010
  • Tuesday, January 26, 2010
  • Wednesday, January 27, 2010
  • Thursday, January 28, 2010
  • Friday, January 29, 2010
  • Saturday, January 30, 2010
  • Sunday, January 31, 2010
  • What is a Carmelite Vocation?

    Prayer is at the very heart of the Carmelite vocation. Through praying alone and together as a community, Carmelites seek to deepen their understanding of God, and to develop their relationship with Christ.

    Our community life is a witness to the importance of solidarity. By living, working and praying together, Carmelites find the support they need in their own faith journey, but also provide a practical witness to the teaching of St. Paul, that ‘we are all one body, made up of many parts, united in Christ.’

    It is often believed that all Carmelite friars are priests, but this is not always the case. Throughout the world, many Carmelites do not become priests but commit themselves to other forms of service, including teaching, chaplaincy, social work or academic studies.

    Although Carmelite ministries vary, what unites us as brothers is our commitment to a life of community, prayer and service. These three aspects make up the essence of the Carmelite vocation.

    How do I know if I am being called by God to be a Carmelite?What should I do if I think I am being called?


    God works in lots of different ways. The call by God to become a Carmelite can come to some people as a feeling or a thought that begins small and slowly grows. For others it can begin as a stronger feeling. Everyone’s story is unique.

    Sometimes people know Carmelites and feel that they want to become part of the Community. Sometimes people feel they want to serve others and maybe being a Carmelite is the way to do it. Sometimes people learn about saints of the Carmelite Order and are inspired by them. And sometimes it is just a feeling that this is what God wants me to do.

    If you feel or think that God might be calling you to be a Carmelite listen to that feeling. Don’t be afraid of it. If God is calling you to be a Carmelite, then being a Carmelite is the way that you will be happiest in life and the way you will be most fully alive.

    If you feel that God might be calling you to be a Carmelite there are 3 things you might do: think about it; talk about it; pray about it.

    Think about it:

    Spend time thinking about the Carmelites and about the idea of you being a Carmelite. Try to find out more about us: about how we live, what work we do, where we have Communities etc. Look up our websites to get information. Read about the Carmelite Order and Carmelite Saints. If you know any Carmelites talk to them and ask them questions or contact us through social media.

    Talk about it:

    Pick one or two people whose opinion you trust and who might be worth talking to and ask if you can talk to them. Then tell them what you are feeling, what you are thinking. You don’t have to have any answers and neither do they. But just talk about it. If you are in college or school maybe talk to a Chaplain, or maybe someone in your parish or a church that you know.

    Pray about it:

    St. Teresa of Avila states that “prayer is nothing more than a friendly conversation with the God by whom we know we are loved.” Talk to God. Tell Him what you feel. Ask God to help you to understand what He wants you to do. Ask God to make it clearer to you if He is calling you to be a Carmelite. Ask God to help you respond to Him.

    Making a decision...

    When you think about it, talk about it, and pray about it, if the feeling gets stronger then maybe you are being called to be a Carmelite. But when you think about it, talk about it, and pray about it, and if the feeling gets weaker then maybe you are not being called to be a Carmelite. Maybe God has another plan, another dream for you.


    Fr. Dave Twohig is the Vocation Director of the Irish Province If you live in Ireland and would like to speak with Fr. Dave, he can be contacted at the following:

    E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Tel: (01) 472 0949

    or visit


    A soldier pierces Jesus’ heart
    John 19:31-37

    1. LECTIO

    a) Opening prayer:

    Lord Jesus, grant that we may stand before Your Word in a listening attitude. Help us to stay calm, not to be superficial and distracted. If we meditate on your Word, then we shall, certainly, experience an invasion of tenderness, compassion and love that flows from your pierced heart to humanity. Grant that we may understand the symbolism of the blood and water flowing from Your heart. Grant that we too may gather that blood and water so that we may share in your infinite passion of love and suffering when You underwent every physical and moral suffering. May our meditating on those symbols break our egotism, our self-centeredness and our indifference. May the water and blood mentioned in today’s Gospel calm our anxieties and worries, take away our vainglory, purify our greediness, change our fears into hopes and our darkness into light. As we open ourselves to the force of Your Word, we say to You with all our heart and soul, “Jesus, You are truly the revelation of love.”

    b) Reading of the Gospel:

    Since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may come to believe. For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled: Not a bone of it will be broken. And again another passage says: They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

    c) A moment of silence:

    Let the silence in this meeting with the Word be truly a prayer: a conversation with God, a listening to Him who reveals Himself and calls you and invites you to be one with Him.


    a) A key to the reading – content and division:

    This passage of the Gospel begins with a mention of the Pasch of the Jews and with a request to Pilate (19:31). For the Evangelist, such an event holds extraordinary importance. The center of the Gospel passage is the piercing of the side, whence flow blood and water. We should take note of the symbols in this passage: the blood symbolizes death and love to the end; the water, whence life comes, is the symbol of love expressed and communicated. In the context of the Pasch, these symbols point to the blood of the Lamb who conquers death, and the water, source that purifies. These symbols seek to show that this love (the blood) saves by giving its entire life (water-Spirit). What the Evangelist witnessed is the basis of faith. The passage is organized thus: first the obligation of rest on the festive day which leads to the request made of Pilate that the bodies be taken down (19:31); there follows the scene on the cross when a soldier pierces Jesus’ side (19:32-34); and finally the witness of the Evangelist, based on the Law and the Prophets (19:35-37).

    b) The festive rest and the request to Pilate (19:31):

    The Jewish leaders, because of the legal purity required by the Pasch now close at hand, and worried that the execution of the death of Jesus might profane the Sabbath or even the whole feast of the Pasch, “asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken away.” They are not in the least aware that their Pasch has been substituted by Jesus’ Pasch. The mention of the bodies is significant. Mention is made not only of the body of Jesus, but also of the bodies of those crucified with Him, as if to express Jesus’ solidarity with those crucified with Him and with the whole of humanity.
    Jesus’ body on the cross, that makes Him one with humanity, is, for the Evangelist, God’s sanctuary (2:21). The bodies of those crucified could not remain on the cross on the Sabbath, since what was involved was the preparation for the most solemn feast in the Jewish tradition. This feast will lose its traditional meaning and will be replaced by the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
    “The Jews” put concrete requests before Pilate: that the legs of those crucified be broken so as to accelerate their death and thus avoid the problem that they pose at that particular time. None of these requests is carried out in the case of Jesus: the soldiers do not break His legs nor do they take Him down from the cross.

    c) The pierced side (19:32-33):

    The soldiers break the legs of those with Jesus, but when they get to Jesus they see “He was already dead, and so instead of breaking His legs…” It is significant that the soldiers break the legs of those crucified with Jesus. They are still alive and now that Jesus is dead, they too can die. It is as though Jesus, by dying before them, through His death, has opened the way for them to the Father and now they can follow Him. By stating that they did not break the legs of Jesus, the Evangelist seems to be saying: No one can take life from Jesus, because He gave His life of Himself (10:17ff; 19:30). “One of the soldiers pierced His side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water.” The reader may be surprised by the soldier’s action, since Jesus was already dead. What need was there to pierce Him? It seems that hostility goes on even after death. The piercing with the point of the lance wants to destroy Him forever. This act of hatred allows Jesus to give the kind of love that produces life. This fact is extraordinarily important and contains great wealth of meaning. The blood that flows from Jesus’ side symbolizes His death, which He accepts so as to save humanity; it is and expression of His glory and of His love to the end (1:14; 13:1); it is the gift of the shepherd for his sheep (10:11); it is the love of the friend who gives his life for his friends (15:13). This supreme proof of love, which does not withdraw in the face of the suffering of death on a cross, is an object of contemplation for us on this solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. From His pierced side comes love, which love is His and at the same time inseparably that of the Father. The water that comes out also represents the Spirit, source of life. The blood and water witness to His love proclaimed and communicated. The allusion to the symbols of water and wine at the wedding feast of Cana is evident: the hour has come for Jesus to give the wine of His love. Now the definitive wedding has taken place. The law of supreme and sincere love (1:17) shown on the cross, echoed in His commandment, “love one another as I have loved you” (13:34), is poured out into the hearts of believers by the Spirit. The divine plan of love is fulfilled in Jesus in the outpouring of blood and water (19:28-30). Now is the time for men and women to realize its fulfillment. In this fulfillment, we shall be aided by the Spirit that flows from the pierced side of Jesus, transforming us into a new humanity, capable of loving and of becoming children of God (1:12).

    d) The witness of the Evangelist and of Scripture:

    With the scene of Jesus pierced on the cross, the Evangelist gives proof of a great and solemn witness so that all who listen to him might come to believe. This final and supreme manifestation will form the foundation of the faith of future disciples. We should note that only here does the Evangelist address his readers with the plural “you”: “so that you may believe as well.”
    Jesus’ pierced side on the cross is the great sign to which all the people mentioned throughout the Gospels converge, but above all, all the readers of today, to whom it is given to understand the full meaning of Jesus’ existence. The passage concerning the pierced side is, for the Evangelist, the key that explains the giving of oneself for the salvation of humanity. Even if such a sign may seem paradoxical to the modern reader, in God’s plan it becomes the manifestation of His saving power. Could not God have chosen another sign of His saving love? Why did He choose the sign of a man sentenced to death and death on a cross? What image of God do we see in this sign? God manifests Himself solely in generous love capable of giving life.

    e) A few questions:

    - What place does the contemplation of the pierced heart of Jesus hold in your personal prayer? Do you allow yourself to be involved in the symbols of blood and water that express the mysterious gift of God to you and to humanity?
    - Do you see that God can and does allow evil and sin in order to give His gift of mercy to us? 
    - How do you see your weaknesses? Do you see them as means of mercy, especially when you are ready to admit them? Do you not know that they may be instruments that God uses to evangelize your heart, to save you, to forgive you, and to give you new life to love in love?
    - People who draw away from God, difficult young people, violence, hostility … often give rise to moans, discomfort, bitterness and skepticism within us. Have you ever thought that God may be saving people in their sins and beginning with their sins? Have you ever thought that so many men, women, young people who are in prison or in communities for drug addiction experience in those who help them a meeting with the Lord and thus feel loved and saved by Him?

    3. ORATIO

    a) Isaiah 12:2; 4cd; 5-6

    Look, He is the God of my salvation:
    I shall have faith and not be afraid,
    for Yahweh is my strength and my song,
    He has been my salvation.

    Praise Yahweh,
    invoke His name.
    Proclaim His deeds to the people,
    declare His name sublime.

    Sing of Yahweh,
    for His works are majestic,
    make them known throughout the world.
    Cry and shout for joy,
    you who live in Zion,
    For the Holy One of Israel is among you in His greatness.

    b) Closing prayer:

    At the end of this moment of listening to the Word, let us use the help of prayers that come from a loving and wise study of the Bible. Prayer begins with listening and leads to action with a pure heart and right conscience. The title of the prayer is “That I may love, Lord!” Is it an empty dream to imagine a united humanity, where all are glad to live with others and feel useful, understood and loved? How often people, yesterday, today and in the future, have had and will have such a dream, Lord! The need for unity and the desire for charity dwell in human nature. Love, the law that unites the universe, is the reason and vocation that You, Lord, entrust to everyone who comes to life. To live means to feel loved and to be able to love. When one feels lonely, empty, without love, it seems that life is worthless and colorless! How is it, then, Lord, that not all seek love, always, nor do they all live for others, nor are they capable of giving themselves? To give ourselves to each other means to transform the existence of the world into gift. Grant, Lord, that I may understand and live this wonderful vocation of love! (Lucio Renna)


    On earth, the knowledge we can have of God is divine silence. Through Lectio Divina our thirst for the Word is not quenched but is made more acute. St. Augustine said, “You find Him only to seek Him more avidly.” When a heart is seduced by the Word, it feels as if it were dying if the encounter were to be deferred. This is what Teresa of Avila experienced: “Muero porque no muero” (I die because I do not die). To initiate this moment of contemplation, I would like to quote three sayings of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity. They are taken from a part entitled “ a hymn” to suffering, but we must not think that suffering was the Absolute in her life. Rather she says that we are called to “enter into the joy of the Lord.” The first thought is this: “Suffering is such a great thing, such a divine thing! It seems to me that if the Blessed in heaven could envy us one thing, they would envy us this treasure. It is such a powerful lever on the heart of the good God!” (Letter to Mrs. Angles, 14 August 1904). The second thought: “Suffering is a string that produces even sweeter sounds and she (the soul) likes to make it her instrument to move more deliciously the heart of God.” (Retreat on How to find heaven on earth). The last thought: «Nothing moves God’s heart like suffering. If we cannot desire or go to meet it, then at least we can accept the trials that God sends us. The more He loves a soul, the more He makes it suffer.” (Diary, 17 March 1889). Why is it that Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity sees in suffering “such a great thing, such a divine thing that moves the heart of God?” It is the road taken by Christ. Christ’s Pasch, passion and death on the one hand and resurrection on the other are one as are concave and convex.

    Ivan Hrůša, O.Carm.
    Born in 1967 in Prague in Czechoslovakia. During his studies at high school in 1984 he came to Christian faith and was baptized in the Catholic church. The following year he applied to study Catholic theology in order to become a priest but because of the communist regime he was not admitted. Only after one year of working at the post office and two years of military service could he start his theological studies. In autumn 1989, he entered the noviciate in the Carmelite Order, still in secret, at the end of the communist era. After the political change in the winter 1989 he interrupted his studies and spent a second noviciate year in Germany at Springiersbach. He finished his theological studies in Olomouc, Czech republic, in 1994. In the following year he was ordained a priest, and in 1995-97 he worked as administrator in two parishes that had been entrusted to Carmelites at Olomouc in 1991.
    From 1998-2001 Fr. Ivan completed his licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and then he went to Heidelberg, Germany, to do a doctorate in Assyriology - the languages, culture and history of Ancient Mesopotamia. In 2008, he defended his doctoral dissertation at Heidelberg. Since the autumn of that year, he has been teaching Assyriology at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and working as Archivist at the General Curia of the Order.
    Email: ihrusa @
    For the documents before 1935 please contact the archivist of the historical section of the General Archive, Fr. Emanuele Boaga, O.Carm.: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Fr. Giovanni Grosso, O.Carm.,

    Fr. Giovanni was born in Rome on March 27, 1958.  After he obtained a degree in Political Sciences in the University of Studies “La Sapienza” in Rome, he entered the Carmelite Order in 1983; he made his first profession on October 10, 1984 and was ordained a priest on June 29, 1989.  At the end of his studies in Philosophy and Theology, he obtained a Doctorate in Ecclesiastical History in the Pontifical Gregorian University.

    He held several responsibilities in the Italian Province: Prior of different communities (Pisa, Rome – Traspontina, Rome Mostacciano), he was Parish Vicar in several Parishes; for a three year term he was responsible for the formation of professed students; several times he was a member of the Provincial Council as Counsellor, Assistant and Vice Prior Provincial.  He was Assistant Provincial of the Carmelite Third Order and worked a lot for the spiritual and cultural formation of the laity. He was member of the General Commission for formation which drew up the second edition of the Ratio institutionis  (Rome 2000), he has collaborated in the redaction of the Ratio institutionis  for the Cloistered Sisters (Rome 2007); he has been and is member of the International Commission for the laity.

    He teaches Church History and Theology of Consecrated Life in the Pontifical Faculty of Theology “Marianum” and also in the Inter Diocesan Institute of Religious Sciences of the Castelli Romani.  In addition to his Doctoral thesis - Blessed Jean Soreth (1394-1471), Prior General, reformer and Spiritual  Master of the Carmelite Order,  Rome 2007 – he has published a book of Lectio Divina on Marian texts – With Mary Daughter of Sion, listening to the Word,  Padua 2002 – and numerous scientific articles which have appeared in several reviews.

    from November 2007-2014 he was General Postulator of the Order and Dean of the Institutum Carmelitanum, as well as Director of Carmelus.

    Patrick Burke, O.Carm.

     It is difficult for us as humans to understand the suffering that Christ had to bear during his passion and dying on the Cross, particularly in the context of an obedience to the Father. In his human nature, Jesus is like anyone else in all things ‘except sin’ (Hebrew 4:15). He is in himself the most perfect of all our humanity. His ordeal of the passion was unworthy of him, of his person, dignity, wisdom and goodness. During his mortal life, he bore our infirmities, our labours, our pains and our tears. He wept as anyone else would, touched by the sadness and love of friends. The Scripture says that he was moved by compassion at things or people he saw. Indeed his human nature being more perfect, his natural response or sensibility was also more delicate, more intense. It is all that is to be expected, since in his humanity he is the reflection of his Father’s infinite being, ‘the radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of his nature’ (Hebrew 1:13).

    Yet Jesus suffered and died ‘for us.’ Can we understand why the Father demanded of the Son the debt due to Him in justice because of our sin? The Father willed that Jesus would be bruised for our wickedness. Jesus, our brother, saw the sickness that consumes our world, the evil that brings all class of pain, agony and disease on humans, the mindlessness that created unimaginable torments to human beings. What is described as Christ’s Agony in the Garden of Olives began with a flood of sadness, fear and weariness, which gradually gave way to pain and even to a 'sweat of blood.’ Can we see him offering us love as he is overwhelmed by the torrents of our iniquities? In fact in his natural reaction of revulsion, he pleads with his Father: ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine’ (Luke 22:42). In fact, Jesus was surrounded by the powers of darkness. Betrayed by one of his own company, the Sinless One was first handed over to the soldiers who make a mockery of him to chide the Jews. They beat him; torture and scourge him as a common criminal. Ignominy is heaped on the Holy One of God. Eventually he is condemned and fastened to a Cross, mounted between two thieves. The Prophet Isaiah had foretold the outrages that afflicted him and the humiliations that oppressed him. The Prophet foretold the scene at Calvary: ‘As the crowds were appalled on seeing him, so disfigured did he look that he seemed no longer human, so will the crowds be astonished at him. Without beauty, without majesty we see him, no looks to attract our eyes; a thing despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering, a man to make people screen their faces; He was despised and we took no account of him’ (Isaiah 52:14; 53:2-3).

    His passion and death was Christ’s sacrifice that gives infinite glory to his Father and expresses in his love what the Father asked for. It would redeem humanity, restore the proper order in creation and open for us the springs of everlasting life. So St. Paul was able to tell the Romans: ‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do; sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’ (Romans 8:1-5).

    The love that Jesus showed for the Father was prompted by his love and concern for the apostles and all who would accept them and their successors throughout the centuries. ‘Greater love than this no man has, than a man lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13). St Paul states this as; ‘Christ die for all’ (2Corinthians 5:15).

    When speaking of the Good Shepherd who gives his life for his sheep, Jesus says ‘The Father loves me because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will, and as it is in my power to take it up again; and this is the command I have been given by my Father’ (John 10:17). Before his arrest, Jesus resisted the temple guards, arguing that ‘I sat daily with you in the Temple and you laid no hands on me’ (Matthew 26:55). When he is brought before Pilate, he makes it clear to him, ‘You would have no power over me, if it had not been given you from above’ (John 19:11). However, because it is his Father’s will, he submits himself to Pilate - for our sakes.

    Patrick Burke, O.Carm. Carmelite Family: Number 13, Spring 2002.


    Season of Lent

    1) Opening prayer

    Lord God,

    You want us to live our faith

    not so much as a set of rules and practices

    but as a relationship from person to person

    with You and with people. Keep our hearts turned to You,

    that we may live what we believe

    and that we may express our love for You

    in terms of service to those around us,

    as Jesus did, Your Son,

    who lives with You and the Holy Spirit

    forever and ever. Amen.

    2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 18:21-35

    Peter approached Jesus and asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.' Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, 'Pay back what you owe.' Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?' Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."

    3) Reflection

    • Today’s Gospel speaks to us about the need for pardon. It is not easy to forgive, because certain grief and pain continue to burn in the heart. There are people who say, “I forgive, but I do not forget!” Rancor, tensions, diverse opinions, insults, offenses, provocations, all renders pardon and reconciliation difficult. Let us try to meditate on the words of Jesus which speak about reconciliation (Mt 18:21-22) and which speak to us about the parable of pardon without limits (Mt 18:23-35).

    • Matthew 18:21-22: To forgive seventy-seven times! Jesus had spoken of the importance of pardon and of the need of knowing how to accept the brothers and sisters to help them to reconcile with the community (Mt 18:15-20) Prior to these words of Jesus, Peter asks, “How often should I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?” Number seven indicates perfection. In this case, it was synonymous with always. Jesus goes far beyond Peter’s proposal. He eliminates any possibility of limitation to pardon: “Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times!” That is, seventy times always! There is no proportion between the pardon which we receive from God and the pardon which we should offer to our brother or sister, as the parable of pardon without limit teaches us.

    • The expression seventy-seven times was a clear reference to the words of Lamech who said, “I killed a man for wounding me, a boy for striking me. Seven fold vengeance for Cain but seventy-seven fold for Lamech” (Gen 4:23-24). Jesus wants to invert the spiral of violence which entered the world because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, because of the killing of Abel by Cain and for the vengeance of Lamech. When uncontrolled violence invades life, everything goes wrong and life disintegrates.

    • Matthew 18:23-35: The parable of pardon without limits. The denarii was the coin in daily use at the time. 1 talent equaled 3,000 shekel or 6,000 denarii. Thus, the debt of ten thousand talents was approximately 60,000,000 denarii! There is no comparison between the two! Even if the debtor together with his wife and children set to work their whole life, they would never be capable of earning this much. Before God’s love, which forgives gratuitously our debt of 60 million, it is more than just on our part to forgive gratuitously the debt of a single coin, seventy times always! The only limit to the gratuity of pardon of God is our incapacity to forgive our brother! (Mt 18:33-34; 6:15)

    • The community, an alternative place of solidarity and fraternity: the society of the Roman Empire was hard and without a heart, without any room for the little ones. They sought refuge for the heart and did not find it. The synagogue was also demanding and did not offer them any place. And in the Christian communities, the rigor of some in the observance of the Law made life together difficult because they used the same criteria as the synagogue. Besides this, toward the end of the first century, in the Christian communities, the same divisions which existed in society between rich and poor began to appear (Jas 2:1-9). Instead of making the community a place of acceptance, they ran the risk of becoming a place of condemnation and conflict. Matthew wants to enlighten the communities, so that these may be an alternative space of solidarity and of fraternity. They should be Good News for the poor.

    4) Personal questions

    • Why is it so difficult to forgive?

    • How do we accomplish reconciliation in our community?

    • What is the best way to approach forgiveness and forgetting while still protecting the vulnerable in our care or in our community?

    5) Concluding Prayer

    Direct me in Your ways, Yahweh,

    and teach me Your paths.

    Encourage me to walk in Your truth

    and teach me, since You are the God who saves me.

    For my hope is in You all day long. (Ps 25:4-5)

    Lectio Divina:

    The Parables of the Kingdom of God The Kingdom is like a seed

    Mark 4:26-34

    1. Opening Prayer

    Lord Jesus, send us Your Spirit  to open the Scriptures for us in the same way that You opened them for the disciples on the road to Emmaus. With the light of the Word, written in the Bible, You helped them to discover the presence of God in the terrible events of your condemnation and crucifixion. Thus, the cross, that seemed to be the end of all hope, could be seen by them as the source of life and resurrection.

    Create in us the silence that will enable us to listen to Your voice in creation and in Scripture, in the events of life and in other people, especially in the poor and the suffering. May Your Word direct us so that we, too, just like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, may experience the power of Your resurrection and be witnesses for others of the truth that You are alive and that You live in our midst, as the source of fraternity, peace and justice. We ask this of You, Jesus, Son of Mary, who have revealed the Father to us and have sent us Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

    2. Reading

     a) A division of the text that will help our understanding

     Mk 4:26-29: The parable of the seed that springs up on its own

    Mk 4:30-32: The parable of the grain of mustard

    Mk 4:33-34: The conclusion regarding parables.

     b) The text: Mk 4:26-34

    Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

    3. A Moment of Prayerful Silence

      - so that the Word of God may enter and enlighten our lives.

    4. Questions

    a) Why do both parables use growth as a theme for the kingdom of God? 

    b) In one parable, the result is ripe grain (food), and in the other it is shade for birds. How do these tie together?
    c) What does Jesus mean by “the kingdom of God” in these parables, what would the listeners of the time mean by it, and what do we mean by it?

    5. For those who want to look more deeply at the theme

    a) For a better understanding

    Why Jesus taught through parables:  Jesus recounted many parables. All of them are taken from the life of the people. He helped people to discover the things of God in everyday life in this way, as life becomes more transparent, because the extraordinary things of God are hidden in the ordinary and common things of everyday life. The people could understand the things of life. The parables provide the key that opens that life and finds the signs of God in it.

    Through the parables, Jesus helped the people to see the mysterious presence of the Kingdom in the things of life. A parable is a comparison. Jesus used the known and obvious things of life to help to explain the invisible and unknown things of the Kingdom of God. For example, the people of Galilee understood when someone talked about seeds, land, rain, sunshine, salt, flowers, fish, harvest, etc. Jesus used all these things that the people knew very well, in His parables, to help to explain the mystery of the Kingdom.

    The parable of the sower is a portrait of a farmer’s life. At that time, it was hard to make a living from farming. The land was full of stones. There were many rough plants, not much rain, and a strong sun. In addition, the people, in order to take shortcuts, often walked across the land and trampled on the plants (Mk 2:23). Despite all that, every year the farmer would plant, trusting in the power of the seed and in the generosity of nature.

    A parable doesn’t say everything, but induces a person to think and make discoveries, beginning with the experience the listeners have of the seed. This is not a neatly packaged doctrine that arrives all ready to be taught and embellished. The parable does not provide water in a bottle, but rather, leads people to the source. It also has depth. The deeper you penetrate it, the more you discover, and after, there is even more yet to discover and learn from it. A farmer, listening, would say, “Seed in the ground, I know what that is, but Jesus is saying that this has something to do with the kingdom of God! What could that be?” It’s not difficult to imagine the long conversations that might follow with the crowd. The parable moves with the people and gets them to listen to nature and to think about life. 

    b) Commentary on the text

    It is wonderful to see Jesus, again and again, looking at life and at what’s happening around Him, for things and images that might help the people to detect and to experience the presence of the Kingdom. In today’s Gospel, again, He tells two short stories about things that happen every day in our lives: the story of the seed that grows all on its own, and the story of the tiny mustard that grows to be so big.

    The story of the seed that grows all on its own

    The farmer who plants the seed knows the process: first the seed, then the green shoot, the leaf, the ear and the grain. The farmer knows how to wait and will not cut the stalk before it is time, but he does not know from where the power comes for the soil, the rain, the sun and the seed to make a seed turn into fruit. That’s what the kingdom of God is like. It’s a process. There are stages and points of growth. It takes time and happens in time. The fruit comes at the right time but no one can explain its mysterious power. No one is its master. Only God! 

    The story of the tiny mustard seed that turns into something very big

    The mustard seed is small, but it grows, to the point where the birds can make their nests in its branches. That’s what the Kingdom is like. It begins as something very small. Then it grows and spreads its branches. The parable does not say who the birds are. The answer to that question will come later in the Gospel. The text suggests that it refers to the pagans who will not be able to get into the community and be sharers in the Kingdom.

    Jesus explained the parable to His disciples

    In the house, when they were on their own with Jesus, the disciples want to know what the parable means. They do not understand it. Jesus is astonished by their failure to understand (Mk 4:13) and at that point responds in a way that is difficult and mysterious. He says to His disciples, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that 'they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.'" (Mk 4:11-12) This makes the people wonder, “What use is the parable then? Is it to make things clear or to hide them?” Perhaps Jesus uses parables so that people will go on living in ignorance and not become converted? Certainly not! Today’s Gospel says that “with many such parables He spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it” (Mk4:33).

    The parable reveals and hides at the same time! It reveals, to those who have become attuned, who accept Jesus, the Servant Messiah. It hides, from those who insist on seeing Him as Messiah who is a mighty king. These see the images of the parable but they do not grasp their meaning. In a parable, the listener has to move to the frame of reference of the storyteller. Without that, the understanding cannot begin. If a story is told as concrete instruction, then there is argument and debate by those opposed. With a parable, if there is animosity towards the idea, as many had to the new ideas of Jesus,  the person goes away confused or disinterested rather than angry.

    6. Prayer - Psalm 96

    Tell of His salvation from day to day

    O sing to the Lord a new song;

    sing to the Lord, all the earth.

    Sing to the Lord, bless His name;

    tell of His salvation from day to day.

    Declare His glory among the nations,

    His marvelous works among all the peoples.

    For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;

    He is to be revered above all gods.

    For all the gods of the peoples are idols,

    but the Lord made the heavens.

    Honor and majesty are before Him;

    strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

    Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,

    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

    Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name;

    bring an offering, and come into His courts.

    Worship the Lord in holy splendor;

    tremble before Him, all the earth.

    Say among the nations, "The Lord is king!

    The world is firmly established;

    it shall never be moved.

    He will judge the peoples with equity."

    Let the heavens be glad,

    and let the earth rejoice;

    let the sea roar, and all that fills it;

    let the field exult, and everything in it.

    Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy

    before the Lord; for He is coming,

    for He is coming to judge the earth.

    He will judge the world with righteousness,

    and the peoples with His truth.                                  

    7. Closing Prayer

    Lord Jesus, we give You thanks for Your word that has helped us to see more clearly what is the will of the Father. Let your Spirit enlighten our actions and give us the strength to be able to do what Your word has allowed us to see. Let us, like Mary your Mother, not just listen to Your Word, but also to put it into practice. You live and reign with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen

    Activities prior General
    The Parable of the Prodigal Son
    Luke 15,1-3.11-32

    1. LECTIO

    a) Opening prayer:

    Come, Spirit Creator, reveal to us the great mystery of God the Father and of the Son united in one love. Grant that we may see the great day of God, resplendent with light: the dawn of a new world born in the blood of Christ. The prodigal son comes home, the blind sees the bright light; the pardoned good thief dissolves the ancient fear. Dying on the cross, Christ destroys death; death brings forth life, love conquers fear and sin seeks pardon. Amen.

    b) Gospel reading

    Luke 15,1-3.11-321 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Jesus. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."
    3 So he told them this parable:
    11 "There was a man who had two sons; 12 and the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living.
    14 And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want. 15 So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants."' 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22 But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; 23 and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; 24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.
    25 "Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant. 27 And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.' 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, 'Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!' 31 And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'"

    c) Prayerful silent time:

    that the Word of God may enter into our hearts and enlighten our life.


    a) A key to the reading:

    Dante says that Luke is the ‹‹scriba mansuetudinis Christi››. Indeed, he is the Evangelist who loves to emphasise the mercy of the Master towards sinners and presents us with scenes of forgiveness (Lk 7: 36-50; 23: 39-43). In Luke’s Gospel the mercy of God is manifested in Jesus Christ. We can say that Jesus is the incarnation of the merciful presence of God among us. “Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate” (Lk 6: 36). Luke focuses on an image of God already revealed in the Old Testament (Es 34: 6), but which, unfortunately, seems to have been ignored by the Scribes and Pharisees who rather stressed the image of a God “who visits the sins of the fathers on the children” (Es 34: 7). Indeed, the Pharisees and the Scribes boasted on being just in the eyes of God because they did not break the law. Jesus criticises this attitude in his teaching and by his actions. He, the “just One” of God (1Pt 3: 18), “receives sinners and eats with them” (Lk 15: 2). Think of the parable of the publican who goes home from the temple justified in contrast with the Pharisee who praised himself before God while passing judgment on his neighbours (Lk 18: 9-14). Jesus points out to us that God’s way of thinking and acting is quite different from ours. God is different, and his transcendence is revealed in the mercy that forgives sins. “My heart recoils from it, my whole being trembles at the thought. I will not give rein to my fierce anger… for I am God, not man; I am the Holy One in your midst and have no wish to destroy” (Hos 11: 8-9).

    This parable of the “prodigal son” brings out this merciful aspect of God the Father. That is why some people refer to this story as “the parable of the father who is prodigal with mercy and forgiveness”. The Gospel passage is part of a series of three parables on mercy and has a preamble that leads us to contemplate “all the publicans and sinners” who approach Jesus to listen to him (Lk 15: 1). These are reflected in the attitude of the younger son who comes to himself and begins to think on his state and on what he lost when he left his father’s house (Lk 15: 17-20). It is interesting to note the use of the verb “to listen”, which recalls the scene with Mary, Martha’s sister, “who sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking” (Lk 10: 39); or the great crowd of people “who had come to hear him and to be cured of their diseases” (Lk 6: 18). Jesus acknowledges his relatives, not by their blood relationship, but from their listening attitude: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word o God and put it into practice” (Lk 8: 21). Luke seems to place importance on this attitude of listening. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is praised for having a contemplative listening attitude, she who “stored up all these things in her heart” (Lk 2: 19, 51). Elisabeth proclaims her blessed because “she has believed that the promise made by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk 1: 45), revealed at the time of the annunciation (Lk 1: 26-38).

    The mercy of the compassionate father (Lk 15: 20), is in contrast with the severe attitude of the older son, who will not accept his brother as such and who, in the dialogue with the father, refers to him as: “this son of yours comes back after swallowing up your property – he and his women…” (Lk 15: 30). In this we can see the attitude of the Scribes and Pharisees who “murmured: ‹‹This man receives sinners and eats with them››.” They do not associate with “sinners” whom they consider unclean, but rather distance themselves from them. Jesus’ attitude is different and, in their sight, it is scandalous. He likes to associate with sinners and sometimes invites himself into their houses to eat with them (Lk 19: 1-10). The murmuring of the Scribes and Pharisees prevents them from listening to the Word.

    The contrast between the two brothers is quite evocative. The younger brother recognises his misery and fault and returns home saying: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son” (Lk 15: 18-19, 21). The older brother takes an attitude of arrogance not only towards his brother but also towards his father! His scolding is in great contrast with the tenderness of the father who comes out of the house and goes to meet him to “entreat” him to go into the house (Lk 15: 20, 28). This is an image of God the Father who invites us to conversion, to return to him: “Come back, disloyal Israel – it is Yahweh who speaks – I shall frown on you no more, since I am merciful – it is Yahweh who speaks. I shall not keep my resentment for ever. Only acknowledge your guilt: how you have apostatised from Yahweh your God, how you have flirted with strangers and have not listened to my voice – it is Yahweh who speaks. Come back disloyal children –it is Yahweh who speaks – for I alone am your Master” (Jer 3: 12-14).

    b) A few questions:

    to direct our meditation and practice.

    i) Luke focuses on an image of God already revealed in the Old Testament (Es 34: 6), but which, unfortunately, seems to have been ignored by the Scribes and Pharisees who stressed rather the image of a God “who visits the sins of the fathers on the children” (Es 34: 7). What image of God do I have?

    ii) The Pharisees and Scribes boast that they are just in the sight of God because they do not break the law. Jesus criticises their attitude in his teaching and by his actions. He the “Just One” of God (1Pt 3: 18) “receives sinners and eats with them” (Lk 15: 2). Do I consider myself more just than others, perhaps because I try to observe the commandments of God? What are the motives that drive me to live a “just” life? Is it the love of God or personal satisfaction?

    iii) “All the publicans and sinners” approached Jesus to listen to him (Lk 15: 1). Luke seems to place importance on this attitude of listening, reflection, entering into oneself, meditating and storing up the Word in our hearts. What place do I give to the contemplative listening of the Word of God in my daily life?

    iv) The Scribes and Pharisees do not associate with “sinners” whom they consider unclean, but rather distance themselves from them. Jesus’ attitude is different and, in their sight, it is scandalous. He loves to be with sinners and sometimes invites himself to their houses to eat with them (Lk 19: 1-10). Do I judge others or do I try to pass on feelings of mercy and forgiveness, thus reflecting the tenderness of God the Father-Mother?

    v) ‹‹“Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.” And they began to celebrate.›› (Lk 15: 23). In the image of the father who celebrates the return to life of his son, we recognise God the Father who has loved us so much “that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life” (Jn 3: 16). In the killed “fattened calf”, we can see the Christ, the lamb of God who offers himself as a victim of expiation for the redemption of sin. I take part in the Eucharistic banquet full of grateful feelings for this infinite love of God who gives himself to us in his crucified and risen beloved Son.

    3. ORATIO

    a) Psalm 32 (31):

    Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
    Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

    When I declared not my sin,
    my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
    For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

    I acknowledged my sin to thee,
    and I did not hide my iniquity; I said,
    "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord";
    then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.

    Thou art a hiding place for me,
    thou preservest me from trouble;
    thou dost encompass me with deliverance.

    Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice,
    O righteous, and shout for joy,
    all you upright in heart!

    b) Closing prayer:

    O God, who rewards the just and will not deny pardon to repentant sinners, listen to our plea: may the humble confession of our faults obtain for us your mercy.


    Contemplation is knowing how to adhere with one’s mind and heart to the Lord who by his Word transforms us into new beings who always do his will. “Knowing these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (Jn 13: 17)

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