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Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina (465)

"Lectio divina is an authentic source of Christian spirituality recommended by our Rule. We therefore practice it every day, so that we may develop a deep and genuine love for it, and so that we may grow in the surpassing knowledge of Christ. In this way we shall put into practice the Apostle Paul’s commandment, which is mentioned in our Rule: “Let the sword of the spirit, the Word of God, live abundantly in your mouth and in your hearts; and whatever you must do, do it in the name of the Lord.”

 Carmelite Constitutions (No. 82)

Wednesday, 03 July 2019 09:10

Lectio Divina:The Transfiguration of the Lord (C)

Written by

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:



Luke 9:28-36



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  spoke 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.


Lectio Divina:
2019-08-06
Sunday, 19 May 2019 15:54

Lectio Divina: 7th Sunday of Easter (C)

Written by

Click here for the Lectio Divina of the Ascension of the Lord (c)



The Glory of the Son: That all may be One

John, 17:20-26



1) OPENING PRAYER



Lord Jesus send your Spirit to help us interpret the scriptures with the same insight with which you interpreted them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. Through the light of God’s written word, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the overwhelming events of your condemnation and death. Thus, the Cross, which seemed to be the end of all hope, appeared to them as the source of life and  resurrection.



Create in us a silence, so that we can listen to your voice in creation, scripture, daily events and in persons especially those who are poor and suffering. May your Word guide us, so that we, like the Disciples of Emmaus, may experience the strength of your resurrection and witness it to others. We ask this of you, Jesus, Son of Mary, who revealed the Father to us and sent us the Holy Spirit. Amen.



2) LECTIO: THE READING



a) A Key to the Reading



This gospel passage concerns all who have come believe in Jesus. Jesus prays that all may be one. The unique model for such a union is the intimate bond which exists between the Father and the Son. The unity among Christians testifies to the world that Jesus is the one sent by the Father.



b)  A division of the text to facilitate our reading



Jn 17: 20 – 23: The prayer of Jesus about His own mission.

Jn 17: 24 – 26: The prayer of Jesus that the love of the Father be in the disciples.



c) The Text - John 17:20-26



Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: "I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them."



3) A MOMENT OF SILENT PRAYER



So that the Word of God can penetrate our hearts and enlighten our lives.



4) SOME QUESTIONS



To assist our meditation and prayer.



During the reading of this Gospel passage, what impression of Jesus did you formulate?

Did you experience Jesus’ immense desire for unity and love?

Bishop Don Pedro Casaldáliga once said “the Trinity is truly the best community.” In your community, can you see any sign of the Trinity?

Ecumenism: What does it mean? Am I interested in ecumenism? 

Love: What type of love does the world propose? Is it compatible with the love taught by Christ?



5) FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO GO DEEPER INTO THE TEXT



a) The Context



Today’s Gospel gives us the third and last part of the Priestly Prayer, in which Jesus looks toward the future and manifests His great desire for unity among us, His disciples, and that all may remain in the love which unifies, because without love and without unity we do not deserve credibility.



          b) A commentary on the text



 John 17:20-23: The prayer of Jesus about His own Mission: So that the world may believe it was You who sent Me.



Looking into the horizon, Jesus prays to the Father: “I pray not only for these but also for those who through their teaching will come to believe in Me. May they all be one, just as, Father, You are in Me and I am in You, so that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe it was You who sent Me.” Here, Jesus displays His concern for unity which should exist in the communities. Unity does not mean uniformity, but rather to remain in love in spite of tension and conflict. Such love reflects the profound unity which exists between Jesus and the Father. The unity in love revealed in the Trinity is the model for all communities. By loving one another, communities reveal to the world the profound message of Jesus. People said of the first Christians “see how they love one another!” The present day division among Jews, Christians and Moslems, all of whom came from Abraham, is truly tragic. Even more tragic is the division among us Christians who claim to believe in Jesus. If we are divided, we have no credibility. Ecumenism is at the center of Jesus’ farewell prayer to the Father. It is His testament. To be a Christian and not be ecumenical is a contradiction. We are violating the final wish of Jesus.



John 17:24-26: The prayer of Jesus that the love of the Father be in the disciples: “So that the love with which You loved Me may be in them.”



Jesus does not want to remain alone. He says “Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am so that they may always see My glory, which You have given Me, because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” Jesus is happy when we are all together with Him. He wants His disciples to have the same experience of the Father which He enjoyed. He wants us to know the Father and be known by Him. In the Bible, knowledge of God is not merely rational and theoretical but an experience of the living God who loves His people.



          c) Further Information



That they may be one as We are one. (Unity and Trinity in the Gospel of John)



The Gospel of John helps us to understand the mystery of the Trinity, the communion of Father, Son and Spirit. Of the four Gospels, John stresses the profound unity that exists among the Father, Son and Spirit. From the text, we see that the mission of the Son is the supreme manifestation of the love of the Father (Jn 17: 6-8). This unity between the Father and the Son makes Jesus exclaim “the Father and I are one” (Jn 10:30). Between Son and Father, there is such unity that one who sees the face of one sees the face of the other.  Fulfilling this mission of unity, Jesus reveals the Spirit. The spirit of Truth comes from the Father (Jn 15:26). At the bidding of the Son (Jn 14:16), the Father sends the Spirit to each one of us in such a way that He will remain with us, encouraging us and giving us strength. The Spirit also comes to us from the Son (Jn 16:7-8). Thus, the Spirit of Truth, who journeys with us, is the communication of the profound unity which exists between the Father and the Son (Jn 15:26-27). The Spirit cannot communicate a truth which is different from the truth of the Son. Everything which is in relationship with the mystery of the Son, the Spirit makes known to us (Jn 16:13-14). This experience of unity in God was very strong in the communities of the Beloved Disciple. The love which unites the Divine Persons allows us to experience God through union with people in a community of love. This was also the experience of the first communities in which love was a sign of God’s presence in their midst (Jn 13:34-35). This love builds unity in the community (Jn 17:21). They looked at the unity in God in order to understand the unity among themselves.



6. PRAYER (Psalm 8)



O Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the world!

Whoever keeps singing of your majesty higher than the heavens,

Even through the mouths of children, or of babes in arms,

you make him a fortress,

firm against your foes, to subdue the enemy and the rebel.



I look up at your heavens, shaped by your fingers,

at the moon and the stars you set firm.

What are human beings that you spare a thought for them,

or the child of 
Adam that you care for him?



Yet you have made him little less than a god,

you have crowned him with 
glory and beauty,



made him lord of the works of your hands,

put all things under his feet,



sheep and cattle, all of them, and even the wild beasts,

birds in the sky, fish in the sea, when he makes his way across the ocean.

Yahweh our Lord,

how majestic your name throughout the world!



7. FINAL PRAYER



Lord Jesus, we thank You for Your word which has helped us better understand the will of the Father. Grant that your Spirit enlightens our actions and gives us the strength to carry out what Your word has made us see. Grant that we, like Mary Your Mother, can, not only listen to, but also put Your Word into practice. You who live and reign together with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.


Lectio Divina:
2019-06-02
Monday, 02 March 2015 19:52

Lectio Divina: 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Written by

8th Sunday of Ordinary time (C)

A parable which calls us to conversion

The Tree is recognized by its fruit.

Luke 6:39-45



1. OPENING PRAYER



Oh Holy Spirit, come to my aid in my weakness and teach me to pray. Spirit of the Father, without You I do not know what to ask for nor how to ask for it. But You Yourself come to my assistance and pray to the Father on my behalf, with sighs which no words can express. Oh Spirit of God, you know what is in my heart: pray in me as the Father desires. Oh Holy Spirit, come to the aid of my weakness and teach me how to pray. Amen.

(Cf Rm 8:26-27)



2. LECTIO: THE READING



a)  A key to the Reading



Today’s Gospel presents us with passages from the teachings which Jesus pronounced on the plain, after having spent the night in prayer (Lk 6:12), and after having called the Twelve to be His apostles (Lk 6:13-14). Many of these teachings, woven together in this discourse, were pronounced by Jesus on other occasions. But, imitating Matthew, Luke places them all together in this Sermon on the Plain.



b)  A division of the Text to facilitate our Reading



Lk 6:39: The parable of the blind leading the blind.

Lk 6:40: The disciple and the teacher.

Lk 6:41-42: The splinter in the eye of your brother.

Lk 6:43-45: The parable of the tree that produces good fruit.



c) The Text: Luke, 6:39-45



Jesus told his disciples a parable, "Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,' when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother's eye. "A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."



3. A MOMENT OF SILENT PRAYER



So that the Word of God can penetrate our hearts and enlighten our lives.



4. SOME QUESTIONS



To assist our meditation and prayer.



 - Have you ever put yourself in the situation of a blind person?  What did you experience?

- The splinter and log in one’s eye. How do I relate to others? At home, in my family, at work, with colleagues, in community, with brothers and sisters?

- There is no shortage of “spin” and interpretation of the Gospel these days. How can we use this passage as guidance in discerning the truth?

 - The Teacher and the disciple. What kind of a disciple of Jesus am I?

 - What is the spiritual state of my heart?



5. FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO GO DEEPER INTO THE TEXT



Lk 6:39: The parable of the blind leading the blind.



Jesus tells a parable to the disciples: "Can a blind man lead another blind man? Will not both fall into a hole? " A parable of one line, very similar to the warnings that, in the Gospel of Matthew, are addressed to the Pharisees: "Woe to you, blind guides!" (Mt 23:16,17,19,24,26). Here, in the context of the Gospel of Luke, this parable is addressed to the animators of the communities who consider themselves to be masters of the truth, superior to others. This is why they are blind guides.



Lk 6:40: The Disciple and the Teacher



"The disciple is not superior to the teacher; but each well trained student will be like his teacher." Jesus is the Master. Not the professor. The professor in the classroom teaches different subjects, but does not live with the students. The Teacher does not give lessons, He lives with His pupils. His subject matter is Himself, His testimony of life, His way of living the things He teaches. Living with the Teacher entails three aspects: (a) The Teacher is the model or example to be imitated (cf. Jn 13:13-15);  (b) The disciple not only contemplates and imitates the Teacher, but He also commits Himself to the destiny of the Master, with His temptations (Lk 22:28), with His persecution (Mt 10:24-25), and with His death (Jn. 11:16);  (c) He not only imitates the model and not only undertakes the commitment, but He comes to identify Himself with Him: "I no longer live, but Christ lives in Me" (Gal 2:20). This third aspect is the mystical dimension of the following of Jesus, fruit of the action of the Spirit.



Lk 6:41: The splinter in the eye of your brother.



“Why do you observe the splinter in your brother's eye and never notice the great log in your own?  How can you say to your brother, "Brother, let me take out that splinter in your eye," when you cannot see the great log in your own? Hypocrite! Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter in your brother's eye.”



In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew deals with the same theme and explains the parable of the splinter in the eye a little better. Jesus asks for a creative attitude that enables us to meet the other without judging him, without preconceptions and rationalizations, accepting him as a brother (Mt 7:1-5). This total openness towards the other, considered as brother or sister, will only arise in us when we are able to relate to God with the total trust of children (Mt 7:7-11).



Lk 6:43-45: The parable of the tree that produces good fruit.



“'There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree that produces sound fruit. Every tree can be told by its own fruit: people do not pick figs from thorns, nor gather grapes from brambles.” The letter of the apostle James serves as a commentary to these words of Jesus:  “Does any water supply give a flow of fresh water and salt water out of the same pipe? Can a fig tree yield olives, my brothers, or a vine yield figs? No more can sea water yield fresh water” (Jm 3:11-12). A well-formed person in the tradition of community living develops a good character within himself that leads him to practice goodness. "He draws out good from the good treasure of his heart." But the person who does not pay attention to his formation will have difficulty producing good things. On the contrary, "evil draws evil out of its evil treasure, because the mouth speaks from the fullness of the heart". Regarding the "good treasure of the heart" it is worth remembering what the book of Sirach says about the heart, source of good advice: "Attend the counsel of your heart, because no one is more faithful to you. In fact, the conscience of a man sometimes warns him better than seven sentinels perched on a watchtower to spy. For all these things invoke the Most High, so that He may lead your way according to truth" (Sir 37:13-15).



6. ORATIO



Psalm 16 (15)

Protect me, O God, in You is my refuge.

To Yahweh I say, “You are my Lord,

my happiness is in none of the sacred spirits of the earth.”

They only take advantage of all who love them.

People flock to their teeming idols.

Never shall I pour libations to them!

Never take their names on my lips.

My birthright, my cup is Yahweh;

You, You alone, hold my lot secure.

The measuring-line marks out for me a delightful place,

my birthright is all I could wish.

 I bless Yahweh who is my counselor,

even at night my heart instructs me.

I keep Yahweh before me always,

for with Him at my right hand, nothing can shake me

So my heart rejoices, my soul delights,

my body too will rest secure,

for You will not abandon me to Sheol,

You cannot allow Your faithful servant to see the abyss.

You will teach me the path of life,

unbounded joy in Your presence,

at Your right hand everlasting pleasures.



7. FINAL PRAYER



God of love, You are a God of peace and unity,

You are the only one who can dispense harmony.

The new commandment You gave us

through Your Only Son

to love one another as You loved us,

 wounds our heart and overwhelms us.

In fact, we know the harsh resistance of our pride


and of our infidelities.

But 
You gave us Your very beloved Son

for our life and our salvation.

We pray, Father,

give 
Your servants a humble spirit,

far from every bad intention,

a pure conscience and sincere thoughts and feelings.

Give us a heart capable of loving all our brethren

to exchange a holy embrace of love and peace.

Following the example of 
 Your holy apostles and disciples,

let us sincerely encounter each other in Your holy Spirit

by the grace of Jesus Christ,

the Immaculate Lamb,

who redeemed us with His blood

and Who made us a holy people

to manifest the glory of 
Your name.

Blessing You for ever and ever. Amen.

(From the Coptic Liturgy of St. Cyril)


Lectio Divina:
2019-03-03
Sunday, 20 February 2011 10:38

Lectio Divina: 7th Sunday of ordinary time (C)

Written by

Imitating the mercy of the Father in heaven

Luke 6:27-38



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  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:



Luke tells us (Lk 6:17-19) that as Jesus was coming down the mountain with the Twelve, he met a large crowd who sought to listen to His word and to touch Him, because power emanated from Him and it cured all. Jesus welcomes the crowd and speaks His word to them. The text of the liturgy for this Sunday puts before us a part of the discourse Jesus delivered on that occasion. In Luke’s Gospel, those to whom the discourse is addressed are “the disciples” and “a great crowd of people from all parts of Judea and from Jerusalem and from the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon” (Lk 6:17). Perhaps these are Jews (Judea and Jerusalem) and pagans (the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon). In Matthew’s Gospel, this same discourse is presented as the New Law of God, as the Ancient Law had been proclaimed from the top of the mountain (Mt 5:1).



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



Luke 6:27-28: General counsels.

Luke 6:29-30: Concrete examples of the practice of the general counsels.

Luke 6:31: A summary of Jesus’ teaching.

Luke 6:32-34: Whoever wishes to follow Jesus must go beyond the morality of the pagans.

Luke 6:35-36: The root of the new morality: imitate the mercy of God the Father.

Luke 6:36-38: Concrete examples of how to imitate God the Father.



c) The text:



 Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”



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 did you like best or touched you most?

b) Why did Jesus pronounce this discourse? Look carefully at the information in the text and try to draw your own conclusions.

c) According to you, what is the core and root of Jesus’ teaching?

d) How can we, today, in our consumerist and individualistic society, practice the morality proposed by Jesus? Or, what does “Be merciful even as your Father is merciful” mean today?

e) Did you find anything in the text that might be a reason for hope and courage?



5. A key to the reading



for those who wish to go deeper into the theme.



i) The context of Jesus’ discourse:



Luke presents Jesus’ teaching as a progressive revelation. Several times, from the beginning of his Gospel up to chapter 6:16, Luke tells his readers that Jesus taught the crowds but does not mention the content of the teaching (Lk 4:15,31,32,44; 5:1,3,15,17; 6:6). Now, however, after saying that Jesus saw the crowd that wished to hear the word of God, Luke presents the first great discourse that begins with the exclamation, “How happy are you who are poor!” (Lk 6:20), “But alas for you who are rich!” (Lk 6:24).

Some call this discourse “The Sermon on the Plain”, because according to Luke, Jesus came down from the mountain and stopped at a plain where He gave His discourse (Lk 6:17). In Matthew’s Gospel, this same discourse takes place on the mountain (Mt 5:1) and is called “The Sermon on the Mount”. In Matthew there are nine beatitudes in the sermon, which present a way of life for the Christian communities of Jewish origin. In Luke, the sermon is shorter and more radical and is directed towards the Hellenistic communities made up of rich and poor persons. The verses of the Gospel of the seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time present the core of Jesus’ teaching concerning the behavior of those who wish to be His disciples.



ii) A Commentary on the text:



Luke 6:27a: Jesus speaks to everyone.

From the beginning of the discourse until now, Jesus had spoken to His “disciples” (Lk 6:20). Here, in Luke’s text 6:27a, His audience grows and He addresses Himself to “you who wish to hear”, that is, His disciples who are that great crowd of poor and suffering people, coming from all parts (Lk 6:17-19) and to all of us, you and me, who at this very moment “hear” the word of Jesus.



Luke 6:27b-28: General counsels that define the new teaching.

The words that Jesus directs to this crowd of poor and suffering people are demanding and difficult: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly.” These counsels of Jesus go way beyond the demands, which in those times, people learned from childhood from the scribes and Pharisees during the weekly meetings in the synagogue, that is, “love your neighbor and hate your enemy” (Mt 5:43). The new demands from Jesus go beyond this set and common morality, even to this day, and reveal an aspect of “greater justice” that Jesus requires of those who wish to follow Him (Mt 5:20).



Luke 6:29-30: Concrete examples of the practice of the new teaching of Jesus!

Jesus asks me to offer the other cheek to those who strike me on one cheek, and He asks that I do not reclaim it when someone takes what is mine. How are we to understand these words? Must the poor person accept when the rich person strikes him/her, when the rich person steals or exploits him/her? If we take these words literally, these counsels seem to favor the rich. But not even Jesus observed these words literally. When the soldier struck Jesus in the face, he did not offer the other cheek, but reacted strongly: “If there is something wrong in what I said, point it out; but if there is no offense in it, why do you strike me?” (Jn 18:22-23). What Jesus did then, tells us not to take these words literally. Besides, the words that follow in the same discourse help us to understand what Jesus wished to teach (Lk 6:31).



Luke 6:31: A summary of Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus pronounces this revolutionary sentence: “Treat others as you wish them to treat you”. The best commentaries on this teaching are some comments taken from other religions. From Islam: “No one can be a believer unless he loves his brother as himself.” From Buddhism: “There are five ways in which a true leader must treat his friends and dependents: with generosity, courtesy, goodwill, giving to them what they expect and being true to his word”. From Taoism: “Consider the success of your neighbor as your own, and also his misfortune as if it were your own”. From Hinduism: “Do not do to others that which were it to happen to you would cause you pain”. In His teaching, Jesus succeeded in putting into words the deepest and most universal desires of humankind, the desire for fraternity, born of the will to wish others well completely selflessly, without trying to draw any benefit, merit or reward. It is in sincere fraternity, well lived, that the face of God is revealed.



Luke 6:32-34: Those who want to follow Jesus must go beyond the morality of the pagans.

What can we think of those who love only those who love them? Do we only do good to those who do good to us? Do we lend only to those who will repay us? In all societies of every kind, the members of a family seek to help each other. Jesus speaks of this universal practice: “Even sinners do that much!” But this universal practice is not enough for those who wish to follow Jesus Christ. Jesus is quite clear on this point. It is not enough! It is necessary to take a further step. What step? The answer lies in what follows.



Luke 6:35-36: The root of the new morality: to imitate the mercy of God the Father.

By His preaching, Jesus tries to change and convert people. The change He desires is not limited to a simple inversion of the situation so that those who are at the bottom go to the top and those on top go down to the bottom. This would change nothing and the system would go on functioning unchanged. Jesus wants to change the way of life. He wants that His followers have the opposite attitude: “Love your enemies!” The new way He wishes to build comes from a new experience of God, Father of love. The love of God for us is entirely gratuitous. It does not depend on anything we do. Thus true love desires the good of the other independently of anything he or she does for me. In this way, we imitate the mercy of God the Father and we become “children of the Most High, who is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked”. We shall become “merciful as your Father is merciful”. These words of Jesus evoke the experience of God that Moses had on Mount Sinai: “Yahweh, Yahweh, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in tenderness and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6).



Luke 6:36-38: Concrete examples of how to imitate God the Father.

Do not judge, do not condemn, forgive, give without measure! These are the counsels that Jesus gives to those who were listening to Him on that day. These make explicit and concrete the teachings of Jesus in the previous verse on the merciful love towards enemies and on behavior as children of the Most High. It is the mercy that is shown in the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son and that is revealed in the life of Jesus: “Who sees Me, sees the Father”.



iii) Further information for us to understand the text better:



a) Bless those who curse you:



The two statements in the same discourse: “Happy you who are poor!” (Lk 6:20) and “Alas you who are rich!” (Lk 6:24) bring the hearers to make a choice, to choose options in favor of the poor. In the Old Testament, at several times, God places people in a position of choice between blessing and cursing. People are given the possibility to choose: “I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live” (Deut 30:19). God does not condemn. It is the people who choose life or death, according to their attitude before God and neighbor. These moments of choice are moments when God visits His people (Gen 21:1; 50:24-25; Ex 3:16; 32:34; Jer 29:10; Ps 59:6; Ps 65:10; Ps 80:15, Ps 106:4). Luke is the only Evangelist who makes use of this image of the visit of God (Lk 1:68, 78; 7:16; 19:44; Acts 15:16). For Luke, Jesus is the visit of God who places His people before the choice of blessing or curse: “Happy are you who are poor!” but “Alas you who are rich!” But the people do not recognize God’s visit (Lk 19:44). And today, in our world, whose greatest accomplishment is the growing poverty of so many, are we able to recognize the visit of God?



b) Those to whom the discourse of Jesus is addressed:



Jesus begins His discourse using the second person plural: “Happy are you who are poor!” – “Alas you who are rich!” However, present before Jesus on that plain, there were no rich people! Only the poor and suffering from all parts were there (Lk 6:17-19). But the text says, “Alas you who are rich!” In passing on the words of Jesus, Luke was thinking also of the Hellenist community of Greece and of Asia Minor in the 80s, 50 years after the time of Jesus. Among these there was discrimination against the poor on the part of the rich (cf. Rev 3:15-17; Jas 2:1-4; 5:1-6; 1Cor 11:20-21), the same discrimination typical of the structure of the Roman Empire. Jesus criticizes the wealthy severely and directly: “You who are rich, you are having your consolation already! Alas for you who have your fill now, you shall go hungry! Alas for you who laugh now, you shall mourn and weep!” This shows that, for Jesus, poverty is not a fatality, but the result of the unjust accumulation of wealth by others. The same may be said for this statement: “Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets!” This fourth warning refers to the converted Jews, that is, the children of those who in times past praised the false prophets. In citing these words of Jesus, Luke was thinking of the converted Jews of his time who used their prestige and authority to criticize openness to the pagans.



6. Psalm 34 (33)



“Gratitude that springs from a different view”



I will bless the Lord at all times;

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul makes its boast in the Lord;

let the afflicted hear and be glad.

O magnify the Lord with me,

and let us exalt His name together!



I sought the Lord, and He answered me,

and delivered me from all my fears.

Look to Him, and be radiant;

so your faces shall never be ashamed.

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him,

and saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,

and delivers them.



O taste and see that the Lord is good!

Happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!

O fear the Lord, you His saints,

for those who fear Him have no want!

The young lions suffer want and hunger;

but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.



Come, O sons, listen to me,

I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

What man is there who desires life,

and covets many days, that he may enjoy good?



Keep your tongue from evil,

and your lips from speaking deceit.

Depart from evil, and do good;

seek peace, and pursue it.



The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,

and His ears toward their cry.

The face of the Lord is against evildoers,

to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.



When the righteous cry for help,

the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.

The Lord is near to the broken-hearted,

and saves the crushed in spirit.



Many are the afflictions of the righteous;

but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

He keeps all his bones;

not one of them is broken.



Evil shall slay the wicked;

and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

The Lord redeems the life of His servants;

none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.



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:
2019-02-24
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 08:57

Lectio Divina: Mark 6:14-29

Written by

1) Opening prayer



Lord our God,

help us to love You with all our hearts

and to love all people as You love them.

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 - Mark 6:14-29



King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; That is why mighty powers are at work in him." Others were saying, "He is Elijah"; still others, "He is a prophet like any of the prophets." But when Herod learned of it, he said, "It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up." Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. His own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you." He even swore many things to her, "I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" Her mother replied, "The head of John the Baptist." The girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request, "I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. 



3) Reflection



• The Gospel today describes how John the Baptist was victim of the corruption and of the arrogance of the government of Herod. He died without being judged by a tribunal, in the course of a banquet given by Herod with the great men of the kingdom. The text gives us much information about the time of the life of Jesus and on the way in which the powerful of the time exercised power. From the beginning of the Gospel of Mark we perceive or see a situation of suspense. He had said, “After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God!” (Mk 1:14). In today’s Gospel, almost suddenly, we know that Herod had already killed John the Baptist. Therefore, the reader asks himself, “What will he do now with Jesus? Will He suffer the same destiny? Rather than drawing up a balance of the opinions of the people and of Herod on Jesus, Mark asks another question, “Who is Jesus?” This last question grows throughout the Gospel until it receives the definitive response from the centurion at the foot of the Cross: “Truly, this man was the Son of God!” (Mk 15:39)

• Mark 6:14-16. Who is Jesus? The text begins with a balance on the opinions of the people and of Herod on Jesus. Some associated Jesus with John the Baptist and with Elijah. Others identified Him with a prophet, that is, with someone who spoke in the name of God, who had the courage to denounce the injustices of the powerful and who knew how to animate the hope of the little ones. People tried to understand Jesus starting from the things that they themselves knew, believed, and hoped. They tried to make Him fit into the familiar criteria of the Old Testament with its prophecies and its hopes, and of the tradition of the ancients, with their laws. But these criteria were not sufficient. Jesus could not fit in those criteria. He was much greater!

• Mark 6:17-20. The cause for the killing of John. Galilee, the land of Jesus, was governed by Herod Antipas, the son of King Herod the Great, from the year 4 BC up to the year 39 after Christ. In all, 43 years! During the whole lifetime of Jesus, there had been no change in the government of Galilee! Herod Antipas was the absolute lord of everything; he listened to no one and did whatever he pleased! But the one who really commanded in Palestine, from the year 63 BC, was the Roman Empire. Herod, in order to not be removed from office, tried to please Rome in everything. He insisted above all on an efficient administration which would provide income for the Roman Empire. The only thing that concerned or worried him was his security and promotion. This is why he repressed any type of subversion. Flavius Josephus, a writer of that time, says that the reason for the imprisonment of John the Baptist was  Herod’s fear of a popular revolt. Herod liked to be called benefactor of the people, but in reality he was a tyrant (Lk 22:25). John’s denouncement of him (Mk 6: 18) was the drop which filled up the cup, and John was thrown into prison.

• Mark 6:21-29: The murder plot. The anniversary and the banquet of the feast, with dancing and orgies! This was an environment in which the alliances were plotted. In attendance were “the great of the court, the officials and important people from Galilee”. In this environment the murder of John the Baptist was plotted. John, the prophet, was a living denouncement in this corrupt system. This is why he was eliminated under the pretext of personal vengeance. All this reveals the moral weakness of Herod. So much power accumulated in the hands of a man who did not control himself! Under the enthusiasm of the feast and of the wine, Herod swore lightly to give something to the young dancer. And superstitious as he was, he thought that he had to maintain his oath. For Herod, the life of his subjects counted nothing, had no value. He used them as he wanted and decided what to do with them just as he decided where to place the chairs in his house. Mark gives an account of how things happened and lets the community draw its own conclusions. 



4) Personal questions



Do you know the cases of people who have died victims of corruption and of the dominion of the powerful? Do you know people in the community and in our Church who are victims of authoritarianism and an excess of power?

• Herod, the powerful who considered himself the owner of life and death of the people, was a great superstitious man and feared John the Baptist. He was a coward before the great, a corrupt man before the girl. Superstition, cowardice, and corruption characterized the exercise of Herod’s power. Compare this with the corrupt power today in the various levels of society. 



5) Concluding prayer



This God, His way is blameless;

the word of Yahweh is refined in the furnace,

for He alone is the shield of all who take refuge in Him. (Ps 18:30)


Lectio Divina:
2020-02-07
Wednesday, 14 June 2017 08:34

Lectio Divina: Mark 5:21-43

Written by

Ordinary Time



1) Opening prayer



Lord our God,

help us to love You with all our hearts

and to love all people as You love them.

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 - Mark 5: 21-43



When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, "My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live." He went off with him and a large crowd followed him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured." Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who has touched my clothes?" But his disciples said to him, "You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, Who touched me?" And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction." While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official's house arrived and said, "Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?" Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, "Do not be afraid; just have faith." He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, "Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep." And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child's father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum," which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!" The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.



3) Reflection



• In today’s Gospel, we meditate on two miracles which Jesus worked in favor of two women: the first one for a woman who was considered impure because of the hemorrhage which she was suffering from for the past 12 years; the other one for a twelve year-old girl, who had died a short time before. According to the mentality of the time, anybody who would touch  blood or a corpse was considered impure. Blood and death were factors for exclusion! Because of this, those two women were marginalized people and excluded from participation in the community.

• The starting point. Jesus arrives in the boat. The people join Him. Jairus, the head of the synagogue, asks help for his daughter, who is dying. Jesus goes with him and the people accompany Him, pushing on all sides. This is the starting point of the two cases of healing which follow: the cure of the woman and the resurrection of the twelve year-old girl.

• The situation of the woman. Twelve years of suffering from hemorrhage! For this reason she lived excluded, because at that time blood rendered people impure, and the one who touched them became impure also. Mark says that the woman had spent all she had with doctors. And instead of becoming better, she got worse. A situation without a solution!

• The attitude of the woman. She heard people speak about Jesus. Hope sprang  up in her. She told herself, “If I can just touch His clothes, I will be saved”. The catechism of the time said, “If I touch His cloak, He will become impure”. The woman thinks exactly the contrary! This is a sign that women did not agree with all that religious authority taught. The woman gets in through the crowd, in the midst of the people, and without being noticed, she touches Jesus, because everybody was touching Him and pushing Him. At that same moment she noticed in her body that she had been cured.

• The reaction of Jesus and that of the disciples. Jesus, aware of the power that had gone out from Him, asked, “Who touched My clothes?” The disciples said to Him, “You see how the crowd is pressing round You; how can You ask, ‘Who touched Me?’” So now comes the clash between Jesus and the disciples. Jesus had a sensitivity which the disciples did not perceive. The disciples reacted like everybody else; they did not understand the different reaction of Jesus. But Jesus did not pay attention and continued to investigate.

• Healing through faith. The woman became aware that she had been discovered. It was a difficult and dangerous moment for her, because according to the belief of the time, an impure person like herself got in among the people and contaminated everyone who touched her. All would become impure before God  (Lev 15:19-30). For this reason, the punishment could be stoning. But the woman had the courage to accept the consequences of what she had done. The woman “frightened and trembling” fell at Jesus’ feet and told Him the whole truth. Jesus has the last word: “My daughter, your faith has restored you to health, go in peace and be free of your complaint.”

(a) “Daughter”, with this word Jesus accepts the woman into the new family, into the community which was gathering together around Him. (b) What she thought through faith became a reality. (c) Jesus acknowledges that, without that woman’s faith, He would not have been able to work the miracle.

• The news of the death of the little girl. At that moment some people arrived from the house of Jairus to inform him that his daughter had died. It was no longer necessary to disturb Jesus. For them, death was the great barrier. Jesus will not be able to overcome death! Jesus listens, looks at Jairus, and applies what He had just seen, that faith is capable of realizing what the person believes. And He says, “Do not be afraid, only have faith!”

• In Jairus’ house. Jesus allows only three of His disciples to go with Him. Seeing the commotion of the people weeping and wailing because of the death of the child, He said, “The child is not dead; she sleeps!” The people laughed. They know how to distinguish between a person who is sleeping and when the person is dead. It is the same laughter of Abraham and of Sarah, of those who are unable to believe that nothing is impossible for God (Gn 17:17; 18:12-14; Lk 1:37). For them, death was a barrier which nobody could overcome or go beyond! The words of Jesus had a very profound meaning. The situation of the persecuted communities at the time of Mark seemed to be a situation of death. They needed to hear, “She is not dead! You are sleeping! Wake up!” Jesus does not pay attention to the laughter and enters into the room where the child is, alone, and with the three disciples and the parents of the child.

• The resurrection of the child. Jesus takes the child by the hand and says: “Talitha kum!” She rises. There is a great commotion! Jesus keeps calm and asks that they give her something to eat. Two women are cured! One is twelve years old, the other one twelve years of hemorrhage, twelve years of exclusion! The exclusion of the child begins at twelve years of age, because her menstruation begins; she begins to die! Jesus has the greatest power and resurrects: “Get up!”



4) Personal questions



• What is the point in this text which pleased you or struck you the most? Why?

• One of the women was cured and once again integrated so that she could live in the community. A child was raised from her death bed. What does this action of Jesus teach us for our life in the family and for our community today?



5) Concluding Prayer



From You comes my praise in the thronged assembly;

I will perform my vows before all who fear Him.

The poor will eat and be filled;

those who seek Yahweh will praise Him.

May your heart live for ever.  (Ps 22:25-26)


Lectio Divina:
2019-02-05
Saturday, 30 June 2018 21:09

Lectio Divina July 2018

Written by

Pope's Prayer Intentions for July 2018

Evangelization: Priests and their Pastoral Ministry

That priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their brother priests.

Lectio Divina: July - Julio - Luglio 2018

 

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Thursday, 31 May 2018 20:53

Lectio Divina June 2018

Written by

Pope's Prayer Intentions for June 2018

Universal: Social Networks

That social networks may work towards that inclusiveness which respects others for their differences.

Lectio Divina: June - Junio – Giugno 2018

 

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Wednesday, 02 May 2018 19:53

Lectio Divina: Mark 9:14-29

Written by

Ordinary Time



1) Opening prayer



Father,

keep before us the wisdom and love

you have revealed in your Son.

Help us to be like him

in word and deed,

for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



2) Gospel Reading - Mark 9:14-29



As they were rejoining the disciples they saw a large crowd round them and some scribes arguing with them.

At once, when they saw him, the whole crowd were struck with amazement and ran to greet him. And he asked them, 'What are you arguing about with them?' A man answered him from the crowd, 'Master, I have brought my son to you; there is a spirit of dumbness in him, and when it takes hold of him it throws him to the ground, and he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and goes rigid. And I asked your disciples to drive it out and they were unable to.' In reply he said to them, 'Faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you?

How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.' They brought the boy to him, and at once the spirit of dumbness threw the boy into convulsions, and he fell to the ground and lay writhing there, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, 'How long has this been happening to him?' 'From childhood,' he said, 'and it has often thrown him into fire and into water, in order to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.' 'If you can?' retorted Jesus. 'Everything is possible for one who has faith.' At once the father of the boy cried out, 'I have faith. Help my lack of faith!'

And when Jesus saw that a crowd was gathering, he rebuked the unclean spirit. 'Deaf and dumb spirit,' he said, 'I command you: come out of him and never enter him again.' Then it threw the boy into violent convulsions and came out shouting, and the boy lay there so like a corpse that most of them said, 'He is dead.' But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him up, and he was able to stand.

When he had gone indoors, his disciples asked him when they were by themselves, 'Why were we unable to drive it out?' He answered, 'This is the kind that can be driven out only by prayer.'



3) Reflection



• The Gospel today informs us that the disciples of Jesus were not able to cast out the devil from the body of a boy. The power of evil was greater than their capacity. Today, also, there are many evils which surpass our capacity to face them: violence, drugs, war, sickness, jobless people, terrorism, etc. We make great efforts in life, but it seems that instead of improving, the world becomes worse. What good is there in struggling? Keeping this question in mind, let us read and meditate on today’s Gospel.

• Mark 9, 14-22: The situation of the people: despair without solution. Coming down from the mountain of the Transfiguration, Jesus met many people around the disciples. A parent was in despair, because an evil spirit had taken possession of his son. With great detail, Mark describes the situation of the possessed boy, the anguish of the father, the incapacity of the disciples and the reaction of Jesus. Two things strike us in a particular way: on one side, the confusion and the powerlessness of the people and of the disciples in the face of the phenomenon of possession, and on the other hand, the power of faith in Jesus before which the devil loses all his influence. The father had asked the disciples to drive out the devil from the boy, but they were not able to do it. Jesus becomes impatient and says: “Faithless generation! How much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me”. Jesus asks information regarding the sickness of the boy. And from the response of the father, Jesus knows that the boy, “from childhood”, was affected by a serious illness which endangered his life. The father asked: “But if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us!” The phrase of the father expresses a very real situation of the people: (a) they are faithless; (b) they are not in a condition to solve the problem, but (c) have such good will.

• Mark 9, 23-27: The answer of Jesus: the way of faith. The father answers: Lord, I believe! But help my lack of faith! The response of the father has the central place in this episode. It indicates that this should be the attitude of the disciple, that, in spite of his/her limitations and doubts, he/she wants to be faithful. Seeing that many people were coming, Jesus acted rapidly. He ordered the spirit to get out of the boy and not to return “again ever!” This is a sign of the power of Jesus on evil. It is also a sign that Jesus did not want any popular propaganda.

• Mark 9, 28-29: Deepening this with the disciples. In the house, the disciples want to know why they were not able to drive out the devil. Jesus answers: This is the kind of evil spirit that can be driven out only by prayer! Faith and prayer go together. One does not exist without the other. The disciples had become worse. Before they were capable of driving out the devil (cfr. Mk 6, 7.13). Now, no more. What is lacking? Faith or prayer? Why is it lacking? These are questions which come from the text and enter into our head in a way that we can proceed also to a kind of revision of our life.

• The expulsion of the devils in the Gospel of Mark. During the time of Jesus many persons spoke of Satan and of the expulsion of the devils. People were afraid and, there were some persons who profited and took advantage of the fear of the people. The power of evil had many names: Demon, Devil, Beelzebul, Prince of Demons, Satan, Dragon, Domination, Power, Beast-wild animal, Lucifer, etc. (cfr. Mk 3, 22-23; Mt 4, 1; Rv 12, 9; Rm 8, 38;; Eph 1, 21). Today also, among us the power of evil has many names. It is enough to consult the dictionary and look for the word Devil or Demon. Today, also, many dishonest people enrich themselves, profiting of the fear which people have of the devil. Now, one of the objectives of the Good News of Jesus is, precisely, to help people to free themselves from this fear. The coming of the Kingdom of God means the coming of a stronger power. The strong man was an image which indicated the power of evil which maintained people imprisoned by fear (Mk 3, 27). The power of fear oppresses persons and makes them lose themselves. He does in such a way that they live in fear and death (cfr. Mk 5, 2). It is such a strong power that nobody can stop it (Mk 5, 4). The Roman Empire with its “Legion” (cfr. Mk 5, 9), that is, with its armies, was the instrument used to maintain this situation of oppression. But Jesus is the strongest man who overcomes, seizes and drives out the power of evil! In the Letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul gives a list of all the possible powers or demons which could threaten us and he summarizes everything in this way: “I am certain of this: neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, will be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord!” (Rm 8, 38-39). Nothing of all this! And the first words of Jesus after the Resurrection are: “Do not be afraid! Rejoice! Do not fear! Peace be with you!” (Mk 16, 6; Mt 28, 9-10; Lk 24, 36; Jn 20, 21).



4) Personal questions



• Have you ever lived an experience of powerlessness before some evil or violence? Was this an experience for you only or also for the community? How did you overcome it?

• Which is the type of evil today which can only be overcome with much prayer?



5) Concluding Prayer



The precepts of Yahweh are honest,

joy for the heart;

the commandment of Yahweh is pure,

light for the eyes. (Ps 19,8)


Lectio Divina:
2020-02-24
Monday, 30 April 2018 20:25

Lectio Divina May 2018

Written by

Pope's Prayer Intentions for May 2018

Evangelization: The Mission of the Laity
That the lay faithful may fulfil their specific mission, by responding with creativity to the challenges that face the world today.

Lectio Divina: May - Mayo - Maggio 2018

 

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