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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)

Friday, 01 April 2011 19:48

Lectio Divina: The Ascension of the Lord (A)

Written by

Go into the whole world

Universal mission

Matthew 28:16-20



1. Opening prayer



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



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



2. Reading



a) A key to guide the reading:



The text reports the last words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. This is like a testament, his last wish for the community, that which is uppermost in his mind. In our reading, let us try to pay attention to the following: What does Jesus insist on most in his final words?



b) A division of chapter 14 to help with the reading:



Mt 28:16 – Geographical indication: return to Galilee

Mt 28:17 – Jesus’ apparition and the reaction of the disciplesMatthew 28:16-20

Mt 28:18-20a – Jesus’ final instructions

Mt 28:20b – The great promise, source of all hope.



c) The text:



16: Meanwhile the eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them.

17: When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated.

18-20a: Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.

20b: And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.'



3. A moment of prayerful silence



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



4. Some questions



to help us in our personal reflection.



a) What struck you and touched your heart most?

b) Identify the chronological and geographical information in this text.

c) How do the disciples react? What is the content of Jesus’ words to the disciples?

d) What is this "all power in heaven and on earth" given to Jesus?

e) What does it mean, "to become a disciple" of Jesus?

f) In this context, what does the baptism "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" mean?

g) What do the words "I am with you always, even to the end of time" remind us of in the OT?



5. A key to the reading



for those who wish to go deeper into the text.



a) The context of Matthew’s Gospel



* Matthew’s Gospel, written about the year 85, is addressed to a community of converted Jews who lived in Syria-Palestine. They were going through a deep identity crisis concerning their past. When they accepted Jesus as the awaited Messiah, they continued to go to the synagogue and to observe the law and the ancient traditions. Moreover, they had a certain affinity with the Pharisees, and after the revolution of the Jews in Palestine against the Romans (65 to 72), they and the Pharisees were the only two groups to have survived the Roman oppression.



* From the 80s, these Jewish brothers, Pharisees and Christians, only survivors, began to fight among themselves as to who had inherited the promises of the OT. Each claimed to be the inheritors. Gradually, tension grew between them and they began to excommunicate each other. The Christians could no longer attend the synagogue and were cut off from their past. Each group began to regroup: the Pharisees in the synagogue, the Christians in church. This added to the identity problem of the community of Jewish Christians because it raised serious questions in need of urgent solutions. "Who has inherited the promises of the OT, those of the synagogue or those of the church? On whose side is God? Who are really the people of God?



* Now, Matthew writes his Gospel to help these communities overcome their crisis and to find an answer to their problems. His Gospel is, first of all, a Gospel of revelation showing how Jesus is the true Messiah, the new Moses, the culmination of the whole of the history of the OT and its promises. It is also the Gospel of consolation for those who felt excluded and persecuted by their Jewish brothers. Matthew wants to console and help them to overcome the trauma of the split. It is the Gospel of the new practice because it shows the way to achieve a new justice, greater than that of the Pharisees. It is the Gospel of openness and shows that the Good News of God that Jesus brought cannot be hidden, but must be placed on a candlestick so that it may enlighten the life of all peoples.



b) Commentary on the text of Matthew 28: 16-20



* Matthew 28:16: Returning to Galilee: It was in Galilee that it all began (Mt 4:12). It was there that the disciples first heard the call (Mt 4:15) and it was there that Jesus promised to reunite them again after the resurrection (Mt 26:31). In Luke, Jesus forbids them to leave Jerusalem (Acts 1:4). In Matthew they are commanded to leave Jerusalem and go back to Galilee (Mt 28: 7.10). Each evangelist has his own way of presenting the person of Jesus and his plans. For Luke, after the resurrection of Jesus, the proclamation of the Good News has to begin in Jerusalem in order to reach to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). For Matthew, the proclamation begins in Galilee of the pagans (Mt 4:15) in order to prefigure the passage from the Jews to the pagans.

The disciples had to go to the mountain that Jesus pointed out to them. The mountain reminds us of Mount Sinai, where the first Covenant took place and where Moses received the tablets of the Law of God (Ex 19 to 24; 34:1-35). It also reminds us of the mountain of God, where the prophet Elijah took refuge in order to find again the meaning of his mission (1Kings 19:1-18). It also reminds us of the mountain of the Transfiguration, where Moses and Elijah, that is, the Law and the Prophets, appear with Jesus, thus confirming that he is the promised Messiah (Mt 17:1-8).



* Matthew 28:17: Some doubted: The first Christians had great difficulty in believing in the resurrection. The evangelists insist in saying that they doubted a lot and did not believe in the resurrection of Jesus (Mk 16:11.13.14; Lk 24:11.21.25.36.41; Jn 20:25). Faith in the resurrection was a slow and difficult process, but ended by being the greatest certainty of Christians (1Cor 15:3-34).



* Matthew 28:18: All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me: The passive form of the verb shows that Jesus received his authority from the Father. What is this authority? In the Apocalypse, the Lamb (the risen Jesus) received from the hand of God the book with seven seals (Ap 5:7) and became the Lord of history, he who must assume the responsibility for the execution of God’s project as described in the sealed book, and as such is adored by all creatures (Ap 12:11-14). By his authority and power he conquers the Dragon, the power of evil (Ap 12:1-9). And captures the Beast and the false prophet, symbols of the Roman Empire (Ap 19:20). In the Creed at Mass we say that Jesus ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, thus becoming the judge of the living and the dead.



* Matthew 28:19-20a: Jesus’ last words: three commands to the disciples: Vested with supreme authority, Jesus passes on three orders to the disciples and to all of us: (i) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations; (ii) baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; (iii) teach them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you.



i) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations: To be a disciple is not the same as being a student. A disciple is in relation to the master. A student is in relation to the teacher. The disciple lives with the master 24 hours a day; the student receives lessons from the teacher for a few hours then goes back home. The disciple presupposes a community. The student presupposes being present in a classroom for lessons. The state of discipleship in those days was marked by the expression to follow the master. In the Carmelite Rule we read: To live in obedience to Jesus Christ. For the first Christians, to follow Jesus meant three connected things:

- To imitate the example of the Master: Jesus was the model to imitate and to be repeated in the life of the disciple (Jn 13:13-15). Living together every day meant a constant meeting. In this School of Jesus only one subject was taught: the Kingdom! This Kingdom could be seen in the life and practice of Jesus.

- Sharing in the fate of the Master: Those who followed Jesus, had to commit themselves to "stay with him in temptations" (Lk 22:28), and in persecution (Jn 15:20; Mt 10:24-25) and had to be willing to take up the cross and die with him (Mk 8:34-35; Jn 11:36).

- To possess in oneself the life of Jesus: After Easter, a third dimension was added: "I live now not I but Christ lives in me". The first Christians sought to identify themselves with Jesus. This is the mystical dimension in the following of Jesus, fruit of the Spirit’s action.



ii) Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: The Trinity is the source, the end and the way. Those baptized in the name of the Father, revealed in Jesus, commit themselves to live as brothers and sisters in fraternity. And if God is Father, we are all brothers and sisters. Those baptized in the name of the Son, Jesus, commit themselves to imitate Jesus and to follow him even unto the cross in order to rise with him. And the power that Jesus received from the Father is a creative power that conquers death. Those baptized in the Holy Spirit, given by Jesus on the day of Pentecost, commit themselves to interiorising fraternity and the following of Jesus, allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit alive in the community.



iii) Teaching them to observe all my commands: For us Christians, Jesus is the New Law of God, proclaimed from on high in the mountain. Jesus is the chosen of the Father as the new Moses, whose word is law for us. "Hear him" (Mt 17:15). The Spirit sent by him will remind us of all the things he taught us (Jn 14:26; 16:13). The observance of the new Law of love is balanced by the gratuitous presence of Jesus in our midst, till the end of time.



* Matthew 28:20b: I am with you always, even to the end of time: When Moses was sent to free the people from Egypt, he received a guarantee from God, the only guarantee that offers complete certainty: "Go, I shall be with you!" (Ex 3:12). It is the same certainty promised to the prophets and other persons sent by God to undertake an important mission in God’s plan (Jer 1:8; Jud 6:16). Mary received the same guarantee when the angel said to her, "The Lord is with you" (Lk 1:28). The person of Jesus is the living expression of this guarantee, because his name is Emmanuel, God with us (Mt 1:23). He will be with his disciples, with all of us, even to the end of time. Here we see Jesus’ authority. He controls history and time. He is the first and the last (Ap 1:17). Before the first, nothing existed and after the last, nothing is. This guarantee sustains people, nourishes their faith, sustains hope and generates love and the gift of oneself.



c) Highlighting the words of Jesus: The universal mission of the community.



Abraham was called to be the source of blessings not only for his descendants, but for all families on earth (Gen 12:3). The slave people were called not only to restore the tribe of Jacob, but also to be light to the nations (Is 49:6; 42:6). The prophet Amos said that God not only freed Israel from Egypt, but also the Philistines from Kaftor and the Aramaians from Quir (Am 9:7). God, then, looks after and is concerned for the Israelites as well as for the Philistines and the Aramaians who were the greatest enemies of the people of Israel! The prophet Elijah thought he was the only defender of God (Kings 19:10.14), but he had to be told that apart from himself there were seven thousand others! (1Kings 19:18) The prophet Jonah wanted Yahweh to be only the God of Israel, but had to admit that he is the God of all nations, even the inhabitants of Niniveh, the bitterest enemies of Israel (Jo 4:1-11). In the New Testament, John, the disciple, wanted Jesus only for the little group, for the community, but Jesus corrected him and said, He who is not against me is for me! (Mk 9:38-40).



At the end of the first century after Christ, the difficulties and persecutions could have driven the Christian communities into losing the missionary impetus and to close in on themselves, as if they were the only ones defending the values of the Kingdom. But Matthew’s Gospel, faithful to this long tradition of openness to all nations, tells the communities that they cannot close in on themselves. They cannot claim for themselves a monopoly on the action of God in the world. God is not the community’s property; rather the community is Yahweh’s property (Ex 19:5). In the midst of humanity that struggles against and resists oppression, the communities must be salt and yeast (Mt 5:13; 13:33). They must proclaim aloud to the whole world, among all nations, the Good News that Jesus brought us. God is present in our midst, the same God who, in Exodus, commits himself to free those who call on his name! (Ex 3:7-12). This is our mission. If this salt loses its savor, what will it be good for? "It is of no use for the earth or for the fertiliser" (Lk 14:35)



6. Psalm 150



Universal praise



Hallelujah!

Praise God in his holy sanctuary;

give praise in the mighty dome of heaven.

Give praise for his mighty deeds,

praise him for his great majesty.



Give praise with blasts upon the horn,

praise him with harp and lyre.

Give praise with tambourines and dance,

praise him with flutes and strings.



Give praise with crashing cymbals,

praise him with sounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath

give praise to the Lord!

Hallelujah!



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:
2020-05-24
Friday, 01 April 2011 19:39

Lectio Divina: 6th Sunday of Easter (A)

Written by

The promise of the Spirit

The commandments as the way of love in Christ

John 14: 15-21



1. Opening prayer



Father, Christ your Son is already pleading for us, but through your Word, which is life for us, you also grant us the grace of opening our hearts to you in deep, intense, true and enlightened prayer. Send us the Consoler, the Spirit of truth,not only that he may dwell beside us, but that he may always dwell within our hearts. He is the fire of love that unites you with Jesus, the kiss that you exchange always. Grant that, through your Word, we too may enter into this love and live by it. Touch our spirit, our mind and all our being that we may welcome the commandments, hidden in these few verses; that we may keep them, that is, live them fully and in truth in your presence and that of our brothers and sisters. Amen.



2. Reading





a) To place the passage in its context:



These verses lead us to the holy place where Jesus celebrates the last supper with his disciples: the place of his revelation, of his glory, of his teaching and of his love. Here, we too are invited to sit at table with Jesus, to lean on his chest, receive his commandment and thus prepare ourselves to enter with Him into his Passion and resurrection. After the passage of 13: 1-30, which tells us of the actions, words and feelings of Jesus and of those with him during the paschal meal, in 13: 31 we hear the words of the great last discourse of Jesus, which ends with the priestly prayer of chapter 17. Here, then, we are still at the beginning. In 14: 1-14 Jesus presented and offered himself as the way to the Father, whereas in these few verses he introduces the promise to send the Holy Spirit, as Consoler, as sure presence, but also the promise of the coming of the Father and of himself in the depths of the disciples who, through faith, will have believed in him and kept his commandments.



b) To help us in the reading of the passage:



vv. 15-17: First, Jesus clarifies to his disciples that for Him, love, if it is to be true love, must absolutely mean also the observance of his commandments. In brief, He wants to tell us that if we do not keep the commandments then there is no love; this is an essential and indispensable consequence, which reveals whether we really do love or only deceive ourselves that we love. Jesus also says that the gift of the Holy Spirit from the Father is the fruit of this love and observance that give rise to the prayer of Jesus, thanks to which we can receive the Spirit. Jesus explains that the Spirit is the Consoler, the Spirit of truth, the One whom the world does not see, does not know, but whom the disciples will see and know, the One who dwells with them and in them.



vv. 18-20: Jesus promises his coming, his return, which is about to happen in his resurrection. He says that he will no longer appear in his passion, death and burial, but that he will reappear to his disciples, who will see him, because he is the resurrection and the life. He also reveals his relationship with the Father and invites them and us into that relationship; in fact, he says that we shall know, that is we shall experience this relationship in our depths. Jesus and no one else could ever promise a greater consolation than this.



v. 21: Here Jesus’ discourse includes everyone; he moves from the “you” of his disciples to the “anyone” who begins to love him, enter into a relationship with him and follow him. That which took place for the disciples, the first chosen ones, takes place for anyone who believes in him. Here Jesus opens to us and to all his relationship of love with the Father, because by remaining in Christ, we too are known and loved by the Father. Finally, Jesus promises again his love for anyone who loves him and the revelation of himself, that is, a permanent manifestation of his love for us.



c) The text:



15 If you love me you will keep my commandments. 16 I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete to be with you for ever, 17 the Spirit of truth whom the world can never accept since it neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you. 18 I shall not leave you orphans; I shall come to you. 19 In a short time the world will no longer see me; but you will see that I live and you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. 21 Whoever holds to my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him.'



3. A moment of prayerful silence



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



4. Some questions



a) This passage begins and ends with the same words: the proclamation and invitation to love the Lord. I know that, through this Lectio divina, he wants to prepare me for a powerful meeting with love; perhaps I am frightened a little, I know that I am not used to this, perhaps I am ashamed, perhaps I feel superior towards these sugary words. But he insists and keeps on repeating only this, only Love. So what am I going to do? Am I going to stay and enter into this relationship, so involved, so upsetting? Or shall I go away, run away, because I am afraid, because I don’t feel like committing myself? Shall I choose Love, that is, this relationship, this confrontation, this exchange, this reciprocal giving, this giving of myself? Or shall I choose to be closed, remain alone in an absurd isolation of one who does not want to stay with his God and with his equals? Jesus says: “If you want”; He does not force. However, I know that he is waiting for me and has been so for a long time… why wait any longer?



b) I read and read again this passage, so that these words, so full of meaning, may be better imprinted on my mind and descend into my heart. I note that Jesus insistently says “you”, when referring to his disciples, those then with him but also those of today, that is us, each one of us seen and looked at by Him with a unique, personal, unrepeatable love that cannot be given away or substituted. I know that I too am included in that “you”, which seems generic but is not. I try to read again Jesus’ words and allow myself to be involved more directly; I place myself face to face, eyes to eyes with Jesus and let him tell me all, using that “you” full of love, using my name that only he really knows…. If you love me, my Father will send you another Consoler; you know him; he dwells near you and will be within you; I shall not leave you an orphan, I shall come back to you; you will see me; you will live; you will know that I am in the Father and you in me and I in you.



c) Now we meet an important expression of Jesus, repeated twice: “keep my commandments”. This is an important and fundamental fact, because the authenticity of my love relationship with the Lord depends on it; if I do not keep his commandments, then I do not love him. But I try to ask myself more carefully what does the verb “keep” mean, which looks so cold, so distant. I find it for instance in Mt 27: 36, where we read that the soldiers kept watch over the crucified Jesus; it is then a matter of close and scrupulous watching, an untiring watchfulness. On the other hand in Jn 2: 10, it appears with the meaning of keeping in store, reserving, as Jesus says of the good wine kept until last. 2 Timothy 4: 7 uses the verb in that wonderful verse on faith: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith”. This emphasizes the effort, the great care used to safeguard and watch over that precious thing, faith. In Jn 17: 15, Jesus prays the Father to keep his own from the evil one, that is to preserve, protect, so that nothing and no one would harm or disperse them.

This is not simply a cold and external keeping of the commandments of God or of Jesus, but much more; this is a relationship of love, a being careful, protecting, keeping in life. Fundamentally it is realizing that which I am told or asked, in my day to day life, every moment and in every situation.



5. A key to the reading



The following are the people I meet in the passage: the Father, Jesus, the Spirit, the disciples, the world.



The Father. The presence of the Father immediately appears as the point of reference of Jesus, the Son. It is to the Father that he addresses his prayer. He says: “I will ask the Father”. It is this very special and intimate contact that makes of Jesus the Son of his Father, that confirms him all the time as such. The relationship of love with the Father is nourished and maintained by prayer at night, at different times during the day, in times of need, in requests for help, in suffering, in the most distressing trials. If we scan the Gospels several times, we shall find Jesus thus, deeply involved in a relationship with the Father through prayer. Here are some relevant passages: Mt 6: 9; 11, 25; 14: 23; 26: 39; 27: 46; Lk 21: 21ff; 6:12; 10: 21; 22: 42; 23: 34. 46; Jn 11: 41ff; 17: 1. I feel that this is also the way for me; Jesus followed this way in depth, leaving me his enlightened and certain footsteps so that I may have no fear in following him in a similar experience. I too am the child of the Father, I too can pray to him.

Immediately after this, Jesus shows us the Father as the One who gives. In fact, giving is the main characteristic of God, who is uninterrupted, measureless and countless gift to all and at all times. The Father is Love and Love gives itself, gives everything. It is not enough that he gave us Jesus, his beloved Son, he still wants to bless us with and offer us life by sending the Holy Spirit. Indeed it is written: “He who has not spared even his own Son but has delivered him for us all, how can he fail to grant us also all things with him?” (Rm 8: 32).

Still more: the Father loves us (Jn 14: 23; 16: 27)! And this love of his allows us to pass from death to life, from the sadness of sin to the joy of communion with Him, from the solitude of hatred to sharing, because the love of God inevitably takes us to the love of our brothers and sisters.



Jesus the Son. In these few verses, the figure and presence of Jesus appear forcefully and with enormous clarity. He is immediately seen as praying, the one who prays to the Father for us; he raises his hands in prayer for us, just as he raises them in oblation on the cross.

Jesus is the one who does not go away for ever, who does not leave us orphans, but who will come back: “I shall come back”. If it seems as though he is absent, I must not despair, but go on believing in him because he will really come back. “It is true, I come quickly!” (Ap 22: 20). He will come back and, as he said, he will take us with him so that we may be where he is (Jn 14: 3).

Jesus is the living one forever, the conqueror of death. He is in the Father and in us, with an all-powerful force that nothing can ever destroy. He is in the Father, but also in us, he dwells in us, he stays with us; there is no possibility of true and full life for us other than that con-penetration of being which Jesus offers us. He says yes, always, and is never sorry for, nor does he ever withdraw from his commitment of love.

On the contrary! He loves us, as the Father loves us and reveals himself to us. He gives himself, offers himself, allowing us to know him, to experience him, to touch and taste him. But this is a revelation that is accompanied by love, as Paul says (2 Tim 4: 8).



The Holy Spirit. In this passage the Spirit of the Lord seems to be an emerging figure that embraces everything. He unites the Father to the Son, he brings the Father and the Son into the hearts of the disciples; he creates an indissoluble union of love, of being. He is called the Paraclete, that is the Consoler, the one who stays with us always, who will not leave us alone, abandoned, forgotten; he comes and gathers us from the four winds, from the dispersion and blows within us the strength for our return to the Father, to Love. Only he can work all this within us; he is the finger of God’s hand who, to this day, writes on the sand of our hearts the words of a new covenant, which can never again be forgotten.

He is the Spirit of truth, that is, of Jesus; in him there is no deceit, no falsehood, only the certain light of the Word of the Lord. He has built his dwelling place within us; he has been invited and goes from being close to us to being within us. He has become one with us, accepting this nuptial union, this fusion; he is all good, the friend of men and women, he is Love itself. That is why he gives himself thus, filling us with joy. Let us beware of making him sad, of sending him away, of substituting his presence with other presences, other covenants of love; we then would be the ones who would die, because no one could ever console us in his place.



The Disciples. The words Jesus addresses to his disciples are words that challenge me more directly, more forcefully; they are addressed to me, they impinge on my day to day life, they touch my heart, my thoughts, my most intimate desires. They challenge me to a true love that I must transform into concrete actions, keeping in mind the Word and the wish of the one I claim to love, the Lord. A love that can be verified by my observance of the commandments. The disciple, then, here appears as one who knows how to wait for his Lord on his return; at midnight, at cockcrow, or early in the morning? It does not matter; He will come back and so I must wait and be ready. What kind of love is it that will not wait, that will not watch, not protect?

The disciple is also one who knows; this is a knowledge given from above and which takes place in the heart, that is in one’s most intimate being and personality, where we make decisions to act, where we comprehend reality, formulate our thoughts, see and love. This is knowledge in the biblical sense, born of a strong, long and intimate experience, from a deep union and from reciprocal giving. This happens between the Spirit and the true disciple of Jesus. An unstoppable ever expanding knowledge that leads us to Christ, to the Father, and places us within their eternal and infinite communion of love: “You will know that I am in the Father and you in me and I in you”. The disciple is also someone who lives, who is in, that is within, in an unbreakable union with his Lord; it is not a superficial, distant, spasmodic union, but is always within the relationship of love. The disciple goes willingly, goes and comes back, allows him/herself to be held, entertained. And so realizes the word of the Gospel: “Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father”.

The disciple of Jesus, in fact, is one who is loved, one chosen, from the beginning and forever.



The World. The passage says little about the world, which we know to be very important in the writings of John: the world cannot receive the Spirit, because it cannot see or know him. The world is immersed in darkness and error; it does not see or know and cannot experience the love of God. The world stays at a distance, turns its back, closes itself and goes away. The world repays with hatred the love that the Lord has for it: the Father has so loved the world that he gave his only Son. Perhaps we too must also love the world, created by God; love it by uniting ourselves to the offering, the sacrifice of Jesus for it.

Could it not be precisely thus, in Christ’s offering, that we come to our full and brilliant truth as children of the Father, as disciples, as lovers? Is not this the end of this lectio divina, of this meeting with Christ, with the Father and the Spirit? Maybe it is really thus; we must come to the fullness of love, which is the keeping of the commandments and especially the one commandment of Jesus: love as I have loved you.



6. A moment of prayer: Psalm 22



Ref. You are with me, Lord, there is nothing I want!



Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

In grassy meadows he lets me lie.

By tranquil streams he leads me

to restore my spirit.

He guides me in paths of saving justice

as befits his name.



Even were I to walk in a ravine as dark as death

I should fear no danger,

for you are at my side.

Your staff and your crook are there to soothe me.



You prepare a table for me

under the eyes of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup brims over.



Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life.

I make my home in the house of Yahweh for all time to come.



7. Closing prayer



Lord, you fill me with your love; I abound with joy and deep peace. Through your Word, You have loved me much during this meeting. You have given yourself to me fully; you have neglected nothing in me, my person, my whole life history. Lord, I am because you are; you are with me, within me. Today you have given me a new birth from above, you have renewed me; I know, I see, I feel your own life in me. This is a real Paschal, a true passing from death to life. Thank you, Lord, for your inexpressible love, which covers me, overpowers me and yet relieves and uplifts me!



Lord, I leave behind here my empty, useless, incapable jar and run into the city to call my friends, those whom you love, to tell them: Come you too that you may know Love!

Lord, one final thing: let me never betray you. If Love is not freely given, shared, then it fades into the distance, disappears, becomes sick and lonely. Please help me that I may be love.


Lectio Divina:
2020-05-17
Friday, 01 April 2011 19:37

Lectio Divina: 5th Sunday of Easter (A)

Written by

I am the way, the truth and the life

An answer to the constant questions of the human heart

John 14: 1-12



1. Opening prayer



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



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



2. Reading



a) A key to guide the reading:



As you read, try to listen as though you were present at the last meeting of Jesus with his disciples. Listen to his words as though they were addressed to you, today, at this moment.



b) A division of chapter 14 to help with the reading:



John 14: 1-12John 14: 1-4: Let nothing disturb you!

John 14: 5-7: Thomas’ question and Jesus’ reply

John 14: 8-21: Philip’s question and Jesus’ reply

John 14: 22-31: Judas Thaddaeus’ question and Jesus’ reply.



c) The text:



1-4: Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father's house there are many places to live in; otherwise I would have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you to myself, so that you may be with me where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.

5-7: Thomas said, 'Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?' Jesus said: I am the Way; I am Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father too. From this moment you know him and have seen him.

8-12: Philip said, 'Lord, show us the Father and then we shall be satisfied.' Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? 'Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father, so how can you say, "Show us the Father"? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? What I say to you I do not speak of my own accord: it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his works. You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe it on the evidence of these works. In all truth I tell you, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, and will perform even greater works, because I am going to the Father.



3. A moment of prayerful silence



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



4. Some questions



to help us in our personal reflection.



a) Which word of Jesus most touched my heart? Why?

b) What traces of the face of God the Father, revealed by Jesus, appear in these twelve verses?

c) What do these verses reveal about the relationship of Jesus with the Father?

d) What do these verses tell us about our relationship with the Father?

e) What are the "greater works", which, according to Jesus, we shall be able to accomplish?

f) Jesus said, "In my Father’s house there are many places to live in". What do these words mean for us today?

g) Which problems and desires are implied in the questions of Thomas and Philip?



5. A key to the reading



for those who wish to go deeper into the text.



a) John’s Gospel: a cloth woven from three threads:



* The word text means cloth. Hence, John’s Gospel is like a beautiful cloth woven from three very different and yet very similar threads. These three threads harmonise so well that we sometimes get confused and are not aware that we are passing from one thread to another.

a) The first thread: is the facts of Jesus’ life that happened in the year 30 as remembered by eyewitnesses, those who lived with Jesus and saw the things he did and heard the words he taught. This is the historical Jesus, preserved in the witness of the Beloved Disciple (1 Jn 1:1).

b) The second thread: is the facts and problems of the life of the community in the second half of the first century. Beginning with faith in Jesus and convinced of the presence of the Risen One among them, the communities enlightened these facts and problems by means of the words and signs of Jesus. Thus, for instance, the conflicts they had with the Pharisees, greatly influenced the story and the reporting of the discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees.

c) The third thread: is the Evangelist’s comments. In some passages, it is difficult for us to discern when Jesus stops talking and when the Evangelist begins his comments (Jn 2:22; 3:16-21; 7:39; 12:37-43; 20:30-31).



* In the five chapters, which describe Jesus’ farewell (Jn 13 to 17), we can see these three threads: Jesus speaking, the communities speaking and the Evangelist speaking. In these chapters the three threads are interwoven in such a way that they present a whole of great beauty and inspiration, where it is difficult to distinguish which is which.



b) Chapters 13 to 17 of John’s Gospel:



* The long conversation (Jn 13:1 to 17:26) between Jesus and his disciples at the last supper, on the eve of his apprehension and death, is the Testament he left us. In it Jesus expresses his last desire concerning life in community for his disciples. It was a friendly conversation, which the Disciple remembered well. The Evangelist wishes to convey that Jesus desired to prolong to the utmost that final meeting of friends, a moment of great intimacy. The same happens today. There are various kinds of conversations. There is the superficial conversation that leaves everything up in the air and reveals emptiness in the persons involved. Then there is the deep conversation that touches the heart. All of us, at some time, experience these moments of friendly sharing which expand our hearts and strengthen us in times of difficulty. This kind of conversation helps us to grow in trust and to overcome fear.



* These five chapters (Jn 13 to 17) are also an example of the way the communities of the Beloved Disciple catechised. The questions of the three disciples, Thomas (Jn 14:5), Philip (Jn 14:8) and Judas Thaddaeus (Jn 14:22), were also the questions of the communities of the late first century. Jesus’ replies to the three were like a mirror where the communities found an answer to their doubts and difficulties. Thus, chapter 14 was (and still is) a catechesis that teaches the communities how to live without the physical presence of Jesus.



c) Chapter 14: 1-12: An answer to the constant questions of the human heart:



John 14:1-4: The communities asked: "How can we live in community with so many different opinions?" Jesus replies with an exhortation, "Do not let your hearts be troubled! There are many rooms in my Father’s house!" The insistence on encouraging words that would help to overcome the troubles and divergences, means that there must have been different tendencies among the communities, each claiming to be truer than the other. Jesus says, "There are many rooms in my Father’s house!" It is not necessary for all to think alike. What matters is that all accept Jesus as the revelation of the Father and that, for love of him, all take on an attitude of service and love. Love and service are the concrete, which binds together the many bricks of the wall and makes the diverse communities into one Church of brothers and sisters.



John 14:5-7: Thomas asks, "Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus replies, "I am the way, the life and the truth!" Three important words. Without the way we cannot walk. Without the truth we cannot be certain. Without life, there is only death! Jesus explains that he is the way because "No one can come to the Father except through me!" He is the door through which the sheep enter and leave (Jn 10:9). Jesus is the truth because seeing him we see the image of the Father. "If you know me, you know my Father too!" Jesus is the life because if we walk in his footsteps we shall be united to the Father and shall have life in us.



John 14:8-11: Philip asks, "Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and then we shall be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.’" Philip expressed the desire of many in John’s communities and continues to be the desire of all of us: what must I do to see the Father of whom Jesus speaks so much? Jesus’ answer is very beautiful, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." We must not think that God is far away, distant and unknown. Anyone who desires to know how and who God the Father is, has only to look at Jesus. He has revealed the Father in the words and signs of his life! "I am in the Father and the Father is in me." Through his manner of being, Jesus revealed a new face of God that drew people to him. Through his obedience, he was completely identified with the Father. At all times he did that which the Father told him to do (Jn 5:30; 8:28-29.38). That is why everything in Jesus is the revelation of the Father! The signs and works he did are the work of the Father! In the same way, we, by our manner of living and living together, must be a revelation of Jesus. To have seen us should be to have seen and recognised in us a part of Jesus.

What we need to meditate here is "How do I reflect Jesus?" Am I like Peter who would not accept a servant and suffering Jesus and wanted a Jesus according to his wishes? (Mk 8:32-33). Am I like those who can only say "Lord! Lord!" (Mt 7:21). Am I like those who only wish for a celestial and glorious Christ and forget that Jesus of Nazareth walked with the poor, welcomed the marginalized, healed the sick, reinstated those excluded and who, because of his commitment to the people and the Father, was persecuted and crucified.



John 14: 12: Jesus’ promise. Jesus says that an intimate relationship with the Father is not his privilege alone, but is possible for all of us who believe in him. Through him, we can do the same things he did for the people of his time. He will intercede for us. Whatsoever we ask of him, he will ask of the Father and will obtain for us, provided it is in order to serve (Jn 14:13)



6. Psalm 43 (42)



"Your light and your truth will guide me on my way"



As a heart longs for flowing streams,

so longs my soul for thee, O God.(Picture)

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.



Vindicate me, O God,

and defend my cause against an ungodly people;

from deceitful and unjust men deliver me!

For thou art the God in whom I take refuge;

why hast thou cast me off?

Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Oh send out thy light and thy truth;

let them lead me,

let them bring me to thy holy hill and to thy dwelling!

Then I will go to the altar of God,

to God my exceeding joy;

and I will praise thee with the lyre, O God, my 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:
2020-05-10
Friday, 01 April 2011 19:35

Lectio Divina: 4th Sunday of Easter (A)

Written by

Jesus, the Good Shepherd

I came that they may have life, and have it to the full!

John 10:1-10



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:



This Sunday’s Gospel presents us with the familiar image of the Good Shepherd. When speaking of the sheep of God’s flock, Jesus uses several images to describe the attitude of those who look after the flock. The text of the liturgy is taken from verses 1 to 10. In our commentary we add verses 11 to 18 because these contain the image of the “Good Shepherd” and help us better understand the sense of verses 1 to 10. During the reading, try to pay attention to the various images or similes that Jesus uses to present to us the way a true shepherd ought to be.



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



The text contains three interrelated similes:

John 10:1-5: The simile of the bandit and the shepherd

John 10:6-10: The simile of the door of the sheepfold

John 10:11-18: The simile of the good shepherd



c) The Text:



1 'In all truth I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a bandit. 2 He who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; 3 the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all those that are his, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. 5 They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him because they do not recognise the voice of strangers.'



John 10:1-10



6 Jesus told them this parable but they failed to understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus spoke to them again: In all truth I tell you, I am the gate of the sheepfold. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and bandits, but the sheep took no notice of them. 9 I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: such a one will go in and out and will find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. 12 The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep as soon as he sees a wolf coming, and runs away, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep; 13 he runs away because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. 16 And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and I must lead these too. They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock, one shepherd. 17 The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will, and as I have power to lay it down, so I have power to take it up again; and this is the command I have received from my Father.



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 part of the text most touched you? Why?

b) What images does Jesus apply to himself? How does he do that and what is their significance?

c) In this text, how many times does Jesus use the word life and what does he say about life?

d) Pastor-Pastoral. Do our pastoral actions carry on from the mission of Jesus-Pastor?

e) How can we acquire a clear view of the true Jesus of the Gospels?



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



a) The context within which the Gospel of John was written:



This is a further example of the way John’s Gospel was written and organised. Jesus’ words on the Shepherd (Jn 10:1-18) are like a brick placed in an already built wall. Just before this text, in John 9:40-41, Jesus was speaking the blindness of the Pharisees. Immediately after, in John 10:19-21, we come across the conclusion of the discussion on blindness. Thus, the words concerning the Good Shepherd show how to remove such blindness. This brick renders the wall stronger and more beautiful.



John 10:1-5: The simile of the bandit and the shepherd

Jesus begins his discourse with the simile of the gate: "I tell you most solemnly, I am the gate of the sheepfold. All others who have come are thieves and brigands; but the sheep took no notice of them. I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe!” To understand this simile, we need to remember what comes after. In those days, shepherds took care of the sheep during the day. At night, they brought the sheep into a large sheepfold or common enclosure, well protected against thieves and wolves. All the shepherds within a region brought their flocks there. There was a guard who watched over the flock throughout the night. In the morning the shepherd would come and knock on the gate and the guard would open the gate. The shepherd then called the sheep by name. The sheep recognised the voice of their shepherd and so they got up and followed him to pastures. The sheep of other shepherds would hear the voice, but stayed where they were, because they did not recognise the voice. Every now and then there was the danger of an attack. Thieves went into the sheepfold through a kind of loophole by removing stones from the wall around and stole the sheep. They did not enter by the gate, because the guard was there watching.



John 10:6-10: The simile of the gate of the sheepfold

Those who were listening, the Pharisees, (Jn 9:40-41), could not understand what “entering by the gate” meant. Jesus explains: "I am the gate! All others who have come are thieves and brigands”. To whom do these hard words of Jesus refer? Considering his way of speaking about brigands, he was probably referring to religious leaders who dragged people after them, but did not fulfil their expectations. They were not interested in the welfare of the people, but rather in their money and their own interests. They deceived people and abandoned them to their fate. The basic criterion for discerning between the shepherd and the brigand is the defence of the life of the sheep. Jesus says: “I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full!” To enter by the gate, means imitating Jesus’ attitude of defending the life of his sheep. Jesus asks people to take the initiative by not following those who pretend to be shepherds and who are not interested in their lives.



John 10:11-15: The simile of the Good Shepherd

Jesus changes the simile. First he was the gate, now he is the shepherd. Everyone knew what a shepherd was like, how he lived and worked. But Jesus is not just any shepherd, he is the good shepherd! The image of the good shepherd comes from the Old Testament. When Jesus says that he is the Good Shepherd, he is presenting himself as the one who comes to fulfil the promises of the prophets and hopes of the people. He insists on two points: (a) In defending the life of his sheep, the good shepherd gives his life. (b) In the mutual understanding between shepherd and sheep, the Shepherd knows his sheep and the sheep know their shepherd.

The false shepherd who wants to overcome his blindness, has to confront his own opinion with that of the people. This is what the Pharisees did not do. They looked down on the sheep and called them cursed and ignorant people (Jn 7:49; 9:34). On the other hand, Jesus says that the people have an infallible perception in knowing who is the good shepherd, because they recognise his voice (Jn 10:,4) “My own know me” (Jn 10:14). The Pharisees thought they could discern the things of God with certainty. In truth they were blind.

The discourse on the Good Shepherd includes two important rules for removing pharisaic blindness from our eyes: (a) Shepherds are very attentive to the reaction of the sheep so that they may recognise the voice of the shepherd. (b) The sheep must be very attentive to the attitude of those who call themselves shepherds so as to verify whether they are really interested in the lives of the sheep and whether they are capable of giving their lives for their sheep. What about today’s shepherds?



John 10:16-18: Jesus’ aim: one flock and one shepherd

Jesus opens out the horizon and says that there are other sheep that are not of this sheepfold. They will not hear Jesus’ voice, but when they do, they will realise that he is the Shepherd and will follow him. Here we see the ecumenical attitude of the community of the “Beloved Disciple”.



b) Further comments:



i) The image of the Shepherd in the Bible:



In Palestine, people largely depended on raising sheep and goats for their living. The image of the shepherd who leads his sheep to pasture was well known to all, just as today we all know the image of the driver of a coach or of a train. It was common to use the image of the shepherd to illustrate the function of one who ruled and led the people. The prophets criticised kings because they were shepherds who did not take care of their flock and did not lead the flock to pasture (Jer 2:8; 10:21; 23:1-2). Such criticism of bad shepherds grew in the measure that, through the fault of kings, the people saw themselves dragged into slavery (Ez 34:1-10; Zac 11:4-17).



Before the frustration experienced because of the lack of leadership on the part of the bad shepherds, there grew the desire or the hope of one day having a shepherd who would be really good and sincere and who would be like God in the way of leading his people. Thus the Psalm says, "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want!" (Ps 23:1-6; Gen 48:15). The prophets hope that, in some future time, God himself would be the shepherd who would lead his flock (Is 40:11; Ez 34:11-16). They also hope that at such a time, the people would be able to recognise the voice of their shepherd: "Listen today to his voice!" (Ps 95:7). They hope that God will come as a Judge to judge the sheep of the flock (Ez 34:17). They wish and hope that one day God will raise good shepherds and that the messiah would be a good shepherd for the people of God. (Jer 3:15; 23:4).



Jesus turns this hope into reality and presents himself as the Good Shepherd, different from the brigands who were despoiling the people. He presents himself as a Judge, who, at the end, will judge as a shepherd who will separate the sheep from the goats (Mt 25:31-46). In Jesus is fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah who says that the good shepherd will be persecuted by the bad shepherds who are disturbed by his denunciations: "I am going to strike the shepherd so that the sheep may be scattered!" (Zec 13:7). Finally Jesus is everything: he is the gate, the shepherd and the lamb!



ii) The community of the Beloved Disciple: open, tolerant and ecumenical:



The communities lying behind the Gospel of John were made up of various groups. Among them there were open-minded Jews with a critical view of the Temple of Jerusalem (Jn 2:13-22) and the law (Jn 7:49-50). There were Samaritans (Jn 4:1-42) and pagans (Jn 12:20) who became converts, both with their historical origins and cultural customs, quite different from those of the Jews. Even though they were made up of such different groups, John’s communities will see the following of Jesus as a concrete lived love in solidarity. By respecting each other’s differences, they will be aware of the problems arising from pagans and Jews living together, problems which troubled other communities at the time (Acts 15:5). Challenged by the realities of their own time, the communities sought to deepen their faith in Jesus, sent by the Father who wishes that all should be brothers and sisters (Jn 15:12-14.17) and who says: "In my Father’s house there are many mansions!” (Jn 14:2). This deepening facilitated dialogue with other groups. Then there were open, tolerant and ecumenical communities (Jn 10:16).



6. Psalm 23 (22)



Yahweh is my shepherd



Yahweh is my shepherd,

I lack nothing.

In grassy meadows he lets me lie.

By tranquil streams he leads me

to restore my spirit.

He guides me in paths of saving justice

as befits his name.



Even were I to walk in a ravine as dark as death

I should fear no danger,

for you are at my side.

Your staff and your crook are there to soothe me.



You prepare a table for me

under the eyes of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup brims over.

Kindness and faithful love pursue me

every day of my life.

I make my home in the house of Yahweh

for all time to come.



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:
2020-05-03
Monday, 14 March 2011 08:36

Lectio Divina: Luke 12:13-21

Written by

Ordinary Time



1) Opening prayer



Almighty and everlasting God,

our source of power and inspiration,

give us strength and joy

in serving you as followers of Christ,

who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



2) Gospel Reading - Luke 12: 13-21



A man in the crowd said to him, 'Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.' He said to him, 'My friend, who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?' Then He said to them, 'Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for life does not consist in possessions, even when someone has more than he needs.'



Then He told them a parable, 'There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, "What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops." Then he said, "This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time." But God said to him, "Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?" So it is when someone stores up treasure for himself instead of becoming rich in the sight of God.'



3) Reflection



● The episode in today’s gospel is found only in the Gospel of Luke and does not have a parallel in the other Gospels. It forms part of the long description of Jesus’ trip from Galilee to Jerusalem (Lk 9: 51 to 19: 28) in which Luke places most of the information which he collected concerning Jesus which is not found in the other three Gospels (cf. Lk 1: 2-3). The gospel today gives the response of Jesus to the person who asked Him to be the mediator in the distribution of an inheritance.



● Luke 12: 13: A request to distribute an inheritance. “One from the crowd told Jesus: Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance”. Up until today, the distribution of an inheritance among the living relatives is always a delicate question and, many times, it is the occasion of disputes and of tensions without end. At that time, the inheritance also had something to do with the identity of the person (1 K 21: 1-3) and with survival (Num 27:1-11; 36:1-12). The greatest problem was the distribution of the land among the sons of the deceased father. If the family was numerous, there was a danger that the inheritance would be divided into small pieces of land which would not have guaranteed survival of all. For this reason, in order to avoid the breaking up or disintegration of the inheritance and to carry on the name of the family, the firstborn or eldest received double of what the other sons received (Dt 21:17. cf. 2Rs 2: 11).



● Luke 12: 14-15: Response of Jesus: attention to greed, to cupidity. “Jesus answers: My friend, who appointed me your judge or the arbitrator of your claims?” In the response of Jesus appears the knowledge which He has of His mission. Jesus does not feel sent by God to respond to the request to be arbitrator between the relatives who argue or quarrel among themselves concerning the distribution of the inheritance. But the request of this man leads Him to the mission to orientate persons, because “Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for life does not consist in possessions, even when someone has more than he needs”. It was part of his mission to clarify the sense of life. The value of life does not consist in having many things, but rather in being rich for God (Lk 12: 21). Because when gain occupies the heart, it does not know how to distribute the inheritance in an equitable way and with peace.



● Luke 12: 16-19: The parable that makes one think on the sense of life. Then Jesus told a parable to help persons to reflect on the sense of life: “There was a rich man who having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself: What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops”. The rich man was very obsessed by the concern of his goods which had increased in an unforeseen way because of an abundant harvest. He thinks only of accumulating in order to guarantee a life without worries. He says: This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them and I will say to my soul: My soul, now you have plenty of good things laid for many years to come, take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time”.



● Luke 12: 20: The first conclusion of the parable. “But God said to him: ‘Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul, and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?” So it is when someone stores up treasures for himself instead of becoming rich in the sight of God”. Death is an important key to discovering the true sense of life. It makes all things relative, because it shows what perishes and what remains. Anyone who only seeks to have, and forgets to be, loses everything at the hour of death. Here we have a thought which appears very frequently in the books of wisdom: Why accumulate great quantities of goods in this life if you do not know what will become of themand if you do not know what the heirs will do with what you will leave them. (Qo 2: 12.18-19. 21).



● Luke 12: 21: second conclusion of the parable. “So it is with someone who stores up treasures for himself instead of becoming rich in the sight of God”. How can one become rich for God? Jesus gives several suggestions and advice: Anyone who wants to be first, let him be last (Mt 20: 27; Mk 9: 35; 10: 44); it is better to give than to receive (Ac 20: 35); the greatest is the smallest (Mt 18: 4; 23: 11; Lk 9: 48) he/she who loses his/her life will save it (Mt 10: 39; 16: 25; Mk 8: 35; Lk 9: 24).



4) Personal questions



● The man asked Jesus to help Him in the distribution of his inheritance. And you, what do you ask Jesus in your prayer?

● Consumerism creates needs and awakens in us the desire of gaining. What do you do so as not to be a victim of gain brought about by consumerism?



5) Concluding prayer



Acclaim Yahweh, all the earth,

serve Yahweh with gladness,

come into his presence with songs of joy! (Ps 100: 1-2)


Lectio Divina:
2019-10-21
Monday, 14 March 2011 08:33

Lectio Divina: Luke 10:17-24

Written by

Ordinary Time



1) Opening prayer



Father,

you show your almighty power

in your mercy and forgiveness.

Continue to fill us with your gifts of love.

Help us to hurry towards the eternal life your promise

and come to share in the joys of your kingdom.

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

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



2) Gospel Reading - Luke 10:17-24



The seventy-two came back rejoicing. 'Lord,' they said, 'even the devils submit to us when we use your name.'



He said to them, 'I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Look, I have given you power to tread down serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you. Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice instead that your names are written in heaven.'



Just at this time, filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, He said, 'I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children. Yes, Father, for that is what it has pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.'



Then turning to his disciples He spoke to them by themselves, 'Blessed are the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.'



3) Reflection



• Context. Previously Jesus had sent 72 disciples. They now return from their mission and give an account of it. The proof of  the success of their mission is due to the experience of the superiority and supremacy of the name of Jesus in regard to the power of evil. The defeat of Satan coincides with the coming of the Kingdom and the disciples have seen it in their present mission. The diabolical forces have been weakened and the demons have submitted to the power of the name of Jesus. Such a conviction cannot be the foundation of their joy and the enthusiasm of their missionary witness though.  Joy has its last root or origin in the fact of being known and loved by God. This does not mean that being protected by God through a relationship with Him always places us in an advantageous situation in the face of the diabolical forces. Here is inserted the mediation of Jesus between God and us: “Look, I have given you power” (v. 19). The power of Jesus is one that makes us experience success in regard to the devil’s power and He protects us. Jesus has been present in the fall of Satan, even if he is not as yet definitively defeated or overcome. Christians are called to hinder and be an obstacle to the power of Satan on earth. They are sure of the victory in spite of the fact that they live in a critical situation. They participate in obtaining victory in the communion of love with Christ even though they may be tried by suffering and death. Just the same, the reason for joy is not in the certainty of coming out unharmed but of being loved by God. The expression of Jesus, “your names are written in heaven” is a witness that being present to the heart of God (memory) guarantees the continuity of our life in eternity. The success of the mission of the disciples is the result of the defeat of Satan. Now the benevolence of the Father is shown (vv. 21-22): the success of the word of Grace in the mission of the seventy two, seen as the design of the Father and in the communion in the resurrection of the Son, begins with this revelation of the benevolence of the Father. The mission becomes a space for the revelation of God’s will in human time. This experience is transmitted by Luke in the context of prayer. It shows on one side the reaction in heaven: “I bless you Father”, (v. 21) and that on earth (vv. 23-24).



• The prayer of rejoicing or exultation. In the prayer that Jesus addresses to the Father, guided by the action of the Spirit, the word “exults” expresses the openness of the Messianic joy and proclaims the goodness of the Father. This is made evident in the little ones, in the poor and in those who have no value because they have accepted the Word transmitted by those sent and thus they have access to the relationship between the Divine Persons of the Trinity. Instead, the wise and the learned, on account of  feeling sure, are gratified because of their intellectual and theological competence. But such an attitude prevents them from entering into the dynamism of salvation given by Jesus. The teaching that Luke intends to transmit to individual believers, as well as to the ecclesial communities, may be synthesized as follows: Humility opens to faith. The sufficiency of one’s assurance closes to pardon, to light, to God’s goodness. The prayer of Jesus has its effects on all those who accept this and allow themselves to be wrapped up by the goodness of the Father.



4) Personal questions



• The mission to take the life of God to others implies a lifestyle that is poor and humble. Is your life permeated by the life of God, by the Word of grace that comes from Jesus?

• Do you have trust in God’s call and in his power that asks to be manifested through simplicity, poverty and humility?



5) Concluding Prayer



Lord, you are kind and forgiving, 

rich in faithful love for all who call upon you.

Yahweh, hear my prayer, 

listen to the sound of my pleading. (Ps 86,5-6)


Lectio Divina:
2019-10-05
Monday, 14 March 2011 08:31

Lectio Divina: Luke 9:57-62

Written by

Ordinary Time



1) Opening prayer



Father,

You show Your almighty power

in Your mercy and forgiveness.

Continue to fill us with Your gifts of love.



Help us to hurry towards the eternal life You promise

and come to share in the joys of Your kingdom.

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

who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



2) Gospel Reading - Luke 9:57-62



As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." And to another he said, "Follow me." But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God." And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." Jesus answered him, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God."



3) Reflection



● In today's Gospel the long and hard journey of Jesus continues from the periphery of Galilee to the capital city. Leaving Galilee, Jesus enters Samaria and continues toward Jerusalem. Not all understand Him. Many abandon Him because the demands are enormous. Others get close to Him and decide to follow Jesus. At the beginning of His pastoral activity in Galilee, Jesus had called three: Peter, James and John (Lk 5:8-11).  Also, in Samaria, there are three people who present themselves, who are called. In Jesus’ responses there are requirements or conditions for being able to be His disciples.



● Luke 9:56-58: The first one of the three new disciples. At that time, as they traveled along, they met a man who said to Jesus, “I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus answered, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head.” To this first person who wants to be His disciple, Jesus asks him to divest himself of everything: he will have nowhere to lay his head.



● Luke 9:59-60: The second one of the three new disciples. To another one He says “Follow Me”. And he replied, “Let me go and bury my father first”. Jesus replied, “Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the Kingdom of God”. To this second person called by Jesus to follow Him, He asks him to let the dead bury the dead. It was a popular saying which meant this: leave aside the things of the past. Do not lose time with what happened. Look ahead. After having discovered new life in Jesus, the disciple should not waste time on what has happened in the past. This theme was also in Gn 19:17, as Lot was instructed. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we see this as well. It is important to have “detachment from sin”, as well as contrition. Do not look back and see the past as something to yearn for, but instead, leave the sin of the past and look to follow Jesus.



● Luke 9:61-62: The third one of the three new disciples. Another said, “I will follow You, Sir, but first let me go and say good-bye to my people at home”. But Jesus replied, “Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God”. Jesus asks this third person called to discipleship to break the  bonds of family unity. On another occasion He had said, “Anyone who loves his father and his mother more than Me cannot be My disciple” (Lk 14:26; Mt 10:37). Jesus is more demanding than the prophet Elijah, who allowed Elisha to greet and take leave of his parents (1 Kings 19:19-21). This also means to break the nationalistic bonds of race and the patriarchal family structure.



● These are three fundamental requirements  for those who want to be the disciples of Jesus: (a) to abandon material goods, (b) not to be attached to things of the past (c) to break away from the family bonds. In reality, nobody, not even one wishing to do so, can break the family bonds or break away from things lived in the past. What is asked is to know how to re-integrate everything (material goods, personal life and family life) in a new way around the new axis, which is Jesus and the Good News of God which He has brought to us.



● Jesus lived and became aware of what He was asking of His followers. With His decision to go up to Jerusalem, Jesus reveals His plan. His journey toward Jerusalem (Lk 9:51–19:27) is depicted as the undertaking (Lk 9:51), the exodus (Lk 9:31) or the crossing (Lk 17:11). Arriving in Jerusalem Jesus fulfills the exodus, the undertaking or the definitive crossing from this world toward the Father (Jn 13:1). Only a truly free person can do this, because such an exodus presupposes the dedication of one's whole life for the brothers (Lk 23:44-46; 24:51). This is the exodus, the crossing, the undertaking of which the communities should be aware, if they are to carry on Jesus' mission. 



4) Personal questions



● Compare each one of these three requirements with your life. How well are you fulfilling these requirements?

● What problems arise in your life as a result of the decision which you have made to follow Jesus?



For further study



St Francis was one who took the call from Jesus seriously. Like many saints, he was very involved in the pleasures of the time. However, once he recognized the call, he began to follow, ultimately “not looking back”. He was serious about not compromising in this regard, and his sincerity even moved Pope Innocent III. In fact, most saints don’t begin as “saints”, but at some time decide to follow these three requirements of Jesus without compromise. Take some time to read the lives of a few saints such as St Francis of Assisi, St Ignatius of Loyola, St Benedict, or St Bernard, just to name a few.



5) Concluding prayer



Yahweh, You examine me and know me,

You know when I sit,

when I rise,

You understand my thoughts from afar. (Ps 139:1-2)


Lectio Divina:
2020-09-30
Monday, 14 March 2011 08:28

Lectio Divina: Matthew 23:13-22

Written by

Ordinary Time



1) Opening prayer



Father,

help us to seek the values

that will bring us enduring joy in this changing world.

In our desire for what You promise

make us one in mind and heart.

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

who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 23:13-22



Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves. "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.' Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred? And you say, 'If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.' You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it."



3) Reflection



• During the next three days, we will meditate on the discourse in which Jesus criticizes the doctors of the law and the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites. In today’s Gospel (Mt 23:13-22), Jesus uses the expression “Alas for you...” (Mt 23:23-26) four times, and in the Gospel of the day after tomorrow, He uses this same expression twice more (Mt 23: 27-32). These are condemnatory words, very hard words, against the religious leaders of the times. In pondering them, I should not only think of the doctors and the Pharisees of the time of Jesus, but also, and above all, of the hypocrisy found in me, in us, in our family, in the community, in our Church, in today’s society. Let us look into the mirror of the text to discover the errors in ourselves.



• Matthew 23:13: The first “Alas for you...” against those who close the door of the Kingdom because in this way you will not enter and, you do not even let those who want to enter. How do they lock people out of the Kingdom? They do it by presenting God as a severe judge, leaving very little space for the mercy of God; by imposing, in the name of God, laws and norms which have nothing to do with the commandments of God, by presenting a false image of the Kingdom and by killing the desire to serve God and the Kingdom. A community which organizes itself around this false god “does not enter into the Kingdom,” and it is not even an expression of the Kingdom and prevents its members from entering into the Kingdom.



• Matthew 23:14: The second “Alas for you...” is against those who use religion to enrich themselves. You devour the property of widows, though you make a show of lengthy prayers. The more severe will be the sentence you receive because of this.” Jesus allows the disciples to live the Gospel, because He says that the laborer has the right to his salary (Lk 10:7; cf. 1 Cor 9:13-14), but to use prayer and religion as a means to enrich themselves, that is hypocrisy and does not reveal the Good News of God. It transforms religion into a market. Jesus drives out the merchants from the Temple (Mk 11:15-19) quoting the prophet Jeremiah: “My house will be called a House of Prayer for all people; but you have turned it into a bandits’ den!” (Mk 11: 17; cf. Isa 56:7; Jer 7:11). When Simon the magician wanted to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter curses him (Acts 8:18-24). Simon received the “most severe condemnation” which Jesus speaks about in the Gospel today.



• Matthew 23:15: The third expression of “Alas for you...” is against those who proselytize. “You travel over sea and land to make a single convert, and anyone who becomes one you make twice as fit for hell as you are.” There are people who become missionaries and proclaim the Gospel not to radiate the Good News, but to attract people  for their group and their church. John once prohibited a person from using the name of Jesus because he was not part of His group. Jesus answered, “Do not stop him, because anyone who is not against us is for us (Mk 9:39). The document of the Plenary Assembly of the Bishops of Latin America, which was held in March 2008 in Aparecida, Brazil, bears the title: “Disciples and Missionaries of Jesus Christ, so that our people may have life in Him”. That is to say,the purpose of the mission is not to work in such a way that people become Catholic, but rather that people may have life, and life in abundance.



• Matthew 23:16-22: The fourth “Alas for you...” is aimed at  those who swear. “You say, ‘if anyone swears by the Temple, it has no force, but anyone who swears by the gold of the Temple is bound’. Jesus makes a long disquisition to show the flaws in so many oaths that people made or that the official religion ordered people to take: to swear by the gold of the Temple or by the offering which was on the altar. The teaching of Jesus given in the Sermon on the Mount is the best commentary on today’s Gospel: “But I tell you do not swear at all, either by heaven since that is God’s throne, or by earth, since that is His footstool, or by Jerusalem, since that is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your own head either, since you cannot turn a single hair white or black. All you need say is ‘Yes’ if you mean ‘yes’, ‘No’ if you mean ‘No’; anything more than this comes from the Evil One” (Mt 5:34-37).



4) Personal questions



• “Alas for you...” is said four times: four reasons to receive severe criticism from Jesus. Which of these four criticisms refers to me?

• Does our Church today deserve these “Alas for you...” from Jesus?



5) Concluding Prayer



Sing a new song to Yahweh!

Sing to Yahweh, all the earth!

Sing to Yahweh, bless His name!

Proclaim His salvation day after day. (Ps 96:1-2)


Lectio Divina:
2019-08-26
Monday, 14 March 2011 08:24

Lectio Divina: Matthew 5:27-32

Written by

Ordinary Time



1) Opening prayer



God of wisdom and love,

source of all good,

send Your Spirit to teach us Your truth

and guide our actions

in Your way of peace.

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

who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 5:27-32



Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. "It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."



3) Reflection



• In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus offered a rereading of the commandment: “Do not kill” (Mt 5:20-26). In today’s Gospel Jesus rereads the commandment “You shall not commit adultery.” Jesus rereads the law starting from the intention that God had which was proclaimed centuries before on Mount Sinai. He seeks the spirit of the Law and does not limit himself to the letter. He takes up again and defends the great values of human life which constitute the background of each one of these Ten Commandments. He insists on love, on fidelity, on mercy, on justice, on truth, on humanity (Mt 9:13; 12:7; 23:23; Mt 5:10; 5:20; Lk 11:42; 18:9). The result of the full observance of the Law of God humanizes the person. In Jesus we can see what happens when a person allows God to fill his life. The last objective is that of uniting both loves and the building up of fraternity in defense of life. The greater the fraternity, the greater will be the fullness of life and greater will be the adoration given by all creatures to God, Creator and Savior.



• In today’s Gospel, Jesus looks closely at the man-woman relationship in marriage, a fundamental basis of human living together. There was a commandment which said, “Do not commit adultery” and another one which said, “Anyone who divorces his wife, has to give her a certificate of divorce.” Jesus takes up again both commandments, giving them a new meaning.



• Matthew 5:27-28: Do not commit adultery. What does this commandment require from us? The ancient response was: a man cannot sleep with somebody else’s wife. This was demanded by the letter of the commandment. But Jesus goes beyond, surpasses the letter and says, “But I say to you, if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”



The objective of the commandment is reciprocal fidelity between man and woman who assume life together, as a married couple. This fidelity will be complete only if both know how to be faithful to one another in thought and in desire and have a total transparency between them.



• Matthew 5:29-30: Tear out your eye and cut off your hand. To illustrate what Jesus has just said, He states a hard word which He uses on another occasion when He speaks of scandal to little ones (Mt 18:9;  Mk 9:47). He says that if your right eye should be your downfall tear it out and throw it away, for it will do you less harm to lose one part of yourself than to have to have your whole body thrown into hell. He affirms the same thing concerning the hand. These affirmations cannot be taken literally. They indicate the radical nature and the seriousness with which Jesus insists on the observance of this commandment. It means that if something in your life is causing you to sin, get rid of it!



Today there are many things which might drive or tempt us to sin, or to consider sin. It may be the Internet, a television show, money, etc. These things expose us to consider sinning perhaps, and if so, are best removed from our life in order "To be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect!” (Mt 5:48). To rephrase Jesus’ advice in today’s language: “if the TV causes you to sin, or tempts you to sin, or teaches you how to sin, turn the TV off!”



• Matthew 5:31-32: The question of divorce. The man was permitted to give a certificate of divorce to the woman. In the discourse of the community, Jesus will say that Moses permitted this because the people were hardhearted (Mt 19:8). “But I say to you: anyone who divorces his wife, give her a certificate of divorce; but I say to you: anyone who divorces his wife, except in the case of concubinage, exposes her to adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” There has been much discussion on this theme. Basing itself on this affirmation of Jesus, the Eastern Church permits divorce in case of “fornication,” that is, of infidelity. Others say that here the word fornication is the translation of an Aramaic or Hebrew word zenuth which indicated a marriage among people who were relatives, and which was forbidden. It would not be a valid marriage. In the Western Church as well, this only applies to valid marriages and where both parties are capable of understanding what marriage means, that it is not just a “lifestyle”. Where the marriage is not valid, there is not a divorce.



• Leaving aside the correct interpretation of this word, what is important is to see the objective and the general sense of the affirmation of Jesus in the new reading which is done of the Ten Commandments. Jesus speaks about an ideal which should always be before my eyes. The definitive ideal is “to be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). This ideal is valid for all the commandments reviewed by Jesus. In the rereading of the commandment “Do not commit adultery,” this ideal is translated as transparency, honesty, and chastity between husband and wife. However, nobody can say, “I am perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect.” We can never merit the reward because we can never be perfect. What is important is to continue walking on the road and always turn our eyes toward the ideal. At the same time, as Jesus did, we have to accept people with the same mercy with which He accepted people  and directed them toward the ideal.



4) Personal questions



• How do you live in society today, with a constant flow of advertising based on immodesty, and still live within the advice of Jesus?

• How is this to be understood: “to be perfect like the Heavenly Father is perfect?”



5) Concluding Prayer



Of You my heart has said,

“Seek His face!” Your face, Yahweh, I seek;

do not turn away from me.

Do not thrust aside Your servant in anger;

without You I am helpless.

Never leave me, never forsake me, God, my Savior.

(Ps 27:8-9)


Lectio Divina:
2020-06-12
Friday, 25 February 2011 09:30

Lectio Divina: Luke 6:20-26

Written by

Ordinary Time



1) Opening prayer



God our Father,

You redeem us

and make us Your children in Christ.

Look upon us,

give us true freedom

and bring us to the inheritance You promised.

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 6:20-26



Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way."



3) Reflection



• The Gospel today presents four blessings and four curses in Luke’s Gospel. There is a progressive revelation in the way in which Luke presents the teaching of Jesus. Up to 6:16, he says many times, that Jesus taught the people, but he did not describe the content of the teaching (Lk 4:15,31-32,44; 5:1,3,15,17; 6:6). Now, after having said that Jesus sees the crowd desirous to hear the Word of God, Luke presents the first great discourse which begins with the exclamation, “Blessed are you who are poor!” and “Alas for you, rich!” and then takes up all the rest of the chapter (Lk 6:12-49). Some call this discourse the “discourse on the plain” because, according to Luke, Jesus came down from the mountain and stopped in a place which was flat and there He pronounced His discourse. In Matthew’s Gospel, this same discourse is given on the mountain (Mt 5:1) and is called “The Sermon on the Mount.” In Matthew, in this discourse there are eight Beatitudes, which trace a program of life for the Christian communities of Jewish origin. In Luke, the sermon is shorter and more radical. It contains only four Beatitudes and four curses, directed to the Hellenistic communities, formed by rich and poor. This discourse of Jesus will be meditated on in the daily Gospel of the next days.



• Luke 6:20: Blessed are you, poor! Looking at the disciples, Jesus declares, “Blessed are you who are poor, the Kingdom of Heaven is yours!” This declaration identifies the social category of the disciples. They are poor! And Jesus promises them, “The Kingdom is yours!” It is not a promise made for the future. The verb is in the present. The Kingdom belongs to them already. They are blessed now. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus makes explicit the meaning of this and says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit!” (Mt 5:3). They are the poor who have the spirit of Jesus; because there are some poor who have the mentality of the rich. The disciples of Jesus are poor and have the mentality of the poor. Like Jesus, they do not want to accumulate, but they assume their poverty and with Him, they struggle for a more just life together, where there will be fraternity and sharing of goods, without any discrimination.



• Luke 6:21-22: Blessed are you, who now hunger and weep. In the second and third Beatitude, Jesus says, “Blessed are who are hungry now, because you shall have your full! Blessed are you, who are weeping now, you shall laugh!” One part of the sentence is in the present and the other in the future. What we live and suffer now is not definitive; what is definitive is the Kingdom of God which we are constructing with the force of the spirit of Jesus. To construct the Kingdom presupposes pain, suffering and persecution, but something is certain: the Kingdom will be attained, and you will have your fill and you will laugh!



• Luke 6:23: Blessed are you when people hate you...! The 4th Beatitude refers to the future: “Blessed are you when people hate you, drive you out on account of the Son of Man!” Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, look, your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way your ancestors treated the prophets!” With these words of Jesus, Luke encourages the communities of his time, because they were persecuted. Suffering is not a death rattle, but the pain of birth pangs. It is a source of hope! Persecution was a sign that the future that had been announced by Jesus was arriving, being reached. The communities were following the right path.



• Luke 6:24-25: Alas for you who are rich! Alas for you who now have your fill and who laugh! After the four Beatitudes in favor of the poor and of the excluded, follow four threats or curses against the rich and those for whom everything goes well and are praised by everybody. The four threats have the same identical literary form as the four Beatitudes. The first one is expressed in the present. The second and the third one have a part in the present and another part in the future. And the fourth one refers completely to the future. These threats are found only in Luke’s Gospel, not in  Matthew’s. Luke is more radical in denouncing injustices.



In front of Jesus, on the plains, there are no rich people. There are only sick and poor people, who have come from all parts (Lk 6:17-19). But Jesus says: “Alas for you the rich!” Luke, in transmitting these words of Jesus, is thinking more of the communities of his time. In those communities there were rich and poor people, and there was discrimination against the poor on the part of the rich, the same discrimination which marked the structure of the Roman Empire (cf. Jas 5:1-6; Rev 3:17-19). Jesus criticizes the rich very hard and directly: You rich have already received consolation! You are already filled, but you are still hungry! Now you are laughing, but you will be afflicted and will weep! This is a sign that for Jesus poverty is not something fatal, nor the fruit of prejudices, but it is the fruit of unjust enrichment on the part of others.



• Luke 6:26: Alas for you when everyone speaks well of you, because this was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets! This fourth threat refers to the sons of those who in the past praised the false prophets; because some authorities of the Jews used their prestige and power to criticize Jesus.



4) Personal questions



• Do we look at life and at people from the viewpoint  of Jesus? What do you think in your heart: is a poor and hungry person truly happy? The stories which we see on television and commercial advertising, what ideal of happiness do they present?

• In saying “Blessed are the poor,” did Jesus want to say that the poor have to continue to be poor?

• Rich and poor are two terms with many interpretations. What is my interpretation? How does this fit with the meaning Jesus intended? Do I live authentically and without compromise in my interpretation of His message and meaning?



5) Concluding Prayer



Upright in all that He does,

Yahweh acts only in faithful love.

He is close to all who call upon Him,

all who call on Him from the heart. (Ps 145:17-18)


Lectio Divina:
2020-09-09
Page 10 of 34

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