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Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina (465)

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

 Carmelite Constitutions (No. 82)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011 22:08

Lectio Divina: Matthew 13:10-17

Written by

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer


be merciful to Your people.

Fill us with Your gifts

and make us always eager to serve You

in faith, hope and love.

You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 13:10-17

The disciples approached Jesus and said, "Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?" He said to them in reply, "Because knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted and I heal them. "But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." 

3) Reflection

• Chapter 13 speaks to us about the discourse on the parables. Following the text of Mark (Mk 4:1-34), Matthew omits the parable of the seed which germinates alone (Mk 4:26-29), and he stops at the discussion of the reason for the parable (Mt 13:10-17), adding the parable of the wheat and the darnel (Mt 13:24-30), of the yeast (Mt 13:33), of the treasure (Mt 13:44), of the pearl (Mt 13:45-46) and of the dragnet (Mt 13:47-50). Together with the parable of the sower (Mt 13:4-11) and of the mustard seed (Mt 13:31-32), there are seven parables in the Discourse on the Parables (Mt 13:1-50).

• Matthew 13:10: The question. In the Gospel of Mark, the disciples ask for an explanation of the parables (Mk 4:10). Here in Matthew, the perspective is different. They want to know why Jesus, when He speaks to the people, speaks only in parables: “Why do You talk to them in parables?” What is the reason for this difference?

• Matthew 13:11-13: “Because to you is granted to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not granted. Anyone who has will be given more and will have more than enough; but anyone who has not will be deprived even of what he has. The reason I speak to them in parables is that they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding. Jesus answers: “Because to you is granted to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven. Anyone who has will be given more and will have more than enough; but anyone who has not will be deprived even of what he has.”  Why is it granted to the Apostles to know and not to others? Here is a comparison to help us understand. Two people listen to the mother who teaches: A person must not cut and sew.” One of them is the daughter and the other is not. The daughter understands and the other one understands nothing. Why? Because in the mother’s house  the expression “cut and sew” means to slander. Thus, the mother’s teaching helps the daughter to understand  how to put love into practice, helping her so that what she already knows may grow, develop. Anyone who has will be given more. The other person understands nothing and loses even the little that she knew regarding love and slander. She remains confused and does not understand what love has to do with cutting and sewing! Anyone who has not will be deprived even of what he has. A parable reveals and hides at the same time! It reveals for “those who are inside,” who accept Jesus as the Messiah Servant. It hides from those who insist on saying that the Messiah will be and should be a glorious King. These understand the image presented by the parable, but they do not understand the significance. The disciples, instead, grow in what they already know concerning the Messiah. The others do not understand anything and lose even the little that they thought they knew about the Kingdom and the Messiah.

• Matthew 13:14-15: The fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. Just as at another time (Mt 12:18-21), in this different reaction of the people and the Pharisees to the teaching of the parables, Matthew again sees here the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.  He even quotes at length the text of Isaiah which says, “Listen and listen, but never understand! Look and look, but never perceive! This people’s heart has grown coarse, their ears dulled, they have shut their eyes tight to avoid using their eyes to see, their ears to hear, their heart to understand, changing their ways and being healed by Me.”

• Matthew 13:16-17: “But blessed are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear.” All this explains the last sentence: “But blessed are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear. In truth I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see and never saw it, to hear what you hear and never heard it!”

• The Parables: a new way of speaking to the people about God. People remained impressed by the way in which Jesus taught. “A new way of teaching! Given with authority! Different from that of the scribes!” (Mk 7:28). Jesus had a great capacity for finding very simple images to compare the things of God with the things of life which people knew and experienced in the daily struggle to survive. This presupposes two things: to be in touch with the things of the life of the people, and to be in touch with the things of God, of the Kingdom of God. In some parables there are things that happen and that seldom take place in life. For example, when has it ever happened that a shepherd, who has one hundred sheep, abandons the flock with 99 to go and look for the lost sheep? (Lk 15:4). Where have we ever seen a father who accepts with joy and a feast his son who had squandered all his goods, without saying a word of reproach to him? (Lk 15:20-24). When has it been seen that a Samaritan man is better than a Levite, than a priest? (Lk 10:29-37). The parable makes one think. It leads the person to enter into the story beginning from the experience of life. And through our experience it urges us to discover that God is present in our daily life. The parable is a participative form of teaching and educating. It does not change everything in one minute. It does not make one know; it makes one discover. The parable changes our perspective; it makes the person who listens a contemplative; it helps her to observe reality. This is the novelty of the teaching of the parables of Jesus, different from that of the doctors who taught that God manifests Himself only in the observance of the law. “The Kingdom is present in your midst” (Lk 17:21). But those who listened did not always understand.

4) Personal questions

• Jesus says, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom.” When I read the Gospels, am I like those who understand nothing or like those to whom it has been granted to know the Kingdom?

• What role does the Father’s gratuitous grace have in understanding these parables?

• Which is the parable of Jesus with which I most identify ? Why?

5) Concluding Prayer

Yahweh, Your faithful love is in the heavens;

Your constancy reaches to the clouds;

Your saving justice is like towering mountains,

Your judgments like the mighty deep. (Ps 36:5-6)

Lectio Divina:
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 22:05

Lectio Divina: Matthew 12:1-8

Written by

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

God our Father,

Your light of truth

guides us to the way of Christ.

May all who follow Him

reject what is contrary to the Gospel.

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 12:1-8

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath." He said to the them, "Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath."

3) Reflection

• In today’s Gospel we see that there are many conflicts between Jesus and the religious authority of that time. They are conflicts regarding the religious practices of that time: fasting, purity, observance of the Sabbath, etc.  In our day, they would be conflicts regarding, for example, matrimony between divorced persons, friendship with prostitutes, acceptance of homosexuals, communion without being married by the Church, Sunday mass obligation, fasting on Good Friday.  The conflicts were many: at home, in school, in work, in the community, in the Church, in personal life, in society. They were conflicts regarding growth, relationship, age, mentality.  So many of them! To live life without conflicts is impossible!  Conflict is part of life and starts at birth. We are born with birth pangs. Conflicts are not accidents along the way, but form part of the journey, of the process of conversion. What strikes us is the way in which Jesus faces the conflicts. In the discussion with His enemies, He was not trying to show them that He was right, but wished to make the experience which He, Jesus, had of God, Father and Mother, prevail. The image of God which others had was that of a severe Judge who only threatened and condemned. Jesus tries to have mercy prevail, since the objective of the Law is the practice of Love.  

• Matthew 12:1-2: To pick grain on the Sabbath day and the criticism of the Pharisees.  On a Sabbath day, the disciples went through the fields and they picked grain to eat them. They were hungry. The Pharisees arrived and invoke the Bible to say that the disciples were transgressing the law of the Sabbath (cf. Ex 20:8-11).  Jesus also uses the Bible and responds invoking three examples taken from Scripture: (1) that of David, (2) that of the legislation on work of the priests in the temple and (3) from the action of the Prophet Hosea, that is, He quotes a historical book, a legislative book and a prophetic book.

• Matthew 12:3-4:  The example of David.  Jesus recalls that David himself did something which was forbidden by the Law, because he took the sacred bread of the temple and gave it to the soldiers to eat, because they were hungry (1 Sam 21:2-7). No Pharisee had the courage to criticize King David!

• Matthew 12:5-6: The example of the priests.  Accused by the religious authority, Jesus argues beginning from what they themselves, the religious authority, do on the Sabbath day. On the Sabbath day, in the Temple of Jerusalem, the priests worked very much more than the other days of the week, because they had to sacrifice the animals for the sacrifices; they had to clean, sweep, carry burdens, kill the animals, etc. Yet nobody said that this was against the Law. They thought of it as normal! The Law itself obliged them to do all this (Num 28:9-10).

• Matthew 12:7: The example of the prophets. Jesus quotes a verse from the prophet Hosea: I want mercy and not sacrifice.  The word mercy means to have the heart (cor) in the misery (miseri) of others, that is, the merciful person has to be very close to the suffering of the people, has to identify himself/herself with them. The word sacrifice means to have (ficio)  a thing consecrated (sacri), that is, that the one who offers a sacrifice separates the sacrificed object from profane use and places it at a distance from the daily life of the people.  If the Pharisees had had this way of looking at the life of the prophet Hosea, they would have known that the most pleasing sacrifice for God is not that the consecrated persons lives far away from reality, but that he/she places  his/her consecrated heart totally in the service of the brothers and sisters in order to relieve them from their misery. They would not have considered guilty those who in reality were innocent.    

• Matthew 12:8: The Son of Man is the master of the Sabbath. Jesus ends with this statement: The Son of Man is the master of the Sabbath!  Jesus Himself is the criterion for interpretation of the Law of God.  Jesus knows the Tanakh (the Hebrew bible) by heart and invokes it to indicate that the arguments of the others had no foundation. At that time, there were no printed bibles as we have today. In every community there was only one copy written by hand, which remained in the synagogue.  If Jesus knew the bible so well, it means that during the thirty years of His life in Nazareth, He had participated intensely in the life of the community, where Scripture was read every Saturday. The new experience of God the Father made Jesus discover God’s intention  in decreeing the laws of the Old Testament. Having lived thirty years in Nazareth and feeling as His own the oppression and exclusion of so many brothers and sisters, in the name of the law, Jesus must have perceived that this could not be the meaning of the law. If God is Father, then He accepts all as sons and daughters. If God is Father, then we should be brothers and sisters among ourselves. Jesus lived this and prayed for this, from the beginning until the end. The law should be at the service of life and of fraternity. “The human being is not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for the human being” (Mk 2:27).  Because of His great fidelity to this message, Jesus was condemned to death.  He disturbed the system, and the system defended itself, using its force against Jesus, because He wished that the Law be placed at the service of life, and not vice-versa.  We need to know the bible in depth and to participate deeply in the community, as Jesus did.  

4) Personal questions

• What type of conflicts do you find in the family, in society, in the Church?  What are the conflicts which concern religious practices which  cause suffering to people nowadays and which are a cause of discussion and polemics? What is the image of God behind all these preconceptions, behind all these norms and prohibitions?  

• What has conflict taught you during all these years? What is the message which you draw from all this for our communities today?

For further study

To know the bible in depth can be difficult. Various passages may seem to contradict each other, unless put into a broader context where all of a particular reference can be put together in one place. This is one way people use bible quotations to distort their real meaning. The Vatican has tools online to help. The bible is online in searchable form in an approved version at  along with a concordance which lists and links every word in the bible in an index at  and allows a user to collect similar words and ideas in one place to help discern their real meaning.  Look at these online and see if they can help you learn the bible to a greater depth and understanding.

5) Concluding Prayer

Lord, I muse on You in the watches of the night,

for You have always been my help;

in the shadow of Your wings I rejoice;

my heart clings to You,

Your right hand supports me. (Ps 63:6-8)

Lectio Divina:
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 21:56

Lectio Divina: Matthew 8:23-27

Written by

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer


You call Your children to

walk in the light of Christ.

Free us from darkness

and keep us in the radiance of Your truth.

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

who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 8:23-27

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" He said to them, "Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?" Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, "What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?"

3) Reflection

• Matthew writes for the converted Jews of the years 70’s who felt lost like a boat in the middle of a stormy sea, without the hope of being able to get to the desired port.  Jesus seems to be asleep in the boat and it seems to them that no divine power will come to save them from the persecution.  In the face of this desperate and anguished situation, Matthew puts together several episodes of the life of Jesus to help the community discover, in the midst of an apparent absence, the welcoming and powerful presence of Jesus the conqueror who dominates the sea (Mt 8:23-27), who conquers and casts away the power of evil (Mt 9:28-34) and who has the power to forgive sins (Mt 9:1-8).  In other words, Matthew wants to communicate hope and to suggest that the communities have no reason to fear.  This is the reason for the narration of the storm calmed by Jesus in today’s Gospel.  

• Matthew 8:23: The starting point: to enter into the boat.  Matthew follows the Gospel of Mark, but makes it shorter and inserts it in the new outline which he has adopted.  In Mark, the day had been very tiring because of the work that they had done.  Having finished the discourse of the parables (Mk 4:3-34), the disciples take Jesus into the boat and He was so tired that He fell asleep on a cushion (Mk 4:38). Matthew’s text is very brief.  It only says that Jesus went into the boat and that the disciples accompanied Him.  Jesus is the Master. The disciples follow the Master.

• Matthew 8:24-25: The desperate situation: “We are lost!” The Lake of Galilee is close to high mountains.  Sometimes, as the wind is forced upward by the mountains, moisture condenses over the lake causing a sudden storm.  Strong wind, agitated sea, and a boat full of water are the result!  The disciples were experienced fishermen.  If they thought that they were about to sink, it meant that the situation was truly dangerous!   Jesus, however, is not aware and continues to sleep.  They cried out, “Save us, Lord, we are lost!”  In Matthew the profound sleep of Jesus is not only a sign of tiredness.  It is also the expression of the calm trust of Jesus in God.  The contrast between the attitude of Jesus and that of the disciples is enormous!

• Matthew 8:26: The reaction of Jesus: “Why are you so frightened, you who have so little faith!”  Jesus wakes up, not because of the waves, but because of the desperate cry of the disciples.  He turns to them saying, “Why are you so frightened, you who have so little faith!” He then stood up and rebuked the winds and the sea, because there was no danger.  It is like when one arrives at a friend’s house, and the dog, at the side of his master, barks very much. One should not be afraid, because the master is present and controls the situation.  The episode of the storm calmed by Jesus evokes the episode, when people, without fear, passed across the water of the sea (Ex 14:22).  Jesus recreates this episode.  He recalls the prophet Isaiah who said to the people: “If you have to go across the water, I will be with you!” (Isa 43:2).  The episode of the calmed storm recalls and fulfills the prophecy announced in  Psalm 107:  

Those who ploughed the waves in the sea on the ships, plying their trade on the great ocean, they have seen the works of the Lord, His wonders in the deep.  

By His word He raised a storm-wind lashing up towering waves.  

Up to the sky then down to the depths; their stomachs were turned to water.

They staggered and reeled like drunkards, and all their skill went under.

They cried out to Yahweh in their distress. He rescued them from their plight.  

He reduced the storm to calm, and all the waters subsided.  

He brought them overjoyed at the stillness, to the port where they were bound (Ps 107: 23-30)

• Matthew 8:27: The fear of the disciples: “Who is this man?” Jesus asks, “Why are you so frightened?”  The disciples do not know what to answer.  Astounded, they ask themselves, “What kind of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” In spite of the long time that they had lived with Jesus, they still do not know who He is. Jesus seems to be a foreigner to them! Who is this man?  

• Who is this man? Who is Jesus for us, for me? This should be the question which urges us to continue to read the Gospel, every day, with the desire always to better know the significance and the importance of the person of Jesus for our life.  From this question comes Christology. It does not come from elevated theological considerations, but from the desire of the first Christians to always find new names and titles to express what Jesus meant for them.  There are tens of names, titles, and attributes, from that of carpenter to Son of God, which Jesus expresses: Messiah, Christ, Lord, Beloved Son, Holy One of God, Nazarene, Son of Man, Spouse, Son of God, Son of the Most High God, Carpenter, Son of Mary, Prophet, Master, Son of David, Rabboni, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Son, Shepherd, Bread of Life, Resurrection, Light of the world, Way, Truth, Life, King of the Jews, King of Israel, etc.  Every name, every image, is an effort to express what Jesus means for them.  A name, no matter how beautiful it is, never succeeds in revealing the mystery of a person, and much less of the person of Jesus.  Jesus does not enter into any of these names, outlines, or titles.  He exceeds everything; He is the greatest! He cannot be put into a frame.  Love takes up all this, not the mind! Starting from this experience of a love which is alive, the names, the titles and the images receive their full significance. Definitively, who is Jesus for me, for us? 

4) Personal questions

• What was the agitated sea at the time of Jesus?  What was the agitated sea at the time when Matthew wrote his Gospel?  Today, what is the agitated sea for us?  Have you ever been on the point of drowning in the agitated waters of the sea of your life?  What saved you?  

• Who is Jesus for me?  Which is the name of Jesus which expresses my faith and my love better?

• Do I take time to ask and pray for “the peace of Christ”, to have calm in my personal storms?

5) Concluding Prayer

Each age will praise Your deeds to the next,

proclaiming Your mighty works.

Your renown is the splendor of Your glory,

I will ponder the story of Your wonders. (Ps 145:4-5)

Lectio Divina:
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 21:52

Lectio Divina: Matthew 7:21-29

Written by

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer


guide and protector of your people,

grant us an unfailing respect for your name,

and keep us always in your love.

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 7:21-29

Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

3) Reflection

• Today’s Gospel presents the last part of the Sermon on the Mount: (a) it is not sufficient to talk and sing, it is necessary to live and to practice (Mt 7:21-23). (b) the community constructed on the foundation of the new law of the discourse on the mount will remain standing at the moment of the storm (Mt 7:24-27). (c) the words of Jesus are a severe judgment on the contemporary religious leaders, the scribes (Mt 7:28-29).

• The end of the Sermon on the Mount presents some opposition and a few contradictions which exist even in our time: (a) people who continually speak of God, but who do not do God’s will. They use the name of Jesus, but do not practice a relationship with the Lord in their life (Mt 7:21). (b) There are people who live in the illusion of working for the Lord, but on the day of encounter with Him, they will discover, tragically, that they have never known Him (Mt 7:22-23). The two last scenarios of the Sermon on the Mount, the house built on the rock (Mt 7:24-25) and the house built on sand (Mt 7:26-27), illustrate these contradictions. By means of these, Matthew denounces, and at the same time tries to correct, the separation between faith and life, between speaking and doing, between teaching and practicing.

• Matthew 7:21: It is not sufficient to speak, it is necessary to practice. What is important is not to speak of God in a beautiful way or to know how to explain the bible well to others, but rather to do the will of the Father, and in this way, be a revelation of His face and of His presence in the world. Jesus made the same recommendation to the woman who praised Mary, His Mother. Jesus answered: “Blessed rather are those who listen to the Word of God and put it into practice” (Lk 11:28).

• Matthew 7:22-23: The gifts should be at the service of the Kingdom and the community. There were people with extraordinary gifts, for example the gift of prophecy, of exorcism, of healing, but they used these gifts for themselves, outside the context of the community. In the Day of Judgment, they will hear a hard sentence from Jesus: “Away from Me all evil doers”. Evil is the opposite of justice. It is to do with Jesus what the doctors did with the law: to teach and not to practice (Mt 23:3). Paul will say the same thing with other words and arguments: “Though I have the power of prophecy, to penetrate all mysteries and knowledge, and though I have all the faith necessary to move mountains, if I am without love, I am nothing. Though I should give away to the poor all that I possess, and even give up my body to be burned, if I am without love, it will do me no good whatever”. (1Cor 13:2-3).

• Matthew 7:24-27: The parable of the house built on the rock. The final conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount is to open oneself and to practice. Many people entrust their security to extraordinary gifts or to observance. But their true security does not come from prestige or from observance. It comes from God! It comes from the love of God who has loved us first (1 Jn 4:19). His love for us, manifested in Jesus, exceeds everything (Rm 8:38-39). God becomes our source of security when we seek to do His will. There He will be the rock which supports us in the moments of difficulty and storm.

• Matthew 7:28-29: To teach with authority. The Evangelist closes the Sermon on the Mount saying that the crowds admired the teaching of Jesus, “because He taught with authority, and not like the scribes”. The result from the teaching of Jesus is a critical understanding of the people in regard to the religious authority of the time. His simple and clear words resulted from His experience of God, from His life dedicated to the Father’s plan. People admired and approved the teaching of Jesus.

• Community: the house built on the rock. In the Book of Psalms, we frequently find the expression: “God is my rock and my fortress… My God, my rock, my refuge, my stronghold, my saving strength…” (Ps 18:3). He is the defense and the strength of the one who seeks justice (Ps 18:21,24). The people who trust in this God, become in turn, a rock for others. Thus, the Prophet Isaiah invites people in the exile saying: “Listen to me you who pursue saving justice, you who seek Yahweh! Consider the rock from which you were hewn, the quarry from which you were dug. Consider Abraham your father and Sarah who gave you birth” (Is 51:1-2). The prophet asks people not to forget the past. The people should remember that Abraham and Sarah, because of their faith in God, became rock, the beginning of the People of God. Looking toward this rock, the people should acquire courage to struggle and to escape from slavery. Matthew also exhorts the community similarly to have rock as foundation (Mt 7:24-25) and thus, they themselves can be rock to strengthen their brothers and sisters in their faith. This is the sense of the name which Jesus gave to Peter: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church” (Mt 16:  18). This was the vocation of the first community, called to unite itself with God, the living rock, so as to become also a living rock, because they listen and put into practice the Word. (Ps 2:4-10; 2:5; Ep 2:19-22).

4) Personal questions

• How does our community seek to balance prayer and action, prayer and practice, to speak and to do, to teach and to practice? What could improve in our community, so that it will be a rock, a secure and welcoming house for all?

• To be rock for another is also to be in truth. Do I, and my community, know and understand Church teaching and the bible well enough and in truth such that I and we can be rock for others who need help in their Faith?

• There is another kind of rock. The rock in the parable of the sower. The seed (the Word) could not grow on rock. Do I read, learn and grow from the Word and from the saints that have given example before us, and from Church teaching? Am I like the rocky ground in the parable where the seed dries up or am I like a strong rock who gives stability to my brothers and sisters?

5) Concluding Prayer

Help us, God our Savior,

for the glory of Your name;

Yahweh, wipe away our sins,

rescue us for the sake of Your name. (Ps 79:9)

Lectio Divina:
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 21:49

Lectio Divina: John 6:16-21

Written by

Easter Time

1) Opening prayer

Lord God,

also in our day we need men and women

filled with the Spirit of love and service

who are attentive to the needs of people.

Let them listen even to the unspoken cries

of people too timid to voice

their poverty and distress

and help without condescension

their brothers and sisters of Christ,

for He is our Lord for ever.  Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - John 6:16-21

When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea, embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum. It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid. But he said to them, "It is I. Do not be afraid." They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading. 

3) Reflection

• Today’s Gospel narrates the episode of the boat on the agitated sea. Jesus is on the mountain, the disciples in the sea, and the people on the land. By his way of describing the facts, John tries to help the communities discover the mystery which envelops the person of Jesus. He does it by recalling texts from the Old Testament which refer to the Exodus.

• At the time when John wrote, the small boat of the communities had to face a contrary wind both on the part of the converted Jews who wanted to reduce the mystery of Jesus to prophecies and figures of the Old Testament, and on the part of some converted Gentiles who thought that it was possible to have an alliance between Jesus and the Empire.

• John 6:15: Jesus on the mountain. Having seen the multiplication of the loaves, the people conclude that Jesus is the awaited Messiah, because according to the hope of the people of the time, the Messiah would have repeated the gesture of Moses: feeding the people in the desert. For this reason, according to the official ideology, the crowds thought that Jesus was the Messiah, and, because of this, they wanted to make Him king (cf. Jn 6:14-15). This request of the people was a temptation for Jesus as well as for the disciples. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus obliges the disciples to get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side of the lake (Mk 6:45). He wanted to prevent them from getting contaminated with this ideology. This is a sign that the “yeast of Herod and of the Pharisees” was very strong (Mk 8:15). Jesus faces the temptation with prayer on the mountain.

• John 6:16-18: The situation of the disciples. It was already night. The disciples went down near the sea; they got into the boat and headed toward Capernaum, on the other side of the sea. John says that it was already dark and that Jesus had not arrived as yet. On the one hand he recalls the Exodus: to cross the sea in the midst of difficulties. On the other, he recalls the situation of the communities in the Roman Empire: with the disciples, they were living in the dark, with a contrary wind,  and the sea was agitated, and Jesus seemed to be absent!

• John 6:19-20. Change of the situation. Jesus approaches them walking on the water of the sea of life. The disciples are afraid. As happens in the story of Emmaus, they did not recognize Him (Lk 24:28). Jesus gets close to them and says, “It is I! Do not be afraid!” For those who know the story of the Old Testament, here again John recalls some very important facts: (a) He recalls the crowd, protected by God, crossing the Red Sea without fear. (b) He recalls that God, when calling Moses, declares His name, saying, “I am!” (Ex 3:15). (c) He recalls also the Book of Isaiah which presents the return from exile as a new Exodus, in which God repeats many times, “I am!” (cf. Is 42:8; 43:5, 11-13; 44:6, 25; 45:5-7).

• For the People of the Bible, the sea was the symbol of the abyss, of chaos, of evil (Rev 13:1). In Exodus the people go across toward liberty, facing and conquering the sea. God divides the sea with His breath and the crowds cross the sea, which is dry land. (Ex 14:22). In other passages the Bible shows God who conquers the sea (Gen 1:6-10; Ps 104:6-9; Prov 8:27). The sea was an immense part of nature, more powerful than man, and at any time or turbulence could swallow up those on it. To conquer the sea means to have control over even the most powerful nature on earth. In this passage Jesus reveals His divinity by dominating and conquering the sea, preventing the boat and His disciples from being carried away by the waves. This way of evoking or recalling the Old Testament, of using the Bible, helped the communities to recognize  the presence of God in Jesus and in the facts of life.  “Do not be afraid”!

• John 6:22. They reached the desired port. They want to take Jesus into the boat, but it was not necessary, because the boat touched the shore where they were headed. They reached the desired port. The psalm says, “He reduced the storm to calm, and all the waters subsided.  He brought them overjoyed at the stillness, to the port where they were bound.” (Ps 107:29-30).

4) Personal questions

• On the mountain: Why does Jesus seek to be alone to pray after the multiplication of the loaves? What is the result of His prayer?

• How is life like the sea? Does it scare us?

• Is it possible today to walk on the water of the sea of life? How? 

5) Concluding Prayer

Shout for joy, you upright;

praise befits the honest.

Give thanks to Yahweh on the lyre,

play for Him on the ten-stringed lyre. (Ps 33:1-2)

Lectio Divina:
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 21:36

Lectio Divina: Sts. Philip and James, Apostles

Written by

1) Opening prayer

Lord our God,

we praise and thank You on the feast

of Your apostles Philip and James.

Through them many have come to know

that Jesus is alive and risen.

May we too be good witnesses

to the risen Jesus

by the way we live His risen life.

Even though we are flawed and weak,

may people find through us

the way to the Father of Jesus our Lord.

2) Gospel Reading - John 14:6-14

Jesus said to Thomas, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it."

3) Reflection

• Today’s Gospel, the Feast of the Apostles Philip and James, is the same one we meditated on during the 4th week of Easter. It  narrates Philip’s request to Jesus: “Show us the Father, and that is enough for us.”

• John 14:6: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: Thomas had addressed a question to Jesus: “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” (Jn 14:5). Jesus answers, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” Three important words. Without the way, we cannot walk. A “way” is not only a path, but a method of performing or doing. In this case, His way is to be our way. Without the truth one cannot make a good choice. In life, things are not always what they seem to be. We can be easily deceived, especially with fake news, flawed beliefs, and the evil that still inhabits the world. It is important to focus on the Truth and not be deceived. He is the Truth. Without life, there is only death! Jesus explains the meaning. He is the way, because no one “comes to the Father except through Me”. And He is the gate through which the sheep go in and out (Jn 10:9). Jesus is the Truth because looking at Him, we are seeing the image of the Father. “If you know Me, you will know My Father also!” Jesus is Life, because walking like Jesus we will be united to the Father and will have life in us!

• John 14:7: To know Jesus is to know the Father. Thomas had asked, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus answers, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life! No one comes to the Father except through Me.” And He adds, “If you know Me, you will know My Father also. From this moment you have known Him and have seen Him.” This is the first phrase of today’s Gospel. Jesus always speaks about the Father, because it was the life of the Father that appeared in everything that Jesus said and did. This continuous reference to the Father causes Philip to ask the question.

• John 14:8-11: Philip asks, “Show us the Father and then we will be satisfied!” It was the  disciples’ desire, the desire of many people within the communities of the Beloved Disciple, and it is the desire of many people today. What do people do to see the Father whom Jesus speaks of so much? Jesus’ answer is very beautiful, and it is valid even today: “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!” People should not think that God is far away from us, at a distance and unknown. Anyone who wants to know who God the Father is, it suffices for him to look at Jesus. He has revealed Him in the words and gestures of His life! “The Father is in Me and I am in the Father!” Through His obedience, Jesus has fully identified Himself with the Father. At every moment, He did what the Father told Him to do (Jn 5:30; 8:28-29,38). This is why, in Jesus everything is the revelation of the Father! The signs or works are the works of the Father! As people say,  “The son is the face of the father!” This is why in Jesus, and for Jesus, God is in our midst.

• John 14:12-14: The Promise of Jesus. Jesus says that His intimacy with the Father is not a privilege only for Him, but it is possible for all those who believe in Him. We also, through Jesus, are able to do beautiful things for others as Jesus did for the people of His time. He intercedes for us. Everything that people ask from Him, He asks the Father and obtains it always, if it is to serve. Jesus is our defender. He leaves but He does not leave us without defense. He promises that He will ask the Father and the Father will send another defender and consoler, the Holy Spirit. Jesus even said that it is necessary that He leave, because otherwise the Holy Spirit will not come (Jn 16:7). The Holy Spirit will fulfill the things of Jesus in us, if we act in the name of Jesus and observe the great commandment of the practice of love. In his recent encyclical Gaudete et exsultate, Pope Francis quotes Lumen Gentium: The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance among God’s holy and faithful people, for “it has pleased God to make men and women holy and to save them, not as individuals without any bond between them, but rather as a people who might acknowledge him in truth and serve him in holiness”

4) For Personal confrontation

• Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. How do I define Jesus as the Way in my life? As a model of action, or a map, or something else?

• How can Jesus, as the Truth, be used in my daily life to guide me through the deceptions in the world?

• As Life, how do I use Jesus as a model for my life and decision making?

• As we read today’s Gospel, we are almost moved to say “Philip! Haven’t you been listening?”. Are there times when I don’t hear what Jesus is really telling me in my own life as well? What are some of them?

5) Concluding Prayer

The heavens declare the glory of God,

the vault of Heaven proclaims His handiwork,

day to day pours forth speech,

night to night hands on the knowledge. (Ps 19:1-2)

Lectio Divina:
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 21:28

Lectio Divina: Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Written by

1) Opening prayer

Lord our God, loving Father,

Mary went with haste to visit

her cousin Elizabeth in her hour of need.

May we too rejoice in the Lord

when we can hurry to see people

to bring them the Lord

as we share in their needs and their joys.

With Mary, may we become

a blessing to them.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

2) Gospel Reading - Luke 1:39-56

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever." Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

3) Reflection

• Today is the Feast of the Visitation of the Virgin, and the Gospel narrates the visit of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. When Luke speaks of Mary, he thinks of the communities of his time which lived dispersed throughout the cities of the Roman Empire and offers them Mary as a model of how they should relate to the Word of God. Once, while hearing Jesus speak about God, a woman in the crowd exclaimed: “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts that fed You”, praising the mother of Jesus. Immediately Jesus answered: “More blessed still are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Lk 11:27-28). Mary is the model of the faithful community which knows how to live and practice the Word of God. In describing the visit of Mary to Elizabeth, he teaches how the communities should act in order to transform the visit of God into service to the brother and sisters.

• The episode of the visit of Mary to Elizabeth also shows another typical aspect of Luke. All the words and attitudes, especially the Canticle of Mary, form a great celebration of praise. It seems to be a description of a solemn liturgy. Thus, Luke evokes the liturgical and celebrative environment in which Jesus was formed and in which the communities should live their own faith.

• Luke 1:39-40: Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Luke stresses the haste with which Mary responds to the demands of the Word of God. The Angel spoke to her about the pregnancy of Elizabeth, and Mary immediately rises in response to what the Angel had announced. She goes out of the house to help a person in need. The distance from Nazareth to the mountain of Judah was about 100 kilometers, and there were no buses or trains!

• Luke 1:41-44: The greeting of Elizabeth. Elizabeth represents the Old Testament which ends. Mary, the new one which is beginning. The Old Testament welcomes, accepts the new one with gratitude and trust, recognizing in it the gratuitous gift of God which comes to complete whatever expectation the people had. In the encounter of the two women, the gift of the Spirit is manifested, which makes the child jump with joy in Elizabeth’s womb. The Good News of God reveals His presence in one of the most common things of human life: two housewives who exchange a visit to help one another. A visit, joy, pregnancy, children, reciprocal help, house, family: Luke wants to make the communities (and all of us) understand and discover the presence of the Kingdom. The words of Elizabeth, up until now, form part of the best known and most recited Psalm in the world, which is the Hail Mary.

• Luke 1:45: The praise which Elizabeth makes of Mary. “Blessed is she who believed that the promise made by the Lord would be fulfilled”. This is Luke’s advice to the communities: to believe in the Word of God, because it has the force to realize what it says. It is a creative Word. It generates a new life in the womb of a virgin, in the womb of the poor and abandoned people who accept it with faith.

• Luke 1:46-56: The canticle of Mary. Most likely, this canticle was already known and sung in the communities. It teaches how it should be prayed and sung. Luke 1:46-56: Mary begins proclaiming the change which has come about in her life under the loving look of God, full of mercy. This is why she sings joyfully: “My spirit rejoices in God, my Savior”. Luke 1:51-53: she sings the fidelity of God toward His people and proclaims the change which the arm of Yahweh is bringing about on behalf of the poor and the hungry. The expression “arm of God” recalls the liberation of the Exodus. It is this saving force of God which gives life to the change: He has routed the arrogant of heart (1:51), He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly (1:52), He has sent the rich away empty, and has filled the starving with good things (1:53). Luke 1:54-55: at the end, she recalls that all this is the expression of God’s mercy toward His people and an expression of His fidelity to the promises made to Abraham. The Good News is not a response to the observance of the Law, but the expression of the goodness and the fidelity of God to the promises made. That is what Paul taught in the letters to the Galatians and to the Romans.

The second Book of Samuel tells the story of the Ark of the Covenant. David wants to put it in his own house, but he is frightened and says: “How can the Ark of Yahweh come to be with me?” (2 S 6:9). Then David ordered that the Ark be placed in the house of Obed-Edom. And the Ark of Yahweh remained three months in the house of Obed-Edom, and the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and his whole family” (2 S 6:11). Mary, waiting for Jesus, is like the Ark of the Covenant which, in the Old Testament, visited the houses of the persons granting benefits. She goes to Elizabeth’s house and remained there three months. And while she is in Elizabeth’s house, the whole family is blessed by God. The community should be like a new Ark of the Covenant. Visiting the homes of others, it should take benefits and the grace of God to the people.

4) Personal questions

• What prevents us from discovering and living the joy of God’s presence in our life?

• Where and how does the joy of the presence of God take place today in my life and in that of my family or community?

5) Concluding Prayer

Bless Yahweh, my soul, from the depths of my being,

His holy name;

bless Yahweh, my soul,

never forget all His acts of kindness. (Ps 103:1-2)

Lectio Divina:
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 21:25

Lectio Divina: St. Matthias, Apostle - Jn 15:9-17

Written by

1) Opening prayer

Lord God,

Your apostle Matthias was a witness

to the life and death of Jesus Christ

and to His glorious resurrection.

May your people also today bear witness

to the life of Your Son

by living His life as best as they can,

and radiating the joy

of people who are rising with Him

to a new and deeper life.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

2) Gospel Reading - John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples: "As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love. "I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another."

3) Reflection

• Today is the Feast of the Apostle Matthias.

• John 15:9-11: Remain in My love, the source of perfect joy. Jesus remains in the love of the Father observing the commandments that He received from Him. We remain in the love of Jesus observing the commandments that He has left for us. And we should observe them in the same measure in which He observed the commandments of the Father: “If you keep My commandments you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. In this union of love of the Father and of Jesus is found the source of true joy: “I have told you this so that My own joy may be in you and your joy be complete.”

• John 15:12-13: To love one another as He has loved us. The commandment of Jesus is only one: to love one another as He has loved us! (Jn 15:12) Jesus surpasses the Old Testament. The ancient criterion was the following: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 18:19). The new criterion is this: “Love one another as I have loved you.” It is the phrase that we sing even today and which says, “There is no greater love than to give one’s life for one’s brother!”

• John 15:14-15: Friends and not servants. “You are My friends if you do what I command you,” that is, the practice of love to the point of total gift of oneself! Immediately Jesus presents a very high ideal for the life of His disciples. He says, “I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. I call you friends because I have made known to you everything I have learned from My Father!” Jesus no longer had any secrets for His disciples. He tells us everything that He has heard from the Father! Behold the wonderful ideal of life in community: to reach a total transparency, to the point of not having any secrets among us and to have full trust in one another, to be able to speak about the experience of God that we have and of life, and thus, be able to enrich one another. The first Christians succeeded in reaching this ideal after many years: “they had one only heart and one only soul” (Acts 4:32; 1:14; 2:42-46).

This statement of Jesus is also a reminder of what it means to believe in Him and be saved (Jn 3:16). To believe is not an idle thought or a wish. It is an action – many actions. “You are My friends if you do what I command you” means action. Some communities think that one is saved by just a thought on their part, and not doing what Jesus commanded. Love not only describes a relationship, it is also an action verb!

• John 15:16-17: Jesus has chosen us. We have not chosen Jesus. He met us, called us, and entrusted a mission to us to go and bear fruit - a fruit which lasts. We need Him, but He also chooses to need us and our work in order to be able to continue to do today for the people as He did for the people of Galilee. The final recommendation: “This is My commandment: to love one another!”

4) For Personal Consideration

• To love our neighbor as Jesus has loved us. This is the ideal of every Christian. What are my concrete and real actions that show this?

• Do I make distinctions and only love some, and others not so much?

• All that I have heard from the Father I make known to you. This is the ideal of community: to attain total transparency. How do I live this in my community, including family?

• Using concrete examples, what does Jesus command me to do? How much do I really do?

• Is Jesus’ commandment only for certain people or certain parts of the day or week, or is it for all day, every day?

5) Concluding Prayer

Praise, servants of Yahweh,

praise the name of Yahweh.

Blessed be the name of Yahweh,

henceforth and for ever. (Ps 113:1-2)

Lectio Divina:
Monday, 24 January 2011 12:47

Lectio Divina: Mark 5:21-43

Written by

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

Lord our God,

help us to love You with all our hearts

and to love all people as You love them.

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

who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Mark 5:21-43

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

3) Reflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) Personal questions

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

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

5) Concluding Prayer

From You comes my praise in the thronged assembly;

I will perform my vows before all who fear Him.

The poor will eat and be filled;

those who seek Yahweh will praise Him.

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

Lectio Divina:
Monday, 24 January 2011 11:27

Lectio Divina: Mark 11:27-33

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1. Prayer

 Lord, Father of goodness and mercy, You have sent Your Son Jesus from heaven to reveal to us the authority and the sweetness of Your love. Send us Your Holy Spirit as He descended upon Christ at the baptism in the Jordan River. The heavens open with Your voice of salvation: "You are my Son, my beloved." May our hearts not  close, but in full confidence, may we welcome Your light and the embrace of the Father, now and forever. Amen.

2. Reading

Jesus and his disciples returned once more to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple area, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders approached him and said to him, "By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do them?" Jesus said to them, "I shall ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was John's baptism of heavenly or of human origin? Answer me." They discussed this among themselves and said, "If we say, 'Of heavenly origin,' he will say, 'Then why did you not believe him?' But shall we say, 'Of human origin'?"– they feared the crowd, for they all thought John really was a prophet. So they said to Jesus in reply, "We do not know." Then Jesus said to them, "Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things."

3. Meditation

* "By what authority?" The word "authority" is central to this short passage and contains the secret of the faith journey and spiritual growth that we can attain if we let ourselves be guided by the Word, in meditation on this Gospel. The provocative question addressed to Jesus by the scribes and chief priests makes us understand  how much distance there is between Him and them and why there can be no answer. For the priests and scribes "authority" is "power," "strength,” "dominion,” "capable of enforcing laws and judging." But for Jesus, “authority” is another thing. In Hebrew, this word “authority” is from a root of the word that also means "similar to." In fact, Jesus makes it clear in the place where He was walking (v. 27), and that would lead us to understand that “authority” is similarity with the Father, the relationship of love with Him, as between Father and Son. It is no coincidence that He immediately points to the baptism of John.

* "The baptism of John ...." Jesus leads us now clearly to the starting point, the source, where we really find ourselves in the encounter with God on the banks of the River Jordan where He was baptized.  He also prepared our place, because like Him, we go down into the water and allow ourselves to be marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit. Let us reach out, gather, and visit with these words: "You are my Son, the beloved" (Mk 11). Jesus tells us that there is no other authority, or other greatness or riches than this.

* "From heaven or from human origin?" Do we want to be with God or with men, to follow God or men, or do we want to enter into the light of the opened heavens (Mark 1:10) or remain in the darkness of our loneliness?

* "Answer me." It's a beautiful phrase from Jesus, repeated forcefully twice (vv. 29 and 30). He calls for a clear choice, a clear decision, sincere, authentic, and profound. The verb "answer" in Greek means to express the attitude of an ability to distinguish and to separate things well. The Lord wants to invite us to enter into the deepest part of ourselves, to let His words enter and so, in this strong relationship with Him, learn more and more to make the important decisions of our lives and throughout our days.

But there is something more to this word, so simple and so beautiful. The Hebrew root expresses at the same time response as well as misery, poverty, grief, humility. That is, there can be no real answer, without humility, without listening. Jesus is asking the priests and scribes, and us, to enter into this dimension of life, this attitude of the soul: to be humble before Him and others, recognizing our poverty, our need for Him, because only this may be the real answer to His questions.

* They argued among themselves.” Another important verb that helps us to understand a little more about our inner world. This discussion is in fact a "talk through" as we sense from a literal translation of the Greek word used by Mark. These people in this passage are broken inside, are scarred by an injury, are not all in one piece in front of Jesus while talking to each other, bringing together a number of reasons and considerations instead of entering into a relationship and a dialogue with the Father which was inaugurated with the baptism of Jesus.  They remain outside and at a distance, as the son of the parable who refuses to join in the feast of love (cf. Lk 15:28). They also do not believe in the Word of God, once again repeated: "You are my Son, my beloved, in You I am well pleased" (Mk 1:11) and continue to seek and desire the strength of  “authority” and power rather than the weakness of love.

4. Questions for Reflection

* The Lord teaches me His authority, even in my life, not domination, oppression or force, but love, and the ability to be alike, to be near. I would like to accept this authority of Jesus in my life.  I would truly enter into this relationship of resemblance with Him. Am I ready to engage in this choice? Am I determined to follow this through? Can I do this in all aspects of my life? What is my next step to get there?

* Maybe, approaching this Gospel, I did not expect to come back to the episode of Baptism and the experience so fundamental and the source of the relationship with God the Father. Instead, once again, the Lord wanted to reveal His love so immense, that He does not shirk any effort, any obstacles just to reach me. Is my heart, right now, before Him? Can I hear the voice of the Father speak to me and call me "son,” saying my name? Can I accept this statement of love? Do I trust Him, believe Him, and give myself to Him? Do I understand that this involves change and action from me, and does not stop with words and feelings?

* I cannot reflect on this meditation without giving my answer. Jesus asks me specifically, that "answer me" is also addressed to me today. I learned that there can be no answer without a real hearing and listening that can only come from true humility. Do I want to take these steps or just want to continue to respond with my own convictions, my old ways of thinking and feeling, from my conceit and self-sufficiency? What exactly do I need to change within me and around me to answer the way I am invited to?

* One last thing. Looking inside my heart, do I feel divided, as an enemy of Jesus? Is there any wound in me that will not allow me to be a whole Christian, or a friend of Christ, or His disciple? What is there in my life that is broken, that separates me from Him?

5. Final Prayer

The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart.
The command of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eye.
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.
The statutes of the LORD are true, all of them just;
More desirable than gold, than a hoard of purest gold,
Sweeter also than honey or drippings from the comb.

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