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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)

Ordinary Time



1) Opening prayer



Father,

keep before us the wisdom and love

you have revealed in your Son.

Help us to be like Him

in word and deed,

for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



2) Gospel Reading – John 19:25-34



Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I thirst." There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, "It is finished." And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately Blood and water flowed out.



3) Reflection



• Jn 19:25-29:  Mary, the strong woman who understood the full meaning of this event, will help us cast a contemplative glance at the crucified. The fourth Gospel specifies that these disciples "stood by the cross" (Jn 19:25-26). This detail has a deep meaning. Only the fourth Gospel tells us that these five people stood by the cross. The other Evangelists do not say so. Luke, for instance, says that all those who knew him followed the events from a distance (Lk 23:49). Matthew also says that many women followed these events from afar. These women had followed Jesus from Galilee and served Him. But now they followed Him from afar (Mt 27:55-56). Like Matthew, Mark gives us the names of those who followed the death of Jesus from afar (Mk 15:40-41). Thus only the fourth Gospel says that the mother of Jesus and the other women and the beloved disciple "stood by the cross". They stood there like servants before their king. 



• Jn 19:30-34:  They are present courageously at a time when Jesus has already declared that "it is fulfilled" (Jn 19:30). The mother of Jesus is present at the hour that finally "has come". That hour was foretold at the wedding feast of Cana (Jn 2:1ff). The fourth Gospel had remarked then that "the mother of Jesus was there" (Jn 2:1). Thus, the person that remains faithful to the Lord in His destiny, he/she is a beloved disciple. The Evangelist keeps this disciple anonymous so that each one of us may see him/herself mirrored in the one who knew the mysteries of the Lord, who laid his head on Jesus' chest at the last supper (Jn 13:25). The mother standing beneath the cross (cf. Jn 19:25), accepted her Son’s testament of love and welcomed all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal. 



• Jesus takes an active part in His death, He does not allow Himself to be killed like the thieves whose legs were broken (Jn 19:31-33), but commits His spirit (Jn 19:30). The details recalled by the Evangelist are very important: Seeing His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing near her, Jesus said to His mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then to the disciple He said, “This is your mother.” (Jn 19:26-27). These simple words of Jesus bear the weight of revelation, words that reveal to us His will: "this is your son" (v. 26); "this is your mother" (v. 27). These words also recall those pronounced by Pilate on the Lithostrotos: "This is the man" (Jn 19:5). With these words, Jesus on the cross, his throne, reveals His will and His love for us. He is the lamb of God, the shepherd who gives His life for His sheep. At that moment, by the cross, He gives birth to the Church, represented by Mary, Mary of Cleophas and Mary Magdalene, together with the beloved disciple (Jn 19:25).



4) Personal questions



• How has Mary given you a model for parenthood, discipleship, and love? What of these have I applied in my own life?

• Mary exemplified humility and obedience, yet she also led (as at Cana). How do I lead others, in what ways, while also being truly humble and obedient myself?



5) Concluding Prayer



The precepts of Yahweh are honest,

joy for the heart;

the commandment of Yahweh is pure,

light for the eyes. (Ps 19:8)


Lectio Divina:
2020-06-01
Monday, 08 November 2010 20:56

Lectio Divina: Mark 8:34-9:1

Written by


Ordinary Time 



1) Opening prayer



Lord our God,

we believe in You with all our being.

Let this faith never be a lifeless belief

in abstract truths outside ourselves,

but a deep personal commitment

to Your Son Jesus Christ.

Give us the courage, we pray You,

to live for our brothers and sisters

and if need be to lose our life for them

and for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

who lives with You and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. 



2) Gospel Reading - Mark 8:34-9:1



Jesus called the people and His disciples to Him and said, 'If anyone wants to be a follower of Mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow Me. Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for My sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

What gain, then, is it for anyone to win the whole world and forfeit his life? And indeed what can anyone offer in exchange for his life?

For if anyone in this sinful and adulterous generation is ashamed of Me and of My words, the Son of man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.'

And He said to them, 'In truth I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.' 



3) Reflection



• Today’s Gospel speaks about the conditions necessary to follow Jesus. Peter does not understand Jesus’ proposal when He speaks about suffering and of the cross. Peter accepts Jesus as Messiah, but not a Suffering Messiah. Before this misunderstanding of Peter, Jesus describes the announcement of the Cross and explains the significance of the cross for the life of the disciples (Mk 8:27 to 9:1).

• Historical context of Mark: In the years 70’s, when Mark writes, the situation of the communities was not easy. There was much suffering; there were many crosses. Six years before, in 64, the Emperor Nero had decreed the first great persecution, killing many Christians. In the year 70, in Palestine, the Romans were destroying Jerusalem. In the other countries an enormous tension between converted Jews and non converted Jews was beginning to arise. The greatest difficulty was the Cross of Jesus. The Jews thought that a crucified person could not be the Messiah, because the law affirmed that any crucified person should be considered a cursed person by God (Deut 21: 22-23).

• Mark 8:34-37: Conditions to follow Jesus. Jesus draws the conclusions which are valid for the disciples, for the Christians of the time of Mark and for us who are living today: If anyone wants to follow Me let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me! At that time the cross was death penalty which the Roman Empire attributed to the marginalized. To take up the Cross and follow Him meant, definitively, to accept to be marginalized by the unjust system which legitimized injustice. The Cross was not the fruit of fatalism of history nor demanded by the Father. The Cross is the consequence of the freely assumed commitment by Jesus to reveal the Good News of the One who is Father and that, therefore, all have to be accepted and treated as brothers and sisters. Because of this revolutionary announcement, He was persecuted and He was not afraid to give His own life. There is no greater love than to give one’s life for one’s brother. Immediately, after Mark inserts two separate phrases of the text.

• Mark 8:38-9:1: Two phrases: a requirement and an announcement. The first one (Mk 8:38) is the requirement not to be ashamed of the Gospel, but to have the courage to profess it. The second one (Mk 9:1), is an announcement about the coming or the presence of Jesus in the facts of life. Some thought that Jesus would come afterwards (1 Thess 4:15-18). But in fact, Jesus had already come and was already present in the people, especially in the poor. But they were not aware of this. Jesus himself had said, “Every time that you helped the poor, the sick, the homeless, the imprisoned, the pilgrim it was me!” (Mt 25:34-45). 



4) For Personal Confrontation



• What is the cross that weighs down on me and which makes my life heavy? How do I bear it?

• To gain or to lose life; to gain the whole world or to lose the soul; to be ashamed of the Gospel or to profess it publicly. How does this take place in my life? 



5) Concluding Prayer



How blessed is anyone who fears Yahweh,

who delights in His commandments!

His descendants shall be powerful on earth,

the race of the honest shall receive blessings. (Ps 112:1-2)




Lectio Divina:
2020-02-21
Monday, 08 November 2010 20:55

Lectio Divina: Mark 8:27-33

Written by


Ordinary Time 



1) Opening prayer



Lord God, merciful Father,

your Son came to set all people free,

to make the poor rich in faith and hope,

to make the rich aware of their poverty.

Unite us all in one trust in you

and in one common concern for one another;

give us all your attitude and that of Jesus,

of not distinguishing between ranks and classes and sexes

but of seeking together the freedom

brought us by Jesus Christ our Lord. 



2) Gospel Reading - Mark 8:27-33



Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, 'Who do people say I am?' And they told him, 'John the Baptist, others Elijah, others again, one of the prophets.' 'But you,' he asked them, 'who do you say I am?' Peter spoke up and said to him, 'You are the Christ.' And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.

Then he began to teach them that the Son of man was destined to suffer grievously, and to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter tried to rebuke him.

But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are thinking not as God thinks, but as human beings do.' 



3) Reflection



• Today’s Gospel speaks about Peter’s blindness who does not understand the proposal of Jesus when he speaks about suffering and of the Cross. Peter accepts Jesus as Messiah, but not a suffering Messiah. He is influenced by the “yeast of Herod and the Pharisees”, that is, by the propaganda of the government of that time in which the Messiah was a glorious Messiah. Peter seemed to be blind. He was not aware of anything, but wanted Jesus to be as he wished. To understand well the importance and weight of this blindness of Peter it is well to consider it in its literary context.

• Literary context: The Gospel of Mark transmits to us three announcements of the Passion and death of Jesus: the first one in Mark 8, 27-38; the second one in Mark 9, 30-37 and the third one in Mark 10, 32-45. This whole which goes up to Mark 10, 45, is a long instruction of Jesus to the disciples to help them to overcome the crisis produced by the Cross. The instruction is introduced by the healing of a blind man (Mk 8, 22-26) and at the end it is concluded with the healing of another blind man (Mk 10, 46-52). The two blind persons represent the blindness of the disciples. The healing of the first blind man was difficult. Jesus had to do it in two stages. The blindness of the disciples was also difficult. Jesus had to give a long explanation concerning the meaning of the Cross to help them understand why the cross was producing blindness in them. Let us consider closely the healing of the blind man:

• Mark 8, 22-26: The first healing of a bland man. They took a blind man before Jesus, asking Jesus to cure him. Jesus cures him, but in a different way. First, he takes him outside the village. Then he put some of his saliva on the eyes of the blind man and, laid his hands on him and asked him: Can you see anything? The man answered: I see persons; they look like trees that walk! He could only see one part. He exchanged trees for persons, or persons for trees! Jesus cures him only in the second time. This description of the cure of the blind man introduces the instruction to the disciples, in reality the blind man is Peter. He accepted Jesus as the Messiah, but a glorious Messiah. He saw only one part! He did not want the commitment of the Cross! The blindness of the disciples is also cured by Jesus, in different stages, not all at once.

• Mark 8, 27-30: The discovery of reality: Who do people say I am? Jesus asks: “Who do people say I am?” They answered expressing the different opinions: “John the Baptist”. “Elijah or one of the Prophets”. After having heard the opinions of others, Jesus asks: “And you who do you say I am?” Peter answers: “The Lord, the Christ, the Messiah!” That is, the Lord is the one whom the people are expecting! Jesus agrees with Peter, but forbids him to speak about that with the people. Why? Because at that time all expected the coming of the Messiah, but each one in his own way: some expected the king, others the priest, doctor, warrior, judge, prophet! Nobody seemed to be expecting the Messiah, Servant and Suffering, announced by Isaiah (Is 42, 1-9).

• Mark 8, 31-33: First announcement of the Passion. Then Jesus began to teach saying that he is the Messiah Servant and affirms that, as Messiah Servant announced by Isaiah, he will soon be condemned to death in carrying out his mission of justice (Is 49, 4-9; 53, 1-12). Peter is horrified; he calls Jesus apart to rebuke him. And Jesus said to him: “Get behind me, Satan! You are thinking not as God thinks, but as human beings do.” Peter thought he had given the right answer. In fact, he had said the correct word: “You are the Christ!” But he does not give it the correct sense. Peter does not understand Jesus. He was like the blind man. He exchanged people for trees! The response of Jesus was very hard: “Get behind me, Satan!” Satan is a Hebrew word which means accuser, the one who leads others away from the way to God. Jesus does not allow anyone to lead him away from his mission. Literally the text says: “Get behind me, Satan!” Peter has to follow Jesus. He must not change things and intend that Jesus follows Peter. 



4) For Personal Confrontation



• We all believe in Jesus. But some believe that Jesus is in one way, others in another way. Which is today the most common image that people have of Jesus? Which is the response which people today would give to Jesus’ question? And I, what answer do I give?

• What prevents us today from recognizing the Messiah in Jesus? 



5) Concluding Prayer



I will praise Yahweh from my heart;

let the humble hear and rejoice.

Proclaim with me the greatness of Yahweh,

let us acclaim his name together. (Ps 34,2-3)




Lectio Divina:
2020-02-20
Monday, 08 November 2010 20:54

Lectio Divina: Mark 8:22-26

Written by


1) Opening prayer



God our Father,

You have promised to remain for ever

with those who do what is just and right.

Help us to live in Your presence.

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 8:22-26



When Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethsaida, people brought to him a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on the man and asked, “Do you see anything?” Looking up the man replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.” Then he laid hands on the man’s eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly. Then he sent him home and said, “Do not even go into the village.” 



3) Reflection



• The Gospel today gives an account of the cure of a blind man. This episode of a cure constitutes the beginning of a long instruction from Jesus to the disciples (Mk 8:27 to 10:45) and then ends with the cure of another blind man (Mk 10:46-52). In this broader context, Mark suggests to the readers that those who are truly blind are Peter and the other disciples. All of us are blind! They do not understand the proposal of Jesus when He spoke about the suffering and the cross. Peter accepted Jesus as the Messiah, but not as a suffering Messiah (Mk 8:27-33). He was also affected by the belief of the time which only spoke of a messiah as a glorious king. Peter seemed to be blind. He understood nothing, but wanted Jesus to be as he imagined.

• The Gospel today indicates how difficult it was to cure the first blind man. Jesus had to cure this man in two different stages. The cure of the disciples was also difficult. Jesus had to give a long explanation concerning the significance of the cross to help them understand, because what really produced blindness in them was the cross.

• In the year 70, when Mark was writing, the situation of the communities was not easy. There was much suffering, many crosses. Six years before, in 64, the Emperor Nero had decreed the first great persecution, and many Christians were killed. In the year 70, in Palestine, the Romans were destroying Jerusalem. In the other countries, a great tension between the converted Jews and the non-converted Jews was beginning. The greatest difficulty was the cross of Jesus. The Jews thought that a crucified person could not be the Messiah who was so awaited by the people, because the law affirmed that all those crucified should be considered persons condemned by God (Deut 21:22-23).

• Mark 8:22-26: The cure of a blind man. They brought a blind man, asking Jesus to cure him. Jesus cured him, but in a different way. First of all, He took him outside the village. Then He put some spittle on the eyes, He placed His hands on him and asked, “Do you see something?” The man answered,  “I see men; in fact, they seem like trees that walk!” He could see only in part. He exchanged trees for people, or people for trees! Only in a second moment does Jesus cure the blind man and forbids him to enter the village. Jesus did not want any easy advertising!

• As it has been said, this description of the cure of the blind man acts as an introduction to the long instruction from Jesus to cure the blindness of the disciples, and at the end He finishes with the cure of another blind man, Bartimaeus. In reality the blind man was Peter. We are all blind. Peter did not want the commitment of the Cross! Do we understand the significance of suffering in life?

• Between the two cures of the blind men (Mk 8:22-26 and Mk 10:46-52), is found a long instruction on the Cross (Mk 8:27 to 10:45). It seems a catechism, made of sayings from Jesus Himself. He speaks about the Cross in the life of the disciple. The long instruction consists of three announcements regarding the Passion. The first one is Mark 8:27-38. The second is Mark 9:30-37. The third one is in Mark 10:32-45. Between the first one and the second, there is a series of instructions which indicate the type of conversion that should take place in the life of those who accept Jesus, Messiah Servant (Mk 9:38 to 10:31):

Mk 8:22-26: the cure of a blind man.

Mk 8:27-38: first announcement of the cross.

Mk 9:1-29: instructions to the disciples on the Messiah Servant.

Mk 9:30-37: second announcement of the cross.

Mk 9:38 to 10:31: instructions to the disciples on conversion.

Mk 10:32-45: third announcement of the cross.

Mk 10:46-52: the cure of the blind man Bartimaeus.

The whole of this instruction has as a background the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. From the beginning to the end of this long instruction, Mark tells us that Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem where He is going to suffer His death (Mk 8:27; 9: 30,33; 10:1,17,32). The full understanding of following Jesus is not achieved by theoretical ideas, but by practical commitment, walking like Him along the way of service, from Galilee up to Jerusalem. Any one who insists on keeping the idea of Peter, that is, of a glorious Messiah without the cross, will understand nothing and will never be able to have the attitude of a true disciple. He will continue to be blind, exchanging people for trees (Mk 8:24), because without the cross it is impossible to understand who Jesus is and what it means to follow Jesus.

The journey of following is a road of the gift of self, of abandonment, of service, of availability, of acceptance of conflict, knowing that there will be resurrection. The cross is not an accident on the way, but forms part of this road. Because in a world organized around egoism, love and service can exist only crucified! Anyone who makes his life a service to others, disturbs and bothers those who live attached to privileges, and therefore suffers. 



4) Personal questions



• All believe in Jesus. But some understand Him in one way and others in another. Today, which is the most common Jesus according to the way people think? How does popular belief interfere in the way of seeing Jesus? What do I do so as not to be drawn by the deceit of these popular ideas?

• What does Jesus ask of people who want to follow Him? Today, what prevents you from recognizing and assuming the plans of Jesus? 



5) Concluding prayer



Lord, who can find a home in Your tent,

who can dwell on Your holy mountain?

Whoever lives blamelessly, who acts uprightly,

who speaks the truth from the heart. (Ps 15:1-2)




Lectio Divina:
2020-02-19
Sunday, 17 October 2010 19:18

Lectio Divina: The Resurrection of the Lord (A)

Written by

Jesus’ resurrection

He is living among us

John 20: 1-9



1. Opening prayer



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



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



2. Reading



a) A key to guide the reading:



Let us read the text where the evangelist seeks to tell the readers the meaning of faith in the resurrection. He seeks to do this by means of the visit of the two disciples to the empty tomb and the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene. While reading, let us pay attention to the details of the story as told in the Gospel of John who presents a very deep symbolic dimension.



b) A division of the text to assist a careful reading:



Jn 20:1-3: the disturbing experience of the empty tomb

Jn 20:4-10: Peter and the beloved disciple run to the sepulcher: the beloved disciple saw and believed

Jn 20:11-18: Jesus shows Himself first to Mary Magdalene and gives her a command.



c) The text:



1-3: It was very early on the first day of the week and still dark, when Mary of Magdala came to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the tomb and came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,' she said, 'and we don't know where they have put Him.' So Peter set out with the other disciple to go to the tomb.

4-10: They ran together, but the other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first; he bent down and saw the linen cloths lying on the ground, but did not go in. Simon Peter, following him, also came up, went into the tomb, saw the linen cloths lying on the ground and also the cloth that had been over His head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed. Till this moment they had still not understood the scripture, that He must rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home.
 John 20, 1-9



11-18: But Mary was standing outside near the tomb, weeping. Then, as she wept, she stooped to look inside, and saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head, the other at the feet. They said, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' 'They have taken my Lord away,' she replied, 'and I don't know where they have put Him.' As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?' Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said, 'Sir, if you have taken Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will go and remove Him.' Jesus said, 'Mary!' She turned round then and said to Him in Hebrew, 'Rabbuni!' -- which means Master. Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to Me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to the brothers, and tell them: I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' So Mary of Magdala told the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord,' and that He had said these things to her.



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 in this text that describes the first experience of the resurrection?

b) The beloved disciple went in, saw and believed. What did he see and what led him to believe? Why is it that the text tells us only the reaction of the beloved disciple and not that of Peter?

c) What changes take place in Mary Magdalene during the dialogue? How did this change happen?

d) What mission or command does Jesus give Mary Magdalene?

e) Mary Magdalene was seeking Jesus in one way and meets Him in another. How does this occur in our lives?

f) To see and believe. The beloved disciple saw and believed. What is it that leads me to believe that Jesus is alive, that He is present in our midst, today, giving new life to the poor?

g) Have you gone through an experience of loss or death? What gave you new life or new hope and the joy of life? What is it that I say when I affirm, "I believe in the resurrection"?



5. A key to the reading



for those who wish to go deeper into the text.



a) In John’s Gospel, faith in the resurrection is encountered in the description of the passion and death of Jesus:



* In describing the passion and death of Jesus, John’s Gospel wants to point out not the sentence passed on a political subversive, but the hour for glorifying the Son of God. During the whole process that carries Jesus to His death, He is master of what happens to Himself and to His adversaries. For John, the cross is synonymous with "lifting", rising on high, to be with the Father (Jn 3:14; 8:28; 12:32-34). It is the beginning of the resurrection that is revealed fully on the first day of the week (Jn 20:1). That is why in John’s Gospel there is no agony in the garden (Jn 18:1-2). When Jesus is in prison, the soldiers are frightened when Jesus says, "I am He!" (Jn 18:6). When Jesus is dying, He does not cry out as in the other Gospels. Serenely He takes leave of His friends, of His mother, and then expires (Jn 19:28-30).



* The story of the passion is another more concrete example of the fact that John does not simply relate historical facts, but puts them through an X-Ray. He tries to show what the facts hide. When Pilate, Hanna, the Jewish and Roman authorities try to end Jesus’ life, in truth they were allowing Jesus to be elevated towards God. From His prison, Jesus directs events and gives His life. "I lay down My life of My own free will, and as it is in My power to lay it down, so it is in My power to take it up again. No one takes it from Me. I lay it down of My own free will" (Jn 10:17-18). All can set their minds at rest and be full of hope because Jesus has overcome and has been glorified by the Father (Jn 17:5).



b) Peter and the beloved disciple go the empty tomb (vv. 1-10):



* The experience of the resurrection of the early community was a long process, an experience that grew slowly like the growth of a strong tree. At first, many did not believe in the witness of those who had experienced the living presence of Jesus (Mt 28:17; Mk 16:11, 13, 14; Lk 24:11, 36, 41; Jn 20:25). But the experience of the resurrection expressed in the form of appearances was so strong, so deep and so convincing that it succeeded in overcoming human unbelief confronted with the possibility of the victory of life over death.



* The women were more faithful than the men. They were the first to believe in the Good News of the resurrection (Mt 28:9-10; Lk 24:4-11; Jn 20:11-18). Faced with the news of Mary Magdalene, who sees the empty tomb, Peter and the beloved disciple run to the tomb. The Gospel relates the strange news according to which "the other disciple" ran faster than Peter and arrived first at the tomb, but did not go in. He looked inside and saw the bandages on the ground. After he went in he saw also the folded shroud to one side. The Gospel then says, "He saw and believed!" But nothing is said of Peter’s reaction although it was he who had gone first into the empty tomb. At the end, the Gospel adds, "Till this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of scripture, that He must rise from the dead" (Jn 20:9). This means that the Old Testament on its own does not communicate a complete understanding of what it contains. The light for understanding the real meaning of the Old Testament appears at the very moment when the beloved disciple "saw and believed". His experience of the resurrection was like a light that struck the eyes of the disciples and revealed to them the complete and full meaning of the Old Testament. It is this light to the sight that liberates the words of the Old Testament.



* A comparison to understand the change. In a circle of friends, someone showed a photo where there was a man with a harsh face, with the finger raised, almost assaulting the public. All thought that he was an inflexible person, unpleasant, who distanced himself from others. At that moment, a boy arrived and said, "This is my father!" The others looked at him and said, "A harsh father, then!’ The boy replied, "No, no, no! He is very loving. My father is a lawyer. That photo was taken in court when he was denouncing the crime of a landowner who wanted to dispossess a poor family of some unused land that they owned for a long time! My father won the case. The poor family was not deprived of its land!" All looked at the photo again and said, "What a beautiful photo!" Almost by miracle, a light was shed on the photo and it assumed a new look. That harsh face became bathed in great tenderness! The words of the son changed everything, while changing nothing! The words and actions of Jesus, born of His experience as son, received and raised by the Father, without changing one letter or comma, changed the whole meaning of the Old Testament (Mt 5:17-18). The same God, who seemed so distant and harsh, took on the traits of a good Father, full of tenderness!



c) Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene:



* Mary Magdalene was one of the few who had the courage to stay with Jesus until the time of His death on the cross. She goes back to the tomb to be where she had been with the Beloved for the last time. She looks for Jesus with whom she had lived for the last three years. The disciples from Emmaus will see Jesus, but will not recognize him (Lk 24:15-16). The same thing happens to Mary Magdalene. She sees Jesus, but does not recognize Him. She thinks He is the gardener. But she is looking for the Jesus of the past, the same as He was three days previously. The image of Jesus as He was stops her from recognizing the living Jesus, present before her.



* Jesus pronounces the name "Mary!" This was the signal for her to recognize Him: the same voice, the same manner of saying the name. She replies, "Master!" Jesus has come back, and it was the same Jesus who had died on the cross. Her first impression is that death was just a painful incident along the way, and that now all was back as it was before. Mary embraces Jesus strongly. It was the same Jesus she knew.



* In fact, it is the same Jesus, but the manner of being with her is not the same. Jesus says to her, "Do not cling to Me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father!" He will go to the Father. Mary Magdalene must leave Jesus and take on her mission: to announce to the brothers that Jesus has ascended to the Father. Jesus opened the way for us and brought God close to us again.



* The way the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene is described makes us realize the stages of the journey she has to go through, from the painful search to the new encounter of Easter. These too are the stages we all have to go through in our lives, the search for God by living the Gospel.



6. Psalm 27 (26)



God is my victory



Yahweh is my light and my salvation,

whom should I fear?

Yahweh is the fortress of my life,

whom should I dread?

When the wicked advance against me

to eat me up,

they, my opponents, my enemies,

are the ones who stumble and fall.

Though an army pitch camp against me,

my heart will not fear,

though war break out against me,

my trust will never be shaken.

One thing I ask of Yahweh,

one thing I seek:

to dwell in Yahweh's house

all the days of my life,

to enjoy the sweetness of Yahweh,

to seek out His temple.

For He hides me away under His roof

on the day of evil,

He folds me in the recesses of His tent,

sets me high on a rock.

Now my head is held high

above the enemies who surround me;

in His tent I will offer sacrifices of acclaim.

I will sing. I will make music for Yahweh.

Yahweh, hear my voice as I cry,

pity me, answer me!

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.

Though my father and mother forsake me,

Yahweh will gather me up.

Yahweh, teach me Your way,

lead me on the path of integrity

because of my enemies;

do not abandon me to the will of my foes

-- false witnesses have risen against me,

and are breathing out violence.

This I believe: I shall see the goodness of Yahweh,

in the land of the living.

Put your hope in Yahweh, be strong,

let your heart be bold, put your hope in Yahweh.



7. Final Prayer



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


Lectio Divina:
2020-04-12
Sunday, 17 October 2010 19:16

Lectio Divina: Palm Sunday (A)

Written by

The narrative of the passion and death of Jesus

Rediscovering one’s first love

Matthew 26:14-27; 27:1-66



1. Opening prayer



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

Create silence in us so that we may listen to Your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May Your word
  guide us so that we too, like the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, may experience the force of Your resurrection and witness to others that You are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of You, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed the Father to us and sent us Your Spirit. Amen.
 Matthew 26:14-27; 27:1-66 



2. Suggestions for Holy Week



Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week, a week that is different from all others. We are confronted with the deepest of all mysteries of our faith, the supreme revelation of the love of God manifested in Jesus (Rom 8:38-39).

In the Old Testament, at times of crisis, the people went back to meditating on and re-reading Exodus. In the New Testament we go back to the exodus represented by the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. For the community of Christians of all times, the narrative of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus is the source where we renew our faith, hope and love.

Many times, from the time of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7), Matthew’s Gospel states that the aim of the New Law is love and mercy (Mt 5:43-48; 7:12; 9:13; 12:7; 22:34-40). Now, in this final section of the passion, death and resurrection, he describes how Jesus put love into practice, bringing the Law to fulfilment (Mt 5:17).



3. A reading of the Passion and Death of Jesus



A key to the reading:



In Holy Week, during the reading of the Passion and Death of Jesus, it is not fitting to take an attitude of research and rational investigation. It is more fitting to remain silent. Read the text several times, taking as only guide the short titles which seek to be a key to help us feel the text and experience again the love of God revealed in the attitude of Jesus towards those who capture Him, insult Him, torture Him and kill Him. As we read, let us not think only of Jesus, but also of the millions and millions of human beings who today are imprisoned, tortured, insulted and killed.



Matthew 26:14-16: Judas’ betrayal

Love of money leads a friend to betray Jesus

14 Then one of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, 'What are you prepared to give me if I hand Him over to you?' They paid him thirty silver pieces, 16 and from then onwards he began to look for an opportunity to betray Him.



Matthew 26:17-19: The preparation for the Paschal Supper

Preparing well the last meeting with friends

17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus to say, 'Where do you want us to make the preparations for You to eat the Passover?' 18 He said, 'Go to a certain man in the city and say to him, "The Master says, My time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with My disciples." ' 19 The disciples did what Jesus told them and prepared the Passover.



Matthew 26:20-25: The proclamation of Judas’ betrayal

Even though Jesus knows everything, He sits at table with the betrayer

20 When evening came He was at table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating He said, 'In truth I tell you, one of you is about to betray Me.' 22 They were greatly distressed and started asking Him in turn, 'Not me, Lord, surely?' 23 He answered, 'Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with Me will betray Me. 24 The Son of man is going to His fate, as the scriptures say He will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!' 25 Judas, who was to betray Him, asked in his turn, 'Not me, Rabbi, surely?' Jesus answered, 'It is you who say it.'



Matthew 26:14-27; 27:1-66



Matthew 26:26-29: The institution of the Eucharist

Between the betrayal of the one and the denial of the other, glows a sign of love

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when He had said the blessing He broke it and gave it to the disciples. 'Take it and eat,' He said, 'this is My body.' 27 Then He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He handed it to them saying, 'Drink from this, all of you, 28 for this is My blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 From now on, I tell you, I shall never again drink wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in the kingdom of My Father.'



Matthew 26:30-35: The denial by Peter

Even though Peter breaks away from Jesus, Jesus does not break away from Peter

30 After the psalms had been sung they left for the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, 'You will all fall away from Me tonight, for the scripture says: I shall strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered, 32 but after My resurrection I shall go ahead of you to Galilee.' 33 At this, Peter said to Him, 'Even if all fall away from You, I will never fall away.' 34 Jesus answered Him, 'In truth I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will have disowned Me three times.' 35 Peter said to Him, 'Even if I have to die with You, I will never disown You.' And all the disciples said the same.



Matthew 26:36-46: The agony in the Garden of Olives

Jesus chooses fidelity rather than flight

36 Then Jesus came with them to a plot of land called Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, 'Stay here while I go over there to pray.' 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with Him. And He began to feel sadness and anguish. 38 Then He said to them, 'My soul is sorrowful to the point of death. Wait here and stay awake with Me.' 39 And going on a little farther He fell on his face and prayed. 'My Father,' He said, 'if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by. Nevertheless, let it be as You, not I, would have it.' 40 He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, 'So you had not the strength to stay awake with me for one hour? 41 Stay awake, and pray not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing enough, but human nature is weak.' 42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed. 'My Father,' He said, 'if this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, Your will be done!' 43 And He came back again and found them sleeping, their eyes were so heavy. 44 Leaving them there, He went away again and prayed for the third time, repeating the same words. 45 Then He came back to the disciples and said to them, 'You can sleep on now and have your rest. Look, the hour has come when the Son of man is to be betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up! Let us go! Look, My betrayer is not far away.'



Matthew 26:47-56: Jesus’ capture in the Garden

Even though He was innocent and good, Jesus is considered a bandit and criminal

47 And suddenly while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared, and with him a large number of men armed with swords and clubs, sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now the traitor had arranged a sign with them saying, 'The one I kiss, He is the man. Arrest Him.' 49 So he went up to Jesus at once and said, 'Greetings, Rabbi,' and kissed Him. 50 Jesus said to Him, 'My friend, do what you are here for.' Then they came forward, seized Jesus and arrested Him. 51 And suddenly, one of the followers of Jesus grasped his sword and drew it; he struck the high priest's servant and cut off his ear. 52 Jesus then said, 'Put your sword back, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, who would promptly send more than twelve legions of angels to My defense? 54 But then, how would the scriptures be fulfilled that say this is the way it must be?' 55 It was at this time that Jesus said to the crowds, 'Am I a bandit, that you had to set out to capture Me with swords and clubs? I sat teaching in the Temple day after day and you never laid a hand on Me.' 56 Now all this happened to fulfill the prophecies in scripture. Then all the disciples deserted Him and ran away.



Matthew 26:57-68: Jesus before the Sanhedrin

The decision, which has already been made, of sentencing Jesus to death, is given a semblance of legality

57 The men who had arrested Jesus led Him off to the house of Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58 Peter followed Him at a distance right to the high priest's palace, and he went in and sat down with the attendants to see what the end would be. 59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus, however false, on which they might have Him executed. 60 But they could not find any, though several lying witnesses came forward. Eventually two came forward 61 and made a statement, 'This man said, "I have power to destroy the Temple of God and in three days build it up." ' 62 The high priest then rose and said to Him, 'Have you no answer to that? What is this evidence these men are bringing against You?' 63 But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to Him, 'I put you on oath by the living God to tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.' 64 Jesus answered him, 'It is you who say it. But, I tell you that from this time onward you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.' 65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, 'He has blasphemed. What need of witnesses have we now? There! You have just heard the blasphemy. 66 What is your opinion?' They answered, 'He deserves to die.' 67 Then they spat in His face and hit Him with their fists; others said as they struck Him, 68 'Prophesy to us, Christ! Who hit You then?'



Matthew 26:69-75: Peter’s denial

At the moment of trial, Peter, the leader, denies knowing Jesus

69 Meanwhile Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came up to him saying, 'You, too, were with Jesus the Galilean.' 70 But he denied it in front of them all. 'I do not know what you are talking about,' he said. 71 When he went out to the gateway another servant-girl saw him and said to the people there, 'This man was with Jesus the Nazarene.' 72 And again, with an oath, he denied it, 'I do not know the man.' 73 A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, 'You are certainly one of them too! Why, your accent gives you away.' 74 Then he started cursing and swearing, 'I do not know the man.' And at once the cock crowed, 75 and Peter remembered what Jesus had said, 'Before the cock crows you will have disowned Me three times.' And he went outside and wept bitterly.



Matthew 27:1-2: Jesus is led before Pilate

It is not the Jewish people but it is the élite who lead Jesus to His death

1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people met in council to bring about the death of Jesus. 2 They had Him bound and led Him away to hand Him over to Pilate, the governor.



Matthew 27:3-10: The death of Judas

A little of Judas lives in each one of us

3 When he found that Jesus had been condemned, then Judas, His betrayer, was filled with remorse and took the thirty silver pieces back to the chief priests and elders 4 saying, 'I have sinned. I have betrayed innocent blood.' They replied, 'What is that to us? That is your concern.' 5 And flinging down the silver pieces in the sanctuary he made off, and went and hanged himself. 6 The chief priests picked up the silver pieces and said, 'It is against the Law to put this into the treasury; it is blood-money.' 7 So they discussed the matter and with it bought the potter's field as a graveyard for foreigners, 8 and this is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. 9 The word spoken through the prophet Jeremiah was then fulfilled: And they took the thirty silver pieces, the sum at which the precious One was priced by the children of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter's field, just as the Lord directed me.



Matthew 26:14-27; 27:1-66



Matthew 27:11-26: Jesus before Pilate

Like the Servant of Yahweh, Jesus remains silent before those who accuse Him

11 Jesus, then, was brought before the governor, and the governor put to Him this question, 'Are You the king of the Jews?' Jesus replied, 'It is you who say it.' 12 But when He was accused by the chief priests and the elders He refused to answer at all. 13 Pilate then said to Him, 'Do you not hear how many charges they have made against You?' 14 But to the governor's amazement, He offered not a word in answer to any of the charges. 15 At festival time it was the governor's practice to release a prisoner for the people, anyone they chose. 16 Now there was then a notorious prisoner whose name was Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd gathered, Pilate said to them, 'Which do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?' 18 For Pilate knew it was out of jealousy that they had handed Him over. 19 Now as he was seated in the chair of judgement, his wife sent him a message, 'Have nothing to do with that upright man; I have been extremely upset today by a dream that I had about Him.' 20 The chief priests and the elders, however, had persuaded the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas and the execution of Jesus. 21 So when the governor spoke and asked them, 'Which of the two do you want me to release for you?' they said, 'Barabbas.' 22 Pilate said to them, 'But in that case, what am I to do with Jesus who is called Christ?' They all said, 'Let Him be crucified!' 23 He asked, 'But what harm has he done?' But they shouted all the louder, 'Let Him be crucified!' 24 Then Pilate saw that he was making no impression, that in fact a riot was imminent. So he took some water, washed his hands in front of the crowd and said, 'I am innocent of this man's blood. It is your concern.' 25 And the people, every one of them, shouted back, 'Let His blood be on us and on our children!' 26 Then he released Barabbas for them. After having Jesus scourged he handed Him over to be crucified.



Matthew 27:27-31: Jesus is crowned with thorns

To undress, torture and strike someone is what humiliates that person most

27 Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus with them into the Praetorium and collected the whole cohort around Him. 28 And they stripped Him and put a scarlet cloak around Him, 29 and having twisted some thorns into a crown they put this on His head and placed a reed in His right hand. To make fun of Him they knelt before Him saying, 'Hail, king of the Jews!' 30 And they spat on Him and took the reed and struck Him on the head with it. 31 And when they had finished making fun of Him, they took off the cloak and dressed Him in His own clothes and led Him away to crucifixion.



Matthew 27:32-38: Jesus is crucified

The law says that the one hanging on a cross is “cursed by God” (Deut 21:23)

32 On their way out, they came across a man from Cyrene, called Simon, and enlisted him to carry His cross. 33 When they had reached a place called Golgotha, that is, the place of the skull, 34 they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall, which He tasted but refused to drink. 35 When they had finished crucifying Him they shared out His clothing by casting lots, 36 and then sat down and stayed there keeping guard over Him. 37 Above His head was placed the charge against Him; it read, 'This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.' 38 Then two bandits were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left.



Matthew 27:39-44: Jesus is insulted

Hanging, naked, bared before all, defenseless, without any right

39 The passers-by jeered at Him; they shook their heads 40 and said, 'So You would destroy the Temple and in three days rebuild it! Then save Yourself if You are God's son and come down from the cross!' 41 The chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked Him in the same way, 42 with the words, 'He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the king of Israel; let Him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in Him. 43 He has put His trust in God; now let God rescue Him if He wants Him. For He did say, "I am God's son." ' 44 Even the bandits who were crucified with Him taunted Him in the same way.



Matthew 26:14-27; 27:1-66Matthew 27:45-56: The death of Jesus

“My God! Why have you forsaken Me?” He dies letting out a cry

45 From the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?' 47 When some of those who stood there heard this, they said, 'The man is calling on Elijah,' 48 and one of them quickly ran to get a sponge which he filled with vinegar and, putting it on a reed, gave it to Him to drink. 49 But the rest of them said, 'Wait! And see if Elijah will come to save Him.' 50 But Jesus, again crying out in a loud voice, yielded up His spirit. 51 And suddenly, the veil of the Sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom, the earth quaked, the rocks were split, 52 the tombs opened and the bodies of many holy people rose from the dead, 53 and these, after His resurrection, came out of the tombs, entered the holy city and appeared to a number of people. 54 The centurion, together with the others guarding Jesus, had seen the earthquake and all that was taking place, and they were terrified and said, 'In truth this man was son of God.' 55 And many women were there, watching from a distance, the same women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and looked after Him. 56 Among them were Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.



Matthew 27:57-61: Jesus is buried

Jesus is not even buried decently

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, called Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. 59 So Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean shroud 60 and put it in his own new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a large stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Now Mary of Magdala and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulcher.



Matthew 27:62-66: The guard of the tumult

Darkness, even the most intense, cannot extinguish life

62 Next day, that is, when Preparation Day was over, the chief priests and the Pharisees went in a body to Pilate 63 and said to him, 'Your Excellency, we recall that this impostor said, while He was still alive, "After three days I shall rise again." 64 Therefore give the order to have the sepulcher kept secure until the third day, for fear His disciples come and steal Him away and tell the people, "He has risen from the dead." This last piece of fraud would be worse than what went before.' 65 Pilate said to them, 'You may have your guard; go and make all as secure as you know how.' 66 So they went and made the sepulcher secure, putting seals on the stone and mounting a guard.



4. Some thoughts



to help us meditate and pray.



a) The death of Jesus:



From midday to three in the afternoon, it is dark over the whole earth. Even nature feels the effect of the agony and death of Jesus! Hanging on the cross, deprived of everything, a lament escapes from his lips: “Eli! Eli! Lama Sabachthani?” That is: “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?” This is the first sentence of Psalm 22(21). Jesus goes into His death praying, expressing the forsakenness He feels. He prays in Hebrew. The soldiers who were standing by and who were guarding Him, say: “He is calling on Elijah!” The soldiers were foreigners, mercenaries on contract to the Romans. They did not understand the language of the Jews. They thought that Eli meant Elijah. Hanging on the cross, Jesus feels totally isolated. Even if He wanted to say something to someone, it was not possible. He was completely alone: Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, the disciples ran away, friends kept themselves apart (v.55), the authorities derided Him, the passers by insulted Him, God himself abandoned Him, and His language was useless for communicating. This is the price He paid for being faithful to His decision to follow at all times the way of love and service in order to redeem His brothers and sisters. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life for the redemption of many” (Mt 20:28). In the midst of abandonment and darkness, Jesus lets out a loud cry and dies. He dies letting out the cry of the poor because He knows that God listens to the cry of the poor (Ex 2:24; 3:7; 22:22,26). With this belief, Jesus enters into death, certain of being heard. The letter to the Hebrews says, “He offered up prayer and entreaty, with loud cries and with tears, to the One who had the power to save Him from death, and, winning a hearing by His reverence, He learned obedience. (Heb 5:7). God heard His cry and “exalted Him” (Phil 2:9). The resurrection is God’s answer to prayer and to the offering Jesus made of His life. With the resurrection of Jesus, the Father proclaims to the whole world this Good News: Those who live like Jesus serving the brothers and sisters, are victorious and will live forever, even though they may die and even though they may be killed! This is the Good News of the Kingdom born from the cross!



b) The significance of the death of Jesus:



On Calvary, we are before a tortured human being, one excluded from society, completely isolated, condemned as a heretic and subversive by the civil, military and religious courts. At the foot of the cross the religious authorities confirm for the last time a failed rebellion, and publicly renounce Him (Mt 27:41-43). And it is at this hour of death that a new significance comes to life again. The identity of Jesus is revealed by a pagan: “In truth this man was son of God!” (Mt 27:54). From this point on, if you really wish to meet the Son of God, do not seek Him up above in the far away heavens, nor in the Temple whose veil was torn, but seek Him close to you, in the excluded, disfigured, ugly human being. Seek Him in those who, like Jesus, give their lives for their brothers and sisters. It is there that God hides Himself and reveals Himself, and it is there that we can meet Him. There we find the disfigured image of God, of the Son of God. “Greater love than this  no one has than to give one’s life for the brothers and sisters!”



5. The prayer of a Psalm



The psalms that Jesus recites on the Cross:



Psalm 22 (21): 2: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Psalm 31 (30): 6: “Into Your hands I commend My spirit.”



6. Final Prayer



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


Lectio Divina:
2020-04-05
Sunday, 17 October 2010 19:14

Lectio Divina: 5th Sunday of Lent (A)

Written by

Season of Lent



The resurrection of Lazarus

In the "House of the Poor"

Jesus reveals himself as the source of life

John 11
: 1-45



1. Opening prayer



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



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



2. Reading: John 11:1-45



a) A key to guide the reading:



Let us read the text, which describes the resurrection of Lazarus. During the reading, try to follow the group, the disciples who follow Jesus from Galilee to Bethany. You must follow attentively all the events, from the time that the announcement of the sickness of Martha and Mary’s brother was sent to Jesus who was in Galilee, to the time of the resurrection of Lazarus.



b) A division of the text to assist a careful reading:



John 11:1-16: Jesus hears the news and sets out for Bethany to raise Lazarus.



John 11:17-31: Jesus meets the two sisters and Martha’s profession of faith.



John 11:32-45: The great sign of the resurrection of Lazarus.



c) The text:





1-16: There was a man named Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister, Martha, and he was ill. It was the same Mary, the sister of the sick man Lazarus, who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair. The sisters sent this message to Jesus: 'Lord, the man you love is ill.' On receiving the message, Jesus said, 'This sickness will not end in death, but it is for God's glory so that through it the Son of God may be glorified.' Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, yet when He heard that he was ill He stayed where He was for two more days before saying to the disciples, 'Let us go back to Judaea.' The disciples said, 'Rabbi, it is not long since the Jews were trying to stone You; are You going back there again?' Jesus replied, Are there not twelve hours in the day? No one who walks in the daytime stumbles, having the light of this world to see by; anyone who walks around at night stumbles, having no light as a guide. He said that and then added, 'Our friend Lazarus is at rest; I am going to wake him.' The disciples said to Him, 'Lord, if he is at rest he will be saved.' Jesus was speaking of the death of Lazarus, but they thought that by 'rest' he meant 'sleep'; so Jesus put it plainly, 'Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad I was not there because now you will believe. But let us go to him.' Then Thomas -- known as the Twin -- said to the other disciples, 'Let us also go to die with Him.'



17-31: On arriving, Jesus found that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days already. Bethany is only about two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming she went to meet Him. Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died, but even now I know that God will grant whatever You ask of Him.' Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha said, 'I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.' Jesus said, ‘ I am the resurrection. Anyone who believes in Me, even though that person dies, will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? 'Yes, Lord,' she said, 'I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.' When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in a low voice, 'The Master is here and wants to see you.' Hearing this, Mary got up quickly and went to Him. Jesus had not yet come into the village; He was still at the place where Martha had met Him. When the Jews who were in the house comforting Mary saw her get up so quickly and go out, they followed her, thinking that she was going to the tomb to weep there.



32-45: Mary went to Jesus, and as soon as she saw Him she threw herself at His feet, saying, 'Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.' At the sight of her tears, and those of the Jews who had come with her, Jesus was greatly distressed, and with a profound sigh He said, 'Where have you put him?' They said, 'Lord, come and see.' Jesus wept; and the Jews said, 'See how much He loved him!' But there were some who remarked, 'He opened the eyes of the blind man. Could he not have prevented this man's death?' Sighing again, Jesus reached the tomb: it was a cave with a stone to close the opening. Jesus said, 'Take the stone away.' Martha, the dead man's sister, said to Him, 'Lord, by now he will smell; this is the fourth day since he died.' Jesus replied, 'Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?' So they took the stone away. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘ Father, I thank You for hearing my prayer. I myself knew that You hear me always, but I speak for the sake of all these who are standing around Me, so that they may believe it was You who sent Me. When He had said this, He cried in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with strips of material, and a cloth over his face. Jesus said to them, 'Unbind him, let him go free.' Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what he did, believed in Him.



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 drew your attention most in this very detailed account? Why?

b) Wh
at is the central and most important point of the whole narrative? Why?

c) What was the attitude of the disciples? What did they say and do?

d) What was the attitude of Martha and Mary? What did they say and do?

e) What was the attitude of the Jews? What did they say, do and plan?

f) With whom can you identify yourself most: the disciples, the sisters, the Jews, or none of these?

g) Have you ever experienced times when despair and hope, life and death got confused in your thought? In times such as these, what kept up your faith?

h) How does Lazarus rise to life today? How does resurrection take place today, giving new life to the poor?



5. A key to the reading



for those who wish to go deeper into the text.



The difference between the Gospel of John and that of the other three Evangelists.



A comparison in order to understand the difference. Photo and X-Ray. You are in wonder at the beauty of nature before a sunrise. You see and contemplate what your eyes look at. This is the photo! Next to you, a friend says to you, "Have you noticed how that small cloud changed into a deeper color? Our friendship is like this!" She saw more than that which the eyes were looking at. This is the X-Ray. Love for and faith in one another have expanded her vision. The Gospel of John is like this; it is the Gospel of the beloved disciple. He teaches us how to read the other Gospels and to discover in them a deeper dimension. The other three Gospels take photos of the miracles. John takes an X-Ray and reveals his deep sense of the divine, that which only faith can see by the working of the Spirit (John 14:26; 16:19).



* For instance, the synoptics mention twenty-eight different miracles. John only mentions seven and he calls them "signs". Of the seven, only three are found in the synoptics. The other four are exclusive to John: the marriage feast in Cana (Jn 2:1-11), the healing of the paralytic at the pool of Siloe (Jn 5:1-9), the healing of the man born blind (Jn 9:1-7) and the resurrection of Lazarus (Jn 11:1-44). In the way he presents these "signs", John does much more than simply tell the miracle. He expands the facts so that they manifest Jesus as the revelation of the Father. John’s Gospel tries to throw light on Jesus’ saying, "To have seen Me is to have seen the Father" (Jn 14:9). When we hold up to the light the X-Ray of Jesus in John’s Gospel, we see the face of the Father.



Lazarus’ resurrection in the scheme of John’s Gospel



* The scheme of the seven signs:



1st Sign: the marriage feast of Cana (Jn 2:1-12)



2nd Sign: the healing of the nobleman’s son (Jn 4:46-54)



3rd Sign: the healing of the paralytic (Jn 5:1-18)



4th Sign: the multiplication of the bread (Jn 6:1-15)



5th Sign: Jesus walks on the water (Jn 6:16-21)



6th Sign: the healing of the blind man (Jn 9:1-40)



7th Sign: the raising of Lazarus (Jn 11:1-44)



The great sign is the HOUR of Jesus’ glorification.



* The seven signs are seven prefigurations of the glorification of Jesus, which will take place at the Hour of His passion, death and resurrection. Each sign symbolizes one aspect of the meaning of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus for us. It is in "meditating day and night" through Lectio Divina or Prayerful Reading that we shall discover this meaning, which will enrich our lives.



* The resurrection of Lazarus, the seventh sign, opens the way for the coming of the Hour, the glorification, which takes place through death (Jn 12:23; 17:1). One of the reasons why Jesus is condemned will be the resurrection of Lazarus (Jn 11:50; 12:10). Thus, the seventh sign will be in order to manifest the glory of God (Jn 11:4): "This sickness will end not in death but in God’s glory and through it the Son of God will be glorified". The disciples cannot understand this (Jn 11:6-8). But even though they do not understand, they are ready to go and die with Jesus (Jn 11:16). Their understanding is slight, but their faith is right.



The meaning of Lazarus’ resurrection



* In Bethany: Everything happens in Bethany, a small village at the foot of the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem. In the story, Lazarus’ family, where Jesus liked to go, is the mirror of the community of the Beloved Disciple at the end of the first century. Mirror also of our communities. Bethany means "House of the Poor". Martha means "Lady" (coordinator); a lady who coordinates the community. Lazarus means "God helps" the poor community, which hoped for everything from God. Mary means "beloved of Yahweh", the image of the community. The story of the resurrection of Lazarus wants to communicate this certainty: Jesus brings life to the community of the poor; He is the source of life for those who believe in Him.



* Between life and death: Lazarus is dead. Many Jews are at Martha and Mary’s house to comfort them for the loss of their brother. Those who represent the Old Testament do not bring new life. They just console. Jesus is the one who brings new life! In John’s Gospel, the Jews are also the enemies who wish to kill Jesus (Jn 10:31). So we have on one side the threat of death against Jesus, and on the other Jesus who comes to conquer death! It is in this context of conflict between life and death that the seventh sign of the resurrection of Lazarus, of victory over death, takes place.



* Two ways of believing in the resurrection: The central point is the contrast between the old way of believing in the resurrection at the end of times, and the new brought by Jesus, which until now conquers death. Martha, the Pharisees and the majority of the people believed in the resurrection (Acts 23:6-10; Mk 12:18). They believed, but did not reveal it, because their faith was only in the resurrection at the end of times and not in the present resurrection of the story, here and now. That resurrection did not renew life. A link was missing. The new life of the resurrection comes with Jesus.



* Profession of faith in Jesus and profession of faith in life: Jesus challenges Martha to take that step. It is not enough to believe in the resurrection at the end of times. We must believe that Resurrection is already here today in the person of Jesus and in those who believe in Him. Death no longer holds power over these, because Jesus is the "resurrection and the life". And, Martha, even though she has not yet seen the concrete sign of the resurrection of Lazarus, professes her faith: "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world".



* Human, very human, equal to us in all things: After her profession of faith, Martha calls Mary, her sister. Mary goes to meet Jesus, who was still where Martha had met him. She repeats Martha’s expression: "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died" (Jn 11:21). Mary weeps, everyone weeps. Jesus is moved. When the poor weep, Jesus is moved and weeps. When they see Jesus weeping, the others say, "See how much He loved him!" This is the characteristic of the community of the Beloved Disciple: love between Jesus and the members of the community. Some do not believe and still doubt: "He opened the eyes of the blind; could He not have prevented this man’s death?" For the third time, Jesus is moved (Jn 11:33,35,38). Thus, John stresses Jesus’ humanity against those who, at the end of the first century, spiritualized the faith and denied the humanity of Jesus.



* For us, there only remains to remove the stone so that God may give life back to us: Jesus orders the stone to be removed. Martha reacts: "Lord, by now he will smell; this is the fourth day!" Once more, Jesus challenges her recalling her faith in the resurrection, here and now, as a sign of God’s glory: "Have I not told you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?" They removed the stone. Before the open tomb and before the incredulity of those standing there, Jesus turns to the Father. First, He thanks the Father, "Father, I thank You for hearing my prayer. I knew indeed that You always hear Me". The Father of Jesus is the same God who always hears the cry of the poor (Ex 2:24; 3:7). Jesus knows the Father and trusts Him. But now He asks for a sign for the sake of those who stand there, so that they may believe that He, Jesus, was sent by the Father. Then, He shouts aloud, "Lazarus, here. Come out!" And Lazarus comes out. This is the victory of life over death, of faith over unbelief! A farmer in the interior of Brazil commented, "It is up to us to remove the stone! And so God resurrects the community. There are those who do not want to remove the stone, and so in their community there is no life!"



6. Psalm 16 (15)



 God is our birthright forever

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

To Yahweh I say, 'You are my Lord,

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

They only take advantage of all who love them.

People flock to their teeming idols.

Never shall I pour libations to them!

Never take their names on my lips.



My birthright, my cup is Yahweh;

You, You alone, hold my lot secure.

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

my birthright is all I could wish.



I bless Yahweh who is my counsellor,

even at night my heart instructs me.

I keep Yahweh before me always,

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



So my heart rejoices, my soul delights,

my body too will rest secure,

for
You will not abandon me to Sheol,

You cannot allow Your faithful servant to see the abyss.

You will teach me the path of life,

unbounded joy in
Your presence,

at
Your right hand delight for ever.



7. Final Prayer



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


Lectio Divina:
2020-03-29
Sunday, 17 October 2010 19:11

Lectio Divina: 4th Sunday of Lent (A)

Written by

A blind man sees the light

Our eyes open when we live with Jesus

John 9:1-41



1. Opening prayer



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



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



2. Reading



a) A key to the reading:



The text of the Gospel of the fourth Sunday of Lent invites us to meditate on the healing of a man born blind. It is a short but lively text. It is a concrete example of the way the Fourth Gospel reveals the deep hidden meaning of the events in Jesus’ life. The story of the healing of the blind man helps us open our eyes to the picture of Jesus that we each carry within ourselves. We often think of a Jesus who looks like a glorious king, removed from the life of ordinary people! In the Gospels, Jesus is presented as a Servant of the poor, friend of sinners. The picture of the Messiah-King that the Pharisees had in mind, kept us from recognizing Jesus the Messiah-Servant. As we read the Gospel, let us try to pay attention to two things: (i) the expert and free way the blind man reacts to the provocations of the authorities, and (ii) the way the blind man himself opens his eyes concerning Jesus.



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



John 9:1-5: Blindness before the evil that exists in the world



John 9:6-7: The sign of the “One sent by God” who will provoke various reactions



John 9:8-13: The reaction of the neighbors



John 9:14-17: The reaction of the Pharisees



John 9:18-23: The reaction of the parents



John 9:24-34: The final judgement of the Pharisees



John 9:35-38: The final attitude of the man born blind



John 9:39-41: A closing reflection



c) Text:





1 As He went along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked Him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should have been born blind?' 3 'Neither he nor his parents sinned,' Jesus answered, 'he was born blind so that the works of God might be revealed in him. 4 'As long as day lasts we must carry out the work of the one who sent me; the night will soon be here when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world.'



6 Having said this, he spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man, 7 and said to him, 'Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam' (the name means 'one who has been sent'). So he went off and washed and came back able to see.



8 His neighbors and the people who used to see him before (for he was a beggar) said, 'Isn't this the man who used to sit and beg?' 9 Some said, 'Yes, it is the same one.' Others said, 'No, but he looks just like him.' The man himself said, 'Yes, I am the one.' 10 So they said to him, 'Then how is it that your eyes were opened?' 11 He answered, 'The man called Jesus made a paste, daubed my eyes with it and said to me, "Go off and wash at Siloam"; so I went, and when I washed I gained my sight.' 12 They asked, 'Where is he?' He answered, 'I don't know.' 13 They brought  the man who had been blind to the Pharisees.



14 It had been a Sabbath day when Jesus made the paste and opened the man's eyes, 15 so when the Pharisees asked him how he had gained his sight, he said, 'He put a paste on my eyes, and I washed, and I can see.' 16 Then some of the Pharisees said, 'That man cannot be from God: he does not keep the Sabbath.' Others said, 'How can a sinner produce signs like this?' And there was division among them. 17 So they spoke to the blind man again, 'What have you to say about Him yourself, now that He has opened your eyes?' The man answered, 'He is a prophet.'



18 However, the Jews would not believe that the man had been blind without first sending for the parents of the man who had gained his sight and 19 asking them, 'Is this man really the son of yours who you say was born blind? If so, how is it that he is now able to see?' 20 His parents answered, 'We know he is our son and we know he was born blind, 21 but how he can see, we don't know, nor who opened his eyes. Ask him. He is old enough: let him speak for himself.' 22 His parents spoke like this out of fear of the Jews, who had already agreed to ban from the synagogue anyone who should acknowledge Jesus as the Christ. 23 This was why his parents said, 'He is old enough; ask him.'



24 So the Jews sent for the man again and said to him, 'Give glory to God! We are satisfied that this man is a sinner.' 25 The man answered, 'Whether he is a sinner I don't know; all I know is that I was blind and now I can see.' 26 They said to him, 'What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?' 27 He replied, 'I have told you once and you wouldn't listen. Why do you want to hear it all again? Do you want to become His disciples yourselves?' 28 At this they hurled abuse at him, 'It is you who are His disciple, we are disciples of Moses: 29 we know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this man, we don't know where He comes from.' 30 The man replied, 'That is just what is so amazing! You don't know where He comes from and He has opened my eyes! 31 We know that God doesn't listen to sinners, but God does listen to people who are devout and do his will. 32 Ever since the world began it is unheard of for anyone to open the eyes of someone born blind; 33 if this man were not from God, He wouldn't have been able to do anything.' 34 They retorted, 'Are you trying to teach us, and you a sinner through and through ever since you were born!' And they ejected him.



35 Jesus heard they had ejected him, and when He found him He said to him, 'Do you believe in the Son of man?' 36 'Sir,' the man replied, 'tell me who he is so that I may believe in Him.' 37 Jesus said, 'You have seen Him; He is speaking to you.' 38 The man said, 'Lord, I believe,' and worshipped Him.



39 Jesus said, It is for judgement that I have come into this world, so that those without sight may see and those with sight may become blind. 40 Hearing this, some Pharisees who were present said to Him, 'So we are blind, are we?' 41 Jesus replied, If you were blind, you would not be guilty, but since you say, We can see, your guilt remains.



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 this text touched me most? Why?

b) A popular saying goes
, “None so blind as those who will not see!” How does this apply to the conversation between the blind man and the Pharisees?

c) By what titles is Jesus hailed in the text? Who pronounces these? What do they mean?

d) Wh
ich title do I like best? Why? Or, what picture of Jesus do I carry in my mind and my heart? Where does this picture come from?

e) How can I purify my eyes to see the true Jesus of the Gospels?



5. For those who wish to delve deeper into the text



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



As we meditate on the story of the healing of the blind man, it is good to keep in mind the context of the Christian communities in Asia Minor towards the end of the first century for whom the Gospel of John was written and who identified with the blind man and his healing. Because of a legalistic view of the Law of God, they were blind from birth. But, as happened with the blind man, they too were able to see the presence of God in the person of Jesus of Nazareth and were converted. It was a painful process! In describing the steps and conflicts of the healing of the blind man, the author of the Fourth Gospel recalls the spiritual journey of the community, from the darkness of blindness to the full light of faith enlightened by Jesus.



b) A commentary on the text:



John 9:1-5: Blindness before the evil that exists in the world



When the disciples see the blind man, they ask: “Rabbì, who sinned, this man or his parents, for him to have been born blind?” In those days, a physical defect or sickness was thought to be a punishment from God. Associating physical defects with sin was the way the priests of the Old Testament kept their power over people’s consciences. Jesus helps his disciples to correct their ideas: “Neither he nor his parents sinned…he was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him!” The works of God is the same as Sign of God. Thus, that which in those days was a sign of God’s absence, is now a sign of his brilliant presence in our midst. Jesus says: “As long as the day lasts I must carry out the work of the one who sent me; the night will soon be here when no one can work. As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world.” The Day of signs begins to manifest itself when Jesus, “on the third day” (Jn 2:1), makes present the “first sign” in Cana (Jn 2:11). But the day is about to end. The night is about to fall, because it is already “the seventh day”, the Sabbath, and the healing of the blind man is now the sixth sign (Jn 9:14). The Night is the death of Jesus. The seventh sign will be the victory over death at the resurrection of Lazarus (Jn 11). In John’s Gospel there are only seven signs, miracles, that announce the great sign, namely the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.



John 9:6-7. The sign of the “One sent by God” who will provoke various reactions



Jesus spits on the ground, forms mud with his saliva, puts the mud on the eyes of the blind man and tells him to wash in the pool of Siloam. The man goes and comes back healed. This is the sign! John comments saying that Siloam means sent. Jesus is the One sent by the Father who works the works of God, the signs of the Father. The sign of this ‘sending’ is that the blind man begins to see.



John 9:8-13: The first reaction: that of the neighbors



The blind man is well known. The neighbors have doubts: “Is this he?” And they ask: “How do your eyes come to be open?” The man who was blind testifies, “The Man called Jesus opened my eyes”. The basis of our faith in Jesus is to accept that He is a human being like us. The neighbors ask: “Where is he?” - “I don’t know!” They are not satisfied with the answer of the blind man and, to clarify matters, they bring the man before the Pharisees, the religious authorities.



John 9:14-17: The second reaction: that of the Pharisees



That day was a Sabbath and on the Sabbath it was forbidden to heal. When asked by the Pharisees, the man tells everything once more. Some Pharisees, blind in their observance of the law, say, “This man cannot be from God, He does not keep the Sabbath!” They could not admit that Jesus could be a sign of God because He healed the blind man on a Sabbath. But other Pharisees, faced by the sign, answer, “How could a sinner produce signs like this?” They were divided among themselves! So they asked the blind man, “What have you to say about him yourself, now that He has opened your eyes?” And he gives witness: “He is a Prophet!”



John 9:18-23: The third reaction: that of the parents



The Pharisees, now called the Jews, did not believe that he was blind. They thought that it was a matter of deception. So they called his parents and asked, “Is this man really your son who you say was born blind? If so, how is it that he is now able to see?” Very carefully the parents reply: “We know he is our son and we know he was born blind, but we don’t know how it is that he can see now, or who opened his eyes. He is old enough: let him speak for himself!” The blindness of the Pharisees before the evidence of the healing produces fear among the people. And anyone who professed faith in Jesus Messiah was excluded from the synagogue. The conversation with the parents of the blind man reveals the truth, but the religious authorities will not accept it. Their blindness is greater because of the witness given, now they will not accept the law that says that the witness of two persons is valid (Jn 8:17).



John 9:24-34: The final judgement of the Pharisees concerning Jesus



They call the blind man again and say, “Give glory to God! For our part we know that this man is a sinner.” Here: “give glory to God” meant, “Ask pardon for the lie you just pronounced!” The blind man had said, “He is a prophet!” According to the Pharisees he should have said, “He is a sinner!” But the blind man is intelligent. He replies, “I don’t know if he is a sinner; I only know that I was blind and now I can see!” There are no arguments against this fact! Again the Pharisees ask, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” The blind man answers with a touch of irony: “I have told you once…. Do you want to become His disciples too?” Then they insulted him and said, “You can be His disciple, we know that God spoke to Moses, but for this man, we don’t know where He comes from”. Again with a touch of irony the blind man replies, “Now here is an astonishing thing! He has opened my eyes, and you don’t know where He comes from! …. If this man were not from God, He couldn’t do a thing”. Faced with the blindness of the Pharisees, the light of faith grows in the blind man. He does not accept the logic of the Pharisees and confesses that Jesus comes from the Father. This profession of faith costs him his expulsion from the synagogue. The same was happening in the communities of the end of the first century. Those who professed faith in Jesus had to break all family and community ties. This happens today: those who decide to be faithful to Jesus run the risk of being excluded.



John 9:35-38: The attitude of faith of the blind man towards Jesus



Jesus does not abandon those who are persecuted for His sake. When Jesus hears of the expulsion and meets the man again, He helps him to take a further step by inviting him to take on his faith and asks, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He replies, “Sir…tell me who He is that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said to Him, “You are looking at Him; He is speaking to you”. The blind man exclaims,Lord, I believe!” And he worships Jesus. The faith attitude of the blind man before Jesus is one of absolute trust and total acceptance. He accepts everything from Jesus. It is this faith that sustained the Christian communities of Asia towards the end of the first century, and that sustains us today.



John 9:39-41: A final reflection



The blind man who could not see ends up seeing better than the Pharisees. The communities of Asia Minor who were once blind, discover the light. The Pharisees who thought that they saw well are more blind than the man born blind. Bound by an ancient observance, they lie when they say they can see. None more blind that those who will not see!



c) A broader view:



- The Names and Titles given to Jesus



Throughout the story of the healing of the blind man, the Evangelist registers various titles, adjectives and names given to Jesus by a host of people, the disciples, the Evangelist himself, the blind man, the Pharisees and Jesus Himself. This way of describing the events in the life of Jesus was part of the catechesis of the time. It was a way of helping people to clarify their own ideas concerning Jesus and to identify themselves in His regard. Here are some of the names, adjectives and titles. The list shows the growth of the blind man in faith and how his vision becomes clear.



* Rabbì (master) (Jn 9:1): the disciples

* Light of the world (Jn 9:5): Jesus

* The One sent (Jn 9:7): the Evangelist

* Man (Jn 9:11): the healed man

* Jesus: (Jn 9:11): the healed man

* Does not come from God (Jn 9:16): some Pharisees

* Prophet (Jn 9:17): the healed man

* Christ (Jn 9:22): the people

* Sinner (Jn 9:24): some Pharisees

* We do know where he comes from (Jn 9:31): the healed man

* Religious (Jn 9:31): the healed man

* Does the will of God (Jn 9:31): the healed man

* Son of man (Jn 9:35): Jesus

* Lord (Jn 9:36): the healed man

* Lord, I believe! (Jn 9:30): the healed man



- The Name: “I AM”



To reveal the deep meaning of the healing of the blind man, the Fourth Gospel records the words of Jesus: “I am the light of the world” (Jn 9:5). In several places, in answer to questions people put to Jesus, the Gospel repeats this same statement “I AM”:



* I am the bread of life (Jn 6:34-48)

* I am the living bread come down from heaven (Jn 6:51)

* I am the light of the world (Jn 8:12; 9:5)

* I am the gate (Jn 10: 7
,9)

* I am the good shepherd (Jn 10:11,25)

* I am the resurrection and the life (Jn 11:25)

* I am the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6)

* I am the vine (Jn 15:1)

* I am king (Jn 18:37)

* I am (Jn 8:24
,27,58)



This self revelation of Jesus reaches its peak in His conversation with the Jews, when Jesus says, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He” (Jn 8:27). The name I am is the same as Yahweh, the name God gave in Exodus, an expression of the liberating presence between Jesus and the Father (Ex 3:15). The repeated affirmation I AM reveals the deep identity between Jesus and the Father. The face of God shines in Jesus of Nazareth: “To have seen Me is to have seen the Father!” (Jn 14:9)



6. Prayer: Psalm 117 (116)



A resume of the Bible in one prayer

Alleluia! Praise Yahweh,

all nations, extol
Him, all peoples,

for
His faithful love is strong

and
His constancy never-ending.



7. Final Prayer



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


Lectio Divina:
2020-03-22
Sunday, 17 October 2010 19:09

Lectio Divina: 3rd Sunday of Lent (A)

Written by

The Meeting of Jesus with the Samaritan Woman

A Dialogue that brings new life

John 4:5-42



1. Opening prayer



 Lord Jesus, send Your Spirit to help us read the Scriptures in the same way that You read them to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. With the light of the Word in the Bible, You helped them to discover the presence of God in the distressing events surrounding Your condemnation to death. The cross, which seemed to put an end to all hope, was revealed to them as the source of life and resurrection.



Create in us the silence necessary to hear Your voice in creation and in the Scriptures, in the events of daily life and in people, above all in the poor and the suffering. May Your word give us direction, just as it did to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, so that we too will experience the power of Your resurrection and bear witness to others that You are alive in our midst as the source of community, of justice and of peace. We ask this of You, Jesus, son of Mary, You who revealed the Father to us and sent us Your Spirit. Amen.



2. Reading



a) A key for unlocking the text:



The text describes the dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. It is a very human conversation, which shows how Jesus related to people and how He Himself learned and became enriched in talking with others. While reading the text, try to be aware of what surprises you most about the attitude both of Jesus and the woman.



b) A division of the text to assist a careful reading:



Jn 4:5-6: Sets the scene in which the dialogue takes place

Jn 4
:7-26: Describes the dialogue between Jesus and the woman

 7-15: about water and thirst

 16-18: about the husband and family

 19-25: about religion and the place for adoration

Jn 4
:27-30: Describes the effect of the conversation on the woman

Jn 4
:31-38: Describes the effect of the conversation on Jesus

Jn 4
:39-42: Describes the effect on the mission of Jesus in Samaria



c) The text:





5-6: So He came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as He was from  His journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.



7-15: There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to Him, "How is it that You, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." The woman said to Him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?" Jesus said to her, "Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw."



16-18: Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered Him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly."



19-26: The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."



27-30: Just then His disciples came. They marvelled that He was talking with a woman, but none said, "What do you wish?" or, "Why are You talking with her?" So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" They went out of the city and were coming to Him.



31-38: Meanwhile the disciples besought Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." So the disciples said to one another, "Has any one brought Him food?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."



39-42: Many Samaritans from that city believed in Him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me all that I ever did." So when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word. They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world."



3. A moment of silent prayer



so that the Word of God can enter into us and light up our lives.



4. Some questions



to help us in our meditation and prayer.



a) What most attracted your attention in Jesus’ attitude toward the woman during the dialogue? What method did Jesus use to help the woman become aware of a deeper dimension to life?

b) What most attracted your attention about the attitude of the Samaritan woman during her conversation with Jesus? How did she influence Jesus?

c) Where in the Old Testament is water associated with the gift of life and the gift of the Holy Spirit?

d) How does Jesus’ attitude during the conversation question me or touch something within me or correct me?

e) The Samaritan woman led the discussion towards religion. If you could come across Jesus and talk to
Him, what would you like to talk about? Why?

f) Do I adore God in spirit and in truth or do I find my security in rituals and regulations?



5. A key to the reading



for those who wish to go deeper.



a) The symbolism of water:



* Jesus uses the word water in two senses. The first sense is the material, normal sense of water that one drinks; the second is the symbolic sense as the source of life and the gift of the Spirit. Jesus uses a language that people can understand and, at the same time, awakens in them the desire to go deeper and to discover a more profound meaning to life.



* The symbolic sense of water has its roots in the Old Testament, where it is frequently a symbol for the action of the Spirit of God in people. For example, Jeremiah compares running water to water in a cistern (Jer 2:13). The more water is taken from a cistern, the less it has; the more water is taken from a stream of living water, the more it has. Other texts from the Old Testament: Isa 12:3; 49:10; 55:1; Ezek 47:1-3. Jesus knew the traditions of His people and He uses these in His conversation with the Samaritan woman. Suggesting the symbolic meaning of water, He suggests to her (and to the readers) various episodes and verses from the Old Testament.



b) The dialogue between Jesus and the woman:



* Jesus meets the woman at the well, a traditional place for meetings and conversations (Gen 24:10-27; 29:1-14). He starts off from His own very real need because He is thirsty. He does this in such a way that the woman feels needed and she serves Him. Jesus makes Himself needy in her regard. From His question, he makes it possible for the woman to become aware that He depends on her to give Him something to drink. Jesus awakens in her the desire to help and to serve.



* The conversation between Jesus and the woman has two levels.



(i) The superficial level, in the material sense of water that quenches someone’s thirst, and in the normal sense of husband as the father of a family. At this level the conversation is tense and difficult and does not flow. The Samaritan woman has the upper hand. At the beginning, Jesus tries to meet her by talking about daily chores (fetching water), but He does not succeed. Then He tries by talking about family (call your husband), and still there is no breakthrough. Finally the woman speaks about religion (the place of adoration). Jesus then gets through to her by the door she herself has opened.



(ii) The deeper level, in the symbolic sense of water as the image of the new life brought by Jesus, and of the husband as the symbol of the union of God with the people. At this level, the conversation flows perfectly. After revealing that He Himself is offering the water of new life, Jesus says, "Go and get your husband and then return". In the past, the Samaritans had five husbands, or five idols, attached to the five groups of people who were taken off by the King of Assyria (2 Kings 17:30-31). The sixth husband, the one the woman had at present, was not truly her husband: "the one you have now is not your husband" (Jn 4:18). What the people had did not respond to their deepest desire: union with God, as a husband who unites himself to his spouse (Isa 62:5; 54:5). The true husband, the seventh, is Jesus, as promised by Hosea: "I will espouse you to me forever; I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy. I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the Lord." (Hos 2: 21-22). Jesus is the bridegroom who has arrived (Mk 2: 19) to bring new life to the woman who has been searching for it her whole life long, and until now, has never found it. If the people accept Jesus as "husband", they will have access to God wherever they are, both in spirit and in truth (vv. 23-24).



* Jesus declares His thirst to the Samaritan woman but He does not drink. This is a sign that we are talking about a symbolic thirst, which had to do with His mission: the thirst to accomplish the will of His Father (Jn 4:34). This thirst is ever present in Jesus and will be until His death. At the moment of His death, He says, "I am thirsty" (Jn 19: 28). He declares His thirst for the last time and so He can say, "It is accomplished." Then He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (Jn 19:30). His mission had been accomplished.



c) The importance of women in the Gospel of John:



* In John’s Gospel, women feature prominently seven times, which are decisive for the spreading of the Good News. To women are given functions and missions, some of which, in the other Gospels, are attributed to men:



- At the wedding feast in Cana, the mother of Jesus recognizes the limits of the Old Testament and affirms the law of the Gospel, "Do whatever He tells you". (Jn 2:1-11).



- The Samaritan woman is the first person to have revealed to her by Jesus the great secret, that He is the Messiah. "It is I who speak to you." (Jn 4:26). She then becomes the evangelizer of Samaria (Jn 4: 28-30, 39-42).



- The woman, who is called an adulteress, at the moment of receiving the forgiveness of Jesus, becomes the judge of the patriarchal society (or of male power) that seeks to condemn her. (Jn 8:1-11).



- In the other Gospels it is Peter who makes the solemn profession of faith in Jesus (Mt 16: 16; Mk 8:29; Lk 9:20). In the Gospel of John, it is Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus, who makes the solemn profession of faith (Jn 11:27).



- Mary, the sister of Martha, anoints the feet of Jesus for the day of his burial (Jn. 12:7). At the time of Jesus, the one who died on a cross was not buried nor embalmed. Mary anticipated the anointing of Jesus’ body. This means that she accepted Jesus as the Messiah-Suffering Servant, who must die on the cross. Peter did not accept this (Jn.13:8) and sought to dissuade Jesus from this path (Mt. 16:22). In this way, Mary is presented as a model for the other disciples.



- At the foot of the cross, Jesus says, "Woman, behold your son; son, behold your mother" (Jn. 19:25-27). The Church is born at the foot of the cross. Mary is the model for the Christian community.



- Mary Magdalene must announce the Good News to the brothers (Jn. 20:11-18). She receives an order, without which all the other orders given to the apostles would have no effect or value.



* The Mother of Jesus appears twice in John’s Gospel: at the beginning, at the wedding feast in Cana (Jn. 2:1-5), and at the end, at the foot of the cross (Jn. 19:25-27). In both cases, she represents the Old Testament that waits for the arrival of the New, and, in both cases, assists its arrival. Mary unites what has gone before with what would come later. At Cana, it is she, the Mother of Jesus, symbol of the Old Testament, who perceives its limits and takes steps so that the New will arrive. At the hour of Jesus’ death, it is the Mother of Jesus, who welcomes the "Beloved Disciple". In this case the Beloved Disciple is the new community, which has grown around Jesus. It is the child that has been born from the Old Testament. In response to Jesus’ request, the son, the New Testament, welcomes the Mother, the Old Testament, into his home. The two must journey together. The New Testament cannot be understood without the Old. It would be a building without a foundation. The Old without the New would be incomplete. It would be a tree without fruit.



6. Psalm 19 (18)



God speaks to us through nature and through the Bible

The heavens are telling the glory of God;

and the firmament proclaims
His handiwork.

Day to day pours forth speech,

and night to night declares knowledge.



There is no speech, nor are there words;

their voice is not heard;

yet their voice goes out through all the earth,

and their words to the end of the world.



In them He has set a tent for the sun,

which comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,

and like a strong man runs its course with joy.



Its rising is from the end of the heavens,

and its circuit to the end of them;

and there is nothing hid from its heat.



The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;

the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.



The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever;

the ordinances of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.



Moreover by them is Thy servant warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.

But who can discern his errors?

Clear thou me from hidden faults.



Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins;

let them not have dominion over me!

Then I shall be blameless,

and innocent of great transgression.



Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

be acceptable in
Thy sight, O Lord,

my rock and my redeemer.



7. Final Prayer



Lord Jesus, we thank You for Your word, which has helped us see better the will of the Father. Let Your Spirit illumine all that we do and give us the strength to carry out  what Your Word has made us see. Let us, like Mary, Your Mother, not only listen to the Word but also put it into practice. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.


Lectio Divina:
2020-03-15
Sunday, 17 October 2010 19:06

Lectio Divina: 2nd Sunday of Lent (A)

Written by

The Transfiguration of Jesus

Matthew 17:1-9



1. LECTIO



a) Initial Prayer:



Oh God, who in the glorious Transfiguration of Christ, the Lord, confirmed the mysteries of faith by the witness of the Law and of the prophets and  have admirably pre-announced our definite adoption as Your children, may we listen to the Word of Your Beloved Son to become coheirs of His immortal life.



b) Reading of the Gospel:





1 Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There in their presence He was transfigured: His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as dazzling as light. 3 And suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with Him. 4 Then Peter spoke to Jesus. 'Lord,' he said, 'it is wonderful for us to be here; if you want me to, I will make three shelters here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' 5 He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and suddenly from the cloud there came a voice which said, 'This is My Son, the Beloved; He enjoys my favor. Listen to Him.' 6 When they heard this, the disciples fell on their faces, overcome with fear. 7 But Jesus came up and touched them, saying, 'Stand up, do not be afraid.' 8 And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but Jesus. 9 As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order, 'Tell no one about this vision until the Son of man has risen from the dead.'



c) Moments of silence:



So that God’s Word may enter into us and enlighten our life.



2. MEDITATIO



a) Key for the Reading:



The Gospel according to Matthew insists on the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is why Matthew’s Gospel is the Gospel of the Church, that is of the People of God guided by its Head and Master Jesus, the Christ. The text which narrates the event of the Transfiguration forms part of a section of the Gospel in which, the Evangelist develops the theme of the beginning of the coming of the Kingdom in a group of disciples who gradually will constitute the Body of the Church. We find the account of the Transfiguration in all the Synoptic Gospels (Mk 9: 2-8; Lk 9: 28-36), and we also find a reference to this event in the second letter of Peter (2 Pet 1:16-18). The text of Matthew (17: 1-9) though presents some diversity. The account is found immediately after the first announcement of the Passion and the mentioning of the conditions necessary for the following of Christ and also the event of the glorification of the Son of Man in the glory of the Father (Mt 16: 21-28). Before the glorification, Jesus has to go to Jerusalem for the fulfillment of the Pascal mystery, that is: Passion, Death and Resurrection (Mt 16: 21). Those who desire and wish to follow Jesus have to deny themselves and then, also carry their cross to follow the Master. (Mt 16: 24). Only in this way can we participate in His glory: “Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Mt 16: 25). Those who do not accept the event of the Cross in the life of Christ and therefore in the program of following him, are considered by Jesus as “Satan”, because they do not think “according to God but as human beings do” (Mt 16: 23). The command which Jesus addresses to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan!” (Mt 16: 23) reminds us of a similar expression used by Jesus in the parable of the final judgment “When the Son of man comes in His glory”, (Mt 25: 31-46): “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25:41). This curse is addressed to those who do not know the Lord and  do not form part of His Kingdom.



Then follows the account of the Transfiguration (Mt 17: 1-9) with the question on the coming of Elijah and the healing of the epileptic demoniac (Mt 17: 10-21). After these events Jesus, for the second time, announces His Passion (Mt 17: 22) and concerning the question of the payment of taxes for the needs of the temple, Jesus plays on the words regarding the reality of son-ship (Mt 17:24-27). In the Transfiguration the Father declares that Jesus is “My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him” (Mt 17: 5). We are also sons and daughters, in Him, of the same Father (Mt 5: 45; Mt 17:25-26).



Jesus then presents Himself as our guide on the journey towards the Kingdom. In the account of the Transfiguration Jesus is presented as the new Moses who encounters God “on a high mountain” (Mt 17:1) in the “bright cloud” (Mt 17: 5), with His face shining (Mt 17: 2. Moses also encounters God in the cloud on Mount Sinai (Ex 24: 15-18) with the bright face (Ex 34: 29-35). Elijah also encounters the Lord on Mount Horeb, the mountain of God (1 Kings 19: 9-13). Just as in the event of Sinai (Ex 19: 20; 33-34), here also in the Transfiguration there is the revelation of the new law. To listen to the Beloved Son in whom God the Father is pleased (Mt 17: 5). This new law, given by God on Tabor by means of the new Moses, reminds us of what the Patriarch says in the Book of Deuteronomy: “Yahweh, your God will raise up a prophet like me; you will listen to him” (Deut 18:15). In this text of the Transfiguration, more important than the law, of which Jesus is the fulfillment (that is why after the vision the Apostles “saw no one, but Jesus alone” (Mt 17: 7), the revelation on the part of the Father,  who proclaims the divine filiation of Jesus Christ is stressed.  Besides this proclamation in the Transfiguration, the identity of the Son is proclaimed two other times in the Gospel of Matthew: at the beginning and at the end. After the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, a voice from heaven says: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am pleased” (Mt 3: 17); and when Jesus dies on the Cross, the centurion exclaims using words of revelation and of faith: “Truly this one was the Son of God!” (Mt 27:54). Besides, in this proclamation, the Father reveals Jesus as the servant of the Lord, pre-announced by Isaiah: “Behold my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom my soul delights” (Isa 42:1).



The discovery of the identity of the Son, arouses in the three witnesses the fear of God, falling on their faces (Mt 17: 6). Already at the beginning of the Gospel, in the birth of Jesus, the Magi “Entering into the house saw the Child with His mother Mary, and falling to their knees, they did Him homage” (Mt 2: 11). A similar reaction is also found in the Gospel of John, after the self revelation of the Lord, in the account when Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane. Jesus says to them: I am He!” [...] As soon as he said, “I am he”, they moved back and fell on the ground” (Jn 18:5-6). Also in the Book of Revelation, John “in ecstasy” (Rev 1:10), saw “one similar to a son of man […] his face like the sun shining with all its force” (Rev 1:12-16), and because of all these visions he fell at his feet like dead (Rev 1: 17). The apostle in Rom 14: 11 and Phil 2:10 will proclaim that before the Lord, “in the name of Jesus every knee will bow before Him in heaven, on earth and in the underworld; every tongue shall proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.



This vision is strictly linked to the mystery of the Passover, it seems like an apparition of the Risen Jesus in all His glory, it is a pre-announcement of the future life. For this reason, “coming down from the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about this vision until the Son of man has risen from the dead” (Mt 17: 9).



b) To orientate the meditation and the realization:



= Read once again the passage from the Gospel, and find in the Bible all the texts quoted in the key to the reading. Try to find other parallel texts which can help you to penetrate deeper into the text in meditation.



= Some questions:



i) Have you ever asked yourself who the Person of Christ is? Does your vision of the identity of Jesus correspond to that proclaimed in the Transfiguration?



ii) What meaning does the proclamation of Jesus as Son of God have in your life?



iii) Jesus cannot be understood without the Pascal mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection. What sense does this mystery have for you? How do you live it daily?



3. ORATIO



a) Psalm 97:



I seek Your face, oh Lord, show me Your face.



Yahweh is king!

Let earth rejoice, the many isles be glad!

Cloud, black cloud enfolds
Him,

saving justice and judgement the foundations of
His throne.



I seek Your face, oh Lord, show me Your face.



The mountains melt like wax,

before the Lord of all the earth.

The heavens proclaim
His saving justice,

all nations see
His glory.

For you are Yahweh,

Most High over all the earth, far transcending all gods.



I seek Your face, oh Lord, show me Your face.



b) Concluding prayer:



Let us rejoice, Beloved,

and let us go forth to behold ourselves in your beauty

to the mountain and to the hill,

to where the pure water flows,

and further, deep into the thicket.

(John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, 36)



4. CONTEMPLATIO



“Let us go forth to behold ourselves in your beauty”



This means: Let us so act that by means of this loving activity we may attain to the vision of ourselves in your beauty in eternal life. That is: That I be so transformed in your beauty that we may be alike in beauty, and both behold ourselves in your beauty, possessing then your very beauty; this, in such a way that each looking at the other may see in the other their own beauty, since both are your beauty alone, I being absorbed in your beauty; hence, I shall see you in your beauty, and you will see me in your beauty, and I shall see myself in you in your beauty, and you will see yourself in me in your beauty; that I may resemble you in your beauty, and you resemble me in your beauty, and my beauty be your beauty and your beauty my beauty; wherefore I shall be you in your beauty, and you will be me in your beauty, because your very beauty will be my beauty; and thus we shall behold each other in your beauty. (John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, 36/5)


Lectio Divina:
2020-03-08
Page 13 of 34

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