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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)

Saturday, 16 March 2013 14:16

Lectio Divina: Luke 14:12-14

Written by

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

God of power and mercy,

only with Your help

can we offer You fitting service and praise.

May we live the faith we profess

and trust Your promise of eternal life.

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

who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel reading - Luke 14:12-14

Jesus said to His host, "When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relations or rich neighbors, in case they invite you back and so repay you. No, when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and then you will be blessed, for they have no means to repay you and so you will be repaid when the upright rise again."

3) Reflection

• The Gospel today continues to present the teaching Jesus was giving on different themes, all related to curing in the setting of a banquet: a cure during a meal (Lk 14: 1-6), advice not to take the places of honor (Lk 14:7-12), and advice to invite the excluded (Lk 14:12-14). This organization of Jesus’ words around a particular word, for example, table or banquet, helps one to understand the method used by the first Christians to keep the words of Jesus in their memory.

• Luke 14:12: Interested invitation. Jesus is eating in the house of a Pharisee who has invited Him (Lk 14:1). The invitation to share at table is the theme of the teaching of today’s Gospel. There are different types of invitations: the interested invitations for the benefit of oneself and disinterested invitations for the benefit of others. Jesus says, "When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relations or rich neighbors, in case they invite you back and so repay you”. That was the normal custom of the people: to invite friends, brothers and relatives to eat. Nobody would sit at table with unknown people. They would sit around the table only with people who were their friends. That was the custom of the Jews. Even now we also act in the same way. Jesus thinks differently and orders us to invite unknown people. These were invitations which nobody made.

• Luke 14:13-14: Disinterested invitation. Jesus says “On the contrary, when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; then you will be blessed, for they have no means to repay you. So you will be repaid when the upright rise again.” Jesus orders them and us to break the closed circle and asks us to invite the excluded, the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. This was not the custom then and it is not today either. But Jesus insists, “Invite these people”. Why? Because in the disinterested invitation, addressed to excluded and marginalized persons, there is a source of happiness: “And then you will be blessed for they have no means to repay you”. This is a strange type of happiness, a different happiness! You will be blessed for they have no means to repay you. It is the happiness that comes from doing a totally gratuitous gesture, without asking for anything. Jesus says that this is the happiness which God will give us in the Resurrection; the happiness of the Resurrection which He will give us not only at the end of history, but even now. To act in this way is to catch a glimpse of the happiness in the  Resurrection!

• It is the Kingdom which will be confirmed. The advice which Jesus gives us in the Gospel today recalls the sending out of the seventy-two on the mission to announce the Kingdom (Lk 10:1-9). Among the different recommendations given on that occasion, as signs of the presence of the Kingdom, there is: (a) the invitation to the table and (b) the acceptance of the excluded: “Whenever you go into a town, where they make you welcome, eat what is put before you, cure those who are sick and say, the Kingdom of God is very near to you!” (Lk 10:8-9) Here, in these recommendations, Jesus orders the transgression of that norm of legal purity which prevented fraternal living together.

4) Personal questions

• An interested or disinterested invitation: which of these takes place in my life?

• If you invited people in a disinterested way, would this cause some difficulties? Which ones?

5) Concluding prayer

Yahweh, my heart is not haughty,

I do not set my sights too high.

I have taken no part in great affairs,

in wonders beyond my scope.

No, I hold myself in quiet and silence,

like a little child in its mother's arms,

like a little child, so I keep myself. (Ps 131:l-2)

Lectio Divina:
Friday, 15 March 2013 11:12

Lectio Divina: 16th Sunday of ordinary time (C)

Written by

Mary and Martha, friends of Jesus

Which is the better part chosen by Mary?

Luke 10:38 – 42

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 for this Sunday narrates the visit of Jesus to the house of Martha and Mary. Jesus tells Martha, “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her!” Throughout the centuries, many times these words have been interpreted as a confirmation on the part of Jesus of the fact that contemplative life, hidden in the monasteries, is better and more sublime than the active life of those who work in the field of evangelization. This interpretation is not correct, because it lacks the foundation of the text. In order to understand the significance of these words of Jesus (and of any word) it is important to take into account, to consider the context, (that is, the context of the Gospel of Luke) as well as the broader context of the work of Luke which includes the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Before verifying the broader context of the Acts of the Apostles, let us try to gaze a bit at the text in itself and try to see how it is placed in the immediate context of the Gospel of Luke. During the reading, try to feel that you are present in Mary’s house and feel close to the environment and to the outreach or importance of the words of Jesus, not only as Martha hears them but also as the community for which Luke writes his Gospel hears them and also how we hear these inspiring words of Jesus.

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

Luke 10:38: Martha welcomes Jesus into her house.

Luke 10:39-40a: Mary listens to the words of Jesus, Martha is busy with the service in. the house.

Luke 10:40b: Martha complains and asks Jesus to intervene.

Luke 10: 41-42:  Jesus’ answer.

Luke 10, 34 – 42

c) Text:

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."

3. A moment of prayerful silence

so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

4. Some questions

to help us in our personal reflection.

a) Which is the point in this text which pleased you the most or struck you? Why?

b) What would Jesus mean with that affirmation: “one thing alone is necessary”?

c) What was the “better part” which Mary chose and which will not be taken from her?

d) A historical event can have a more profound symbolic sense. Did you succeed in discovering a symbolic sense in the way in which Luke describes Jesus’ visit to the house of Martha and Mary?

e) Read attentively Acts 6:1-6 and try to discover the bond of union between the problem of the apostles and the conversation of Jesus with Martha.

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

a) Context of the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 9:51 begins the second stage of the apostolic activity of Jesus, the long journey from Galilee up to Jerusalem. At the beginning of the journey, Jesus gets out of the Jewish world and enters into the world of the Samaritans (Lk 9:52). Even though He is not well received by the Samaritans (Lk 9:53), He continues in their territory and even corrects the disciples who think differently (Lk 9:54-55). In responding to those who ask to follow Him, Jesus makes explicit the significance of everything that has happened, and indicates to them the demands of the mission (Lk 9:56-62).

Then Jesus appoints seventy-two disciples to go on mission before Him. The sending out of the twelve (Lk 9:1-6) was in the world of the Jews. The sending out of the seventy-two is for the non-Jewish world. Having finished the mission, Jesus and the disciples meet and evaluate the mission, and the disciples give an account of the many activities that they carried out, but Jesus insists on the greatest certainty that their names are written in Heaven (Lk 10:17-37).       

Then follows our text which describes Jesus’ visit to the house of Martha and Mary (Lk 10:38-42). Luke does not specifically indicate where the village of Martha and Mary is found, but in the geographical context of his Gospel, the reader imagines that the village is found in Samaria. From the Gospel of John we know that Martha and Mary lived in Bethany, a small village near Jerusalem (Jn 11:1). In addition, John tells us that they had a brother named Lazarus.

b) Comment on the Text:

Luke 10:38: Martha welcomes Jesus into her house.

“In the course of the journey, He came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house” Jesus was on the way. Luke does not always say where Jesus was passing by, but many times Jesus is on the way (Lk 9:51,53-57; 10:1,38; 11:1; 13:22-23; 14:25; 17:11; 18:31,35; 19: 1,11,28,29,41,45; 20:1). Jesus had firmly decided to go up to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51). This decision orientates Him during all the stages of the journey. The entrance into the village and into the house of Martha and Mary is one more stage of this long journey up to Jerusalem and forms part of the realization of Jesus’ mission. From the beginning, the objective of the journey is definitive: to carry out His mission of Servant, announced by Isaiah (Isa 53: 2-10; 61:1-2) and assumed by Jesus in Nazareth (Lk 4:16-21).

Luke 10:39-40a: Mary listened to His words; Martha was taken up with service.

“She had a sister, named Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus, and listened to His word; Martha, instead, was taken up with all the serving”. This was a normal supper at home, in the family. While some speak, others prepare the food. The two tasks are important and necessary, both complement one another, especially when it is a question of welcoming someone who is coming from outside. In affirming that “Martha was taken up with all the serving” (diaconia), Luke evokes the seventy-two disciples who were also busy with many activities of the missionary service (Lk 10:17-18).

Luke 10:40b: Martha complains and asks Jesus to intervene.

“Martha came to Him and said: ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister is leaving me to do the service all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’” Another familiar scene, but not so normal. Martha is busy only with the preparation of the food, while Mary is sitting, and is speaking with Jesus. Martha complains. Perhaps Jesus interferes and says something to the sister to see if she will help her in the service in the diaconia. Martha considers herself a servant and thinks that the service of a servant is that of preparing the food and that her service in the kitchen is more important than that of her sister who is speaking with Jesus. For Martha, what Mary does is not a service, because she says, “Do You not care that my sister is leaving me to do the service all by myself?” But Martha is not the only servant. Jesus also assumes his role as servant, that is, of the Servant announced by the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah had said that the principal service of the Servant is that of being before God in prayer, listening in order to be able to offer a word of comfort to take to those who are discouraged. The servant said, “The Lord God has given me a disciple’s tongue, for me to know how to give a word of comfort to the weary. Morning by morning He makes my ear alert to listen like a disciple” (Isa 50:4). Now, Mary has an attitude of prayer before Jesus.  The question arises: Who carries out the service of a servant better - Martha or Mary?

Luke 10:41-42: Jesus’ response

“The Lord then answered, ‘Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her.” A beautiful answer and a very human one. For Jesus, a good conversation with people who are friends is important and even more important than eating (cf. Jn 4:32). Jesus does not agree with the worries of Martha. He does not want that the preparation of the meal interrupt the conversation. It is as if he would say, “Martha, it is not necessary to prepare so many things! A small thing suffices! And then come participate in this beautiful conversation!” This is the principal significance, so simple and human of the words of Jesus. Jesus likes a good conversation, and a good conversation with Jesus produces conversion. In the context of the Gospel of Luke, these decisive words of Jesus assume a more profound symbolic significance:

i) Like Martha, the disciples, during the mission, were worried about many things, but Jesus clarifies well that the more important thing is that of having their names written in Heaven, that is, to be known and loved by God (Lk 10:20). Jesus repeats to Martha, “You worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one.”

ii) A short time before the doctor of the law had reduced the commandments to one alone: “To love the Lord God above all things and your neighbor as yourself” (Lk 10: 27). Observing this commandment, the person will be ready to act with love, like the Good Samaritan and not like the priest or the Levite who do not fulfill their duty well (Lk 10:25-42). The many services of Martha should be carried out beginning with this unique service truly necessary which is the loving attention to people. This is the better part that Mary has chosen and which will not be taken from her.

iii) Martha is concerned about serving (diaconia). She wanted to be helped by Mary in the service at table. But what is the service which God wants? This is the fundamental question. Mary is more in agreement with the attitude of the Servant of God, because, like the Servant, she is now in the attitude of prayer before Jesus. Mary cannot abandon her attitude of prayer in the presence of God, because, if she did this, she would not discover the word of comfort to take to those who are wearied. This is the true service which God is asking from all.

c) Broadening the information:

A broader context of the Acts of the Apostles

After the death and resurrection of Jesus the communities will be born. They will have to face new problems, for which they did not have solutions already foreseen. In order to orientate themselves in the solutions to the problems, the communities tried to remember the words and gestures of Jesus which could bring them some light. Thus, the episode of the visit of Jesus to the house of Martha and Mary was recalled and narrated in order to help clarify the problem described in Acts 6:1-6.

The rapid growth in the number of Christians created divisions in the community. The faithful of Greek origin began to complain about those of Hebrew origin and said that their widows were set aside and neglected in daily life. There was discrimination in the environment of the community and people were lacking in the various services. Up to that moment the need had not arisen to involve other people in the coordination of the community and in the fulfillment of the services. Like Moses, after leaving Egypt (Ex 18:14; Num 11:14-15), the Apostles also did everything alone, but Moses, obliged by the facts, shared the power and convoked seventy other leaders for the necessary services among the People of God (Ex 18:17-23; Num 11:16-17). Jesus had done the same thing: He convoked seventy-two other disciples (Lk 10:1). Now, in the face of new problems, the Apostles did the same. They convoked the community and exposed the problem before everyone. Without doubt,  Jesus’ word to Martha helped them to reach a solution. Below it is possible to read the two texts, one beside the other. Try to understand how they enlighten each other:

1 About this time, when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenists made a complaint against the Hebrews: in the daily distribution their own widows were being overlooked. 2 So the Twelve called a full meeting of the disciples and addressed them, 'It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food; 3 you, brothers, must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with wisdom, to whom we can hand over this duty. 4 We ourselves will continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the word.' (Acts 6:1-4)


38 In the course of their journey He came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord's feet and listened to Him speaking. 40 Now Martha, who was distracted with all the serving, came to Him and said, 'Lord, do You not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.' 41 But the Lord answered, 'Martha, Martha,' he said, 'you worry and fret about so many things, 42 and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part, and it is not to be taken from her.'

The Apostles find themselves between two real needs, both of them very important, defined as service (diaconia): the service of the Word and the service at the tables. What to do? Which of the two is more important?  Jesus’ response to Martha helped to discern the problem. Jesus said that Mary could not abandon the conversation with Him in order to go and help in the kitchen. Thus, Peter concludes, “It would not be right for us to neglect the Word of God so as to give out food!”  Peter defines the service of the Apostolate: “to devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.”

It is not said that one service is better than the other. What cannot happen is that the service of the Word be hindered by the unforeseen demands of the service at the table. The community was obliged to face the problem, be concerned to have enough people for all the services. The service of the word proper to the Apostles (and of Mary at the feet of Jesus) had two dimensions: on the one side, listening to the Word, receiving it, incarnating it, announcing it, diffusing it through the active work of evangelization and, on the other side, in the name of the community, responding to God in prayer and representing the community in a prayerful attitude before God. It is not a question of an opposition between the two services: word and table. Both are important and necessary for the life of the community. It is necessary to have people available for both of them. In the economy of the Kingdom, the service of the Word (Evangelization) is the root, the source. It is the better part which Mary has chosen. The service of the table is the result, the fruit, its revelation. For Luke and for the first Christians, “the better part” of which Jesus speaks to Martha, is the service of evangelization, source of all the rest.

Meister Eckhart, the great Dominican mystic of the Middle Ages, interprets this episode in a very amusing way. He says that Martha already knew how to work and to live in the presence of God. Mary did not know and was learning. This is why she could not be interrupted. The great mystics are the proof that this text cannot be interpreted like a confirmation on the part of Jesus that contemplative life is better and more sublime than active life. It is not good to make a distinction between these two words, because one is completed, is founded and is made explicit in the other. The Carmelite Friar Saint John of the Cross in a little more than ten years travelled 27,000 kilometers going through Spain. Saint Teresa of Avila was always on the move, very busy as she was with the foundation of so many monasteries. Jesus Himself lived the profound unity of contemplative and active life.

6. Recitation of a Psalm

Psalm 145 (144): God deserves praise

I shall praise You to the heights, God my King,

I shall bless Your name for ever and ever.

Day after day I shall bless You,

I shall praise Your name for ever and ever.

Great is Yahweh and worthy of all praise,

His greatness beyond all reckoning.

Each age will praise Your deeds to the next,

proclaiming Your mighty works.

Your renown is the splendor of Your glory,

I will ponder the story of Your wonders.

They will speak of Your awesome power,

and I shall recount Your greatness.

They will bring out the memory of Your great generosity,

and joyfully acclaim Your saving justice.

Yahweh is tenderness and pity,

slow to anger, full of faithful love.

Yahweh is generous to all,

His tenderness embraces all His creatures.

All Your creatures shall thank You, Yahweh,

and Your faithful shall bless You.

They shall speak of the glory of Your kingship

and tell of Your might,

making known Your mighty deeds to the children of Adam,

the glory and majesty of Your kingship.

Your kingship is a kingship for ever,

Your reign lasts from age to age.

Yahweh is trustworthy in all His words,

and upright in all His deeds.

Yahweh supports all who stumble,

lifts up those who are bowed down.

All look to You in hope

and You feed them with the food of the season.

And, with generous hand,

You satisfy the desires of every living creature.

Upright in all that He does,

Yahweh acts only in faithful love.

He is close to all who call upon Him,

all who call on Him from the heart.

He fulfills the desires of all who fear Him,

He hears their cry and He saves them.

Yahweh guards all who love Him,

but all the wicked He destroys.

My mouth shall always praise Yahweh,

let every creature bless His holy name for ever and 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:
Friday, 15 March 2013 11:11

Lectio Divina: 15th Sunday of ordinary time (C)

Written by

The parable of the Good Samaritan

Who is my neighbor?

Luke 10:25-37


a) Opening prayer:

Prayers of Blessed Giorgio Preca in Il Sacrario dello spirito di Cristo

Lord God, You are present and I am in You:

          Give me wisdom to know Your spirit.

Lord God, You are present and I am in You:

          Grant me the gift of the spirit of the Master, my Christ Jesus.

Lord God, You are present and I am in You:

          Guide my every way with Your light.

Lord God, You are present and I am in You:

          Teach me to do Your will at all times.

Lord God, You are present and I am in You:

          Do not let me stray from Your Spirit, the Spirit of love.

Lord God, You are present and I am in You:

          Do not abandon me when my strength fails.

b) Gospel reading:

Luke 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?" He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." He replied to him, "You have answered correctly; do this and you will live." But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn, and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, 'Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.' Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers' victim?" He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

c) Prayerful silent time:

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


a) A key to the reading:

This is chapter 10 of Luke’s Gospel. It is the central part of Luke’s Gospel and it follows Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem: “Now as the time drew near for Him to be taken up to heaven, He resolutely took the road for Jerusalem” (Lk 9:51). We know that for Luke, Jerusalem is the city where salvation will take place, and Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem forms a central theme. Luke’s story begins in the holy city (Lk 1:5) and ends in the same city (Lk 24:52). In this middle section, Luke will repeatedly insist on the fact that Jesus is going towards Jerusalem (for instance in Lk 13:22; 17:11). In this text, which tells the parable of the good Samaritan in the context of a discussion with a doctor of the law concerning the greatest commandment, we again find the theme of a journey, this time from Jerusalem to Jericho (Lk 10:30). The parable is part of this middle section of the Gospel that begins with Jesus, a pilgrim together with His disciples on their way to Jerusalem. He sends them ahead to prepare for Him to stop at a Samaritan village and there they only find hostility precisely because they were on their way to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51-53). The Samaritans avoided pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem and were hostile to them. “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of Him, in pairs, to all the towns and places He Himself was to visit” (Lk 10:1). Seventy-two is the traditional number of pagan nations.

The Fathers of the Church (Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome and others), keeping in mind all the symbolism associated with Jerusalem, the holy city of salvation, interpret this parable in a particular way. In the man who goes from Jerusalem to Jericho they see Adam who represents the whole human race expelled from Eden, the celestial paradise, because of sin. The Fathers of the Church see the thieves as the tempter who takes us away from God’s friendship with his wiles and who holds us slaves in our humanity wounded by sin. In the priest and the Levite they see the insufficiency of the old law for our salvation that will be accomplished by our Good Samaritan, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, who, leaving the celestial Jerusalem, comes to the aid of our sinful condition and heals us with the oil of grace and the wine of the Spirit. In the inn, the Fathers see and image of the Church and in the inn-keeper they see the pastors into whose hands Jesus entrusts the care of His people, The departure of the Samaritan from the inn is seen by the Fathers as the resurrection and ascension of Jesus to sit at the right hand of the Father, but who promises to come back to reward each person according to his or her merit. Jesus then leaves the two denarii to the Church for our salvation, the two denarii that are the Sacred Scriptures and the Sacraments that help us on our way to holiness.

This allegorical and mystical interpretation of the text helps us to accept the message of this parable. The text of the parable begins with a dialogue between a doctor of the law who stands to put the Lord to the test by asking, “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Lk 10:25). Jesus replies with another question: “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” (Lk 10:26). We must see this dialogue as a confrontation between two masters, a thing quite common in those days as a system of clarifying and deepening points of law. The polemical tone prevailing here is different from that in Mark where the question is asked by a scribe who “had listened to them debating (Jesus and the Sadducees), and had observed how well Jesus had answered them” (Mk 12:28), then puts the question to Jesus. This scribe is well disposed to listen to Jesus, so much so that Jesus ends the dialogue with “You are not far from the Kingdom of God” (Mk 12:34). Matthew, however, places this question in the context of a debate between Jesus and the Sadducees with the Pharisees present who, when they “heard that He had silenced the Sadducees they got together and, to disconcert Him, one of them put a question…” (Mt 22:34-35). Jesus gives an immediate reply quoting the commandment of love as found in Deuteronomy and Leviticus.

Only in Luke’s text is the question not about which is the greatest commandment but about how to inherit eternal life, a question dealt with again in the Synoptic Gospels on the lips of the rich young man (Mt 19:16; Mk 10:17; Lk 18:18). As in Mark, so also here, Jesus praises the doctor of the law: “You have answered right… do this and life is yours” (Lk 1:28). Except the doctor of the law was not yet satisfied with Jesus’ answer and wanting “to justify himself” (Lk 10:28) for having asked the question asks again “and who is my neighbor?” This second question introduces and connects the following parable with the dialogue between Jesus and the doctor of the law. We also notice an inclusion between verse 26 that ends the debate and leads us to the tale of the parable in verse 37, which ends the dialogue and the parable definitively. In this verse, Jesus repeats to the doctor of the law that he had defined the neighbor as one who was compassionate: “Go and do the same yourself”. This saying of Jesus reminds us of the words at the Last Supper as recorded in John, when, after the washing of the feet, Jesus invites His disciples to follow His example (Jn 13:12-15). At the Last Supper, Jesus bequeaths to His disciples the commandment of love understood as willingness “to give one’s life” in love for each other as the Lord has loved us (Jn 15:12-14).

This commandment goes beyond the observance of the law. The priest and the Levite have kept the law by not approaching the poor wounded man who is left half dead, so as not to defile themselves (Lev 21:1). Jesus goes beyond the law and desires His disciples to do as He does. “By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are My disciples” (Jn 13:35). For the disciple of Jesus mere philanthropy is not enough. The Christian is called to something more, which he or she accomplishes in imitation of the Master, as the apostle Paul said, “We are those who have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16) “Because the love of Christ overwhelms us when we reflect that one man has died for all” (2 Cor 5:14).

b) Some questions to direct our meditation and practice:

* What touched you most in the parable?

* With whom in the story do you identify?

* Have you ever thought of Jesus as the Good Samaritan?

* Do you feel the need for salvation in your life?

* Can you say with the apostle Paul that you have the mind of Christ?

* What urges you to love your neighbor? Is it the need to love and be loved, or is it compassion and the love of Christ?

* Who is your neighbor?


Canticle - 1Pt 2: 21-24

Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps. He committed no sin; no guile was found on His lips. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten; but He trusted to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.


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

Lectio Divina:
Friday, 15 March 2013 11:10

Lectio Divina: 14th Sunday of ordinary time (C)

Written by

The sending of the 72 disciples

Rebuilding Community Life 

Luke 10:1-12,17-20

1. Opening prayer

“Lord Jesus, send Your Spirit to help us to read the scriptures with the same mind with which 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 suffering and death. Thus, the cross which had seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the resurrection and source of new life.

Create silence in us  so that we may listen to Your voice in creation, 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 power 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:

Jesus’ preaching draws many people (Mk 3:7-8). A small community begins to form around Him. At first there are two people (Mk 1:16-18), then another two (Mk 1:19-20), then twelve (Mk 3:13-19), and now in our text, more than seventy-two  (Lk 10:1). The community continues to grow. One thing Jesus insists on is community life. He set the example. He never wished to work alone. The first thing He did at the beginning of His preaching in Galilee was to call people to live with Him and share in His mission (Mk 1:16-20; 3:14). The ambiance of fraternity that grows around Jesus is a foretaste of the Kingdom, a proof of the new experience of God with the Father. Thus, if God is father and mother, then we are all one family of brothers and sisters. Thus is the community born, the new family (cf. Mk 3:34-35).

This Sunday’s Gospel tells us of practical things to direct the seventy-two disciples in their proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom and in rebuilding community life. Proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom and rebuilding community life are two sides of the same coin. One cannot make sense without the other. While reading the text, try to look for this connection between community life and the proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

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

Luke 10:1: The Mission.

Luke 10:2-3: Co-responsibility.

Luke 10:4-6: Hospitality.

Luke 10:7: Sharing.

Luke 10:8: Communion around the table.

Luke 10:9
a: Welcoming those excluded.

Luke 10:9
b: The coming of the Kingdom.

Luke 10:10-12: Wiping the dust from their feet.

Luke 10:17-20: The names written in heaven.

Luke 10:1-12.17-20

c) Text:

At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household.' If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God is at hand for you.' Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, 'The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.' Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town." The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name." Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power to 'tread upon serpents' and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

3. A moment of prayerful silence

so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

4. Some questions

to help us in our personal reflection.

a) What pleased or struck you most in this text? Why?

b) Name each of the things that Jesus tells the disciples to do and the things to avoid.

c) What does Jesus wish to clarify through each of these suggestions so different from those common in everyday life?

d) How can we put into practice what the Lord asks: “take no purse with you”, “do not move from house to house”, “salute no one on the road”, “wipe off the very dust from your feet”?

e) Why are these suggestions of Jesus a sign of the coming of the Kingdom of God?

f) Jesus tells us to be attentive to the most important thing when He says, “your names are written in heaven!” What does this mean for us?

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

a) The literary and historical context:

A little before our text, in Luke 9:51, starts the beginning of the second phase of Jesus’ apostolic activities, that is, a long journey to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51 to 19:29). The first phase took place in Galilee and began with the presentation of Jesus’ program in the synagogue of Nazareth (Lk 4:14-21). In the second phase, He goes to Samaria, sends messengers ahead of Him (Lk 9:52) and draws new disciples (Lk 9:57-62). The second phase begins with the appointment of the other 72 disciples and with the presentation of the program that will guide them in their missionary activities (Lk 10:1-16). Thus Luke suggests that these new disciples are not Jews from Galilee but Samaritans, and that the place where Jesus proclaims the Good News is no longer Galilee but Samaria, the territory of the excluded. The aim of the mission given to the disciples is the rebuilding of community life. In Jesus’ days, many movements tried new ways of life and of sharing life: the Pharisees, the Essenes, the Zealots, John the Baptist and others. Many formed communities of disciples (Jn 1:35; Lk 11:1; Acts 19:3) and had their missionaries (Mt 23:15). But there was one great difference. The communities of Pharisees, for instance, lived apart from people. The community around Jesus lives among the people. Jesus’ proposal to the 72 disciples is to recover the old community values that were being lost, like hospitality, welcoming, sharing, communion around the table, accepting the excluded. Jesus tries to renew and reorganize communities in such a way that they may become an expression of the Covenant, an expression of the Kingdom of God.

b) A commentary on the text:

Luke 10:1: The Mission.

Jesus sends the disciples to the places He would be visitingThe disciple is Jesus’ spokesperson. He is not the master of the Good News. Jesus sends them in pairs. This allows for mutual help and thus the mission is not that of an individual but of the community. Two persons represent the community better.

Luke 10:2-3: Co-responsibility.

Their first task is to ask God to send laborers. All of Jesus’ disciples must feel responsible for the mission. Thus they have to pray to the Father for the continuation of the mission. Jesus sends His disciples like lambs among wolves. The mission is a difficult and dangerous task. The system within which they lived and within which we still live continues to resist the reorganization of people living in community. Anyone, who like Jesus, proclaims love in a society organized on individual and collective selfishness, will be a lamb among wolves and will be crucified.

Luke 10:4-6: Hospitality. 

Jesus’ disciples may not take anything with them, no purse, no sandals. All they can take with them is peace. This means that they had to rely on the hospitality of the people. Thus, the disciple who goes carrying nothing but peace shows he trusts people. He thinks that he will be accepted and therefore people will feel respected and confirmed. In this way the disciples were criticizing the laws concerning exclusion and brought out the old values of community sharing among the people of God. Salute no one on the road means that they must not waste time with matters not pertaining to the mission. This may be a reference to the episode of the death of the Sunamite’s son, where Elisha says to his employee, “Go! If anyone salutes you, do not answer” (2Kings 4:29), because this was a matter of life and death. Proclaiming God’s Good News is a matter of life and death!

Luke 10:7: Sharing. 

The disciples must not move from house to house, but must stay in the same house. They must live together with and share in the life and work of the local people, and live on what they receive in exchange, the laborer deserves his wages. This means that they must trust in sharing. (It is also a sign of stability which the monastic traditions hold dear, and which started with the desert hermits only a few centuries after Christ.) Through this new practice, they recovered one of the old traditions of the people of God, criticizing a culture of accumulation that was characteristic of the Roman Empire and so proclaimed a new model for people to live together.

Luke 10:8: Communion around the table.

The disciples must take what food and drink they offer. When the Pharisees went on a mission, they went prepared. They took with them purse and money so that they could provide for their own food. They maintained that they could not trust the food of the people because it was not always ritually “pure”. Thus the observance of the law of legal purity, instead of helping to overcome divisions, weakened the life of community values. Jesus’ disciples must not be separate from the people but rather accept communion around the table. When coming into contact with people they were not to be afraid of losing legal purity. The community value of fraternal living together is greater than the observance of ritual norms. By acting thusly, they criticized the current laws on purity, and proclaimed a new way to purity, to intimacy with God.

Luke 10:9aWelcoming those excluded.

The disciples must look after the sick, cure lepers and drive out evil spirits (Mt 10:8). This means that they must welcome into the community those who had been excluded from it. The practice of solidarity is a criticism of a society that excluded a person from the rest of the community, and thereby recovered the ancient prophetic tradition of goêl. From earliest times, the strength of the clan or the community was revealed in its defense of the value of a person, a family and the possession of land, and was concretely practiced every “seven times seven years” in the celebration of the jubilee year (Lev 25:8-55; Dt 15:1-18).

Luke 10:9bThe coming of the Kingdom.

Hospitality, sharing, communion around the table, and welcoming the excluded (goêl) were four pillars for sustaining community life, but because of the difficult situation of poverty, unemployment, persecution, and oppression from the Romans, these pillars were broken. Jesus wants to rebuild them and affirms that, if they go back to these four values, the disciples can proclaim to the four winds: The Kingdom of God is very near to you! Proclaiming the Kingdom does not mean teaching truth and doctrine, but bringing people to a new way of living and sharing, a new way of acting and thinking, based on the Good News that Jesus proclaims: God is Father and therefore we are all together brothers and sisters.

Luke 10:10-12: Wiping the dust from their feet.

How can we understand such a hard threat? Jesus came to bring an entirely new thing. He came to recover the community values of the past: hospitality, sharing, communion around the table, and welcoming the excluded. This explains the severity of the words used against those who refuse to accept the message. They are not refusing something new, but their own past, their own culture and wisdom! Jesus’ plan for the 72 disciples was aimed at digging up the memory, recovering the community values of the oldest tradition, to rebuild the community and renew the Covenant, to renew life and thus to make God the new great Good News in the life of the people.

Luke 10:17-20: The names written in heaven.

The disciples come back from the mission and get together with Jesus to evaluate what they had done. They begin by telling their stories. With great joy, they inform Him that, in the name of Jesus, they were able to drive out evil spirits! Jesus helps them in their discernment. If they were able to drive out evil spirits, it was because Jesus had given them that power. While they stay with Jesus, no evil can come to them. Jesus says that the most important thing was not driving out evil spirits, but that their names are written in heaven. To have one’s name written in heaven means to be certain of being known and loved by the Father. Some time before this, James and John had asked to bring down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans (Lk 9:54). Now, through the proclamation of the Good News, Satan falls from heaven (Lk 10:18) and the names of the Samaritan disciples are entered in heaven! In those days, many thought that whatever was Samaritan was of the devil, of Satan (Jn 8:48). Jesus changes everything!

c) Further information:

The small communities being formed in Galilee and in Samaria are above all “a foretaste of the Kingdom”. The community around Jesus is like the face of God transformed into Good News for the people, above all for the poor. Is our community like this?

Here are some characteristics of the community that grew around Jesus. These are characteristics of the face of God revealed in them. They may act as a mirror for the conversion of our community:

i) “You have only one master, and you are all brothers" (Mt 23:8). The foundation of the community is not knowledge or power, but equality among the brothers and sisters. It is fraternity.

ii) Jesus insists on equality between men and women (Mt 19:7-12) and gives orders to men and women (Mt 28:10; Mk 16:9-10; Jn 20:17). They all “follow” Jesus from Galilee (Mk 15:41; Lk 8:2-3).

iii) They had a common house shared with the poor (Jn 13:29). This sharing must reach the soul and heart of all (Acts 1:14; 4:32). It must reach the point that there are no secrets among them (Jn 15:15).

iv) The power of service. “Anyone who wants to be first among you, must be slave to all!” (Mk 10:44). Jesus sets the example (Jn 13:15). "The Son of man came not be served, but to serve" (Mt 20:28). "Here am I among as one who serves" (Lk 22:27). "We are useless servants!" (Lk 17:10)

v) Because of many conflicts and divisions, Jesus insists that the community be a place of forgiveness and reconciliation, not of mutual condemnation (Mt 18:21-22; Lk 17:3-4). The power to forgive was given to Peter (Mt 16:19), the apostles (Jn 20:23) and the communities (Mt 18:18). God’s pardon is passed on to the community.

vi) They prayed together in the Temple (Jn 2:13; 7:14; 10:22-23). Sometimes Jesus forms smaller groups (Lk 9:28; Mt 26:36-37). They pray before meals (Mk 6:41; Lk 24:30) and frequent the synagogues (Lk 4:16).

vii) Joy that no one can take away (Jn 16:20-22) "Blessed are you!" Your name is written in heaven (Lk 10:20), their eyes will see what has been promised (Lk 10:23-24), the Kingdom is yours! (Lk 6:20).

The community around Jesus is the model for the early Christians after the resurrection (Acts 2:42-47)! The community is like the face of God transformed into Good News for the people.

6. Praying the Psalm 146 (145)

The face of God, confirmed by Jesus

Alleluia! Praise Yahweh, my soul!

I will praise Yahweh all my life,

I will make music to my God as long as I live.

Do not put your trust in princes,

in any child of Adam,

who has no power to save.

When his spirit goes forth he returns to the earth,

on that very day all his plans come to nothing.

How blessed is he who has Jacob's God to help him,

his hope is in Yahweh his God,

who made heaven and earth,

the sea and all that is in them.

He keeps faith for ever,

gives justice to the oppressed,

gives food to the hungry;

Yahweh sets prisoners free.

Yahweh gives sight to the blind,

lifts up those who are bowed down.

Yahweh protects the stranger,

He sustains the orphan and the widow.

Yahweh loves the upright,

but He frustrates the wicked.

Yahweh reigns for ever, your God, Zion,

from age to age.

7. Closing prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank You for Your Word that has clarified for us the will of the Father. Grant that Your Spirit may enlighten our actions and give us the strength to put into practice what Your Word has revealed to us. Grant that we, like Mary, Your mother, may not only listen to Your Word but also put it into practice. Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

Lectio Divina:
Friday, 15 March 2013 11:08

Lectio Divina: 13th Sunday of ordinary time (C)

Written by

The difficult process of forming the disciples.

How to be born again.

Luke 9:51-62

1. Opening prayer 

“Lord Jesus, send Your Spirit to help us to read the scriptures with the same mind with which 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 suffering and death. Thus, the cross which had seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the resurrection and source of new life.

Create silence in us so that we may listen to Your voice in creation, 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 power 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 literary context

In the context of Luke’s Gospel, the text for this Sunday is at the beginning of the new phase of Jesus’ activity. The frequent conflicts with the people and the religious authorities (Lk 4:28; 5:21,30; 6:2,7; 7:19,23,33-34,39) confirmed Jesus as being the Servant Messiah as foreseen in Isaiah (Isa 50: 4-9; 53:12) and as assumed by Jesus Himself from the beginning of His apostolic activities (Lk 4:18). From now on, Jesus begins to proclaim His passion and death (Lk 9:22,43-44) and decides to go to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51). This change in the course of events created a crisis among the disciples (Mk 8:31-33). They cannot understand and are afraid (Lk 9:45), because they still hold on to the old way of thinking of a glorious Messiah. Luke describes various episodes touching on the old mentality of the disciples: the desire to be the greatest (Lk 9:46-48); the will to control the use of the name of Jesus (Lk 9:49-50); the violent reaction of James and John at the refusal of the Samaritans to welcome Jesus (Lk 9:51-55). Luke also points out how hard Jesus tries to get His disciples to understand the new concept concerning His mission. This Sunday’s text (Lk 9: 51-62) gives some examples of the way Jesus tried to form His disciples.

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

Luke 9:51-52: Jesus decides to go to Jerusalem.

Luke 9:52b53: A village in Samaria does not welcome Him.

Luke 9:54: The reaction of John and James at the Samaritans’ refusal.

Luke 9:55-56: Jesus’ reaction to the violence of James and John.

Luke 9:57-58: Jesus’ first condition for following Him.

Luke 9:59-60: Jesus’ second condition for following Him.

Luke 9:61-62: Jesus’ third condition for following Him.

Luke 9:51-62c) The text:

When the days for Jesus' being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village. As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." And to another he said, "Follow me." But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

3. A moment of prayerful silence

so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

4. Some questions

to help us in our personal reflection.

a) Which part of the text pleased you most and which touched you most?

b) What defects and limitations of the disciples can we discover in the text? Do we share those defects and limitations?

c) What teaching method does Jesus use to correct these defects?

d) What facts from the Old Testament are recalled in this text?

e) With which of these three vocations (vv. 57-62) do you identify yourself? Why?

f) Which of the defects of Jesus’ disciples is most prevalent in us, His disciples of today?

5. A key to the reading

that may help us to go deeper into the theme.

a) The historical context of our text:

The historical context of Luke’s Gospel always contains the following two aspects; the context of the time of Jesus in the 30’s in Palestine, and the context of the Christian communities of the 80’s in Greece for whom Luke is writing his Gospel.

At the time of Jesus in Palestine. It was not easy for Jesus to form His disciples. It is not simply the fact of following Jesus and living in community that makes a person holy and perfect. The greatest difficulty comes from “the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod” (Mk 8:15), that is, from the time’s dominant ideology, promoted by the official religion (the Pharisees) and by the government (the Herodians). Fighting against the leaven was part of the formation He gave His disciples; especially that the manner of thinking of the great had taken deep root and always raised its head again in the minds of the little ones, the disciples. The text of our meditation this Sunday gives us an insight into the way Jesus faced this problem.

In Luke’s time, within the Greek communities. For Luke, it was important to help the Christians and not leave them prey to the “leaven” of the Roman Empire and pagan religion. The same applies today. The “leaven” of the neo-liberal system, spread by the media, propagates a consumerist and self-centered mentality, contrary to Gospel values. It is not easy for people to realize that they are being duped: “What I have in my hand is nothing but a lie!” (Isa 44:20).

b) A commentary on the text:

Luke 9:51-52a: Jesus decides to go to Jerusalem.

“Now as the time drew near for Him to be taken up to heaven”. This statement shows that Luke reads Jesus’ life in the light of the prophets. He wants to make it quite clear to his readers that Jesus is the Messiah in whom is accomplished that which the prophets foretold. The same manner of speaking is in John’s Gospel: “Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to pass form this world to the Father, ...” (Jn 13:1). Jesus is obedient to the Father, “He decisively set out towards Jerusalem”.

Luke 9:52b53: A village in Samaria does not welcome Him.

Hospitality was one of the pillars of community life. It was difficult for anyone to let someone spend the night outside without welcoming him (Jn 18:1-5; 19:1-3; Gen 19;15-21). But in Jesus’ time, the rivalry between Jews and Samaritans urged the people of Samaria not to welcome Jews who were on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and this led the Jews from Galilee not to pass through Samaria when they went to Jerusalem. They preferred to go through the valley of the Jordan. Jesus is against this discrimination and, therefore, goes through Samaria. Consequently He suffers discrimination and is not made welcome.

Luke 9:54: The violent reaction of John and James at the refusal of the Samaritans.

Inspired by the example of the prophet Elijah, James and John want to call down fire from heaven to exterminate that village! (2 Kings 1:10,12; 1 Kings 18:38). They think that by the simple fact that they are with Jesus, everyone should welcome them. They still cling to the old mentality, that of privileged persons. They think that they can keep God on their side to defend them.

Luke 9:55-56: Jesus’ reaction to the violence of James and John.

“Jesus turned and rebuked them.” Some versions of the bible, basing their translation on some old manuscripts wrote: “You know not what spirit dwells in you. The Son of Man did not come to take the life of men, but to save it”. The fact that someone is with Jesus does not give that person the right to think that he or she is superior to others or that others owe them honor. The “Spirit” of Jesus demands the opposite: to forgive seventy times seven (Mt 18:22). Jesus chose to forgive the criminal who prayed to Him on the cross (Lk 23:43).

Luke 9:57-58: The first condition for following Jesus.

One says, “I will follow you wherever you go”. Jesus’ reply is very clear and without any hidden meaning. He leaves no room for doubt: the disciple who wishes to follow Jesus must impress this on his or her mind and heart: Jesus has nothing, not even a stone to lay His head on. The foxes and the birds are better off because they at least have holes and nests.

Luke 9:59-60: The second condition for following Jesus.

Jesus says to one: “Follow Me!” These were the words addressed to the first disciples: “Follow Me” (Mk 1:17,20; 2:14). The reaction of the one called is positive. The person is ready to follow Jesus. He only asks that he may be allowed to bury his father. Jesus’ reply is hard: “Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God”. This is probably a popular proverb used for saying that one has to be radical in one’s decision making. The one who is ready to follow Jesus must leave everything behind. It is as though one were dead to all one’s possessions resurrected to another life.

Luca 9:61-62: The third condition for following Jesus.

A third one says, “I will follow you, but first let me go and say good-bye to my people at home”. Again the reply of Jesus is hard and radical: “Once the hand is laid on the plow, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God”. Jesus is more demanding than the prophet Elijah when Elijah called Elisha to be his disciple (1 Kings 19:19-21). The New Testament is greater than the Old Testament in its demands on the practice of love.

c) A further deepening: Jesus the formator

The process of the formation of the disciples is demanding, slow, and painful, because it is not easy to give birth to a new experience of God in them, a new vision of life and of the neighbor. It is like being born again! (Jn 3:5-9). The old mindset keeps creeping back in the life of people, of families and communities. Jesus spares no effort in forming His disciples. He gave much time to this, not always successfully. Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, and in the moment of trial, all abandoned Him. Only the women and John stayed close to Him, near the cross. But the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to us after His resurrection completed the work Jesus began (Jn 14:26; 16:13). Apart from what we have said concerning the text of this Sunday (Lk 9:51-62), Luke speaks of many other examples to show how Jesus went about forming His disciples and helping them to overcome the misleading mentality of the time:

In Luke 9:46-48 the disciples argue among themselves as to who is the greatest among them. The competitive mindset here is that of fighting for power, characteristic of the society of the Roman Empire, and it had already infiltrated the just-beginning and small community of Jesus! Jesus tells them to hold to the opposite way of thinking. He takes a child to His side and identifies Himself with the child: “Anyone who welcomes this little child in My name welcomes Me; and anyone who welcomes Me welcomes the one who sent Me!” The disciples were arguing as to who was the greatest, and Jesus tells them to look at and welcome the smallest! This is the point most stressed by Jesus and the one to which He witnessed: “[I] did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mk 10:45).

In Luke 9:49-50, someone who was not part of the group of the disciples was using the name of Jesus to drive out devils. John saw him and stopped him: “Let us stop him because we do not know him”. In the name of the community, John stops a good action! He thought he owned Jesus and wanted to stop anyone from using the name of Jesus to do good. He wanted a closed community. This was the old mentality of the “Chosen people, a separate people!” Jesus replies: “Do not forbid him, because anyone who is not against you is for you”. The aim of formation cannot lead to a feeling of privilege and ownership, but must lead to an attitude of service. What is important for Jesus is not whether someone is part of the group or not, but whether the person is doing the good that should be done by the community.

Here are some more examples of the way Jesus educated His disciples. It was a way of giving human form to the experience He had of God the Father. You can complete the list:

* He involves them in His mission and on their return He goes over what happened with them (Mk 6:7; Lk 9:1-2; 10:1-12, 17-20)

* He corrects them when they go wrong (Lk 9:46-48; Mk 10:13-15)

* He helps them to discern (Mk 9:28-29)

* He questions them when they are slow (Mk 4:13; 8:14-21)

* He prepares them for the conflict (Mt 10:17ff)

* He reflects with them concerning present problems (Lk 13:1-5)

* He sends them to look at reality (Mk 8:27-29; Jn 4:35; Mt 16:1-3)

* He confronts them with the needs of the people (Jn 6:5)

* He teaches them that the needs of the people are above ritual prescriptions (Mt 12:7,12)

* He defends them when they are criticized by their adversaries (Mk 2:19; 7:5-13)

* He thinks of their rest and nourishment (Mk 6:31; Jn 21:9)

* He spends time alone with them to teach them (Mk 4:34; 7:17; 9:30-31; 10:10; 13:3)

* He insists on vigilance and teaches them to pray (Lk 11:1-13; Mt 6:5-15).

6. Psalm 19 (18), 8-14

The law of God source of formation

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 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 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:
Friday, 15 March 2013 10:50

Lectio Divina: The Body and Blood of Christ (C)

Written by

The multiplication of the loaves for the hungry

Jesus teaches sharing

Luke 9:10-17

1. Opening prayer

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

Create in us silence so that we may listen to Your voice in creation and in the scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May Your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples 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 literary context:

Our text comes from the middle of Luke’s Gospel: Jesus expands and intensifies His mission in the villages of Galilee and He sends the twelve disciples to help Him (Lk 9:1-6). This news reaches the ears of Herod, the same who had John the Baptist killed (Lk 9:7-9). When the disciples come back from their mission, Jesus invites them to go to a solitary place (Lk 9:10). Then follows our text concerning the multiplication of the loaves (Lk 9:11-17).

Immediately after this, Jesus asks, “Who do people say that I am?” (Lk 9:18-21). Then, for the first time, He goes on to speak of His passion and death and the consequences of all this for the disciples (Lk 9:22-28). Then we have the Transfiguration where Jesus speaks with Moses and Elijah concerning His passion and death in Jerusalem (Lk 9:28-43). There follows another proclamation of His passion, to the consternation and incomprehension of His disciples (Lk 9:44-50). Finally, Jesus decides to go to Jerusalem to meet His death (Lk 9:52).

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

Luke 9:10: They go to a place apart.

Luke 9:11: The crowd learns that Jesus is there and He welcomes them.

Luke 9:12: The disciples worry about the people going hungry.

Luke 9:13: Jesus makes a suggestion and the reply of the disciples.

Luke 9:14-15: Jesus’ initiative to resolve the problem of the people’s hunger

Luke 9:16: Eucharistic connotations and sense.

Luke 9:17: The great sign: all will eat.

Luke 9:10-17 c) The text:

When the apostles returned, they explained to him what they had done. He took them and withdrew in private to a town called Bethsaida. The crowds, meanwhile, learned of this and followed him. He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured. As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, "Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here." He said to them, "Give them some food yourselves." They replied, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people." Now the men there numbered about five thousand. Then he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty." They did so and made them all sit down. Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.

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 did you like best and what struck you most in the text?

b) In what situation does the crowd find itself according to the text?

c) What is the reaction or feeling of the disciples before the situation of the crowd?

d) What is the reaction or feeling of Jesus before the situation of the crowd?

e) Which facts from the Old Testament story does this text recall?

f) Do you know of any initiatives of people today who give the hungry crowd food to eat?

g) How do we help the crowd? Do we distribute fish or do we teach them to fish?

5. A key to the reading

for those who wish to go deeper into the theme.

a) The historical context of our text:

The historical context of Luke’s Gospel always has two aspects: the aspect of the times of Jesus, that is, the 30’s in Palestine, and the context of the Christian communities of the 80’s for whom he is writing his Gospel.

At the time of Jesus in Palestine, the people lived in expectation of a Messiah who would be a new Moses and who would repeat the great signs worked by Moses in Exodus: leading the people through the desert and feeding them with manna. The multiplication of the loaves in the desert was for the crowd a sign that the messianic time had come (cf. Jn 6:14-15).

In Luke’s time, in the Greek communities, it was important to confirm the Christians in the conviction of their faith and to give them direction in the midst of difficulties. The way Luke describes the multiplication of the loaves, recalls the celebration of the Eucharist as celebrated in the communities in the 80’s, and helps them to deepen their understanding of the Eucharist in their daily lives. Besides, in his description of the multiplication of the loaves, as we shall see, Luke recalls important figures in the history of the people of God: Moses, Elijah and Elisha, thus showing that Jesus is truly the Messiah who is to come to fulfill the promises of the past.

b) A commentary on the text:

Luke 9:10: Jesus and the disciples go apart in a lonely place.

The disciples return from the mission to which they were sent (Lk 9:1-6). Jesus invites them to go to a lonely place near Bethsaida, north of Lake Galilee. Mark’s Gospel adds that He invites them to rest a little (Mk 6:31). When Luke describes the mission of the 72 disciples, He is also describing Jesus’ revision to His missionary activity, an activity carried out by the disciples (Lk 10:17-20).

Luke 9:11: The crowd seeks Jesus and Jesus welcomes them.

The crowd knows where Jesus went and they follow Him. Mark is more explicit. He says that Jesus and the disciples went by boat whereas the crowd followed on foot by another road to a specific place. The crowd arrives before Jesus (Mk 6:32-33). When Jesus arrives at the place of rest, He sees the crowd and welcomes them. He speaks to them of the Kingdom and heals the sick. Mark adds that the crowd was like sheep without a shepherd. Before such a situation, Jesus reacts as a “good shepherd”, leading the crowd by His words and feeding them with loaves and fishes (Mk 6:34ff).

Luke 9:12: The worry of the disciples and the hunger of the crowd.

The day is fading; it is almost sunset. The disciples are worried and ask Jesus to send the crowd away. They say that it is impossible to find food sufficient for so many people in the desert. For them, the only solution is to let the people go to nearby villages to buy bread. They cannot imagine any other solution.

Reading between the lines of this description of the situation of the crowd, we find something very important. People forget to eat in order to stay with Jesus. This means that Jesus must have known how to attract people, even to the point that they forget everything to follow Him in the desert.

Luke 9:13: Jesus’ suggestion and the reply of the disciples.

Jesus says, “You give them something to eat”. The disciples are frightened, because they only have five loaves and two fish. It is they who must solve the problem and the only thing that comes to their mind is to send the crowd away to buy bread. They can only think of the traditional solution, namely that someone has to obtain bread for the people. Someone has to get money, buy bread and distribute it among the crowd, but in the desert such a solution is impossible. They cannot see any other possibility. In other words, if Jesus insists on not sending the crowd away, then there is no solution to the hunger of the crowd. It does not occur to them that the solution could come from Jesus and from the crowd itself.

Luke 9:14-15: Jesus’ initiative to solve the problem of the hunger.

There were five thousand people. That’s a lot of people! Jesus asks the disciples to make them sit in groups of fifty. It is at this point that Luke begins to use the bible to throw light on the facts of Jesus’ life. He recalls Moses. It was Moses who first gave the hungry crowd something to eat in the desert after leaving Egypt (cf. Num 1-4). Luke also recalls the prophet Elisha. It was he, in fact, who in the Old Testament, had made a few loaves more than sufficient to feed a multitude (2 Kings 4:42-44). The text suggests, then, that Jesus is the new Moses, the new prophet who must come into the world (cf. Jn 6:14-15). The multitude of the communities knew the Old Testament, and half an allusion would have been sufficient for them. Thus they discover gradually the mystery that is unfolding in the person of Jesus.

Luke 9:16: Recalling the Eucharist and its meaning.

When the people sit on the ground, Jesus multiplies the loaves and asks the disciples to distribute them. It is important to note the way Luke describes this action. He says, “Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, raised His eyes to heaven, and said the blessing over them; then He broke them and handed them to His disciples to distribute among the crowd”. This manner of speaking to the communities of the 80’s (and of all times) recalls the Eucharist. For these very words will be used (and are still used) in the celebration of the Supper of the Lord (22:19). Luke suggests that the Eucharist must lead to the multiplication of the loaves, that is, to sharing. It must help Christians to take care of the concrete needs of the neighbor. It is the bread of life that gives courage and leads the Christian to face the problems of the crowd in a new way, not from outside, but from among the crowd.

Luke 9:17: The great sign: all will eat.

All will eat, all will be satisfied and there will be full baskets left over! An unexpected solution, performed by Jesus and born from within the crowd itself, beginning from the little that they had brought, five loaves and two fish, and there were twelve baskets full of scraps after the five thousand had eaten of the five loaves and two fish!

c) A deepening: The greater miracle:

Some will ask, “There was no miracle then? It was just a sharing?” Here are three reflections by way of an answer:

A first reflection: Which would be the greater miracle today: for instance, that on a certain day of the year, say Christmas, everyone has enough to eat and receives a Christmas hamper; or perhaps that people begin to share their bread so that no one goes hungry and there would be leftovers for other crowds. Which would be the greater miracle? What do you think?

A second reflection: The word miracle (miraculum) comes from the verb to admire. A miracle is an extraordinary action, outside the normal, that causes admiration and leads to think of God. The great miracle, the greatest miracle of all, is (1) Jesus Himself, God made man! Thus God becomes extraordinarily human as only God can be human! Another great miracle is (2) the change that Jesus succeeds in working among the crowd that is used to solutions from outside. Jesus succeeds in making the crowd face its problem from within and to take into account the means at their disposal. A great miracle, an extraordinary thing is (3) that through this gesture of Jesus’, all eat and there are leftovers! When we share, there is always more... and leftovers! So there are three great miracles: Jesus Himself, the conversion of people and the sharing of goods leading to an abundance! Three miracles born of a new experience of God as Father revealed to us in Jesus. This experience of God changed all mental categories and the way of life. It opened an entirely new horizon and created a new way of living together with others. This is the greatest miracle: another world made possible!

A third reflection: It is difficult to know how things happened. No one is saying that Jesus did not work a miracle. He worked many miracles! But we must not forget that the greatest miracle is the resurrection of Jesus. Through their faith in Jesus, people begin to live in a new way, sharing bread with the brothers and sisters who have nothing and are hungry: “None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from them to present it to the apostles” (Acts 4:34-35). When a miracle is described in the bible, the greater attention is drawn not towards the miraculous aspect, but rather towards the meaning the miracle has for life and for the faith of the community of those who believe in Jesus, the revelation of the Father. In the so-called “first world” of the so-called “Christian” countries, animals have more to eat than human beings of the “third world”. Many people are hungry! This means that the Eucharist has not taken deep root yet, nor does it reach out as it could and should.

6. The prayer of a Psalm: 81(80)

The God who frees and feeds His people

Sing aloud to God our strength;

shout for joy to the God of Jacob!

Raise a song, sound the timbrel,

the sweet lyre with the harp.

Blow the trumpet at the new moon,

at the full moon, on our feast day.

For it is a statute for Israel,

an ordinance of the God of Jacob.

He made it a decree in Joseph,

when He went out over the land of Egypt.

I hear a voice I had not known:

"I relieved your shoulder of the burden;

your hands were freed from the basket.

In distress you called, and I delivered you;

I answered you in the secret place of thunder;

I tested you at the waters of Meribah.

Hear, O My people, while I admonish you!

O Israel, if you would but listen to Me!

There shall be no strange god among you;

you shall not bow down to a foreign god.

I am the Lord your God,

who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.

Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

"But My people did not listen to My voice;

Israel would have none of Me.

So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,

to follow their own counsels.

O that My people would listen to Me,

that Israel would walk in My ways!

I would soon subdue their enemies,

and turn My hand against their foes.

Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward Him,

and their fate would last for ever.

I would feed you with the finest of wheat,

and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you."

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:
Friday, 15 March 2013 10:49

Lectio Divina: The Most Holy Trinity (C)

Written by

The promise of the Spirit:
Jesus will send the Spirit in the Father’s name
John 16:12-15


a) Opening prayer:

O God, who in sending your Son Jesus have revealed abundantly your love for the salvation of all people, stay always with us and continue to reveal your attributes of compassion, mercy, clemency and fidelity. Spirit of Love, help us to grow in the knowledge of the Son so that we may have life.
Grant that, by meditating your Word on this feast day, we may become more aware that your mystery is a hymn to shared love. You are our God and not a solitary God. You are Father, fruitful source. You are Son, Word made flesh, close and fraternal love. You are Spirit, all-embracing love.

b) Reading of the Gospel:

John 16:12-1512 I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you to bear now. 13 However, when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth, since he will not be speaking of his own accord, but will say only what he has been told; and he will reveal to you the things to come. 14 He will glorify me, since all he reveals to you will be taken from what is mine. 15 Everything the Father has is mine; that is why I said: all he reveals to you will be taken from what is mine.

c) A time of prayerful silence:

With St. Augustine we say: «Grant me time to meditate on the secrets of your law, do not shut the door to those who knock. Lord, fulfil your plan in me and unveil those pages. Grant that I may find grace before you and that the deep secrets of your Word may be revealed to me when I knock».


a) Preamble:

Before we start the lectio, it is important to pause briefly on the context of our liturgical passage. Jesus’ words in Jn 16:12-15 are part of a section of the Gospel known by exegetes as the book of revelation (13:1-17:26). In his farewell discourse, Jesus reveals his intimate self, calls the disciples friends and promises them the Holy Spirit who will accompany them as they accept the mystery of his Person. The disciples, then, are invited to grow in love towards the Master who gives himself to them completely.

In this section, we can distinguish three well-defined sequences or parts. The first includes chapters 13-14 and treats of the following theme: the new community is founded on the new commandment of love. Through his instructions, Jesus explains that the practice of love is the way that the community must walk in its journey to the Father. In the second part, Jesus describes the position of the community in midst of the world. He reminds them that the community he founded carries out its mission in the midst of a hostile world and can only acquire new members if it practises love. This is the meaning of “bearing fruit” on the part of the community. The condition for a fruitful love in the world is: remain united to Jesus. It is from him that life flows – the Spirit (Jn 15:1-6); union with Jesus with a love like his so as to establish a relationship of friendship between Jesus and his disciples (Jn 15:7-17).

The community’s mission, like that of Jesus, will be carried out in the midst of the hatred of the world, but the disciples will be strengthened by the Spirit (Jn 15:26-16:15). Jesus tells them that the mission in the world implies pain and joy and that he will be absent-present (Jn 16:16-23a). He simply assures them of the support of the Father’s love and his victory over the world (Jn 16:23b-33). The third part of this section includes Jesus’ prayer: he prays for his present community (Jn 17:6-19); for the community of the future (Jn 17:20-23); and expresses his desire that the Father glorify those who have known him and, finally, that his mission in the world may be fulfilled (Jn 17:24-26).

b) Meditation:

- The voice of the Spirit is Jesus’ voice

Previously, in Jn 15:15, Jesus had told his disciples what he had heard from the Father. This message was not nor could it have been grasped by the disciples in all its force. The reason is that the disciples, for the present, ignored the meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross and the substitution of the new way of salvation for the old. With his death, a new and definitive saving power comes into the life of humanity. The disciples will understand Jesus’ words and actions after the resurrection (Jn 2:22) or after his death (Jn 12:16).

In Jesus’ teaching there are many matters and messages to be understood by the community as it gradually faces new events and circumstances; it is in daily life and in the light of the resurrection that it will understand the meaning of his death-exaltation.

It will be the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ prophet, who will communicate to the disciples what they have heard from Him. In the mission that Jesus’ community will carry out it will be the Holy Spirit who will communicate to them the truth in that he will explain and help them to apply that which Jesus is and means as the manifestation of the Father’s love. Through his prophetic messages, the community does not transmit a new doctrine but constantly proposes the reality of the person of Jesus, in the witness to and orientation of its mission in the world. The voice of the Holy Spirit, which the community will hear, is the voice of Jesus himself. In the wake of the Old Testament prophets who interpreted history in the light of the covenant, the Holy Spirit becomes the determining factor in making Jesus known, giving the community of believers the key to an understanding of history as a continual confrontation between what the “world” stands for and God’s plan. The starting point for reading one’s presence in the world is Jesus’ death-exaltation, and as Christians grow in this understanding they will discover in daily life “the sin of the world” and its harmful effects.

The role of the Holy Spirit is a determining factor for the interpretation of the mystery of Jesus’ life in the life of the disciples: he is their guide in undertaking a just commitment on behalf of humanity. To succeed in their activities for humankind, the disciples have to, on the one hand, listen to the problems of life and history, and on the other be attentive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, the only reliable source for getting a real sense of the historical events in the world.

- The Holy Spirit’s voice: true interpreter of history

Then Jesus explains how the Holy Spirit interprets human life and history. First, by manifesting his “glory”, that is that he will take “what is mine”. More specifically, “what is mine” means that the Holy Spirit draws his message from Jesus, whatever Jesus said. To manifest the glory means manifesting the love that he has shown by his death. These words of Jesus are very important because they avoid reducing the role of the Holy Spirit to an illumination. The Spirit’s role is to communicate Jesus’ love and places Jesus’ words in harmony with his message and also with the deeper sense of his life: Love expressed in giving his life on the cross. This is the Holy Spirit’s role, the Spirit of truth. Two aspects of the role of the Holy Spirit that enable the community of believers to interpret history are: listening to the message and understanding it, and being in harmony with love. Better still, Jesus’ words mean to communicate that only through the communication of the love of the Holy Spirit is it possible to know who a person is, to understand the purpose of life, and to create a new world. The model is always Jesus’ love.

- Jesus, the Father, the Holy Spirit and the community of believers (v.15)

What does Jesus mean when he says “everything the Father has is mine”? First that what Jesus has is shared with the Father. The first gift of the Father to Jesus was his glory (Jn 1:14), or more precisely, faithful love, the Spirit (Jn 1:32; 17:10). This communication is not to be understood as static but rather as dynamic, that is on going and mutual. In this sense the Father and Jesus are one. Such mutual and constant communication permeates Jesus activity so that he is able to realise the designs of the Father and his plan for the whole of creation. So that believers may be able to understand and interpret history, they are called to live in harmony with Jesus, accepting the reality of his love and making this love concrete for others. This is the Father’s plan that the love of Jesus for his disciples may be realised in all. God’s plan as realised in Jesus’ life must be realised in the community of believers and guide the believer’s commitment in their endeavour to improve everyone’s life. Who carries out the Father’s plan in Jesus’ life? It is the Holy Spirit who unites Jesus and the Father and carries out and fulfils the Father’s plan and makes the community of believers partakers in this dynamic activity of Jesus: “will be taken from what is mine”. Thanks to the action of truth of the Holy Spirit, the community listens to him and communicates him concretely as love.

The Holy Spirit communicates to the disciples all the truth and wealth of Jesus; he dwells in Jesus; “comes” into the community and when he is received renders the community partakers in Jesus’ love.

b) A few questions:

- A serious danger threatens the Christian community today. Are we not tempted to divide Jesus, following either a human Jesus who through his actions has changed history, or a glorious Jesus detached from his earthly existence and thus also from ours?
- Are we aware that Jesus is not just a historical example but also and above all the present Saviour? That Jesus is not just an object of contemplation and joy, but the Messiah whom we must follow and with whom we must collaborate?
- God is not an abstraction, but the Father made visible in Jesus. Are you committed to “seeing him” and recognising him in Jesus’ humanity?
- Do you listen to the voice of the Spirit of truth who communicates to you Jesus’ whole truth?


a) Psalm 103: Send your Spirit, Lord, to renew the earth

This is a joyful hymn of thanksgiving that invites us to meditate on humanity’s fall and God’s eternal mercy. After sin, sickness and death, comes the kind and loving action of God: he fills us with good things all our lives.

Bless Yahweh, my soul,
from the depths of my being,
his holy name;
bless Yahweh, my soul,
never forget all his acts of kindness.

He forgives all your offences,
cures all your diseases,
he redeems your life from the abyss,
crowns you with faithful love and tenderness;
he contents you with good things all your life,
renews your youth like an eagle's.

Yahweh acts with uprightness,
with justice to all who are oppressed;
he revealed to Moses his ways,
his great deeds to the children of Israel.

Yahweh is tenderness and pity,
slow to anger and rich in faithful love;
his indignation does not last for ever,
nor his resentment remain for all time;

he does not treat us as our sins deserve,
nor repay us as befits our offences.
As tenderly as a father treats his children,
so Yahweh treats those who fear him;
But Yahweh's faithful love for those who fear him
is from eternity and for ever;

Bless Yahweh, all his angels,
mighty warriors who fulfil his commands,
attentive to the sound of his words.
Bless Yahweh, all his armies,
servants who fulfil his wishes.
Bless Yahweh, all his works,
in every place where he rules.
Bless Yahweh, my soul.

b) Closing prayer:

Sprit of truth
You make us children of God,
so that we can approach the Father in trust.
Father, we turn to you
with one heart and one soul
and we ask you:
Father, send your Holy Spirit!
Send your Spirit upon the Church.
May every Christian grow in harmony with Christ’s love,
with the love of God and of neighbour.
Father, renew our trust
in the Kingdom that Jesus came to proclaim
and to incarnate on earth.
Let us not be dominated by delusion
or be conquered by weariness.
May our communities be a leaven
That produces justice and peace
in our society.

Friday, 15 March 2013 10:48

Lectio Divina: Pentecost Sunday (C)

Written by

The promise of a Consoler. The Holy Spirit,

teacher and living memory of the Word of Jesus

John 14:15-16,23-26

1. Opening prayer

Most merciful Father, on this most holy day I cry to You from my room behind closed doors. I raise my prayer to You in fear and immobility in the face of death.

Grant that Jesus may come to me and dwell at the center of my heart that He may drive away all fear and all darkness. Grant me Your peace, which is true peace, peace of heart. Grant that the Holy Spirit may come to me, the Spirit who is the fire of love, that warms and enlightens, that melts and purifies; who is living water, flowing even to eternal life, that quenches and cleans, that baptizes and renews; who is the strong and at the same time soft wind, the breath of Your voice and breath; who is a dove announcing pardon, a new and lasting beginning for the whole world.

Send Your Spirit upon me when I read and listen to Your Word so that I may penetrate the mysteries it holds; grant that I may be overwhelmed and submerged, baptized and made into a new person, so that I may give my life to You and to my brothers and sisters. Amen.  Alleluia

2. Reading

a) Placing the passage in its context:

These few verses, which are not even well connected, are a few drops of water taken from an ocean. In fact, they are part of that long and grandiose discourse in John’s Gospel, which begins with chapter 13:31 and goes up to and including the whole of chapter 17. The whole of this very deep discourse deals with only one theme, that is, the “going of Jesus”, which we find in 13:33: “Yet a little while I am with you… Where I go you cannot come” and in 16:28: “I came from the Father and have come into the world. Again I leave the world and go to the Father” and again in 17:13: “Now I am coming to you, [Father]”. Jesus’ going to the Father signifies also our going, our faith journey in this world; it is here that we learn to follow Jesus, to listen to Him, to live like Him. It is here that we receive the complete revelation of Jesus in the mystery of the Trinity as well as the revelation concerning a Christian life, its power, its tasks, its joys and sorrows, its hopes and struggles. In reflecting on these words we find the truth of the Lord Jesus and of ourselves before Him and in Him.

These verses speak especially of three very strong consolations for us: the promise of the coming of the Consoler; the coming of the Father and the Son within those who believe; the presence of a master, the Holy Spirit, through whom the teachings of Jesus will never cease.

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

vv. 15-16: Jesus reveals that the observance of the commandments is not a matter of obligation, but a sweet fruit that is born of the love of the disciple for Him. This loving obedience is due to the all-powerful prayer of Jesus for us. The Lord promises another Consoler, sent by the Father, who will always remain with us in order to drive away our solitude once and for all.

vv. 23-24: Jesus repeats that love and observance of the commandments are two vital truths essentially related to each other, that have the power to introduce the disciple into the mystical life, that is, into the experience of immediate and personal communion with Jesus and with the Father.

v. 25: Jesus says something very important: there is a substantial difference between what He said while He was with the disciples and what He will say later, when, thanks to the Spirit, He will be in them, within them. At first, understanding is limited because the relationship with Him is an external one: the Word comes from outside and reaches ears, but not pronounced within. Later, understanding will be full.

v. 26: Jesus announces the Holy Spirit as master who will teach no longer from outside but from within us. He will give new life to the words of Jesus, those forgotten will be remembered and will be understood by the disciples within their capabilities.

John 14, 15-16.23-26

c) The text:

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always." Jesus answered and said to him, "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name - he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you."

3. A time of prayerful silence

I go to the Master’s school, the Holy Spirit. I sit at His feet and I abandon myself in His presence. I open my heart, without any fear, so that He may instruct, console, reprove and make me grow.

4. A few questions

a) “If you love Me”. Is my relationship with Jesus a relationship of love? Do I make room for Him in my heart? Do I look within myself honestly and ask, “Where is love in my life? Is there any?” If I realize that there is no love within me, or just a little, do I try to ask myself, “What is preventing me, what is it that keeps me closed, imprisoned, rendering me sad and lonely?”

b) “You will observe My commandments”. I notice the verb “to observe” with the many meanings it implies: to look after well, to protect, to pay attention, to keep alive, to reserve and preserve, not to throw away, to keep carefully, with love. Am I aware and enlightened by these attitudes, by my relationship as disciple, as Christian, with the Word and the commandments that Jesus gave us for our happiness?

c) “He will give you another Consoler”. How often have I searched for someone to console me, to look after me, to show me affection and care for me! Am I truly convinced that true consolation comes from the Lord? Or do I still trust much more in the consolations I find, the ones that I beg for here and there, that I gather like crumbs without ever being able to be satisfied?

d) “Make our home with Him”. The Lord stands at the door and knocks and waits. He does not force or oblige. He says, “If you wish…”. He suggests that I might become His home, the place of His repose, of His intimacy. Jesus is ready and happy to come to me, to unite Himself to me in a very special kind of friendship. But, am I ready? Am I expecting His visit, His coming, His entering into my most intimate, most personal self? Is there room for Him in the inn?

e) “He will…bring to your remembrance all that I have said”. The word “remembrance” recalls another very important, even essential matter. Am I challenged and scrutinized by scripture? What is it that I recall? What do I try to remember, to bring to life in my interior world? The Word of the Lord is a most precious treasure; it is the seed of life that is sown in my heart; but do I look after this seed? Do I defend it from a thousand enemies and dangers that assail it: the birds, the rocks, the thorns, the evil one? Do I, every morning, carry with me a Word of the Lord to remember during the day and to make my inner light, my strength, my food?

5. A key to the reading

I now approach each one of the characters in the reading and I listen prayerfully, meditatively, reflectively, in contemplation…

The face of the Father:

Jesus says, “I will ask the Father” (v. 26) and thus draws aside a little the mysterious veil surrounding prayer: prayer is the life that leads to the Father. To go to the Father, we are given the way of prayer. As Jesus lives His relationship with the Father by means of prayer, so also must we. I need to read the Gospels and become a careful searcher of signs concerning this secret of the love of Jesus and His Father, so that, by entering into that relationship, I too may grow in the knowledge of God, my Father.

“He will give you another Consoler”. The Father is the one who gives us the Consoler. This gift is preceded by the Father’s act of love, who knows that we need consolation: He saw my misery in Egypt and heard my cry. He indeed knows my sufferings and sees the oppressions that torment me (cf. Ex 3:7-9); nothing goes unnoticed by His infinite love for me. That is why He gives us the Consoler. The Father is the Giver. Everything comes to us from Him and no one else.

“My Father will love him” (v. 24). The Father is the lover who loves with an eternal love, absolute, and inviolable . Thus do Isaiah, Jeremiah and all the Prophets say (cf. Jer 31:3; Isa 43:4, 54: 8; Hos 2:21, 11:1).

“We will come to him”. The Father is united with the Son, Jesus, and is one with Him, and with Him, comes to each one of us. He moves, goes out, bends and walks towards us. Urged by a mad and inexplicable love, He comes to us.

“And we will make our home with him”. The Father builds His house within us; He makes of us, of me, of my existence, of my whole being, His home. He comes and will not leave but faithfully stays.

The face of the Son:

“If you love Me…” (v. 15); “If anyone loves Me…” (v. 23). Jesus enters into a unique and personal relationship with me, face to face, heart to heart, soul to soul; He wants to have an intense relationship, unique, unrepeatable, and He unites me to Him by love if I so wish. He always puts an “if” and says when He asks me by name: “If you wish…”. The only way He constantly seeks to come to me is through love. In fact, it is noticeable that the use of the pronouns “you” and “anyone” are connected to “me” by the verb “to love” and no other verb.

“I will ask the Father” (v. 16). Jesus is the one who prays, who lives by prayer and for prayer. The whole of His life is summed up by prayer and in prayer. He is the supreme and eternal priest who intercedes for us and offers prayers and supplications together with tears (cf. Heb 5:7), for our salvation; “He is able at all times to save those who come to God through Him, since He lives always to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25).

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (v. 23); “He who does not love Me, does not keep y words” (v. 24). Jesus offers me His Word, He gives it to me in trust that I may look after it and guard it, that I may place it in my heart and there keep it warm, watch over it, contemplate it, listen to it and thus make it bear fruit. His word is a seed; it is the most precious pearl of all, for which it is worthwhile selling every other wealth; it is the treasure hidden in the field worth digging for without counting the cost; it is the fire that makes the heart burn within my breast; it is the lamp that illumines our steps even in the darkest night. Love for the Word of Jesus can be identified by my love for Jesus Himself, for His whole being, because, after all, He is the Word. That is why, in this passage, Jesus is crying out to my heart that He is the one I must keep.

The face of the Holy Spirit:

“The Father will give you another Consoler” (v. 16). The Father gives us the Holy Spirit; this is “the good gift and every perfect gift from above” (Jas 1:17). He is “the other Consoler” other than Jesus, who goes and comes back so as not to leave us alone, abandoned. While I am in this world, I do not lack consolation, but am comforted by the presence of the Holy Spirit, who is not just consolation, but is much more: He is a living person and living with me always. This presence, this company is capable of giving me joy, true joy. In fact Paul says, “The fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace…” (Gal 5:22; cf. Rom 14:17).

“to be with you forever”. The Spirit is in our midst, He is with me, just as Jesus was with His disciples. His coming is a physical, personal presence; I do not see Him, but I know that He is there and that He will never leave me. The spirit is always here and lives with me and in me, with no limitations of time or space; thus He is the Consoler.

“He will teach you all things” (v. 26). The Holy Spirit is the teacher, He who opens the way for conscience, experience; no one except Him can lead me, inform me, give me new form. His is not a school where one acquires human knowledge that creates pride and does not liberate; His teachings, His whisperings, His precise directions come from God and lead back to God. The Spirit teaches true wisdom and true knowledge (Ps 118:66), He teaches the Father’s will (Ps 118:26.64), His ways (Ps 24:4), His commandments (Ps 118:124.135), which are life. He is a teacher capable of leading me to the whole truth (Jn 16:13), who gives me deep freedom, even to the time of the separation of the soul and the spirit, for He alone, who is God, can bring me to life and resurrection. As God, He is humble; He lowers Himself, descends from His throne and enters into me (cf. Acts 1:8; 10:44), He gives Himself to me entirely and absolutely; He is not jealous of His gift, of His light, but gives without limits.

6. A moment of prayer: Psalm 30

A hymn of praise to God,

who has sent us the new life of the Spirit from on high

Ref. You have given me the fullness of life, Lord, alleluia!

I will extol Thee, O Lord,

for Thou hast drawn me up,

and hast not let my foes rejoice over me.

O Lord my God, I cried to Thee for help,

and Thou hast healed me.

O Lord, Thou hast brought up my soul from Sheol,

restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit. 

Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints,

and give thanks to His holy name.

For His anger is but for a moment,

and His favor is for a lifetime.

Weeping may tarry for the night,

but joy comes with the morning. 

As for me, I said in my prosperity,

"I shall never be moved."

By thy favor, O Lord,

Thou hast established me as a strong mountain;

Thou didst hide Thy face, I was dismayed.

To Thee, O Lord,

I cried; and to the Lord I made supplication. 

Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me!

O Lord, be Thou my helper!"

Thou hast turned my mourning into dancing;

Thou hast loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,

that my soul may praise Thee and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to Thee for ever. 

7. Closing prayer

Holy Spirit, allow me to speak to You again. It is difficult for me to go away from my meeting with the Word because You are present there. Therefore, live and act in me. I present to You, to Your intimacy, Your Love, my face of disciple; I mirror myself in You, O Holy Spirit. I offer You, finger of God’s right hand, my features, my eyes, my lips, my ears… work in me Your healing, Your liberation and salvation that I may be reborn, today, a new person from the womb of Your fire, the breath of Your wind. Holy Spirit, I was not born to be alone. I beg You, therefore, send me brothers and sisters that I may proclaim to them the life that comes from You. Amen. Alleluia!

Lectio Divina:
Friday, 15 March 2013 10:47

Lectio Divina: The Ascension of the Lord (C)

Written by

The mission of the Church:

To give witness to the pardon which Jesus offers to all

Luke 24, 46-53

Opening prayer

Shaddai, God of the mountain,

You who make of our fragile life

the rock of your dwelling place,

lead our mind

to strike the rock of the desert,

so that water may gush to quench our thirst.

May the poverty of our feelings

cover us as with a mantle in the darkness of the night

and may it open our heart to hear the echo of silence

until the dawn,

wrapping us with the light of the new morning,

may bring us,

with the spent embers of the fire of the shepherds of the Absolute

who have kept vigil for us close to the divine Master,

the flavour of the holy memory.

Luke 24, 46-53 1. LECTIO

a) The text:

46 and he said to them, 'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses to this. 49 'And now I am sending upon you what the Father has promised. Stay in the city, then, until you are clothed with the power from on high.' 50 Then he took them out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and raising his hands he blessed them. 51 Now as he blessed them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven. 52 They worshipped him and then went back to Jerusalem full of joy; 53 and they were continually in the Temple praising God.

b) A moment of silence:

Let us allow the voice of the Word to resonate within us.


a) Some questions:

- In the name of the Lord: In whose name do I live my daily life?

- To all nations. Am I capable of welcoming all or do I discriminate easily according to my point of view?

- Stay in the city. Do I have staying power in the most difficult situations or do I try, even before I understand their meaning, to eliminate them?

- My prayer. Do I praise the Lord for all he does in my life or do I ask things for myself?

b) A key to the reading:

These few lines speak of life, motion, journey, meeting… This is the aim of the so it is written and all the nations. Life is marked by witness. The apostles are those sent, they do not bring anything of their own but become life, motion, journey, meeting, a way that brings life wherever they go.

v. 46. «So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead. What is written? Where? The only scripture we know is that of encounter. It seems that God cannot do without humankind, and so God goes seeking people wherever they are and will not give up until God embraces them. This is what is written: An eternal love, capable of enduring suffering, of drinking the chalice of pain to its dregs, so as to look once more upon the face of the beloved children. In the depths of non-life, Christ descends to take the hand of humankind to lead humankind back home. Three days! Three moments: passion, death, resurrection! This is what is written for Christ and for all those who belong to him. Passion: you surrender trustingly, and the other does with you whatever he wishes, he embraces you or ill-treats you, he welcomes you or rejects you… but you go on loving to the end. Death: a life that cannot be taken back… dies, is snuffed out… but not forever, because death has power over the flesh but the spirit that comes from God goes back to God. Resurrection: Everything makes sense in the light of Life. Love once given will not die but will always resurrect again.

v. 47. And in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.Jesus’ word, spoken in time, does not come to an end. It needs those who proclaim it. The apostles go, sent in the holy name of God. They go to all nations. No longer to one chosen people, but to all who are now chosen. They go to put their arms around the shoulder of their brothers and sisters and to convert them, to turn them around towards them and to tell them: All is forgiven, you can live the divine life once more, Jesus died and rose again for you! Faith is not an invention. I come from Jerusalem, I saw him with my eyes, I experienced him in my life. I am telling you no more than my story, a story of salvation.

v. 48. You are witnesses to this. We know God from experience. To be witnesses means carrying the word that is Christ written in one’s skin, woven syllable by syllable. When one is touched by Christ, one becomes a bright lamp, even without one’s knowledge! And if one wanted to put out the flame, it would light up again, because the light comes not from the lamp but from the Spirit poured into the heart and beams eternal communion endlessly. 

 v. 49. And now I am sending upon you what the Father has promised. Stay in the city, then, until you are clothed with the power from on high»Jesus’ promises are always fulfilled. He goes away, but he does not leave his friends orphans. He knows that they need God’s constant presence. And God comes back to humankind. This time no longer in the flesh, but invisibly in the fire of an intangible love, in the ardour of a bond that will never be broken, the rainbow of the ratified covenant, the splendour of God’s smile, the Holy Spirit. Clothed in Christ and in the Holy Spirit, the apostles will not be afraid and can finally go!

v. 50. Then he took them out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and raising his hands blessed them. The moment of separation is a solemn one. Bethany is the place of friendship. Jesus raises his hands and blesses his own. This is a salute and a gift. Goes does not draw away from his own, God simply leaves them to come back in different guise.

v. 51. Now as he blessed them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven. Every separation brings sorrow with it. But in this case the blessing is a legacy of grace. The apostles live in such an intense communion with their Lord that they are not aware of a separation.

v. 52. They worshipped him and then went back to Jerusalem full of joy. Great is the joy of the apostles, the joy of going through the streets of Jerusalem with a limitless treasure, the joy of belonging. Christ’s humanity goes to heaven, to open a gate that will never be shut again. The joy of the superabundance of life that Christ has now poured into their experience will never cease…

v. 53. And they were continually in the Temple praising God. To stay… is a very important verb for the Christian. To stay presupposes a special strength, the ability not to flee from situations but to live them out savouring them to their depths. To stay: an evangelical programme to be shared with all. Then praise flows out sincerely, because in staying God’s will is sipped like a healthy and intoxicating drink of bliss.

c) Reflection:

The witness of charity in the life of the church is without any doubt the clearest mirror for evangelisation. It is the instrument that loosens the soil so that when the seed of the Word falls it may bear abundant fruit. The good news cannot choose other ways to touch the hearts of people than that of mutual love, an experience that leads directly to the source: «This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you» (Jn 15:12). We find all this in the early Church: «This is the proof of love, that he laid down his life for us, and we too ought to lay down our live for our brothers» (1 Jn 3:16). The disciple who met and knew Jesus, the beloved disciple, knows that he cannot speak of him and not walk the ways he walked. «I am the way, the truth and the life» (Jn 14:6). What better words can express that the high road of every evangelisation is gratuitous love? Christ is the way of evangelisation. Christ is the truth to transmit in evangelising. Christ is evangelised life. And the love with which he loved us is evangelisation, a love given without conditions, that will not retreat but goes forward to the end, faithful to itself even at the price of death on a cross of malediction, to show the face of the Father as one of Love, a love that respects the freedom of human beings, even when this means rejection, contempt, aggression and death. «Christian charity has a great evangelising force. To the extent that it reveals itself as a sign and a window of God’s love, it opens the minds and hearts to the proclamation of the Word of truth. As Paul VI said, today’s people who look for authenticity and concreteness, value witnesses more than teachers, and generally will only allow themselves to be guided to discover the depth and the demands of God’s love if they have been touched by the tangible sign of charity». (CEI, Evangelisation and the witness of charity, in Enchiridion CEI, vol. 1-5, EDB, Bologna 1996 n. 24). Every pastoral endeavour that wants to show the deep relationship between faith and charity in the light of the Gospel, and that characteristic note of Christian love that is proximity and caring, has the duty of motivating and sustaining openness to others in service. (cfr Lk 10:34).


Psalm 22, 22-31

I shall proclaim your name to my brothers,

praise you in full assembly:

'You who fear Yahweh, praise him!

All the race of Jacob, honour him!

Revere him, all the race of Israel!'

For he has not despised

nor disregarded the poverty of the poor,

has not turned away his face,

but has listened to the cry for help.

Of you is my praise in the thronged assembly,

I will perform my vows before all who fear him.

The poor will eat and be filled,

those who seek Yahweh will praise him,

'May your heart live for ever.'

The whole wide world will remember

and return to Yahweh,

all the families of nations bow down before him.

For to Yahweh, ruler of the nations,

belongs kingly power!

All who prosper on earth will bow before him,

all who go down to the dust will do reverence before him.

And those who are dead,

their descendants will serve him,

will proclaim his name to generations

still to come;

and these will tell of his saving justice to a people yet unborn:

he has fulfilled it.


Lord, I know that evangelisation requires deep spirituality, authenticity and holiness of life on the part of witnesses, people of mature faith, able to mix well so as to make their personal experience of faith a meeting place and a place of growth in interpersonal contacts thus building deep relationships open to the Church, the world and history. As yet, I feel inadequate. In a context where images, words, proposals, projects and records follow each other swiftly and disorient, almost intoxicate thought and confuse feelings, bearing witness is a privileged word for a reflective pause, for a moment of rethinking. But am I one who is carried away by these images, words and projects?  Of one thing I am certain, and this comforts me. Even the most beautiful witness would in the long run be powerless were it not enlightened, justified, made explicit by a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus. The Good News, proclaimed by a living witness, sooner or later needs to be proclaimed by the word of life. I will justify my hope by proclaiming your name, your teaching, your life, your promises, your mystery as Jesus of Nazareth and Son of God. This seems to me to be the simplest way to arouse interest in knowing and meeting you, Master and Lord, who have chosen to live as son of man so as to show us the face of the Father.  Every pastoral endeavour today that finds itself chained by faith, will be able to ask you, God, that the gates of preaching be reopened to proclaim the mystery of Christ, the kind of preaching that as divine word works wonders in those who believe.

Lectio Divina:
Friday, 15 March 2013 10:44

Lectio Divina: 6th Sunday of Easter (C)

Written by

The Holy Spirit will help us

understand Jesus’ words

John 14:23-29

1. Opening prayer

Shaddai, God of the mountain,

You who make of our fragile life

the rock of Your dwelling place,

lead our mind

to strike the rock of the desert,

so that water may gush to quench our thirst.

May the poverty of our feelings

cover us as with a mantle in the darkness of the night

and may it open our heart to hear the echo of silence

until the dawn,

wrapping us with the light of the new morning,

may bring us,

with the spent embers of the fire of the shepherds of the Absolute

who have kept vigil for us close to the divine Master,

the flavor of the holy memory.

John 14,23-29


a) The text:

Jesus said to his disciples: "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. "I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, 'I am going away and I will come back to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe."

b) A moment of silence:

Let us allow the voice of the Word to resonate within us.


a) Some questions:

- “And we will come to Him and make our home with Him”: looking in our interior camp, will we find there the tent of the shekinah (presence) of God?

- “He who does not love Me does not keep My words: Are the words of Christ empty words for us because of our lack of love? Or could we say that we observe them as a guide on our journey?

- “The Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”  Jesus returns to the Father, but everything which He has said and done remains with us. When will we be able to remember the marvels which divine grace has accomplished in us? Do we receive or accept the voice of the Spirit who suggests in our interior the meaning of all that has taken place, all that has happened?

- “My peace I give to you” The peace of Christ is His resurrection: When will we be able in our life to abandon the anxiety and the mania of doing, which draws us away from the sources of being? God of peace, when will we live solely from you, peace of our waiting?

- “I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe”: Before it takes place... Jesus likes to explain to us beforehand what is going to happen, so that the events do not take us by surprise, unprepared. But, are we ready to read the signs of our events with the words heard from Him?

b) Key for the reading:

To make our home, Heaven does not have a better place than a human heart which is in love. Because a dilated heart extends the boundaries and all barriers of time and space disappear. To live in love is equal to live in Heaven, to live in Him who is love, and eternal love.

v. 23. Jesus answered him: If a man loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him. In the origin of every spiritual experience there is always a movement forward. Take a small step, then everything moves harmoniously. The step to be taken is only one: If a man loves Me. Is it really possible to love God? How is it seen that His face is no longer among the people? To love: What does it really mean? In general, to love for us means to wish well to one another, to be together, to make choices to construct a future, to give oneself... to love Jesus is not the same thing. To love Him means to do as He did, not to draw back in the face of pain, of death; to consciously walk into pain and suffering if need be for the sake of another; and love as He did takes us very far... and it is in this love that the word becomes daily bread to eat and life becomes Heaven because of the Father’s presence.

vv. 24-25. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. If there is no love, the consequences are disastrous. The words of Jesus can be observed only if there is love in the heart; otherwise they remain absurd proposals. Those words are not the words of a man. They come from the Father’s heart who proposes to each one of us to be like Him. In life it is not so much a question of doing things, even if they are very good. It is necessary to be human, to be sons and daughters, to be images similar to the One who never ceases to give Himself completely.

vv. 25-26. These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and will bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. To remember is an action of the Spirit; when in our days the past is seen as something lost forever and the future is there as something threatening to take away our joy today, only the divine Breath in you can lead you to remember it. To remember what has been said, every word coming from God’s mouth for you, and forgotten because  time has gone by.

v. 27. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. The peace of Christ for us is not absence of conflicts, serenity of life, health... but the plenitude of every good, absence of anxiety in the face of what is going to happen. The Lord does not assure us well-being, but the fullness of son-ship in a loving adherence to His plans which are good for us. We will possess peace, when we will have learned to trust in that which the Father chooses for us.

v. 28. You heard Me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you’. If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. We come back to the question of love. If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced. But what is the meaning of this statement pronounced by the Master? We could complete the phrase and say: If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father... but since you think of yourselves, you are sad because I am leaving, going away. The love of the disciples is an egoistic love. They do not love Jesus because they do not think of Him, they think of themselves. Then, the love which Jesus asks is this love:  a love capable of rejoicing because the other will be happy! It is a love capable of not thinking of self as the center of the universe, but as a place in which one feels open to give and to be able to receive: not in exchange, but as the “effect” of the gift received.

v. 29. I have told you before it takes place, so when it does take place, you may believe. Jesus instructs His own because He knows that they will remain confused and will be slow in understanding. His words do not vanish.  They remain as a presence in the world, treasures of understanding in faith: an encounter with the Absolute who is always and for always in favor of man.

c) Reflection:

Love: a magic and ancient word as old as the world, a familiar word which is born in the horizon of every human being in the moment in which he or she is called into existence. A word written in his human fibers as origin and end, as an instrument of peace, as bread and gift, as himself, as others, as God. A word entrusted to history through our history of every day. Love, a pact which has always had one name alone: humanity. Yes, because love coincides with humanity: love is the air that we breathe, love is the food which is given to us, love is the rest to which we entrusts ourselves, love is the bond of union which makes of us a land of encounter. That love with which God has seen in His creation and has given: “It is something very good”. God has not taken back the commitment taken when man made of himself a rejection more than a gift, a slap more than a caress, a stone thrown more than a silent tear. He has loved even more with the eyes and the heart of the Son, up to the end. This man who became a burning torch of sin, the Father has redeemed Him, again and solely out of love, in the Fire of the Spirit.


Psalm 37:23-31

The steps of a man are from the Lord,

and He establishes him in whose way He delights;

though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,

for the Lord is the stay of his hand.

I have been young, and now am old;

yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken

or his children begging bread.

He is ever giving liberally and lending,

and His children become a blessing.

Depart from evil, and do good;

so shall you abide for ever.

For the Lord loves justice;

He will not forsake His saints.

The righteous shall be preserved for ever,

but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.

The righteous shall possess the land,

and dwell upon it for ever.

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,

and his tongue speaks justice.

The law of his God is in his heart;

his steps do not slip.


I see you, Lord, dwelling in my days through Your word which accompanies me in my more intense moments, when my love for You becomes courageous, audacious and I do not give up in the face of what I feel that does not belong to me. That Spirit which is like the wind: blows where it wants and His voice is not heard, that Spirit has become space in me, and now I can tell You that He is like a dear fried with whom to remember. To go back to remember the words said, to the lived events, to the presence perceived while on the way, does good to the heart. I feel profoundly this indwelling every time that, in silence, one of Your phrases comes to mind, one of Your invitations, one of Your words of compassion, Your silence. The nights of Your prayer allow me to pray to the Father and to find peace. Lord, tenderness concealed in the folds of my gestures, grant me to treasure all that You are a scroll which is explained, in which it is easy to understand the meaning of my existence. May my words be the dwelling place of Your words, may my hunger be Your dwelling, bread of life, may my pain be the empty tomb and the folded shroud so that everything that You want may be accomplished, up to the last breath. I love You, Lord, my rock.

Lectio Divina:
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