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Tuesday, 25 February 2014 09:27

Lectio Divina: Luke 8:19-21

1) Opening prayer



Father,

guide us, as You guide creation

according to Your law of love.

May we love one another

and come to perfection

in the eternal life prepared for us.

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 8:19-21



The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you." He said to them in reply, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it."



3) Reflection



• The Gospel today presents the episode in which the relatives of Jesus and His mother want to speak with Him, but Jesus does not pay attention to them. Jesus had problems with His family. Sometimes the family helps one to live the Gospel and to participate in the community. Other times, the family prevents this. This is what happened to Jesus and this is what happens to us.



• Luke 8:19-20: The family looks for Jesus. The relatives reach the house where Jesus was staying.They had probably come from Nazareth. From there to Capernaum the distance is about 40 kilometers. His mother was with them. They probably did not enter because there were many people, but they sent somebody to tell Him: “Your mother and Your brothers are outside and want to see You”. According to the Gospel of Mark, the relatives do not want to see Jesus, they want to take Him back home (Mk 3:32). They thought that Jesus had lost His head (Mk 3:21). They were afraid, because according to what history says, the Romans watched very closely all that He did, in one way or other, with the people (cf. Ac 5:36-39). In Nazareth, up on the mountains He would have been safer than in Capernaum.



• Luke 8:21: The response of Jesus. The reaction of Jesus is clear: “My mother and My brothers are those who listen to the Word of God and put it into practice”. In Mark the reaction of Jesus is more concrete. Mark says: Looking around at those who were sitting there He said: “Look, My mother and My brothers! Anyone who does the will of God, he is My brother, sister and mother (Mk 3:34-35). Jesus extends His family! He does not permit the family to draw Him away from the mission: neither the family (Jn 7:3-6), nor Peter (Mk 8:33), nor the disciples (Mk 1:36-38), nor Herod (Lk 13:32), nor anybody else (Jn 10:18).



• It is the Word of God which creates a new family around Jesus: “My mother and My brothers are those who listen to the Word of God, and put it into practice.” A good commentary on this episode is what the Gospel of John says in the Prologue: “He was in the world that had come into being through Him and the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own and His own people did not accept Him”. But to those who did accept Him He gave them power to become children of God: to those who believed in His name, who were born not from human stock or human desire, or human will, but from God Himself. And the Word became flesh, He lived among us; and we saw His glory, the glory that He has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:10-14). The family, the relatives, do not understand Jesus (Jn 7:3-5; Mk 3:21), they do not form part of the new family. Only those who receive the Word, that is, who believe in Jesus, form part of the new family. These are born of God and form part of God’s Family.



• The situation of the family at the time of Jesus. In the time of Jesus, the political social and economic moment or the religious ideology, everything conspired in favor of weakening the central values of the clan, of the community. The concern for the problems of the family prevented persons from being united in the community. Rather, in order that the Kingdom of God could manifest itself anew, in the community life of the people, persons had to go beyond, to pass the narrow limits of the small family and open themselves to the large family, toward the community. Jesus gives the example. When His own family tried to take hold of Him, Jesus reacted and extended the family (Mk 3:33-35). He created the community.



• The brothers and the sisters of Jesus. The expression “brothers and sisters of Jesus” causes much polemics among Catholics and Protestants. Basing themselves on this and on other texts, the Protestants say that Jesus had more brothers and sisters and that Mary had more sons! The Catholics say that Mary did not have other sons. What should we think about this? In the first place, both positions: that of the Catholics as well as that of the Protestants, start from the arguments drawn from the bible and from the traditions of their respective Churches. Because of this, it is not convenient to discuss on this question with only intellectual arguments. Because here it is a question of the convictions that they have and which have to do with faith and sentiments. The intellectual argument alone does not succeed in changing a conviction of the heart! Rather, it irritates and draws away! And even if I do not agree with the opinion of the other person, I must respect it. In the second place, instead of discussing texts, both we Catholics, and the Protestants, should unite together to fight in defense of life, created by God, a life totally disfigured by poverty, injustice, by the lack of faith. We should recall some phrase of Jesus: “I have come so that they may have life and life in abundance” (Jn 10:10). “So that all may be one so that the world will believe that it was You who sent Me” (Jn 17:21). “Do not prevent them! Anyone who is not against us is for us” (Mk 9:39.40).



4) Personal questions



• Does your family help or make it difficult for you to participate in the Christian community?

• How do you assume your commitment in the Christian community without prejudice for the family or for the community?



5) Concluding Prayer



Teach me, Yahweh, the way of Your will,

and I will observe it.

Give me understanding and I will observe Your Law,

and keep it wholeheartedly. (Ps 119:33-34)


Lectio Divina:
2020-09-22
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 09:18

Lectio Divina: Luke 7:31-35

1) Opening prayer



Almighty God,

our creator and guide,

may we serve You with all our hearts

and know Your forgiveness in our lives.

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 7:31-35



Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”



3) Reflection



• In today’s Gospel we see the originality of the Good News which opens the way for people who are attached to ancient forms of faith who feel lost and do not understand anything more of God’s action. In order to hide their lack of openness and of understanding they defend and seek childish pretexts to justify their attitude of lack of acceptance. Jesus reacts with a parable to denounce the confusion of His enemies: “You are similar to children who do not know what they want”.

• Luke 7:31: To whom, then, shall I compare you? Jesus is struck by the reaction of the people and say: “What comparison, then, can I find for the people of this generation? What are they like?” When something is evident and the persons, out of ignorance or because of bad will, do not perceive things and do not want to perceive them, it is good to find an evident comparison which will reveal their incoherence and the ill will. And Jesus is a Master in finding comparisons which speak for themselves.

• Luke 7:32: Like children without judgment. The comparison which Jesus finds is this one. You are like “those children, shouting to one another while they sit in the market place: we played the pipes for you, and you would not dance; we sang dirges and you would not cry!” Spoiled children, all over the world, have the same reaction. They complain when others do not do and act as they say. The reason for Jesus’ complaint is the arbitrary way with which people in the past reacted before John the Baptist and how they react now before Jesus.

• Luke 7:33-34: Their opinion on John and on Jesus. “For John the Baptist has come, not eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say: he is possessed. The Son of man has come eating and drinking, and you say: look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners”. Jesus was a disciple of John the Baptist; He believed in him and was baptized by him. On the occasion of this Baptism in the Jordan, He had the revelation of the Father regarding His mission as Messiah-Servant (Mk 1:10). At the same time, Jesus stressed the difference between Him and John. John was more severe, more ascetical, did not eat nor drink. He remained in the desert and threatened the people with the punishment of the Last Judgment (Lk 3:7-9). Because of this, people said that he was possessed. Jesus was more welcoming; He ate and drank like everybody else. He went through the towns and entered the houses of the people; He accepted the tax collectors and the prostitutes. This is why they said that He was a glutton and a drunkard. Even considering His words regarding “the men of this generation” (Lk 7:31), in a general way, probably, Jesus had in mind the opinion of the religious authority who did not believe in Jesus (Mk 11:29-33).

• Luke 7:35: The obvious conclusion to which Jesus arrives. And Jesus ends drawing this conclusion: “Yet, wisdom is justified by all her children”. The lack of seriousness and of coherence is clearly seen in the opinion given on Jesus and on John. The bad will is so evident that it needs no proof. That recalls the response of Job to his friends who believe that they are wise: “Will no one teach you to be quiet! - the only wisdom that becomes you!” (Job 13:5).



4) Personal questions



• When I express my opinion on others, am I like the Pharisees and the scribes who gave their opinion on Jesus and John? They expressed only their preconceptions and said nothing on the persons whom they judged.

• Do you know any groups in the Church who would merit the parable of Jesus?



5) Concluding Prayer



How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh,

the people He has chosen as His heritage.

From heaven Yahweh looks down,

He sees all the children of Adam. (Ps 33,12-13)


Lectio Divina:
2020-09-16
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 09:15

Lectio Divina: Luke 7,11-17

1) Opening prayer

Almighty God,
our creator and guide,
may we serve you with all our hearts
and know your forgiveness in our lives.
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 7,11-17

It happened that soon afterwards Jesus went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people.
Now when he was near the gate of the town there was a dead man being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople was with her.
When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her and said to her, ‘Don’t cry.’ Then he went up and touched the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you: get up.’ And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Everyone was filled with awe and glorified God saying, ‘A great prophet has risen up among us; God has visited his people.’ And this view of him spread throughout Judaea and all over the countryside.

3) Reflection

Today’s Gospel presents the episode of the resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain. The literary context of this episode of the VII chapter of Luke helps one to understand. The Evangelist wants to show that Jesus opens the road, revealing the novelty of God which is presented to us in the announcement of the Good News. And in this way the transformation and openness take place: Jesus accepts the request of a foreigner, a non Jew (Lk 7, 1-10) and resurrects the son of a widow (Lk 7, 11-17). The way in which Jesus reveals the Kingdom surprises the Jewish brothers who were not accustomed to such great openness. Even John the Baptist is surprised and orders to go and ask: “Are you the one who is to come or are we to expect someone else?” (Lk 7, 18-30). Jesus denounces the incoherence of his patricians: “They are like children shouting to one another without knowing what they want!” (Lk 7, 31-35). And finally, there is the openness of Jesus toward women (7, 36-50).
Luke 7, 11-12: The meeting of the two processions. “Jesus went to a town called Nain. His disciples and a great crowd were going with him. When he was close to the gate of the town, there was a dead man being carried out to the cemetery, the only son of his mother and she was a widow.” Luke is like a painter. With few words he succeeds to paint a very beautiful picture on the encounter of the two processions: the procession of death which is going out of the city and accompanies the widow who is taking her only son towards the cemetery; the procession of life which enters the city and accompanies Jesus. The two meet in the small square at the side of the gate of the town of Nain.
Luke 7,13: Compassion begins to act here. “When the Lord saw her, he felt sorry for her and said to her: “Do not cry!” It is compassion which moves Jesus to speak and to act. Compassion signifies literally: “to suffer with”, to assume or make ours the suffering of the other person, identifying oneself with the person, feeling the pain, the suffering. It is compassion which puts into action the power of Jesus, the power of life over death, the creative power.
Luke 7,14-15: “Young man, I tell you, get up!” Jesus gets near the bier and says: “Young men, I tell you, get up!” And the dead man sat up and began to talk; and Jesus gave him to his mother”. Sometimes, at the moment of a great sorrow caused by the death of a loved person, people say: “In Jesus’ time, when he walked on this earth there was hope not to lose a loved person because Jesus could resurrect her”. These persons consider the episode of the resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain as an event of the past which arouses nostalgia and also certain envy. The intention of the Gospel, instead, is not, that of arousing nostalgia or envy, but rather of helping us to experience better the living presence of Jesus in our midst. It is the same Jesus, who continues alive in our midst, capable of overcoming death and the sorrow of death. He is with us today, and in the face of the problems of sorrow which strike us, he tells us: “I tell you, get up!”
Luke 7, 16-17: The repercussion. “Everyone was filled with awe and glorified God saying: ‘A great prophet has risen up among us; God has visited his people”. The fame of these events spread throughout Judaea and all over the countryside”. It is the prophet who was announced by Moses (Dt 18, 15). It is God who comes to visit us and the “Father of orphans and protector of the widows” (Ps 68, 6: Judith 9, 11).

4) Personal questions

Compassion moves Jesus to resurrect the son of the widow. Does the suffering, the sorrow of others produce in me the same compassion? What do I do to help the others to overcome the sorrow and to create a new life?
God visited his people. Do I perceive the many visits of God in my life and in the life of the people?

5) Concluding Prayer

Serve Yahweh with gladness,
come into his presence with songs of joy!
Be sure that Yahweh is God, he made us,
we belong to him, his people, the flock of his sheepfold. (Ps 100,2-3)

Saturday, 16 March 2013 14:16

Lectio Divina: Luke 14:12-14

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:
2019-11-04
Saturday, 16 March 2013 08:45

Lectio: Luke 8,19-21

Tuesday - Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

Father,
guide us, as you guide creation
according to your law of love.
May we love one another
and come to perfection
in the eternal life prepared for us.
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 8,19-21

Jesus’ mother and his brothers came looking for him, but they could not get to him because of the crowd.
He was told, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside and want to see you.’ But he said in answer, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.’

3) Reflection

• The Gospel today presents the episode in which the relatives of Jesus and also his Mother want to speak with him, but Jesus does not pay attention to them. Jesus had problems with his family. Sometimes the family helps one to live the Gospel and to participate in the community. Other times, the family prevents this. This is what happened to Jesus and this is what happens to us.
• Luke 8, 19-20: The family looks for Jesus. The relatives reach the house where Jesus was staying. Probably, they had come from Nazareth. From there to Capernaum the distance is about 40 kilometres. His Mother was with them. Probably, they did not enter because there were many people, but they sent somebody to tell him: “Your Mother and your brothers are outside and want to see you”. According to the Gospel of Mark, the relatives do not want to see Jesus, they want to take him back home (Mk 3, 32). They thought that Jesus had lost his head (Mk 3, 21). Probably, they were afraid, because according to what history says, the Romans watched very closely all that he did, in one way or other, with the people (cf. Ac 5, 36-39). In Nazareth, up on the mountains he would have been safer than in Capernaum.
• Luke 8, 21: The response of Jesus. The reaction of Jesus is clear: “My mother and my brothers are those who listen to the Word of God and put it into practice”. In Mark the reaction of Jesus is more concrete. Mark says: Looking around at those who were sitting there he said: “Look, my mother and my brothers! Anyone who does the will of God, he is my brother, sister and mother (Mk 3, 34-35). Jesus extends his family! He does not permit the family to draw him away from the mission: neither the family (Jn 7, 3-6), nor Peter (Mk 8, 33), nor the disciples (Mk 1, 36-38), nor Herod (Lk 13, 32), nor anybody else (Jn 10, 18).
• It is the Word of God which creates a new family around Jesus: “My mother and my brothers are those who listen to the Word of God, and put it into practice.” A good commentary on this episode is what the Gospel of John says in the Prologue: “He was in the world that had come into being through him and the world did not recognize him. He came to his own and his own people did not accept him”. But to those who did accept him he gave them power to become children of God: to those who believed in his name, who were born not from human stock or human desire, or human will, but from God himself. And the Word became flesh, he lived among us; and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1, 10-14). The family, the relatives, do not understand Jesus (Jn 7, 3-5; Mk 3, 21), they do not form part of the new family. Only those who receive the Word, that is, who believe in Jesus, form part of the new family. These are born of God and form part of God’s Family.
The situation of the family at the time of Jesus. In the time of Jesus, the political social and economic moment or the religious ideology, everything conspired in favour of weakening the central values of the clan, of the community. The concern for the problems of the family prevented persons from being united in the community. Rather, in order that the Kingdom of God could manifest itself anew, in the community life of the people, persons had to go beyond, to pass the narrow limits of the small family and open themselves to the large family, toward the Community. Jesus gives the example. When his own family tried to take hold of him, Jesus reacted and extended the family (Mk 3, 33-35). He created the Community.
The brothers and the sisters of Jesus. The expression “brothers and sisters of Jesus” causes much polemics among Catholics and Protestants. Basing themselves on this and on other texts, the Protestants say that Jesus had more brothers and sisters and that Mary had more sons! The Catholics say that Mary did not have other sons. What should we think about this? In the first place, both positions: that of the Catholics as well as that of the Protestants, start from the arguments drawn from the Bible and from the Traditions of their respective Churches. Because of this, it is not convenient to discuss on this question with only intellectual arguments. Because here it is a question of the convictions that they have and which have to do with faith and sentiments. The intellectual argument alone does not succeed in changing a conviction of the heart! Rather, it irritates and draws away! And even if I do not agree with the opinion of the other person, I must respect it. In the second place, instead of discussing about texts, both we Catholics and the Protestants, we should unite together to fight in defence of life, created by God, a life totally disfigured by poverty, injustice, by the lack of faith. We should recall some phrase of Jesus: “I have come so that they may have life and life in abundance” (Jn 10, 10). “So that all may be one so that the world will believe that it was you who sent me” (Jn 17, 21). “Do not prevent them! Anyone who is not against us is for us” (Mk 9, 39.40).

4) Personal questions

• Does your family help or make it difficult for you to participate in the Christian community?
• How do you assume your commitment in the Christian community without prejudice for the family or for the community?

5) Concluding Prayer

Teach me, Yahweh, the way of your will,
and I will observe it.
Give me understanding and I will observe your Law,
and keep it wholeheartedly. (Ps 119,33-34)

Friday, 15 March 2013 16:51

Lectio: Luke 7,31-35

1) Opening prayer

Almighty God,
our creator and guide,
may we serve you with all our hearts
and know your forgiveness in our lives.
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 7,31-35

Jesus said: ‘What comparison, then, can I find for the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children shouting to one another while they sit in the market place: We played the pipes for you, and you wouldn’t dance; we sang dirges, and you wouldn’t cry.
‘For John the Baptist has come, not eating bread, not drinking wine, and you say, “He is possessed.” The Son of man has come, eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.’

3) Reflection

In today’s Gospel we see the novelty of the Good News which opens its way and thus persons who are attached to ancient forms of faith feel lost and do not understand anything more of God’s action. In order to hide their lack of openness and of understanding they defend and seek childish pretexts to justify their attitude of lack of acceptance. Jesus reacts with a parable to denounce the incoherence of his enemies: “You are similar to children who do not know what they want”.
Luke 7, 31: To whom, then, shall I compare you? Jesus is struck by the reaction of the people and say: “What comparison, then, can I find for the people of this generation? What are they like?” When something is evident and the persons, out of ignorance or because of bad will, do not perceive things and do not want to perceive them, it is good to find an evident comparison which will reveal their incoherence and the ill will. And Jesus is a Master in finding comparisons which speak for themselves.
Luke 7, 32: Like children without judgment. The comparison which Jesus finds is this one. You are like “those children, shouting to one another while they sit in the market place: we played the pipes for you, and you would not dance; we sang dirges and you would not cry!” Spoiled children, all over the world, have the same reaction. They complain when others do not do and act as they say. The reason for Jesus’ complaint is the arbitrary way with which people in the past reacted before John the Baptist and how they react now before Jesus.
Luke 7, 33-34: Their opinion on John and on Jesus. “For John the Baptist has come, not eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say: he is possessed. The Son of man has come eating and drinking, and you say: look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners”. Jesus was a disciple of John the Baptist; he believed in him and was baptized by him. On the occasion of this Baptism in the Jordan, he had the revelation of the Father regarding his mission as Messiah-Servant (Mk 1, 10). At the same time, Jesus stressed the difference between him and John. John was more severe, more ascetical, did not eat nor drink. He remained in the desert and threatened the people with the punishment of the Last Judgment (Lk 3, 7-9). Because of this, people said that he was possessed. Jesus was more welcoming; he ate and drank like everybody else. He went through the towns and entered the houses of the people; he accepted the tax collectors and the prostitutes. This is why they said that he was a glutton and a drunkard. Even considering his words regarding “the men of this generation” (Lk 7, 31), in a general way, probably, Jesus had in mind the opinion of the religious authority who did not believe in Jesus (Mk 11,29-33).
Luke 7, 35: The obvious conclusion to which Jesus arrives. And Jesus ends drawing this conclusion: “Yet, wisdom is justified by all her children”. The lack of seriousness and of coherence is clearly seen in the opinion given on Jesus and on John. The bad will is so evident that it needs no proof. That recalls the response of Job to his friends who believe that they are wise: “Will no one teach you to be quiet! - the only wisdom that becomes you!” (Job 13, 5).

4) Personal questions

When I express my opinion on others, am I like the Pharisees and the Scribes who gave their opinion on Jesus and John? They expressed only their preconceptions and said nothing on the persons whom they judged.
Do you know any groups in the Church who would merit the parable of Jesus?

5) Concluding Prayer

How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh,
the people he has chosen as his heritage.
From heaven Yahweh looks down,
he sees all the children of Adam. (Ps 33,12-13)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 06:32

Lectio: Luke 8,19-21


1) Opening prayer

Father,
guide us, as you guide creation
according to your law of love.
May we love one another
and come to perfection
in the eternal life prepared for us.
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 8,19-21
Jesus’ mother and his brothers came looking for him, but they could not get to him because of the crowd.

He was told, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside and want to see you.’ But he said in answer, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.’

3) Reflection
• The Gospel today presents the episode in which the relatives of Jesus and also his Mother want to speak with him, but Jesus does not pay attention to them. Jesus had problems with his family. Sometimes the family helps one to live the Gospel and to participate in the community. Other times, the family prevents this. This is what happened to Jesus and this is what happens to us.

• Luke 8, 19-20: The family looks for Jesus. The relatives reach the house where Jesus was staying. Probably, they had come from Nazareth. From there to Capernaum the distance is about 40 kilometres. His Mother was with them. Probably, they did not enter because there were many people, but they sent somebody to tell him: “Your Mother and your brothers are outside and want to see you”. According to the Gospel of Mark, the relatives do not want to see Jesus, they want to take him back home (Mk 3, 32). They thought that Jesus had lost his head (Mk 3, 21). Probably, they were afraid, because according to what history says, the Romans watched very closely all that he did, in one way or other, with the people (cf. Ac 5, 36-39). In Nazareth, up on the mountains he would have been safer than in Capernaum.
• Luke 8, 21: The response of Jesus. The reaction of Jesus is clear: “My mother and my brothers are those who listen to the Word of God and put it into practice”. In Mark the reaction of Jesus is more concrete. Mark says: Looking around at those who were sitting there he said: “Look, my mother and my brothers! Anyone who does the will of God, he is my brother, sister and mother (Mk 3, 34-35). Jesus extends his family! He does not permit the family to draw him away from the mission: neither the family (Jn 7, 3-6), nor Peter (Mk 8, 33), nor the disciples (Mk 1, 36-38), nor Herod (Lk 13, 32), nor anybody else (Jn 10, 18).
• It is the Word of God which creates a new family around Jesus: “My mother and my brothers are those who listen to the Word of God, and put it into practice.” A good commentary on this episode is what the Gospel of John says in the Prologue: “He was in the world that had come into being through him and the world did not recognize him. He came to his own and his own people did not accept him”. But to those who did accept him he gave them power to become children of God: to those who believed in his name, who were born not from human stock or human desire, or human will, but from God himself. And the Word became flesh, he lived among us; and we saw his glory, the glory that he has from the Father as only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1, 10-14). The family, the relatives, do not understand Jesus (Jn 7, 3-5; Mk 3, 21), they do not form part of the new family. Only those who receive the Word, that is, who believe in Jesus, form part of the new family. These are born of God and form part of God’s Family.
The situation of the family at the time of Jesus. In the time of Jesus, the political social and economic moment or the religious ideology, everything conspired in favour of weakening the central values of the clan, of the community. The concern for the problems of the family prevented persons from being united in the community. Rather, in order that the Kingdom of God could manifest itself anew, in the community life of the people, persons had to go beyond, to pass the narrow limits of the small family and open themselves to the large family, toward the Community. Jesus gives the example. When his own family tried to take hold of him, Jesus reacted and extended the family (Mk 3, 33-35). He created the Community.
The brothers and the sisters of Jesus. The expression “brothers and sisters of Jesus” causes much polemics among Catholics and Protestants. Basing themselves on this and on other texts, the Protestants say that Jesus had more brothers and sisters and that Mary had more sons! The Catholics say that Mary did not have other sons. What should we think about this? In the first place, both positions: that of the Catholics as well as that of the Protestants, start from the arguments drawn from the Bible and from the Traditions of their respective Churches. Because of this, it is not convenient to discuss on this question with only intellectual arguments. Because here it is a question of the convictions that they have and which have to do with faith and sentiments. The intellectual argument alone does not succeed in changing a conviction of the heart! Rather, it irritates and draws away! And even if I do not agree with the opinion of the other person, I must respect it. In the second place, instead of discussing about texts, both we Catholics and the Protestants, we should unite together to fight in defence of life, created by God, a life totally disfigured by poverty, injustice, by the lack of faith. We should recall some phrase of Jesus: “I have come so that they may have life and life in abundance” (Jn 10, 10). “So that all may be one so that the world will believe that it was you who sent me” (Jn 17, 21). “Do not prevent them! Anyone who is not against us is for us” (Mk 9, 39.40).

4) Personal questions
• Does your family help or make it difficult for you to participate in the Christian community?
• How do you assume your commitment in the Christian community without prejudice for the family or for the community?

5) Concluding Prayer
Teach me, Yahweh, the way of your will,
and I will observe it.
Give me understanding and I will observe your Law,
and keep it wholeheartedly. (Ps 119,33-34)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012 06:24

Lectio: Luke 7,31-35

1) Opening prayer
Almighty God,

our creator and guide,
may we serve you with all our hearts
and know your forgiveness in our lives.
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 7,31-35
Jesus said: ‘What comparison, then, can I find for the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children shouting to one another while they sit in the market place: We played the pipes for you, and you wouldn’t dance; we sang dirges, and you wouldn’t cry.

‘For John the Baptist has come, not eating bread, not drinking wine, and you say, “He is possessed.” The Son of man has come, eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.’

3) Reflection
In today’s Gospel we see the novelty of the Good News which opens its way and thus persons who are attached to ancient forms of faith feel lost and do not understand anything more of God’s action. In order to hide their lack of openness and of understanding they defend and seek childish pretexts to justify their attitude of lack of acceptance. Jesus reacts with a parable to denounce the incoherence of his enemies: “You are similar to children who do not know what they want”.

Luke 7, 31: To whom, then, shall I compare you? Jesus is struck by the reaction of the people and say: “What comparison, then, can I find for the people of this generation? What are they like?” When something is evident and the persons, out of ignorance or because of bad will, do not perceive things and do not want to perceive them, it is good to find an evident comparison which will reveal their incoherence and the ill will. And Jesus is a Master in finding comparisons which speak for themselves.
Luke 7, 32: Like children without judgment. The comparison which Jesus finds is this one. You are like “those children, shouting to one another while they sit in the market place: we played the pipes for you, and you would not dance; we sang dirges and you would not cry!” Spoiled children, all over the world, have the same reaction. They complain when others do not do and act as they say. The reason for Jesus’ complaint is the arbitrary way with which people in the past reacted before John the Baptist and how they react now before Jesus.
Luke 7, 33-34: Their opinion on John and on Jesus. “For John the Baptist has come, not eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say: he is possessed. The Son of man has come eating and drinking, and you say: look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners”. Jesus was a disciple of John the Baptist; he believed in him and was baptized by him. On the occasion of this Baptism in the Jordan, he had the revelation of the Father regarding his mission as Messiah-Servant (Mk 1, 10). At the same time, Jesus stressed the difference between him and John. John was more severe, more ascetical, did not eat nor drink. He remained in the desert and threatened the people with the punishment of the Last Judgment (Lk 3, 7-9). Because of this, people said that he was possessed. Jesus was more welcoming; he ate and drank like everybody else. He went through the towns and entered the houses of the people; he accepted the tax collectors and the prostitutes. This is why they said that he was a glutton and a drunkard. Even considering his words regarding “the men of this generation” (Lk 7, 31), in a general way, probably, Jesus had in mind the opinion of the religious authority who did not believe in Jesus (Mk 11,29-33).
Luke 7, 35: The obvious conclusion to which Jesus arrives. And Jesus ends drawing this conclusion: “Yet, wisdom is justified by all her children”. The lack of seriousness and of coherence is clearly seen in the opinion given on Jesus and on John. The bad will is so evident that it needs no proof. That recalls the response of Job to his friends who believe that they are wise: “Will no one teach you to be quiet! - the only wisdom that becomes you!” (Job 13, 5).

4) Personal questions
When I express my opinion on others, am I like the Pharisees and the Scribes who gave their opinion on Jesus and John? They expressed only their preconceptions and said nothing on the persons whom they judged.

Do you know any groups in the Church who would merit the parable of Jesus?

5) Concluding Prayer
How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh,
the people he has chosen as his heritage.
From heaven Yahweh looks down,
he sees all the children of Adam. (Ps 33,12-13)

1. Opening prayer



Lord Jesus, send us the Spirit that we may read your Word free of all prejudice, so that we may meditate upon your proclamation in its entirety and not selectively, so that we may pray that we grow in communion with you and with our brothers and sisters, so that we may finally act, contemplating the reality that we are living this day with your feelings and with your mercy. You who live with the Father and who grants us Love. Amen.



2. Reading



a) Introduction:



This Gospel passage is the last of Jesus’ public teachings, which began with the sermon on the mount (cc.5-7). Jesus is in Jerusalem. The time for His arrest is close at hand, and He is having a hard time confronting many kinds of people: the high priests, elders, scribes, Pharisees, etc. Jesus is questioning Jewish religiosity as such, but He uses strong words concerning the efforts of some, especially those in authority, to twist Jewish authentic values by means of inappropriate attitudes. In this first part of chapter 23, Matthew, reporting the words of Jesus, warns the community of early Christians against reproducing a kind of life that is incompatible with faith in Jesus. Behind these words, we glimpse the conflict between the budding church and the synagogue.



b) A possible division of the text:



Matthew 23:1-7: Warning listeners and denouncing the attitude of the scribes and Pharisees.

Matthew 23:8-12:

Recommendations to the community of disciples.



c) Text:



1 Then, addressing the crowds and His disciples Jesus said, 2 "The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. 3 You must therefore do and observe what they tell you; but do not be guided by what they do, since they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people"s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! 5 Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader headbands and longer tassels, 6 like wanting to take the place of honor at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, 7 being greeted respectfully in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi. 8 "You, however, must not allow yourselves to be called Rabbi, since you have only one Master, and you are all brothers. 9 You must call no one on earth your father, since you have only one Father, and He is in Heaven. 10 Nor must you allow yourselves to be called teachers, for you have only one Teacher, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you must be your servant. 12 Anyone who raises himself up will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.”



3. A moment of silence



To listen to the Spirit and let the Word of God enter and enlighten our life.



4. Some questions



To whom is Jesus speaking?

With whom is Matthew conversing?

Can observance and hypocrisy live together?

What is new in Jesus’ message?

What attitudes mark the community of disciples of Jesus?



5. Meditation



These words of Jesus seem hard and argumentative. Let us try to meditate on them in conjunction with Jesus’ first discourse on the mount according to Matthew. This then becomes a comparison between the ideal of the life of a disciple of Christ and the attitudes that do not correspond with this ideal, seen in those who are still “under the Law”, as Paul would say. The discourse is addressed to the crowd and especially to the disciples, not to the scribes and Pharisees, at least in this first part of the chapter. However, there are also scribes who are “not far from the kingdom of God” (Mk 12:34). Everywhere there are those who “say and do not do”.



Concerning the teaching of the scribes who “occupy the chair of Moses”, it was real enough in the synagogues, but this also has a symbolic reference because occupying the chair of Moses became a sign of power, while Jesus was teaching sitting on the ground (Mt 5:1). Jesus’ relationship with the Law is made clear in the sermon on the mount when He says that He did not come to abolish the law but to complete it (Mt 5: 17-19). Thus authentic commandments must be put into practice: “do what they tell you and listen to what they say”. In the previous discourse Jesus added: “For I tell you, if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 5:20). He followed the authentic interpretation of the Law: “you have heard it said… but I say to you”. Jesus goes beyond the formal observance of the Law (Mk 7:15) because the Kingdom of God has come (Mt 4:17), and with its coming Love, is above the Law. It is no longer sufficient to have recourse to the Law to justify the validity of religious observances (the Sabbath, the washing of hands) nor to impose “heavy burdens”. Now reference must be made to the love of God who alone gives final meaning to the behavior of human beings. For the disciple of Christ, interior motives and authentic intentions are what make an action valid (Mt 6: 22-23). By proclaiming that the kingdom of God is here, Jesus is giving us a new criterion for action that does not suppress the Law but rather reveals its authentic meaning. The commandment to love is the measure by which to criticize the Law. “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened …Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt 11:28-30). The “heavy burdens” are prescriptions elaborated on by oral tradition. These may help in the observance of the Torah, but they can also bypass and supplant human customs. Thus, they concern others but not the leaders: “will they lift a finger to move them?”.



Religiosity can also be a means of pure exhibitionism (vv.5-7) contrary to all the teachings of the sermon on the mount. “Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men” (Mt 6:1). Give alms (Mt 6:3), pray (Mt 6:5), fast (Mt 6:16), which were the most frequent good deeds for a Jew, must be performed “in secret” by the disciple of Christ because their only motive is to adore God. What is more important for the disciple is not social approval or the respect of other human beings, nor is it about titles of honor such as “rabbi”, but to be “poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3) because he or she has placed him/herself in the hands of God and claims nothing for him/herself. That is where his/her treasure lies (Mt 6:21), in heaven. This entails persecution (Mt 5:10-11) rather than applause or approval (Mt 23:6-7). God is “Our Father” (Mt 6:9), no one can take His place. That is why the disciple of Christ must be careful not to confer titles such as rabbi, father, or master. Importance and power obscure the fact that there is only one who is rabbi, father, master and you are all brothers. When John, who baptized, saw the true Master passing by, he sent his disciples to Him (Jn 1:35), the only Master, and did not keep them for himself. The community of Jesus is the one described in the discourse on the “Beatitudes” with all its radical consequences, One community of brothers and sisters capable of receiving God who comes to save gratuitously. The ideal of this community is the “service” (Mt 20:28) of the Son of Man and model of the Church. The authority of leadership loses its attraction and is no longer an ideal, “The greatest among you must be your servant” (conf. Mk 10:41-44; Jn 13), and there is no talk of hierarchical model but of service and humility, “anyone who raises himself will be humbled and anyone who humbles himself will be raised up”. Jesus’ words involve more than just an argument with the scribes and Pharisees and much more than just an exhortation to be coherent. They remind us of the identity of His disciples and of the new way in which they are called to witness.



6. Prayer



Let us pray with Psalm 131



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.



Let Israel hope in Yahweh

henceforth and for ever.



7. Contemplation



Lord, you have warned me against hypocritical behavior that does not reflect the new way that inspires the community of your disciples. How easy it is to place oneself back in the center, to grow attached to habits and to stay still while listening to your Word. Yes, I too am among those who “say and do not do” and your Word makes me uncomfortable. The search for external signs, for approval, for titles and honors disturbs my thoughts and weakens fraternity. Make my intentions and behavior as pure as were those of your mother, Mary, so as to build a community according to your feelings and with your same compassion for all. Amen


The greatest commandment
To love God is to love one’s neighbor
Matthew 22:34-40

1. Opening prayer

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

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

2. Reading

a) A key to the reading:

In the Gospel of the 30th Sunday of ordinary time, the Pharisees want to know what Jesus thinks is the greatest commandment of the law. This theme was much discussed among the Jews of those days. It was a regular debate. Today too, people wish to know what defines a person as a good Christian. Some say that this consists in being baptized, praying and going to Mass on Sunday. Others say it consists in practicing justice and living out fraternity. Each has his or her opinion. According to you, what is the most important thing in religion and in the life of the Church? When reading this text try to pay great attention to the way Jesus answers the question.

b) Text:

34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees they got together 35 and, to put Him to the test, one of them put a further question, 36 'Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?' 37 Jesus said to him, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and the first command-ment. 39 The second resembles it: You must love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets too.'

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 most in this text or what touched you most? Why?
b) Who were the Pharisees then? Who are the Pharisees today?
c) How could the question asked of Jesus by the Pharisees put Him to the test?
d) What is the relationship between the first and the second commandment?
e) Why is it that the love of God and the love of neighbor constitute a summary of the law and the prophets?

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

a) The context of this text as it appears in the Gospel of Matthew:

This is one of the many discussions Jesus had with the religious authorities of that time. This time it was with the Pharisees. First, the Pharisees had tried to discredit Jesus with the people by spreading theories about Him saying that He was possessed by devils with which He drove out Beelzebub (Mt 12:24). Now, in Jerusalem, they enter once more into a discussion with Jesus concerning the interpretation of the law of God.

b) A commentary on the text:

Matthew 22:34-36: A question put by the Pharisees.
First, to put Jesus to the test, the Sadducees had asked Him about belief in the resurrection and were firmly silenced by Jesus (Mt 22:23-33). Now the Pharisees come to the fore. The Pharisees and Sadducees were enemies, but they become friends in criticising Jesus. The Pharisees come together and one of them represents them by asking for a clarification: “Master, which is the greatest commandment of the law?" In those days, the Jews had a huge number of norms, customs, and laws, great and small, to regulate the observance of the Ten Commandments. One point concerning two commandments of the law of God was a matter of great discussion among the Pharisees. Some said: "All the laws, great or small, have equal value because they all come from God. We cannot make distinctions in matters concerning God". Others said: "Some laws are more important than others and thus they deserve greater observance!" The Pharisees want to know where Jesus stands in this debate.

Matthew 22:37-40: Jesus’ reply.
Jesus replies by quoting some words from the Bible: You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind!" (cfr Dt 6:4-5). In Jesus’ days, pious Jews recited this phrase three times a day, morning, noon and night. It was a well-known prayer among them, as the Our Father is for us today. And Jesus goes on quoting the Old Testament: "This is the greatest and first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev 19:18). And He concludes: "On these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets too". In other words, this is the way to God and the neighbor.neighbor There is no other. The greatest temptation of human beings is that of trying to separate these two loves, because in this way the poverty of others would not discomfort their consciences.

c) A deepening:

i) Pharisees:

The word “Pharisees” means “separate” because their rigid way of observing the Law of God separated them from others. Among themselves they called each other companions because they formed a community whose ideal was that of observing absolutely the norms and all the commandments of the Law of God. The way of life of most of them was a witness to the people because they lived by their laborlabor and dedicated many hours every day to study and meditation on the law of God. But there was something very negative They sought their safety not in God but in the rigorous observance of the Law of God. They trusted more in what they did for God than in what God did for them. They had lost the notion of gratuity, which is the source and fruit of love. Before such a false attitude towards God, Jesus reacts firmly and insists on the practice of love that makes the observance of the law, and of its true meaning, relative. In an age of change and uncertainty, such as now, the same temptation reappears. Seeking safety before God, not in the goodness of God towards us, but in the rigorous observance of the Law. If we succumb to such a temptation, then we deserve the same censure from Jesus.

ii) A parallel between Mark and Matthew:

In the Gospel of Mark, it is a doctor of the law who asks the question (Mk 12:32-33). After listening to Jesus’ reply, the doctor agrees with Him and draws the following conclusion: "Yes, to love God and neighborneighbor is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice". Or else, the commandment of love is the most important among all the commandments concerned with cult and sacrifices of the Temple and with external observances. This statement already existed in the Old Testament from the time of the prophet Hosea (Hos 6:6; Ps 40:6-8; Ps 51:16-17). Today we would say that the practice of love is more important than novenas, promises, fasts, prayers and processions. Jesus approves of the conclusion reached by the doctor of the law and says: "You are not far from the Kingdom"! The Kingdom of God consists of this: acknowledging that the love of God is equal to the love of neighbor. We cannot reach God without giving ourselves to the neighbor!

iii) The greatest commandment:

The greatest commandment and the first is this: "You must love God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind" (Mk 12:30; Mt 22:37). As far as the people of God, throughout the centuries, understood the meaning of this love did they become aware that the love of God is real and true only if it is made concrete in the love of neighbor. That is why the second commandment resembles the first (Mt 22:39; Mk 12:31). "Anyone who says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, is a liar" (1Jn 4:20). "On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also" (Mt 22:40). Because of this identification of the two loves, there has been an evolution in three phases:

1st Phase: "neighbor", is the relative of the same race
The Old Testament already taught that we must "love our neighbor as ourselves!" (Lv 19:18). Then the word neighbor was synonymous with relative. They felt obliged to love all those who were part of the same family, the same clan, the same people. As for strangers, that is, those who did not belong to the Jewish people, the book of Deuteronomy says: “From a foreigner you may exact payment, but you must remit whatever claim you have on your brother (relative, neighbor)!" (Dt 15:3).

2nd Phase: "neighbor" is the one I approach or who approaches me.
The concept of neighbor is broadened. In Jesus’ time, there was a whole discussion as to “who is my neighbor?” Some doctors of the law thought the concept of neighbor had to be extended beyond the limits of race. Others would not hear of this. So a doctor turns to Jesus and asks this vexed question: "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus replies with the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:29-37), where the neighbor is neither the relative nor the friend, but all those who approach us, irrespective of religion, colour, race, gender or language! You must love him!

3rd Phase: The measure of our love for the “neighbor” is the love with which Jesus loves us.
Jesus had said to the doctor of the law: "You are not far from the Kingdom!" (Mk 12:34). The doctor was already close because in fact, the Kingdom consists in uniting the love of God with the love of neighbor as the doctor had solemnly declared before Jesus (Mk 12:33). But to enter the Kingdom he had to take one more step. In the Old Testament, the criterion of love for neighbor was the following: "love your neighbor as yourself". Jesus stretches the criterion further and says: "This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you! A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends!" (Jn 15:12-13). Now, in the New Testament, the criterion is: "Love your neighbor as Jesus loved us!". Jesus interpreted the exact meaning of the Word of God and showed us the way to a more just and fraternal way of life.

6. Psalm 62

In God alone there is rest for my soul

In God alone there is rest for my soul,
from Him comes my safety;
 he alone is my rock, my safety,
my stronghold so that I stand unshaken.
How much longer will you set on a victim,
all together, intent on murder,
like a rampart already leaning over,
a wall already damaged?
Trickery is their only plan,
deception their only pleasure,
with lies on their lips they pronounce a blessing,
with a curse in their hearts.

Rest in God alone, my soul!
He is the source of my hope.
He alone is my rock, my safety, my stronghold,
so that I stand unwavering.
In God is my safety and my glory,
the rock of my strength.
In God is my refuge;
trust in him, you people, at all times.
Pour out your hearts to him,
God is a refuge for us.
Ordinary people are a mere puff of wind,
important people a delusion;
set both on the scales together,
and they are lighter than a puff of wind.

Put no trust in extortion,
no empty hopes in robbery;
however much wealth may multiply,
do not set your heart on it.
Once God has spoken,
twice have I heard this:
Strength belongs to God,
to you, Lord, faithful love;
and you repay everyone as their deeds deserve.

7. Final Prayer

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

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