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Monday, 11 February 2019 11:20

Carmelites as witnesses to mission

9/2019 – 11 – 02

On the occasion of the first centenary of the Apostolic Letter, Maximum Illud, of Pope Benedict XV, Pope Francis has convoked a Special Missionary Month for October, 2019, that will have as its theme, "Baptized and Sent out: the Church of Christ on Mission in the World". On account of this, and by way of preparation for the said month, the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and for Pontifical Missionary Works, has published a guide. The guide is divided into three parts, with an introduction that includes a number of quotations of what Pope Francis and Cardinal Filoni have said about mission in the Church today. In the first part, under the title, "The Encounter with Jesus Christ", there is a reflection on the liturgical readings for the month of October 2019. The second part presents a list of "witnesses to mission". The third part contains reflections on certain concrete questions in relation to the missionary dimension of the Church. The guide, in five languages, may be read at:

In the second section, among the twenty-five witnesses, two Carmelites appear: St. Therese of the Child Jesus, patroness of the missions, and Bl. Titus Brandsma who, at various times, manifested their desire to go to the missions but never went, for a number of reasons. Both examples show us how people can possess a missionary spirit and be involved in mission in and through ordinary daily life. May Carmel in the 21st century never be without that missionary spirit and the generosity necessary to give witness to the Good News of the Gospel!

Carmelites as witnesses to mission
8/2019 – 07 – 02

The Elective Chapter of the Carmelite Monastery of Antequera, Spain, was held 6 February 2019. The following were elected:

  • Prioress: Sr. Angelina Ngina Muli, O.Carm.

  • 1st Councilor: Sr. Liliana M. Campos Rosa, O.Carm.

  • 2nd Councilor: Sr. Regina Nduku Maingi, O.Carm.

  • Treasurer: Sr. Liliana M. Campos Rosa, O.Carm.

  • Sacristan: Sr. Juliana Kavithe Mwololo, O.Carm.

Electoral Chapter of the Monastery of Antequera
07/2019 – 05 – 02

The seventh meeting of the Commission for Prayer and Liturgy was held at the Curia on January 31 - February 1, 2019. The meeting was attended by Frs Michael Farrugia (Procurator General), Chairman, Edmondo Caruana (Mel), Giovanni Grosso (Ita) and Mario Esposito (SEL), Secretary. Frs Pius Robert Malik (Indo) was absent because of the difficulty of getting a visa and Giuseppe Midili (Ita) because of other commitments.

The first part of the meeting was dedicated to the review of last year's Liturgical Congress held in April 2018 in Sassone. The congress was well-received, and arrangements will be made for the publication of the reports and talks. During the second part, the Commission also completed its work on the Funeral Rites of the Order as well as completing a supplement containing sixteen Readings for the Saturday Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Rituals for simple and solemn profession and of the Third Order previously approved ad experimentum are in the process of publication and although still waiting for the approval of the Carmelite liturgical calendar by the Congregation, the Commission is pushing forward with this project as well. Finally, some proposals and recommendations were formulated for consideration at the General Chapter of September 2019

Meeting of the Commission for Prayer and Liturgy
5/2019 – 31 – 01

On the recent 28th of January in the city of Panama, a Carmelite Youth Day was held, bringing together young people from different countries, belonging to different Carmelite movements, especially in Latin America. The Day was a joint celebration of Carmelites of the Ancient Observance and Discalced Carmelites. It was led by both Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm., and Saverio Cannistrà, O.C.D.. The theme of the day was taken from a phrase of St. Teresa de los Andes, God is infinite Joy.

The Carmelite Day began with a procession through the streets of the city with the statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. During the course of the procession there were different moments in which there was celebration, or prayer and reflection. Various groups shared their folklore. As a continuation of the prayer and reflection of the morning, there was a “holy hour” of Eucharistic Adoration in the afternoon. The young Carmelites showed great maturity in being able to pass from joyous celebration in one moment to silence and adoration in an other. Later in the programme there was a solemn celebration of the Eucharist, led by Fr. Saverio, The Day ended with a brief festival of religious music.

From the offices of CITOC we would like to offer our thanks for the welcome and excellent hospitality we received from our Discalced brothers, which ensured the success of the Carmelite Day. The Carmelite Order has been present in different ways at each of the last five World Youth Days (Sydney, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Krakow and Panamá. We are gearing up for the WYD in Lisbon in 2022!

World Youth Day 2019
Monday, 28 January 2019 09:17

Lectio Divina February 2019

Pope's Prayer Intentions for February 2019

Universal – Victims

For a generous welcome to the victims of human trafficking, enforced prostitution, and violence.<--break->

Lectio Divina: February – febrero – febbraio  2019






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Saturday, February 2, 2019

Lectio Divina: The Presentation of the Lord

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Lectio Divina: 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Monday, February 4, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 5:1-20

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 5:21-43

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 6:1-6

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 6:7-13

Friday, February 8, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 6:14-29

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 6:30-34

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Lectio Divina: 5th Sunday of ordinary time (C)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 6:53-56

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 7:1-13

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 7:14-23

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 7:24-30

Friday, February 15, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 7:31-37

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 8:1-10

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Lectio: 6th Sunday of ordinary time (C)

Monday, February 18, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 8:11-13

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 8:14-21

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 8:22-26

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 8:27-33

Friday, February 22, 2019

Lectio Divina: Chair of Saint Peter, apostle

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Lectio: Mark 9:2-13

Sunday, February 24, 2019 - 08

Lectio Divina: 7th Sunday of ordinary time (C)

Monday, February 25, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 9:14-29

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 9:30-37

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 9:38-40

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Lectio Divina: Mark 9:41-50


Lectio Divina February 2019

Imitating the mercy of the Father in heaven

Luke 6:27-38

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:

Luke tells us (Lk 6:17-19) that as Jesus was coming down the mountain with the Twelve, he met a large crowd who sought to listen to His word and to touch Him, because power emanated from Him and it cured all. Jesus welcomes the crowd and speaks His word to them. The text of the liturgy for this Sunday puts before us a part of the discourse Jesus delivered on that occasion. In Luke’s Gospel, those to whom the discourse is addressed are “the disciples” and “a great crowd of people from all parts of Judea and from Jerusalem and from the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon” (Lk 6:17). Perhaps these are Jews (Judea and Jerusalem) and pagans (the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon). In Matthew’s Gospel, this same discourse is presented as the New Law of God, as the Ancient Law had been proclaimed from the top of the mountain (Mt 5:1).

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

Luke 6:27-28: General counsels.

Luke 6:29-30: Concrete examples of the practice of the general counsels.

Luke 6:31: A summary of Jesus’ teaching.

Luke 6:32-34: Whoever wishes to follow Jesus must go beyond the morality of the pagans.

Luke 6:35-36: The root of the new morality: imitate the mercy of God the Father.

Luke 6:36-38: Concrete examples of how to imitate God the Father.

c) The text:

 Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give, and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

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 did you like best or touched you most?

b) Why did Jesus pronounce this discourse? Look carefully at the information in the text and try to draw your own conclusions.

c) According to you, what is the core and root of Jesus’ teaching?

d) How can we, today, in our consumerist and individualistic society, practice the morality proposed by Jesus? Or, what does “Be merciful even as your Father is merciful” mean today?

e) Did you find anything in the text that might be a reason for hope and courage?

5. A key to the reading

for those who wish to go deeper into the theme.

i) The context of Jesus’ discourse:

Luke presents Jesus’ teaching as a progressive revelation. Several times, from the beginning of his Gospel up to chapter 6:16, Luke tells his readers that Jesus taught the crowds but does not mention the content of the teaching (Lk 4:15,31,32,44; 5:1,3,15,17; 6:6). Now, however, after saying that Jesus saw the crowd that wished to hear the word of God, Luke presents the first great discourse that begins with the exclamation, “How happy are you who are poor!” (Lk 6:20), “But alas for you who are rich!” (Lk 6:24).

Some call this discourse “The Sermon on the Plain”, because according to Luke, Jesus came down from the mountain and stopped at a plain where He gave His discourse (Lk 6:17). In Matthew’s Gospel, this same discourse takes place on the mountain (Mt 5:1) and is called “The Sermon on the Mount”. In Matthew there are nine beatitudes in the sermon, which present a way of life for the Christian communities of Jewish origin. In Luke, the sermon is shorter and more radical and is directed towards the Hellenistic communities made up of rich and poor persons. The verses of the Gospel of the seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time present the core of Jesus’ teaching concerning the behavior of those who wish to be His disciples.

ii) A Commentary on the text:

Luke 6:27a: Jesus speaks to everyone.

From the beginning of the discourse until now, Jesus had spoken to His “disciples” (Lk 6:20). Here, in Luke’s text 6:27a, His audience grows and He addresses Himself to “you who wish to hear”, that is, His disciples who are that great crowd of poor and suffering people, coming from all parts (Lk 6:17-19) and to all of us, you and me, who at this very moment “hear” the word of Jesus.

Luke 6:27b-28: General counsels that define the new teaching.

The words that Jesus directs to this crowd of poor and suffering people are demanding and difficult: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly.” These counsels of Jesus go way beyond the demands, which in those times, people learned from childhood from the scribes and Pharisees during the weekly meetings in the synagogue, that is, “love your neighbor and hate your enemy” (Mt 5:43). The new demands from Jesus go beyond this set and common morality, even to this day, and reveal an aspect of “greater justice” that Jesus requires of those who wish to follow Him (Mt 5:20).

Luke 6:29-30: Concrete examples of the practice of the new teaching of Jesus!

Jesus asks me to offer the other cheek to those who strike me on one cheek, and He asks that I do not reclaim it when someone takes what is mine. How are we to understand these words? Must the poor person accept when the rich person strikes him/her, when the rich person steals or exploits him/her? If we take these words literally, these counsels seem to favor the rich. But not even Jesus observed these words literally. When the soldier struck Jesus in the face, he did not offer the other cheek, but reacted strongly: “If there is something wrong in what I said, point it out; but if there is no offense in it, why do you strike me?” (Jn 18:22-23). What Jesus did then, tells us not to take these words literally. Besides, the words that follow in the same discourse help us to understand what Jesus wished to teach (Lk 6:31).

Luke 6:31: A summary of Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus pronounces this revolutionary sentence: “Treat others as you wish them to treat you”. The best commentaries on this teaching are some comments taken from other religions. From Islam: “No one can be a believer unless he loves his brother as himself.” From Buddhism: “There are five ways in which a true leader must treat his friends and dependents: with generosity, courtesy, goodwill, giving to them what they expect and being true to his word”. From Taoism: “Consider the success of your neighbor as your own, and also his misfortune as if it were your own”. From Hinduism: “Do not do to others that which were it to happen to you would cause you pain”. In His teaching, Jesus succeeded in putting into words the deepest and most universal desires of humankind, the desire for fraternity, born of the will to wish others well completely selflessly, without trying to draw any benefit, merit or reward. It is in sincere fraternity, well lived, that the face of God is revealed.

Luke 6:32-34: Those who want to follow Jesus must go beyond the morality of the pagans.

What can we think of those who love only those who love them? Do we only do good to those who do good to us? Do we lend only to those who will repay us? In all societies of every kind, the members of a family seek to help each other. Jesus speaks of this universal practice: “Even sinners do that much!” But this universal practice is not enough for those who wish to follow Jesus Christ. Jesus is quite clear on this point. It is not enough! It is necessary to take a further step. What step? The answer lies in what follows.

Luke 6:35-36: The root of the new morality: to imitate the mercy of God the Father.

By His preaching, Jesus tries to change and convert people. The change He desires is not limited to a simple inversion of the situation so that those who are at the bottom go to the top and those on top go down to the bottom. This would change nothing and the system would go on functioning unchanged. Jesus wants to change the way of life. He wants that His followers have the opposite attitude: “Love your enemies!” The new way He wishes to build comes from a new experience of God, Father of love. The love of God for us is entirely gratuitous. It does not depend on anything we do. Thus true love desires the good of the other independently of anything he or she does for me. In this way, we imitate the mercy of God the Father and we become “children of the Most High, who is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked”. We shall become “merciful as your Father is merciful”. These words of Jesus evoke the experience of God that Moses had on Mount Sinai: “Yahweh, Yahweh, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in tenderness and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6).

Luke 6:36-38: Concrete examples of how to imitate God the Father.

Do not judge, do not condemn, forgive, give without measure! These are the counsels that Jesus gives to those who were listening to Him on that day. These make explicit and concrete the teachings of Jesus in the previous verse on the merciful love towards enemies and on behavior as children of the Most High. It is the mercy that is shown in the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son and that is revealed in the life of Jesus: “Who sees Me, sees the Father”.

iii) Further information for us to understand the text better:

a) Bless those who curse you:

The two statements in the same discourse: “Happy you who are poor!” (Lk 6:20) and “Alas you who are rich!” (Lk 6:24) bring the hearers to make a choice, to choose options in favor of the poor. In the Old Testament, at several times, God places people in a position of choice between blessing and cursing. People are given the possibility to choose: “I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live” (Deut 30:19). God does not condemn. It is the people who choose life or death, according to their attitude before God and neighbor. These moments of choice are moments when God visits His people (Gen 21:1; 50:24-25; Ex 3:16; 32:34; Jer 29:10; Ps 59:6; Ps 65:10; Ps 80:15, Ps 106:4). Luke is the only Evangelist who makes use of this image of the visit of God (Lk 1:68, 78; 7:16; 19:44; Acts 15:16). For Luke, Jesus is the visit of God who places His people before the choice of blessing or curse: “Happy are you who are poor!” but “Alas you who are rich!” But the people do not recognize God’s visit (Lk 19:44). And today, in our world, whose greatest accomplishment is the growing poverty of so many, are we able to recognize the visit of God?

b) Those to whom the discourse of Jesus is addressed:

Jesus begins His discourse using the second person plural: “Happy are you who are poor!” – “Alas you who are rich!” However, present before Jesus on that plain, there were no rich people! Only the poor and suffering from all parts were there (Lk 6:17-19). But the text says, “Alas you who are rich!” In passing on the words of Jesus, Luke was thinking also of the Hellenist community of Greece and of Asia Minor in the 80s, 50 years after the time of Jesus. Among these there was discrimination against the poor on the part of the rich (cf. Rev 3:15-17; Jas 2:1-4; 5:1-6; 1Cor 11:20-21), the same discrimination typical of the structure of the Roman Empire. Jesus criticizes the wealthy severely and directly: “You who are rich, you are having your consolation already! Alas for you who have your fill now, you shall go hungry! Alas for you who laugh now, you shall mourn and weep!” This shows that, for Jesus, poverty is not a fatality, but the result of the unjust accumulation of wealth by others. The same may be said for this statement: “Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets!” This fourth warning refers to the converted Jews, that is, the children of those who in times past praised the false prophets. In citing these words of Jesus, Luke was thinking of the converted Jews of his time who used their prestige and authority to criticize openness to the pagans.

6. Psalm 34 (33)

“Gratitude that springs from a different view”

I will bless the Lord at all times;

His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul makes its boast in the Lord;

let the afflicted hear and be glad.

O magnify the Lord with me,

and let us exalt His name together!

I sought the Lord, and He answered me,

and delivered me from all my fears.

Look to Him, and be radiant;

so your faces shall never be ashamed.

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him,

and saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,

and delivers them.

O taste and see that the Lord is good!

Happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!

O fear the Lord, you His saints,

for those who fear Him have no want!

The young lions suffer want and hunger;

but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Come, O sons, listen to me,

I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

What man is there who desires life,

and covets many days, that he may enjoy good?

Keep your tongue from evil,

and your lips from speaking deceit.

Depart from evil, and do good;

seek peace, and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,

and His ears toward their cry.

The face of the Lord is against evildoers,

to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

When the righteous cry for help,

the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.

The Lord is near to the broken-hearted,

and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous;

but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

He keeps all his bones;

not one of them is broken.

Evil shall slay the wicked;

and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

The Lord redeems the life of His servants;

none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

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:
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 08:57

Lectio Divina: Mark 6:14-29

1) Opening prayer

Lord our God,

help us to love You with all our hearts

and to love all people as You love them.

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

who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

2) Gospel reading - Mark 6:14-29

King Herod heard about Jesus, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; That is why mighty powers are at work in him." Others were saying, "He is Elijah"; still others, "He is a prophet like any of the prophets." But when Herod learned of it, he said, "It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up." Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. His own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you." He even swore many things to her, "I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" Her mother replied, "The head of John the Baptist." The girl hurried back to the king's presence and made her request, "I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. 

3) Reflection

• The Gospel today describes how John the Baptist was victim of the corruption and of the arrogance of the government of Herod. He died without being judged by a tribunal, in the course of a banquet given by Herod with the great men of the kingdom. The text gives us much information about the time of the life of Jesus and on the way in which the powerful of the time exercised power. From the beginning of the Gospel of Mark we perceive or see a situation of suspense. He had said, “After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God!” (Mk 1:14). In today’s Gospel, almost suddenly, we know that Herod had already killed John the Baptist. Therefore, the reader asks himself, “What will he do now with Jesus? Will He suffer the same destiny? Rather than drawing up a balance of the opinions of the people and of Herod on Jesus, Mark asks another question, “Who is Jesus?” This last question grows throughout the Gospel until it receives the definitive response from the centurion at the foot of the Cross: “Truly, this man was the Son of God!” (Mk 15:39)

• Mark 6:14-16. Who is Jesus? The text begins with a balance on the opinions of the people and of Herod on Jesus. Some associated Jesus with John the Baptist and with Elijah. Others identified Him with a prophet, that is, with someone who spoke in the name of God, who had the courage to denounce the injustices of the powerful and who knew how to animate the hope of the little ones. People tried to understand Jesus starting from the things that they themselves knew, believed, and hoped. They tried to make Him fit into the familiar criteria of the Old Testament with its prophecies and its hopes, and of the tradition of the ancients, with their laws. But these criteria were not sufficient. Jesus could not fit in those criteria. He was much greater!

• Mark 6:17-20. The cause for the killing of John. Galilee, the land of Jesus, was governed by Herod Antipas, the son of King Herod the Great, from the year 4 BC up to the year 39 after Christ. In all, 43 years! During the whole lifetime of Jesus, there had been no change in the government of Galilee! Herod Antipas was the absolute lord of everything; he listened to no one and did whatever he pleased! But the one who really commanded in Palestine, from the year 63 BC, was the Roman Empire. Herod, in order to not be removed from office, tried to please Rome in everything. He insisted above all on an efficient administration which would provide income for the Roman Empire. The only thing that concerned or worried him was his security and promotion. This is why he repressed any type of subversion. Flavius Josephus, a writer of that time, says that the reason for the imprisonment of John the Baptist was  Herod’s fear of a popular revolt. Herod liked to be called benefactor of the people, but in reality he was a tyrant (Lk 22:25). John’s denouncement of him (Mk 6: 18) was the drop which filled up the cup, and John was thrown into prison.

• Mark 6:21-29: The murder plot. The anniversary and the banquet of the feast, with dancing and orgies! This was an environment in which the alliances were plotted. In attendance were “the great of the court, the officials and important people from Galilee”. In this environment the murder of John the Baptist was plotted. John, the prophet, was a living denouncement in this corrupt system. This is why he was eliminated under the pretext of personal vengeance. All this reveals the moral weakness of Herod. So much power accumulated in the hands of a man who did not control himself! Under the enthusiasm of the feast and of the wine, Herod swore lightly to give something to the young dancer. And superstitious as he was, he thought that he had to maintain his oath. For Herod, the life of his subjects counted nothing, had no value. He used them as he wanted and decided what to do with them just as he decided where to place the chairs in his house. Mark gives an account of how things happened and lets the community draw its own conclusions. 

4) Personal questions

Do you know the cases of people who have died victims of corruption and of the dominion of the powerful? Do you know people in the community and in our Church who are victims of authoritarianism and an excess of power?

• Herod, the powerful who considered himself the owner of life and death of the people, was a great superstitious man and feared John the Baptist. He was a coward before the great, a corrupt man before the girl. Superstition, cowardice, and corruption characterized the exercise of Herod’s power. Compare this with the corrupt power today in the various levels of society. 

5) Concluding prayer

This God, His way is blameless;

the word of Yahweh is refined in the furnace,

for He alone is the shield of all who take refuge in Him. (Ps 18:30)

Lectio Divina:
Wednesday, 14 June 2017 08:34

Lectio Divina: Mark 5:21-43

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

Lord our God,

help us to love You with all our hearts

and to love all people as You love them.

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

who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Mark 5: 21-43

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

3) Reflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) Personal questions

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

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

5) Concluding Prayer

From You comes my praise in the thronged assembly;

I will perform my vows before all who fear Him.

The poor will eat and be filled;

those who seek Yahweh will praise Him.

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

Lectio Divina:
4/2019 – 22 – 01

The Carmelite International Commission for Evangelisation and Mission organized a workshop on the ministry of preaching in the Carmelite tradition at Casa São Nuno, Fatima (Portugal) from the 15th to the 18th January 2019. This event was based on chapter three of Evangelii Gaudium of Pope Francis with the title “The Need to Preach and the Art of Preaching.”

Each day had a separate theme beginning on the first day with the question of ‘proclamation’. The participants then continued by examining the ‘context’ of preaching, the tradition of preaching in the Order and finally our mission of preaching into the future. The principal speakers were: Fr. Timothy Radcliff, O.P. (author and former Master General of the Dominicans), Professor Donna Orsuto (The Lay Center and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome), Carmelites Frs. Huub Welzen (Neer), Míceál O’Neill (CISA), Alexander Vella (Mel), Michael Plattig (Ger), John Keating (Curia), and Mr. Paolo Rocha (Communications Director of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference), Sabrina Rubio Peréz (Carmelite youth committee and JUCAR).

Each day a member of the commission led the different sessions: Sanny Bruijns (Neer), Fr. Conrad Mutizamhepo, Councillor General for Africa, Frs. Desiderio García Martínez (ACV), Klaus Schenkelberger (Gal). Frs. Klaus and Luca Sciarelli (Ita) led the liturgies. On one of the days, the Emeritus Carmelite Bishop of Beja, Mons. António Vitalino Fernandes Dantas celebrated the Eucharist for the group at the place of the apparitions. The Commissary General of Portugal, Fr. Ricardo Rainho, welcomed the participants and extended a generous and fraternal welcome to all. In all, there were forty-five, from different groups within the Carmelite Family, taking part in the workshop.

Carmelite workshop on the ministry of preaching in Fatima
Monday, 24 December 2018 08:00

Christmas greetings 2018

The Carmelite Curia in Rome, Italy sending Christmas greeting 

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