carmelitecuria logo en

  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image

Tuesday, 23 February 2010 10:00

Lectio Divina: John 6:22-29

Easter Time

1) Opening prayer

Our living God,

we hunger for lasting life and happiness

and the fulfillment of all our hopes.

Satisfy all our hungers

through your Son Jesus Christ, who is our bread of life.

And when he has filled us with himself,

may he lead and strengthen us

to bring to a waiting world

the food of reconciliation and joy,

which you alone can give to the full.

We ask this thorough Christ our Lord.

2) Gospel Reading - John 6:22-29

The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left. Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

3) Reflection

• In today’s Gospel we begin the discourse on the Bread of Life (Jn 6:22-71), which is extended during the next six days, until the end of the week. After the multiplication of the loaves, the people follow Jesus. They had seen the miracle; they had eaten and were satiated and wanted more! They were not concerned about looking for the sign or the call of God that was contained in all of this. When the people found Jesus in the synagogue at Capernaum, He had a long conversation with them, called the Discourse of the Bread of Life. It is not really a discourse, but it is a series of seven brief dialogues which explain the meaning of the multiplication of the bread, symbol of the new Exodus and of the Eucharistic Supper.

• It is good to keep in mind the division of the chapter in order to understand better its significance:

6:1-15: the great multiplication of the loaves

6:16-21: the crossing of the lake, and Jesus who walks on the water

6:22-71: the dialogue of Jesus with the people, with the Jews and with the disciples

1st dialogue: 6:22-27 with the people: the people seek Jesus and find Him in Capernaum

2nd dialogue: 6:28-34 with the people: faith as the work of God and the manna of the desert

3rd dialogue: 6:35-40 with the people: the true bread is to do God’s will.

4th dialogue: 6:41-51 with the Jews: the complaining of the Jews

5th dialogue: 6:52-58 with the Jews: Jesus and the Jews.

6th dialogue: 6:59-66 with the disciples: reaction of the disciples

7th dialogue: 6:67-71 with the disciples: confession of Peter

• The conversation of Jesus with the people, with the Jews, and with the disciples is a beautiful dialogue, but a demanding one. Jesus tries to open the eyes of the people in a way that they will learn to read the events and discover in them the turning point that life should take. It is not enough to follow behind miraculous signs which multiply the bread for the body. Man does not live by bread alone. The struggle for life without mysticism does not reach the roots. The people, while speaking with Jesus, always remain more annoyed or upset by his words. But Jesus does not give in, neither does He change the exigencies. The discourse seems to be a funnel. In the measure in which the conversation advances, fewer people remain with Jesus. At the end only the twelve remain there, but Jesus cannot trust them either! Today the same thing happens. When the Gospel begins to demand commitment, many people withdraw and go away.

• John 6:22-27: People look for Jesus because they want more bread. The people follow Jesus. They see that He did not go into the boat with the disciples and, because of this, they do not understand what He had done to reach Capernaum. They did not even understand the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. People see what has happened, but they cannot understand all this as a sign of something more profound. They stop only on the surface; in being satisfied with the food. They look for bread and life, but only for the body. According to the people, Jesus does what Moses had done in the past: to feed all the people in the desert. According to Jesus, they wanted the past to be repeated. But Jesus asks the people to take a step more and advance. Besides working for the bread that perishes, they should work for the imperishable food. This new food will be given by the Son of Man, indicated by God Himself. He brings life which lasts forever. He opens for us a new horizon on the sense of life and on God.

• John 6:28-29: Which is God’s work? The people ask: what should we do to carry out this work of God? Jesus answers that the great work of God asks us to “believe in the one sent by God”. That is, to believe in Jesus!

4) Personal questions

The people were hungry, they eat the bread, and they look for more bread. They seek the miracle and do not seek the sign of God which was hidden in that. What do I seek more in my life: a miracle or a sign or the meaning?

• Keep silence within you for a moment and ask yourself: “To believe in Jesus: What does this mean for me specifically in my daily life?”

• What do I really work for in my life? Food that perishes or food that endures? Am I not committed and do a little of both, “just in case”?

5) Concluding Prayer

Lord, I tell You my ways and You answer me;

teach me Your wishes.

Show me the way of Your precepts,

that I may reflect on Your wonders. (Ps 119:26-27)

Lectio Divina:

Easter Time

1) Opening prayer

Lord our God,

there is much in us that obscures Your word

and keeps us from being truly Your Church. We pray You today:

Call us, as once You called Mark,

to speak and live Your word.

Inspire us through Your Spirit

and teach us to live in the hope

that Your kingdom will come

and remain among us

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

now and for ever.

2) Gospel Reading - Mark 16:15-20

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." Then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

3) Reflection

• Today’s Gospel forms part of the appendix of the Gospel of Mark (Mk 16:9-20) which presents a list of some apparitions of Jesus: to Magdalene (Mk 16:9-11), to the two disciples who were walking out in the country (Mk 16:12-13) and to the twelve apostles (Mk 16:14-18). This last apparition, together with the description of the Ascension into Heaven (Mk 16:19-20), forms the Gospel for today.

• Mark 16:14: The signs which accompany the announcement of the Good News. Jesus appears to the eleven disciples and reproaches them for not believing the persons who had seen Him resurrected. They did not believe Mary Magdalene (Mk 16:11), nor the two disciples on the road out in the country (Mk 16:13). Several times, Mark refers to the resistance of the disciples to believing the witness of those who experienced the resurrection of Jesus. Why does Mark insist so much on the lack of faith of the disciples? Probably to teach two things: First, that faith in Jesus goes through faith in persons who give witness. Second, that no one should be discouraged when there is doubt in the heart. Even the eleven disciples doubted!

• Mark 16:15-18: The mission to announce the Good News to the whole world. After having criticized the lack of faith of the disciples, Jesus confers their mission to them: “Go out to the whole world, proclaim the Gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned”. To those who had the courage to believe in the Good News and who are baptized, Jesus promises the following signs: they will cast out devils, they will speak new languages, they will pick up snakes in their hands and be unharmed if they drink deadly poison, and they will lay their hands on the sick who will recover. This happens even today. To cast out devils is to fight against the force of evil which destroys life. The life of many people improves because they entered into the community and have begun to live the Good News of the presence of God in their life.

- to speak new languages: it means to begin to communicate with others in a new way. Sometimes we meet a person whom we have never seen before, and we care deeply for them and their situation, even though we don't know them well. This happens because we speak the same language, the language of love.

- deadly poison will not harm them: there are many things that poison life together in community. There is gossip which destroys the relationship between persons. The one who lives in the presence of God does not participate in these things and is able to not be disturbed by this terrible poison.

- they cure the sick. Wherever there is a clear and lively knowledge of God’s presence, there is also a special care given to the excluded and marginalized, especially the sick. What can help cure is that the person feels accepted and loved.

• Mark 16:19-20: Through the community, Jesus continues His mission. Jesus Himself, who lives in Palestine and accepts the poor of His time, revealing the love of the Father to them, continues to be alive in our midst in our community. Through us, He wants to continue His mission to reveal the Good News of God’s love to the poor. Even up to this time the resurrection takes place, and it impels us to sing: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ, who will separate us?” No power of this world is capable of neutralizing the force that comes from faith in the Resurrection (Rm 8:35-39). A community which wants to be a witness of the Resurrection should be a sign of life and should struggle against the forces of death in such a way that the world may be a favorable place for life. Above all, in parts of the world such as Latin America and the Middle East, where the life of people is in danger because of the system of death which has become common there, the communities should be a living proof of the hope which overcomes the world without fear of being happy!

4) Personal questions

• How do theses signs of God’s presence take place in my life?

• What are the signs of the presence of Jesus in our midst that convince people the most today?

• Do I proclaim the Gospel through my words and actions every day, or just sometimes?

5) Concluding Prayer

I shall sing the faithful love of Yahweh for ever,

from age to age my lips shall declare Your constancy,

for You have said: love is built to last for ever,

You have fixed Your constancy firm in the heavens. (Ps 89:1-2)

Lectio Divina:
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 09:58

Lectio Divina: John 6:1-15

Easter Time

1) Opening prayer

Lord our God,

your Son Jesus fed

those who followed Him in the desert

and they received as much as they wanted. May we know and be convinced

that He can fill our own emptiness

not just with gifts

that fill our need of the moment

but with Himself,

and may we accept Him eagerly,

for He is our Lord forever.   Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - John 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, "Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?" He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, "Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" Jesus said, "Have the people recline." Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, "Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted." So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, "This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world." Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

3) Reflection

• The reading of John today places before us two signs or miracles: the multiplication of the loaves (Jn 6:1-15) and walking on the water (Jn 6:16-21). Then the long discourse on the bread of life is mentioned (Jn 6:22-71). John places this fact close to the feast of the Passover (Jn 6:4). The central issue is the confrontation between the old Passover of the Exodus and the new Passover which takes place in Jesus. The discourse on the bread of life will explain the new Passover which takes place in Jesus.

• John 6:1-4: The situation. In the ancient Passover, the multitude crossed the Red Sea. In the new Passover, Jesus crosses the Sea of Galilee. A great crowd follows Moses. A great crowd follows Jesus in this new exodus. In the first exodus, Moses goes up to the mountain. Jesus, the new Moses, also goes up to the mountain. The crowds follow Moses who presents great signs. The crowds follow Jesus because they have seen the signs that He worked on behalf of the sick.

• John 6:5-7: Jesus and Philip. Seeing the multitude, Jesus confronts the disciples with the hunger of the people and asks Philip, “Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?” In the first exodus, Moses obtained food for the hungry people. Jesus, the new Moses, will Himself provide the same thing. But Philip, instead of looking at the situation in the light of the Scripture, looked at it according to the system and replies, “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough!” One denarius was the minimum salary for one day. Philip is aware of the problem and recognizes his inability to solve it. He complains, but presents no solution.

• John 6:8-9: Andrew and the boy. Andrew, instead of complaining, seeks a solution. He finds a boy who has five loaves of bread and two fish.  Five barley loaves and two fish were the daily ration of  food for the poor. The boy hands over his daily ration of food! He could have said, “Five loaves of bread and two fish, what is this for all these people? It will serve nothing! Let us divide all this among ourselves, between two or three people,” but instead, he has the courage to give the five loaves of bread and the two fish to feed 5000 people (Jn 6:10) One who does this is either a fool or has much faith, believing that out of love for Jesus, all are ready to share their food as the boy did!

• John 6:10-11: The multiplication. Jesus asks the people to sit down on the ground. Then He multiplies the food, the ration of the poor. The text says, “Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were sitting there; He then did the same with the fish, distributing as much as they wanted.” With this phrase, written in the year 100, John recalls the action of the Last Supper (I Cor 11:23-24). The Eucharist, when it is celebrated as it should be, will lead people to share as it impelled the boy to give all his ration of food to be shared.

• John 6:12-13: The twelve baskets of what was left over. Number twelve connotes the totality of the people with their twelve tribes. John does not say whether fish were also left over. He is interested in recalling the bread as a symbol of the Eucharist. The Gospel of John does not have the description of the Last Supper, but describes the multiplication of the loaves, symbol of what would happen in the communities through the celebration of the Eucharistic Supper. If among the Christian people there was a true and proper sharing, there would be abundant food and twelve baskets would be left over for many other people!

• John 6:14-15: They want to make Him king. The people interpret Jesus’ gesture,  saying, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!” The people’s intuition is correct. Jesus in fact, is the new Moses, the Messiah, the one whom the people were expecting (Deut 18:15-19). But this intuition had been corrupted by the ideology of the time which wanted a great king who would be strong and a dominator. This is why, seeing the sign, the people proclaim Jesus the Messiah and ask to make him King! Jesus realizes what could happen, and He withdraws and goes to the mountain alone. He does not accept this way of being Messiah and waits for the opportune moment to help the people to advance a step farther.

4) Personal questions

• With regard to the problem of hunger in the world, do you act as Philip, as Andrew or like the boy?

• The people wanted a Messiah who would be a strong and powerful king. Do we want a powerful Messiah in our life too, to take away all of our problems? Or do we submit as He did and accept what God has given us and follow rather than conquer?

5) Concluding Prayer

Yahweh is my light and my salvation,

whom should I fear?

Yahweh is the fortress of my life,

whom should I dread? (Ps 27:1)

Lectio Divina:
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 09:57

Lectio Divina: John 3:16-21

Easter Time

1) Opening prayer

Lord our God,

You loved the world - that is us - so much

that You gave us Your only Son

to save us from ourselves

and to give us eternal life. Do not condemn us, Lord,

do not leave us to ourselves

and to our little schemes

but give us Your Son now to stay with us

and to make love and justice and peace

ever new realities among us,

Your people reborn in Your Son,

Jesus Christ our Lord.

2) Gospel Reading - John 3:16-21

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

3) Reflection

• John’s Gospel is like a fabric or cloth made of three different, but similar, threads.  The three of them are so well combined with one another that, sometimes, it is not possible to understand when one goes from one thread to the other. (a) The first thread is the facts and words of Jesus during the thirty years, preserved by the eye witnesses who kept the things which Jesus did and taught. (b) The second thread is the facts of the life of the community. Because of their faith in Jesus and convinced of His presence among them, the communities enlightened their path with the words and the gestures of Jesus. This has some impact on the description of the facts. For example, the conflict of the communities with the Pharisees at the end of the first century marks the way of describing the conflicts of Jesus with the Pharisees. (c) The comments made by the Evangelist are the third thread. In some passages it is difficult to perceive when Jesus ceases to speak and the Evangelist begins to weave his own comments. The text of today’s Gospel, for example, is a beautiful and profound reflection of the Evangelist on the action of Jesus. The people can hardly notice the difference between when Jesus speaks and when the Evangelist does. In any case, both of them are Word of God.

• John 3:16: God loved the world. The word world is one of those words used more frequently in the Gospel of John: 78 times! It has several meanings. In the first place world may signify the earth, the space inhabited by human beings (Jn 11:9; 21:25) or also the created universe (Jn 17:5, 24) World can also mean the people who inhabit this earth, all of humanity (Jn 1:9; 3:16; 4:42; 6:14; 8:12). It can also mean a large group of people, as when we speak of “the whole world” (Jn 12:19; 14:27). Here, in our text the word world also has the sense of humanity, all human beings. God so loves humanity that He gave His only Son. The one who accepts that God reaches down to us in Jesus has already passed through death and has eternal life.

• John 3:17-19: The true sense of judgment. The image of God which appears in the three verses is that of a Father full of tenderness and not of a severe judgment. God sends His Son not to judge and condemn the world, but in order that the world may be saved through Him. The one who believes in Jesus and accepts Him as the revelation of God is not judged, because he is already accepted by God. And the one who does not believe in Jesus has already been judged. He excludes himself. And the Evangelist repeats what he had already said in the Prologue: many people do not want to accept Jesus, because His light reveals the evil which exists in them (cf. Jn 1:5, 10-11).

• John 3:20-21: To practice truth: In every human being, there is a divine seed, a trait of the Creator. Jesus, the revelation of the Father, is a response to this deepest desire of the human being. The one who wants to be faithful to what he has deepest in him accepts Jesus. It is difficult to find a broader ecumenical vision than the one expressed in these three verses in the Gospel of John.

• To complete the significance of the word world in the Fourth Gospel. Other times the word world means that part of humanity opposed to Jesus and to His message. There the word world assumes the meaning of “enemies” or “opponents” (Jn 7:4,7; 8:23, 26; 9:39; 12:25). This world which is contrary to the practice of the liberty of Jesus, is directed by the enemy, or Satan, also called the “prince of this world” (Jn 14:30; 16:11). It represents the Roman Empire and, at the same time, also those  Jews responsible for driving out the followers of Jesus from the synagogue. This world persecutes and kills the communities, causing tribulations for the faithful (Jn 16:33). Jesus will liberate them, conquering the prince of this world (Jn 12:31). Therefore, world means a situation of injustice, of oppression, which generates hatred and persecution against the communities of the beloved disciple. The persecutors are those people who have the power, the leaders, both of the Empire and of the synagogue. Lastly, world means all those who practice injustice using the name of God (Jn 16:2). The hope which the Gospel gives to the persecuted communities is that Jesus is stronger than the world. This is why He says: “In the world you will have hardship, but be courageous, I have conquered the world!” (Jn 16:33)

4) Personal questions

• God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. Has this truth penetrated the depth of your heart? Can we imagine sacrificing someone we love for a cause?

• The most ecumenical truth that exists is the life which God has given us and for which He has given His only Son. How do I live ecumenism in my daily life?

• It is clear at the end of this passage that “belief in His Son” does not just mean verbal acknowledgement. Believing also means believing the way of life He points us to by following every instruction and motivation He shares with us. Do we seek to know the wants, motivations, and actions He shares with us to live, and do we fulfill them?

5) Concluding Prayer

I will bless Yahweh at all times,

His praise continually on my lips.

I will praise Yahweh from my heart;

let the humble hear and rejoice. (Ps 34:1-2)

Lectio Divina:
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 09:48

Lectio Divina: John 3:31-36

Season of Easter

1) Opening prayer

Lord our God,

Your Son Jesus Christ came from You

and bore witness to the things

He had heard and seen.

He could not but bear witness to You.

Give us the Spirit of Your Son, we pray You,

to speak Your word and to live it,

that we may show Christ, Your living Word,

to those who have not seen Him.

We ask You this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - John 3:31-36

The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.

3) Reflection

• During the month of January we meditated on John 3:22-30, which shows us the last witness of John the Baptist concerning Jesus. It was a response given by him to his disciples, in which he reaffirms that he, John, is not the Messiah, but rather his precursor (Jn 3:28). On that occasion, John utters that beautiful phrase which summarizes his witness: “It is necessary that He grow greater and I grow smaller!” This phrase is the guide for all those who want to follow Jesus.

• The verses of today’s Gospel are again a comment of the Evangelist in order to help the communities to better understand the importance of the things that Jesus did and taught. Here, we have another indication of those three threads of which we spoke  before.

• John 3:31-33: A refrain which is always repeated. Throughout the Gospel of John, there often appears conflict between Jesus and the Jews who challenge the words of Jesus. Jesus speaks of what He hears from the Father. He is total transparency. His enemies, not opening themselves to God and because they cling to their own ideas here on earth, are not capable of understanding  the deep significance of the things that Jesus lives, does and says. Ultimately, this is the evil one which pushes the Jews to arrest and condemn Jesus.

• John 3:34: Jesus gives us the Spirit without reserve. John’s Gospel uses many images and symbols to signify the action of the Spirit. As in Creation (Gen 1:1), in the same way the Spirit descends on Jesus “like a dove, come from Heaven” (Jn 1:32). It is the beginning of the new creation! Jesus repeats the words of God and communicates the Spirit to us without reserve (Jn 3:34). His words are Spirit and life (Jn 6:63). When Jesus is about to leave this earth, He says that He will send another Advocate, another defender, to be with us forever (Jn 14:16-17). By his Passion, Death and Resurrection, Jesus obtains for us the gift of the Spirit. Through baptism all of us have received this same Spirit of Jesus (Jn 1:33). When He appeared to the apostles, He breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit!” (Jn 20:22). The Spirit is like the water which springs from the people who believe in Jesus (Jn 7:37-39; 4:14). The first effect of the action of the Spirit in us is reconciliation: “If you forgive anyone’s sins they will be forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained!” (Jn 20:23). The Spirit is given to us to recall and understand the full significance of the words of Jesus (Jn 14:26; 16:12-13). Animated by the Spirit of Jesus we can adore God in any place (Jn 4:23-24). Here is fulfilled the liberty of the Spirit of which Saint Paul speaks: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17).

• John 3:35-36: The Father loves the Son. He reaffirms the identity between the Father and Jesus. The Father loves the Son and places all things in His hand. Saint Paul will say that the fullness of divinity dwells in Jesus (Col 1:19; 2:9). This is why the one who accepts Jesus and believes in Jesus has eternal life, because God is life. The one who does not accept and believe in Jesus, places himself outside.

4) Personal questions

• Jesus communicates the Spirit to us, without reserve. Have you had any experience of this Spirit in your life?

• He who believes in Jesus has eternal life. What does it mean to believe? If one proclaims someone is a king, but does not follow this king's commands, is there really belief there is a king? Using this parallel, what does it really mean to believe?

5) Concluding Prayer

Proclaim with me the greatness of Yahweh;

let us acclaim His name together.

Taste and see that Yahweh is good.

How blessed are those who take refuge in Him. (Ps 34:3, 8)

Lectio Divina:
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 09:23

Lectio Divina: John 3:7b-15

Easter Time

1) Opening prayer

All praise and thanks be to You,

Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You have given us Your risen Son

to be alive in our communities.

Make us see Him with eyes of faith,

that He may unite us, heart and soul.

May His dynamic presence among us

move us to become with Him,

each other's bread of life,

that no one among us may hunger

for food or help when in need.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - John 3:7b-15

Jesus said to Nicodemus: "'You must be born from above.' The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus answered and said to him, 'How can this happen?" Jesus answered and said to him, "You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this? Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

3) Reflection

• Today’s Gospel speaks about the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Nicodemus had heard people speak about the things Jesus did, and he was struck, surprised. He wishes to speak with Jesus in order to be able to understand better. He thought he knew the things of God. He lived with the booklet of the past in his hand to see if this agreed with the newness announced by Jesus. In the conversation, Jesus says that the only way in which Nicodemus could understand the things of God was to be born again! Sometimes we are like Nicodemus: we only accept as something new what is in agreement with our old ideas. Other times, we allow ourselves to be surprised by facts and we are not afraid to say, “I am born anew!”

• When the Evangelists recall the last words of Jesus, they have in mind the problems of the communities for which they write.  Nicodemus’ questions to Jesus are a reflection of the questions of the communities of Asia Minor at the end of the first century. For this reason, Jesus’ answers to Nicodemus were, at the same time, a response to the problems of those communities. At that time, the Christians followed the catechesis in this way. Most probably, the account of the conversation of Jesus with Nicodemus formed part of the baptismal catechesis, because He says that the people have to be reborn of water and the Spirit (Jn 3:6).

• John 3:7b-8: Born from above, born anew, again, and born of the Spirit. In Greek, the same word means anew, again and from above. Jesus had said, “No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit” (Jn 3:5). And He adds, “What is born of human nature, is human (flesh); what is born of the Spirit is Spirit” (Jn 3:6).Here “flesh” means that which is born only from our own ideas. What is born from us has our own mark, our own measure. To be born of the Spirit is another thing! And Jesus once again reaffirms what He had said before: “One has to be born from above (born again).” That is, one must be reborn of the Spirit who comes from above. And He explains that the Spirit is like the wind. Both in Hebrew and in Greek, the same word is used to say spirit and wind. Jesus says, “The wind blows where it pleases; you can hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The wind has within it a direction. We are aware of the direction of the wind, for example, the wind of the North and the wind of the South, but we do not know nor do we control the cause why the wind moves in one direction or another. The Spirit is like this. “No one is the master of the Spirit” (Eccl 8:8). That which best characterizes the wind, the Spirit, is liberty. The wind, the Spirit, is free; it cannot be controlled. It acts on others, and nobody can act on it. Its origin is the mystery; its destiny is the mystery. The fisherman has, in the first place, to discover the direction of the wind. Then he should place the sails according to that direction. This is what Nicodemus should do and what all of us should do.

• John 3:9: Question of Nicodemus: How is that possible? Jesus does nothing more than summarize what the Old Testament taught concerning the action of the Spirit, of the holy wind, in the life of the People of God and which Nicodemus, Teacher and Doctor, should know. And just the same, Nicodemus is frightened in hearing Jesus’ response and acts as if he was ignorant: “How is that possible?”

• John 3:10-15: Jesus’ answer: Faith comes from witness and not from miracle. Jesus changes the question: “You are the Teacher of Israel and you do not know these things?” For Jesus, if people believe only when things are according to their own arguments and ideas, then faith is not perfect. Faith is perfect when it is the faith of one who believes because of the witness. He leaves aside his own arguments and gives himself, because he believes in the one giving witness.

4) Personal Questions

• Have you had some experience in which you have had the impression of being born again? What did it consist of?

• Jesus compares the action of the Holy Spirit with the wind. What does this comparison of the action of the Spirit of God reveal in our life? Have you already set the sails of your life in sync with the wind of the Spirit?

• The action of the Holy Spirit, like the wind, is often not like a hurricane, but rather like a small voice (1Kgs 19:11) – a whisper of the wind. Am I attentive enough to hear when the Holy Spirit speaks to me so softly?

5) Concluding Prayer

Yahweh is near to the broken-hearted;

He helps those whose spirit is crushed.

Though hardships without number beset the upright,

Yahweh brings rescue from them all. (Ps 34:18-19)

Lectio Divina:
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 09:23

Lectio Divina: John 3,1-8

Easter Time 

1) Opening prayer

Lord God, our Father,

You are not far away from any of us,

for in You we live and move and exist

and You live in us

through Your Holy Spirit.

Be indeed with us, Lord,

send us Your Holy Spirit of truth

and through Him deepen our understanding

of the life and message of Your Son,

that we may accept the full truth

and live by it consistently.

We ask You this through Christ our Lord. 

2) Gospel Reading - John 3:1-8

There was one of the Pharisees called Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews, who came to Jesus by night and said, 'Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one could perform the signs that You do unless God were with Him.'

Jesus answered, ‘In all truth I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ Nicodemus said, 'How can anyone who is already old be born? Is it possible to go back into the womb again and be born?'

Jesus replied, ‘In all truth I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born through water and the Spirit; what is born of human nature is human; what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be surprised when I say, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it pleases; you can hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’

3) Reflection

• The Gospel today presents part of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. Nicodemus appears several times in the Gospel of John:

(Jn 3:1-13; 7:50-52; 19:39). He was a person who held a certain social position. He was a leader among the Jews and formed part of the supreme tribunal, called the Sanhedrin. In the Gospel of John, he represents the group of Jews who were pious and sincere, but who did not understand everything which Jesus said and did. Nicodemus had heard about the signs and the wonderful things that Jesus did, and he was struck, amazed. He wanted to speak with Jesus in order to understand better. He was a cultured person, who thought he believed the things of God. He expected the Messiah with the Book of the Law in his hand to verify if the novelty announced by Jesus would arrive. Jesus makes Nicodemus understand that the only way to understand the things of God is to be born again! Today this same thing happens. Some, like Nicodemus, accept as new only what agrees with their ideas. What does not agree with their ideas is rejected and considered contrary to tradition. Others allow themselves to be surprised from facts and are not afraid to say, “I have been born anew!”

• John 3:1: A man called Nicodemus. Shortly before Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus, the Evangelist was speaking of the imperfect faith of certain persons who were interested only in the miracles of Jesus (Jn 2:23-25). Nicodemus was one of these people. He had good will, but his faith was still imperfect. The conversation with Jesus helped him to perceive that he had to advance in order to be able to deepen his faith in Jesus and in God.

• John 3:2: 1st question of Nicodemus: the tension between what is old and what is new. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a prominent person among the Jews and with good common sense. He went to meet Jesus at night and said to Him, “Rabbì, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one could perform the signs that You do unless God were with him”. Nicodemus gives an opinion of Jesus according to arguments which he, Nicodemus himself, has within himself. This is already important, but it is not enough to know Jesus. The signs which Jesus works can arouse a person and awake some interest in the person. They can generate curiosity, but they do not generate greater faith. They do not make one see the Kingdom of God present in Jesus. For this reason it is necessary to advance, to take one more step. What is this step?

• John 3:3: Jesus’ response: "You must be born again!” In order that Nicodemus can see the Kingdom present in Jesus, he should be born again, from above. Anyone who tries to understand Jesus only from his arguments alone does not succeed in understanding Him. Jesus is much greater. If Nicodemus remains only with the catechism of the past in his hand, he will not manage to understand Jesus. He should open his hand completely. He should set aside his own certainties and his security and abandon himself totally. He should make a choice between, on the one hand, the security which comes from organized religion with its laws and traditions and, on the other hand, launch himself into the adventure of the Spirit which Jesus proposes to him.

• John 3:4: 2nd question of Nicodemus: How can anyone who is already old be born again? Nicodemus does not give in and returns with the same question with a certain irony: “How can a man be born when he is old? Is it possible to go back into the womb again and be born again?” Nicodemus takes Jesus’ words  literally and, because of this, he understands nothing. He should have realized that the words of Jesus had a symbolic sense.

• John 3:5-8: Jesus’ answer: To be born from above, to be born from the Spirit. Jesus explains what it means to be born from above or to be born again. It is “To be born from water and the Spirit”. Here we have a very clear reference to Baptism. Through the conversation of Jesus with Nicodemus, the Evangelist invites us to review our Baptism. He gives the following words: “What is born of human nature is human, what is born of the Spirit is Spirit”. Flesh means that which is born only from our ideas. What is born from us is within our reach. To be born of the Spirit is another thing! The Spirit is like the wind. “The wind blows where it pleases; you can hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going; so it is with anyone who is born of the Spirit”. The wind has within itself a direction, a route. We perceive the direction of the wind, for example, the North wind or the wind coming from the South, but we do not know, nor can we control the cause why the wind moves in this or that direction. This is the way the Spirit is. "No one is the master of the Spirit” (Eccl 8: 8). What characterizes the wind best, the Spirit, is liberty. The wind, the Spirit, is free, He cannot be controlled. He acts on others and nobody can act on him. His origin is a mystery. The boat must first find the route of the wind. Then it has to place the sails according to that route. That is what Nicodemus should do and what we should all do.

• A key to understanding better the words of Jesus on the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew language uses the same word to say wind and spirit. As we have said the wind has within it a route, a direction: the North wind, the wind from the South. The Spirit of God has a route, a project, which already manifested itself in creation. The Spirit was present in creation under the form of a bird which flew over the waters of the chaos (Gen 1: 2). Year after year, He renews the face of the earth and sets nature through the sequence of the seasons (Ps 104:30; 147:18). The same is also present in history. He makes the Red Sea move back (Ex 14: 21) and He gives quails to the people to eat (Num 11:31). He accompanies Moses and, beginning with him, He distributes the leaders of the people (Num 11:24-25). He took the leaders and took them to carry out liberating actions: Othniel (Judg 3:10), Gideon (Judg 6:34), Jephthah (Judg 11:29), Samson (Judg 13: 25; 14: 6, 19; 15:14), Saul (1Sam 11:6), and Deborah, the prophetess (Judg 4: 4). He is present in the group of the prophets and acts in them with the force which is contagious (1Sam 10: 5-6, 10). His action in the prophets produces envy in the others. But Moses reacts, “If only all Yahweh’s people were prophets, and Yahweh had given them His spirit!” (Num 11:29).

• All along the centuries the hope grew that the Spirit of God would have oriented the Messiah in the realization of God’s project (Isa 11:1-9) and it would have descended upon all the people of God (Ezek 36: 27; 39: 29; Isa 32:15; 44:3). The great promise of the Spirit appears in various ways in the prophets of the exile: the vision of the dry bones, risen by the force of the Spirit of God (Ezek 37:1-14); the effusion of the Spirit of God on all the people (Joel 3:1-5); the vision of the Messiah-Servant who will be anointed by the Spirit to establish the right on earth and announce the Good News to the poor (Isa 42:1; 44:1-3; 61:1-3). They perceive a future, in which people, always more and more, are reborn thanks to the effusion of the Spirit (Ezek 36: 26-27; Ps 51: 12; cf. Isa 32:15-20).

• The Gospel of John uses many images and symbols to signify the action of the Spirit. Just like in creation (Gen 1:1), in the same way the Spirit descended upon Jesus “like a dove, coming from heaven” (Jn 1:32). It is the beginning of the new creation! Jesus pronounces the words of God and communicates to us His Spirit (Jn 3:34). His words are spirit and life (Jn 6:63). When Jesus announces that he is going to the Father, He says that He will send another Consoler, another defender, so that He can remain with us. He is the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:16-17). Through His Passion, death and resurrection, Jesus obtains for us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through Baptism all of us receive this same Spirit of Jesus (Jn 1:33). When He appears to the Apostles, He breathes on them and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit!” (Jn 20:22). The Spirit is like the water which springs up from persons who believe in Jesus (Jn 7: 37-39; 4:14). The first effect of the action of the Spirit in us is reconciliation: "If you forgive anyone’s sins they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins they are retained” (Jn 20:23). The Spirit is given to us in order that we may remember and understand the full meaning of the words of Jesus (Jn 14: 26; 16: 12-13). Animated by the Spirit of Jesus we can adore God anywhere (Jn 4: 23-24). Here is realized the liberty of the Spirit of whom Saint Paul speaks: “Where the Spirit is, there is liberty” (2 Cor 3:17).

4) Personal questions

• How do you react to new things which present themselves; like Nicodemus or do you accept God’s surprizes?

• Jesus compares the action of the Holy Spirit to the wind (Jn 3:8). What does this comparison reveal to me about the action of the Spirit of God in my life? Have you already had some experience which has given you the impression of being born again? 

5) Concluding prayer

I will bless Yahweh at all times,

His praise continually on my lips.

I will praise Yahweh from my heart;

let the humble hear and rejoice. (Ps 34:1-2)

Lectio Divina:
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 09:22

Lectio Divina: Mark 16:9-15

Easter Time

1) Opening prayer

Our God and Father,

Your Son Jesus lived among us,

flesh of our flesh, blood of our blood.

He died for our sake

and You raised Him back to life.

May we experience His love and His presence

to such an extent

that we can never stop proclaiming

what we have seen and heard,

and that people may give glory to You, our God.

We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.    Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Mark 16:9-15

When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After this he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either. But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

3) Reflection

• Today’s Gospel is part of a broader literary unit (Mk 16:9-20) which presents a list or summary of diverse apparitions of Jesus: (a) Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, but the disciples do not accept her testimony (Mk 16:9-11); (b) Jesus appears to the disciples, but the others do not accept their testimony (Mk 16:12-13); (c) Jesus appears to the eleven; He criticizes their lack of faith and orders them to announce the Good News to all (Mk 16:14-18); (d) Jesus ascends to heaven and continues to cooperate with the disciples (Mk 16:19-20).

• Besides this list of apparitions in the Gospel of Mark, there are other lists of apparitions which do not always coincide among themselves. For example, the list kept by Paul in the Letter to the Corinthians is very different (1 Cor 15:3-8). This variety shows that at the beginning the Christians were not concerned with proving  the Resurrection by means of the apparitions. For them faith in the Resurrection was so evident and alive that there was no need to prove it. A person sunbathing on the shore is not concerned with showing that the sun exists, because she herself, sun burnt, is the evidence of the existence of the sun. The communities, existing in the midst of the immense Empire, were a living proof of the Resurrection. The list of the apparitions began to appear later, in the second generation, in order to refute the criticism of opponents.

• Mark 16:9-11: Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, but the other disciples do not believe her. Jesus first appears to Mary Magdalene. She goes to announce this to the others. To come into the world, God wanted to depend on the womb of a young girl 15 or 16 years old, called Mary of Nazareth (Lk 1:38). To be recognized alive in our midst, He wants to depend on the announcement of a woman who had been liberated from seven devils, also called Mary, of Magdala! (This is why she was called Mary Magdalene). But the others did not believe her. Mark says that Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene. In the list of apparitions, recorded in the letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 15:3-8), the apparitions of Jesus to the women are not mentioned. The first Christians had difficulty believing in the testimony of women. It is shameful!

• Mark 16:12-13: Jesus appears to the disciples, but the others do not believe them. Without too many details, Mark refers to an apparition of Jesus to two disciples, “while they were on their way into the country.” This is perhaps a reference to the apparition of Jesus to the disciples at Emmaus, narrated by Luke (Lk 24:13-35). Mark insists on saying that “the others did not believe them either”.

• Mark 16:14-15: Jesus criticizes the unbelief and orders them to announce the Good News to all creatures. For this reason, Jesus appears to the eleven and reproaches them because they did not believe the people who had seen Him in His resurrected body. Once again, Mark refers to the resistance of the disciples in refusing to believe the testimony of those who have experienced the Resurrection of Jesus. Why? Probably to teach three things: in the first place, that faith in Jesus passes through the faith in the people who give witness; in the second place, that nobody should be discouraged when doubt or unbelief arises in the heart; in the third place, to refute the claim of those who said that the Christian is naïve and accepts any news uncritically, because the eleven had great difficulty accepting the truth of the Resurrection!

• Today’s Gospel ends with the sending forth: “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Gospel to all creation!” Jesus confers upon them the mission to announce the Good News to all creatures.

4) Personal questions

• Which of these: Mary Magdalene, the two disciples of Emmaus, or the eleven disciples, had the greatest difficulty believing in the Resurrection? Why? With whom do I identify?

• What can convince people of the presence of Jesus in our midst?

5) Concluding Prayer

May God show kindness and bless us,

and make His face shine on us.

Then the earth will acknowledge Your ways,

and all nations Your power to save. (Ps 67:1-2)

Lectio Divina:
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 09:21

Lectio Divina: John 21:1-14

Easter Time

1) Opening prayer

Our God and Father,

through our risen Lord, Your Son Jesus Christ,

You have given us a message of hope

and a person to live for.

Free our faith from triviality and routine

and fill us with His Spirit of courage,

that we may learn to live

with the insecurities of the change of renewal

ever-demanded by the gospel

and by the needs of the times.

May our Christian living bear witness

to the name of Him by whom we are saved,

Jesus Christ, our risen Lord.

2) Gospel Reading - John 21:1-14

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.

3) Reflection

• Chapter 21 of the Gospel of Saint John seems like an appendix which was added  after the Gospel had already been written. The conclusion of the previous chapter (Jn 20:30-31) makes one suspect that it is an addition. However, whether it is an addition or not, it is the Word of God, which presents to us the beautiful message of the Resurrection on this fifth day of Easter week.

• John 21:1-3: The fisherman of men returns to be a fisherman of fish. Jesus has died and has risen. After three years of life together with Jesus, the disciples returned to Galilee. A group of them find themselves together at the lakeshore. Peter goes back to the past and says: “I am going fishing!” The others answer: “We will come with you!” Thus, Thomas, Nathanael, John and James together with Peter go to the boat to go fishing. They go back to the life of the past as if nothing had happened. But something did happen. Something was taking place! The past did not return! “We have caught nothing!” They return to shore, tired. This had been a night filled with frustration.

• John 21:4-5: The context of the new apparition of Jesus. Jesus was on the shore, but they did not recognize Him. Jesus asks, “Little children, have you anything to eat?” They answer, “No!” In the negative response they realize that the night had been deceiving because they had caught nothing. They had been called to be fishermen of men (Mk 1:17; Lk 5:10), and they go back to be fishermen of fish. But something had changed in their life! The experience of three years with Jesus produces in them an irreversible change. It was no longer possible to return to the past as if nothing had happened, as if nothing had changed.

• John 21:6-8: “Throw the net out to the right of the boat and you will find something.”  They did something which perhaps they had never done in their life. Five experienced fishermen obey a carpenter who orders them to do something which is in contrast to their experience. Jesus, that unknown Person, who is on the shore, orders them to throw the net on the right side of the boat. They obey; they throw the net, and behold the unexpected result. The net was full of fish! How was this possible? How to explain this surprise so unexpected, unforeseen! Love makes one discover. The beloved disciple says, “It is the Lord”. This intuition clarifies everything. Peter jumps into the water to get close to Jesus very quickly. The other disciples follow him, pulling the boat, and dragging the net full of fish.

• John 21:9-14: The kindness of Jesus. Coming ashore, they saw a charcoal fire which had been lit by Jesus, where He was roasting fish and bread. He asked them to take some of the fish they had caught, and immediately Peter went to the boat and towed the net containing one hundred and fifty-three fish. A great number of fish and the net did not break. Jesus calls the multitude, “Come and eat!” He had the kindness to prepare something to eat after a disappointing night during which they had caught nothing: a very simple gesture which reveals something of God’s love for us. “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, “Who are you?” because they knew He was the Lord. Recalling the Eucharist, John the Evangelist contemplates: “Jesus stepping forward took the bread and gave it to them.” Thus, he suggests that the Eucharist is the privileged place for the encounter with the Risen Jesus.

4) Personal questions

• Has it ever happened to you that someone told you to throw the net to the right side of your life, to do something contrary to your experience? Did you obey and throw in the net?

• The kindness of Jesus. How is your kindness in the small things of life?

• Do you recognize Jesus only after signs and miracles, or do you see Him in the simple acts of life, such as making a meal?

5) Concluding Prayer

Give thanks to Yahweh for He is good,

for His faithful love endures for ever.

Let those who fear Yahweh say,

“His faithful love endures for ever.” (Ps 118)

Lectio Divina:
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 09:17

Lectio Divina: Luke 24:35-48

Easter Time

1) Opening prayer

Almighty God and Father,

Jesus died for us on the cross

and You raised Him from the dead.

We have not seen the marks of the nails in His hands

nor touched the wound in His side,

but we believe that He is alive

and present here among us.

Open our hearts to His word

and let us touch Him in the bread of the Eucharist,

that He may raise us above our sins

and change us into new people.

May we thus bear witness to Your risen Son,

Jesus Christ our Lord.    Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Luke 24:35-48

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way, and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."

3) Reflection

• In these days after Easter, the Gospel texts narrate the apparitions of Jesus. At the beginning, in the first years after the death and the Resurrection of Jesus, the Christians were concerned with defending the Resurrection through the apparitions. They themselves, the living community, were a great apparition of the Risen Jesus. But in the measure in which the criticism of the enemies against the faith in the Resurrection increased, and that internally, and as there arose criticism and doubts concerning diverse functions in the community (cf. 1 Co 1:12), they began to recall the apparitions of Jesus. There are two types of apparitions: (a) those which stress the doubts and the resistance of the disciples in believing in the Resurrection, and (b) those who call attention to the orders of Jesus to the disciples – men and women – conferring some mission to them. The first ones respond to criticisms from the outside. These show that Christians are not naïve and credulous persons who accept everything and anything. Au contraire! They themselves had many doubts in believing in the Resurrection. The others respond to the criticism from within and establish the community functions and tasks, not on human qualities which are always debatable, but on the authority and orders received from the Risen Jesus. The apparitions of Jesus in today’s Gospel put together two different aspects: the doubts of the disciples and the mission to announce and to forgive received from Jesus.

• Luke 24:35: The summary of the story of Emmaus. Returning to Jerusalem, the two disciples found the community together and they shared with them the experience that they had lived. They told them what had happened along the road and how they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. The community gathered together, and in turn, shared the apparition of Jesus to Peter. This was a reciprocal sharing of the experience of the Resurrection, as it also happens today when the communities gather together to share and celebrate their faith, their hope and their love.

• Luke 24:36-37: The apparition of Jesus causes great fright in the disciples. At this moment, Jesus becomes present among them and says, “Peace be with you!” This is the most frequent greeting of Jesus: “Peace be with you!” (Jn 14:27; 16:33; 20:19, 21, 26). But the disciples, upon seeing Jesus, were frightened and did not recognize Him. Before them is Jesus in person, but they think that they are seeing a ghost, a phantasm. They cannot believe it. It is now the encounter between Jesus of Nazareth and the Risen Jesus.

• Luke 24:38-40: Jesus helps them to overcome fear and unbelief. Jesus does two things to help the disciples overcome fear and unbelief. He shows them His hands and His feet, saying, “It is I Myself!”, and tells them to touch His body saying, “A ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have!” Jesus shows His hands and feet because on them is the sign of the nails (cf. Jn 20:25-27). The Risen Christ is Jesus of Nazareth, the same one who was nailed to the Cross and not a phantasm Christ as the disciples imagined when they saw Him. He orders them to touch His body, because the Resurrection is the Resurrection of the whole person, body and soul. The Resurrection has nothing to do with the theory of the immortality of the soul, which the Greeks taught.

• Luke 24:41-43: The other gesture to help them overcome unbelief. But it does not suffice! Luke said that they could not believe because their joy was so great that they became dumbfounded. Jesus asks them to give Him something to eat. They offer Him some fish and He eats before them, to help them to overcome doubt.

• Luke 24:44-47: A key to understanding the new significance of the Scripture. One of the greatest difficulties of the first Christians was that of accepting the Crucified as the promised Messiah, because the Law taught that a crucified person was a “person cursed by God” (Deut 21:22-23). For this reason, it was important to know that Scripture had already announced that “Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that in His name, conversion and forgiveness of sins would be preached to all peoples.” Jesus shows them what had already been written in the Law of Moses, in the prophets and in the psalms. Jesus risen from the dead, alive in their midst, becomes the key to opening to them the total significance of Sacred Scripture.

• Luke 24:48: You are witnesses of this. In this last order is enclosed the whole mission of the Christian communities: to be witnesses to the Resurrection, in such a way that the love of God which accepts us and forgives us will be manifested, and which wants us to live in community as sons and daughters, brothers and sisters with one another.

4) Personal questions

• Sometimes unbelief and doubt beset the heart and weaken the certainty that faith gives us concerning the presence of God in our life. Have you ever experienced this?  How have you overcome it?

• Our mission is that of being witnesses to the love of God revealed in Jesus. Am I a witness to this love?

• Can I identify those things in my life which cast doubt on my faith? How do I defend against these attacks?

5) Concluding Prayer

What are human beings

that You spare a thought for them,

or the child of Adam that You care for him? (Ps 8:4)

Lectio Divina:
Page 192 of 204

Cookie Notice

This website uses cookies to perform some required functions and to analyse our website traffic. We will only collect your information if you complete our contact or prayer request forms so that we can respond to your email or include your intentions/request in prayer. We do not use cookies to personalise content and ads. We will not share any details submitted via our contact email forms to any third party.