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Tuesday, 23 February 2010 09:16

Lectio Divina: Luke 24:13-35

Easter Time

1) Opening prayer

God our Father,

You are a God not of the dead

nor of those paralyzed by their fears and limitations

but the God of the living. Raise us up and make us walk forward

in joy and hope

as companions on the road

of Him whom you raised from the dead,

Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord for ever.

2) Gospel Reading - Luke 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, "What are you discussing as you walk along?" They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?" And he replied to them, "What sort of things?" They said to him, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his Body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see." And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?" So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!" Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

3) Reflection

• Today’s Gospel speaks to us of a very well know episode, of the apparition of Jesus to the disciples at Emmaus. Luke writes in the year 80 for the communities of Greece, which for the most part were made up of converted Gentiles. The years 60’s and 70’s had been most difficult ones. There had been the great persecution of Nero in the year 64. Six years later, in the year 70, Jerusalem was completely destroyed by the Romans. In the year 72, in Masada, in the desert of Judah, there was the massacre of the last rebellious Jews. In those years, the Apostles, witnesses of the Resurrection, disappeared gradually. People began to feel tired on the journey. From where could they draw the strength so as not to get discouraged? How to discover the presence of Jesus in such a difficult situation? The story of the apparition of Jesus to the disciples at Emmaus tries to give a response to all these anguishing questions. Luke wants to teach the communities how to interpret Scripture in order to be able to rediscover the presence of Jesus in life.

• Luke 24:13-24: 1st Step: to get away from reality. Jesus meets the two friends in a situation of fear and lack of faith. The force of death, the cross, had killed the hope in them. This was the situation of many people at the time of Luke, and is also the predicament of many people today. Jesus gets close to them and walks by their side. He listens to their conversation and asks, “What are all these things that you are discussing as you walk along?” The dominant ideology of the government and of the official religion of the time prevent them from seeing. “Our hope had been that He would be the one to set Israel free.” What is the conversation of people who suffer today? The first step is this one: get close to the people, listen to their reality, feel their problems: be capable of asking questions which will help the people to look at reality from a more critical perspective.

• Luke 24:25-27:  2nd step: use the Bible to enlighten life. Jesus uses the Bible and the history of people to illuminate the problem which made the two friends suffer, and to clarify the situation in which they are living. He also uses it to place them in the whole plan of God which came from Moses and the prophets. Thus, He indicates that history had not escaped from God’s hand. Jesus uses the Bible not as a doctor who knows everything, but rather like a companion who comes to help friends and to remind them of what they had forgotten. Jesus tries to awaken their memory: “Foolish and slow to believe all that the prophets have said! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer before entering into His glory?”

This is the second step: With the Bible, help people to discover the wisdom which already exists in them, and transform the cross, a sign of death, into a sign of life and of hope. What prevented them from walking now becomes for them strength and light on the journey. How can we do this today?

Luke 24:28-32: 3rd step: to share in community. The Bible in itself does not open their eyes. It only makes their heart burn. What opens the eyes and makes them see is the breaking of the bread, the communal gesture of sharing, and the celebration of the Supper. At the moment in which both recognize Jesus, they are born anew, and Jesus disappears. Jesus does not take possession of his friends’ road.  He is not paternalistic. Risen, the disciples are capable of walking  alone.

The third step is the following: to know how to create a fraternal environment of faith, of celebration and of sharing, where the Holy Spirit can act. It is He who makes us discover and experience the Word of God in life, which leads us to understand the meaning of the words of Jesus (Jn 14:26; 16:13).

• Luke 24:33-35: 4th step: The result: To resurrect means to go back to Jerusalem. The two of them, courageously, get back on the road to go to Jerusalem, where the same forces of death, which had killed Jesus and had killed their hope, continue to be active. But, now everything has changed. If Jesus is alive, then there is in Him and with Him a stronger power than that which killed Him. This experience makes them resurrect! Truly, everything has changed. There is return and not flight! Faith and not unbelief! Hope and not despair! Critical conscience and not fatalism in the face of power! Liberty and not oppression! In one word: life and not death! Instead of the bad news of the death of Jesus, the Good News of his Resurrection! Both of them experience life and life in abundance! (Jn 10:10). This is a sign that the Spirit of Jesus is acting in them!

4) Personal questions

• Both of them say, “We were hoping, but…!” Have you ever been in a situation of discouragement which led you to say, “I was hoping, but…!”?

• How do you read, use and interpret the Bible? Have you ever felt your heart burning when reading and meditating on the Word of God? Do you read the Bible alone or are you part of a Bible group?

• Considering these steps, and the way Jesus enlightened these disciples, how would you help a friend who was losing hope or faith?

5) Concluding Prayer

Give thanks to Yahweh, call on His name,

proclaim His deeds to the peoples!

Sing to Him, make music for Him,

recount all His wonders! (Ps 105:1-2)

Lectio Divina:
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 09:15

Lectio Divina: John 20:11-18

Easter Time

1) Opening prayer

O God of life,

we profess our faith in Jesus

and recognize Him as our Lord and Savior. Make us listen to Him

when He speaks His good news to us

for it is a message of life.

May we also hear His voice

when He cries out to us in people in need

or simply when He speaks to us

in people who express to us

their joys and hopes, their love and their faith.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - John 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken my Lord, and I don't know where they laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" She thought it was the gardener and said to him, "Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni," which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and then reported what he had told her.

3) Reflection

• Today’s Gospel describes the apparition of Jesus to Mary Magdalene. The death of her great friend prompts Mary to lose her sense of life. But she does not give up her search. She goes to the tomb in order to meet again the one whom death has taken away. There are moments in our life in which everything crumbles. It seems that everything is finished. Death, disasters, pain and suffering, disillusionments, betrayals: so many things which may cause us to feel lost, as if standing on firm ground, and which can lead us to fall into a deep crisis. But other things also happen. For example, suddenly we meet a friend again, and that can give us hope anew and can make us discover that love is stronger than death and defeat. The Lord allows desolation, but He also provides consolation as we need it.

• Chapter 20 in John’s Gospel, besides the apparitions of Jesus to Mary Magdalene,  also speaks about diverse episodes which  indicate the richness of the experience of the Resurrection: (a) to the beloved disciple and to Peter (Jn 20:1-10); (b) to Mary Magdalene (Jn 20:11-18); (c) to the community of disciples (Jn 20:19-23) and (d) to the Apostle Thomas (Jn 20:24-29). The purpose of the writing of the Gospel is to lead people to believe in Jesus, and believing in Him, to have life (Jn 20:30-31).

• In the way of describing the apparition of Jesus to Mary Magdalene one is aware of the different stages of the road that she had to follow, of the sorrowful search until the time of the encounter at Easter. These are also the stages through which we all have to pass, throughout our life, in seeking God and living the Gospel.

• John 20:11-13: Mary Magdalene weeps, but she seeks. There was a very strong love between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. She was one of the few persons who had the courage to remain with Jesus up to the moment of His death on the Cross. After the obligatory rest on Saturday, she goes back to the tomb to be in the place where she had seen her beloved for the last time. But, surprisingly, the tomb is empty! The angels ask her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” and her response is, “They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have put Him!” Mary Magdalene looked for Jesus, that Jesus whom she had known for three years.

• John 20:14-15: Mary Magdalene speaks with Jesus without knowing Him. The disciples at Emmaus saw Jesus but they did not recognize Him. She thinks that Jesus is the gardener. And just as the angels had done, Jesus also asks, “Why are you weeping?” and He adds, “Whom are you looking for?” The response: “If you have taken Him away, tell me where you have put Him and I will go and get Him”. She was still looking for the Jesus of the past, the same one of three days before. And it is precisely the image of the Jesus of the past which prevents her from recognizing the living Jesus, who is present before her.

• John 20:16: Mary Magdalene recognizes Jesus. Jesus pronounces her name: “Mary!” This was the signal to recognize Him: the same voice, the same way of pronouncing her name. She answers, “Master!” Jesus had returned the same as the one who had died on the cross. The first impression was that death was only a painful incident on the journey, but now everything has again become as before. Mary embraces Jesus strongly. He was the same Jesus whom she had known and loved. And thus is fulfilled what the Parable of the Good Shepherd said: “He calls them by name and they recognize His voice”. “I know My sheep and My sheep know Me” (Jn 10:3, 4, 14).

• John 20:17-18: Mary Magdalene receives the mission to announce the resurrection to the apostles. In fact, it is the same Jesus, but the way of being together with her is not the same as before. Jesus tells her, “Do not cling to me, because I have not as yet ascended to the Father!” He goes toward the Father. Mary Magdalene has to let Jesus go and assume her mission: to announce to the brothers that He, Jesus, has ascended to the Father. Jesus has opened up the way for us and thus, once more, God is close to us.

4) Personal questions

• Have you ever had an experience which gave you the feeling of loss and death? What was it like? What gave you new life and gave you back the hope and joy of living?

• What is the change that took place in Mary Magdalene throughout the dialogue? Mary Magdalene was looking for Jesus in a certain way and found Him in a different way. How does this take place in our life?

• Do we also look for Jesus in the past, as a historical figure, when He is present right before us in the poor and outcast we meet every day? What can we do to be more aware of Him in those that we meet today?

• Has Jesus ever called to me as I faced someone who was poor and outcast? Did I recognize my name as He called me through that person and that opportunity to see Him?

5) Concluding Prayer

We are waiting for Yahweh;

He is our help and our shield,

for in Him our heart rejoices,

in His holy name we trust.

Yahweh, let Your faithful love rest on us,

as our hope has rested in You. (Ps 33:20-22)

Lectio Divina:
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 09:15

Lectio Divina: Matthew 28:8-15

Easter Time

1) Opening prayer

Our living God,

our heart is glad and rejoices

and we feel secure in our faith

that we have a living person to believe in, Jesus Christ, who is risen from the dead.

Let Him show us the path of life,

let us live in the joy of His presence

and give us the grace to make us witnesses,

so that we can proclaim with our whole life

that Jesus is our risen, living Lord

now and for ever.

2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 28:8-15

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me." While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.' And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.

3) Reflection

• Easter! Today’s Gospel describes the experience of the Resurrection which the disciples of Jesus had. At the beginning of his Gospel, in presenting Jesus, Matthew had said that Jesus is the Emmanuel, God with us (Mt 1:23). Now, at the end, he communicates and increases this certainty of faith, because he proclaims that Jesus is risen (Mt 28:6) and that He will be with us always, until the end of time! (Mt 28:20). In the contradictions of life, this truth is questioned and contested very much. Opposition is not lacking. The enemies, the chief priests of the Jews, defended themselves against the Good News of the Resurrection and sent word to say that the body had been stolen by the disciples (Mt 28:11-13). This also happens today: on the one side, the effort of many people to live and to witness to the resurrection; on the other side, so many evil people who fight against the resurrection and against life.

• In the Gospel of Matthew, the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus is told in symbolic language, which reveals the hidden sense of the events. Matthew speaks about the earthquake, of lightning and of the angels who announce the victory of Jesus over death (Mt 2-4). It is an apocalyptic language, very common at that time, to announce that finally the world had been transformed by the power of God! The hope of the poor, who reaffirmed their faith, was fulfilled: “He is alive in our midst!”

• Matthew 28:8: The joy of the Resurrection overcomes fear. On Sunday morning, the first day of the week, two women went to the tomb, Mary of Magdala and Mary of James, also called the other Mary. All of a sudden the earth trembled and an angel appeared as lightning. The guards who were guarding the tomb were so shaken up with fear that they were like dead men. The women were frightened but the angel encouraged them, announcing the victory of Jesus over death and sending them to go join the disciples of Jesus in Galilee. And in Galilee they would be able to see Him again. Everything began there; they received the great revelation of the Risen Lord. The joy of the Resurrection began to overcome fear. Thus the announcement of life and resurrection begins in this way.

• Matthew 28:9-10: Jesus appears to the women. The women left quickly. There is a mixture of fear and of joy. These are sentiments typical of those who have a profound experience of the mystery of God. Suddenly, Jesus himself went to meet them and said to them, “Rejoice!” And they fell on their knees and adored Him. It is the attitude of the one who believes and accepts the presence of God, even if it surprises and goes beyond the human capacity to understand. Now, Jesus Himself orders them to go and join the brothers in Galilee: “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee and there they will see Me”.

• Matthew 28:11-15: The astuteness or guile of the enemies of the Good News. The opposition itself which Jesus had to face during His life, springs up again now after His Resurrection. The chief priests meet and give money to the guards. They should spread the news that the disciples have robbed the body of Jesus, and this in order to avoid everything which is said about the Resurrection. The chief priests do not accept the Good News of the Resurrection. They prefer to believe that it is an invention on the part of the disciples – men and women – of Jesus.

• The significance of the testimony of the women. The presence of the women at the death, at the burial, and at the resurrection of Jesus is significant. They are witnesses to the death of Jesus (Mt 27:54-56). At the moment of the burial, they remain sitting before the tomb and therefore, they can render witness of the place where Jesus was buried (Mt 27:61). Now, on Sunday morning, they are there once again. They know that the empty tomb is truly the tomb of Jesus! The profound experience of death and resurrection which they had, transformed their lives. They themselves become qualified witnesses of the Resurrection in the Christian communities. This is why they receive the order to announce, “Jesus is alive! He has risen from the dead!”

4) Personal questions

• How do I experience the Resurrection in my life today?

• Does the Resurrection transform me in any way? 

• Today, what is the mission of our community as disciples of Jesus? Through what in the Resurrection can we draw force and strength and courage to fulfill our mission?

5) Concluding Prayer

I bless Yahweh, who is my counselor,

even at night my heart instructs me.

I keep Yahweh before me always,

for with Him at my right hand,

nothing can shake me. (Ps 16:7-8)

Lectio Divina:
Thursday, 11 February 2010 17:17

Lectio Divina: Holy Thursday

John 13:1-15 

The Washing of the Feet


a) Initial Prayer

“When You speak, Lord, the nothingness beats in life: the dry bones become living persons, the desert flourishes… When I get ready to pray I feel dry, I do not know what to say. Evidently, I am not in harmony with Your will, my lips are not in tune with my heart, my heart does not make an effort to get in tune with yours. Renew my heart, purify my lips so that I can speak with You as You want me to, so that I can speak with others as You wish, so that I can speak with myself, with my interior world, as You wish”. (L. Renna). 

b) The Reading of the Gospel 

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,"Master, are you going to wash my feet?"Jesus answered and said to him,"What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later."Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet."Jesus answered him,"Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me."Simon Peter said to him,"Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well."Jesus said to him,"Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all."For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, "Not all of you are clean."So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do." 

c) Moments of prayerful silence 

In a loving listening, words are not necessary, because silence also speaks and communicates love. 


a) Preamble to the Passover of Jesus 

The passage of the Gospel of today is inserted in a literary whole which includes chapters 13-17. At the beginning we have the account of the Last Supper which Jesus shares with His disciples, during which He fulfills the gesture of the washing of the feet (13:1-30). Then Jesus interweaves a long dialogue of farewell with His disciples (13:31 – 14, 31). Chapters 15-17 have the function to further deepen the previous discourse of the Master. Immediately after this, Jesus is arrested (18:1-11). In any case, these events narrated in 13:17,26 are joined in 13:1 with the Passover of Jesus. It is interesting to note this last annotation: from 12:1 the Passover is no longer called the Passover of the Jews, but of Jesus. From now on, it is He, the Lamb of God who will liberate people from sin. The Passover of Jesus is one that aims to liberate us: a new exodus which permits us to go from darkness to light (8:12), and which will bear life and feast in humanity (7:37).

Jesus is aware that He is about to conclude His journey toward the Father and, therefore He is about to bring to an end His personal and definitive exodus. Such a passage, going to the Father, takes place through the Cross, the central moment in which Jesus will surrender His life for the good of all humanity.

It is striking when the reader becomes aware how the Evangelist John knows how to present the person of Jesus well, while He is aware of the last events of His life and therefore, of His mission. So as to affirm that Jesus is not crushed or overcome by the events which threaten His life, but that He is ready to give His life. Before, the Evangelist has remarked that His hour had not arrived; but now in the account of the washing of the feet He says that He is aware that His hour is close at hand. Such a conscience is at the basis of the expression of John: “After having loved those who were His in the world, He loved them to the end” (v. 1). Love for “His own”, for those who form the new community, has been evident while He was with them, but it will shine in an eminent way in His death. Jesus shows such a love in the gesture of the washing of the feet, which in its symbolical value shows the continuous love which is expressed in service. 

b) The washing of the feet 

Jesus is at an ordinary supper with His disciples. He is fully conscious of the mission which the Father has entrusted to Him: the salvation of humanity depends on Him. With such an awareness He wishes to show “to His own”, through the washing of the feet, how the work of salvation of the Father is fulfilled and to indicate in such a gesture the surrender of His life for the salvation of all. It is the will of Jesus that we be saved, and a longing desire leads Him to give up His life and to surrender. He is aware that the Father gives Jesus complete freedom of action.

Besides, Jesus knows that His true provenance and the goal of His itinerary is God; He knows that His death on the Cross, the maximum expression of His love, is the last moment of His journey of salvation. His death is an “exodus”; it is the climax of His victory over death, in His surrender (giving His life) Jesus reveals to us the presence of God as the fullness of life and exemption from death.

With this full consciousness of His identity and of His complete liberty Jesus is prepared to fulfill the great and humble gesture of the washing of the feet. Such a gesture of love is described with a great number of verbs (eight) which render the scene absorbing, enthralling and full of significance. The Evangelist, in presenting the last action of Jesus toward His own, uses this rhetorical figure of the accumulation of verbs without repeating himself in order that such a gesture remains impressed in the heart and mind of His disciples and of every reader and in order that a commandment may always be remembered, not forgotten. The gesture fulfilled by Jesus intends to show that true love is expressed in tangible actions of service. Jesus removes His garments and ties around His waist a towel or apron, a symbol of service. He shows them that love is expressed in service, in giving one’s life for others as He has done.

At the time of Jesus the washing of the feet was a gesture which expressed hospitality and welcome towards the guests. In an ordinary way it was done by a slave or also by the wife, and also the daughters toward their father. Besides, it was the custom that such a rite of the washing of the feet should be done before they sat at table and not during the meal. Such an insertion of Jesus’ action intends to stress or underline how singular or significant His gesture was.

And thus, Jesus gets down to wash the feet of His disciples. The repeated use of the apron which Jesus tied around His waist underlines the attitude of service which is a permanent attribute of the person of Jesus. In fact, when He finishes the washing of the feet, Jesus does not take off the towel which He used as an apron. Such a detail intends to underline that the service-love does not end with His death. This minute detail shows the intention of the Evangelist to underline the significance and importance of the gesture of Jesus. By washing the feet of His disciples Jesus intends to show them His love, which is one with that of the Father (10:30.38). This image with which Jesus reveals God is really shocking: He is not a sovereign who resides exclusively in Heaven, but He presents himself as the servant of humanity in order to raise it to the divine level. From this divine service flows, for the community of believers, that liberty which comes from the love which renders all its members as “lords” (free) because they are servants. It is like saying that only liberty creates the true love. From now on, service which the believers will render to others will have the purpose of restoring the relationship among people in whom equality and liberty are a consequence of the practice of reciprocal service. Jesus, with His gesture intends to show that any domination over another is contrary to the attitude of God who, instead, serves people to raise them to himself. The pretension of superiority of one person over another no longer has any sense, because the community founded by Jesus does not have any pyramidal characteristics, but horizontal dimensions, in which each one is at the service of others, following the example of God and of Jesus.

In synthesis, the gesture which Jesus fulfilled expresses the following values: the love toward brothers and sisters demands expression in fraternal acceptance, hospitality, and permanent service. 

c) Peter’s Resistance 

The reaction of Peter before the gesture of Jesus is expressed in attitudes of surprise and protest. There is also a change in the way in which he related to Jesus: Peter calls Him “Lord” (13:6). In such a title Jesus is recognized as having a level of superiority which is in conflict with the “washing” of the feet, an action which belongs, instead, to an inferior subject. The protest is expressed energetically by the words: “Are You going to wash my feet?” In Peter’s eyes this humiliating gesture of the washing of the feet seemed to him as an inversion of values which regulate the relationship between Jesus and others: the first one is the Master, Peter is a subject. Peter disapproves the equality which Jesus wants to create among people.

To such misunderstanding Jesus responds inviting Peter to accept the sense of washing his feet as a witness of His love toward him. More precisely, He wants to offer him a concrete proof of how He and the Father love him.

But Peter in his reaction does not give in: he categorically refuses that Jesus should get down at his feet. It is not acceptable that Jesus abandons His position of superiority to render himself equal to His disciples. Such an idea of the Master disorientates Peter and leads him to protest. Not accepting the service of love of his Master, he neither accepts that He dies on the cross for him (12:34; 13:37). It seems to say that Peter is far away from understanding what is true love, and such an obstacle is an impediment so that Jesus can show it to him by His action.

In the mean time, if Peter is not ready to share the dynamics of love which manifests itself in reciprocal service he cannot share the friendship with Jesus and truly runs the risk of excluding himself.

Following the admonition of Jesus “If I do not wash you, you can have no share with Me” (v. 8), Peter adheres to the threatening words of the Master, but without accepting the profound sense of the action of Jesus. He shows himself open, ready to let Jesus wash his feet, not only the feet, but also his hands and head. It seems that it is easier for Peter to accept Jesus’ gesture as an action of purification or ablution rather than as a service. But Jesus responds that the disciples have become pure (“clean”) at the moment when they accepted to allow themselves to be guided by the Word of the Master, rejecting that of the world. Peter and the disciples no longer need the Jewish rite of the purification but to allow themselves to have their feet washed by Jesus; or rather to allow themselves to be loved by Him, conferring them dignity and liberty. 

d) The Memorial of Love

At the end of the washing of the feet Jesus intends to give His action a permanent validity for His community and at the same time to leave to it a memorial or commandment which should always regulate the fraternal relationships.

Jesus is the Lord, not in domination, but in so far as He communicates the love of the Father (His Spirit) which makes us children of God and qualified to imitate Jesus who freely gives His love to His own. Jesus intended to communicate such an interior attitude to His own, a love which does not exclude anyone, not even Judas who is about to betray Him. Therefore, if the disciples call Him Lord, they have to imitate Him; if they consider Him Master, they have to listen to Him. 

e) Some questions to meditate on 

- He got up from the table: How do you live the Eucharist? In a sedentary way or do you allow yourself to be moved to action by the fire of the love which you receive? Do you run the risk that the Eucharist in which you participate is lost in contemplative Narcissism, without leading to the commitment of solidarity and sharing?

- He removed His outer garments: when you go from the Eucharist to daily life, do you know how to remove the garments of your own benefit, your calculations, personal interests to allow yourself to be guided by an authentic love toward others?

- Taking a towel He wrapped it around His waist: this is the image of the “Church of the apron”. In the life of your family, of your ecclesial community, do you walk on the street of service? Are you directly involved in the service to the poor and to the least? Do you know how to see the face of Christ who asks to be served and loved in the poor? 


a) Psalm 116 (114-115), 12-13; 15-16; 17-18 

The Psalmist who finds himself in the time and in the presence of the liturgical assembly sings his sacrifice of thanksgiving. Voltaire who had a special predilection for v. 12 expressed himself as follows: “What can I offer to the Lord for all the gifts which He has given me?” 

What return can I make to Yahweh

for His generosity to me?

I shall take up the cup of salvation

and call on the name of Yahweh. 

Costly in Yahweh's sight

is the death of His faithful.

I beg You, Yahweh!

I am Your servant,

I am Your servant and my mother was Your servant;

You have undone my fetters. 

I shall offer You a sacrifice of thanksgiving

and call on the name of Yahweh.

I shall fulfill my vows to Yahweh,

witnessed by all His people 

b) Final Prayer 

Fascinated with the way in which God expressed His love toward His own, Origin prayed as follows: 

Jesus, come, my feet are dirty.

Become a servant for me, pour the water in the basin;

come, wash my feet.

I know it, what I am saying is daring,

but I fear the threat of Your words:

“If I do not wash you,

you can have no share with me”.

Wash then my feet,

so that I may have a share with you.

(Homily 5 on Isaiah) 

And Saint Ambrose having an ardent desire to correspond to the love of Jesus, expresses himself as follows: 

Oh, my Lord Jesus,

allow me to wash Your sacred feet;

You got them dirty when You walked in my soul…

But where will I take the water from the fountain

to wash Your feet?

In lacking that

I only have the eyes to weep:

bathing Your feet with my tears,

do in such a way that I myself remain purified.

(Treatise on penance).

Lectio Divina:
Friday, 09 July 2010 00:00

Bl. Jane Scopelli, Virgin

janescopelli 1509 July Optional Memorial

Born in Reggio Emilia, Italy, in 1439, Bl. Jane Scopelli began her religious life at home living as a Carmelite mantellata (member of a Carmelite lay confraternity, wearing the white cloak or mantella).

Sunday, 04 July 2010 00:00

Bl. Maria Crocifissa Curcio, Virgin

mariacrocifissacurcio 1504 July Optional Memorial in the Italian provinces

Mother M. Crocifissa Curcio was born on 30 January 1877 in Ispica (Rg), Italy. From the time of her adolescence she realised that she was called to follow Christ in a radical manner,

Monday, 14 June 2010 00:00

St. Elisha, Prophet

stelisha 15014 June Memorial

"Elisha came to Elijah, who threw his cloak over him and he, abandoned the oxen, followed Elijah and became his servant" (1 K 19, 19. 21).

Saturday, 12 June 2010 00:00

Bl. Hilary Januszewski, Priest and Martyr

hilaryjanuszewski 15012 June Optional Memorial

Hilary Januszewski was born on 11 June 1907 in Krajenki (Poland) and was given the name of Pawel. He received a Christian education from his parents, Martin and Marianne.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010 00:00

St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin

mariamagdaledepazzi 15025 May Feast

Mary Magdalene bore the surname of the noble family of Pazzi in Florence. Already by the 15th century, the Pazzi family exercised great political power.

Monday, 01 February 2010 00:00

Bl. Candelaria of St. Joseph, Virgin

candelariastjoseph 1501 February Optional Memorial in Latin America

Bl Candelaria was born Susana Paz-Castillo Ramírez in 1863. She enthusiastically welcomed the call of God to holiness, and since her youth, stood out in practicing living and effective charity,

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