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Tuesday, 02 February 2010 16:56

Lectio Divina: Matthew 23:1-12

Season of Lent


Lord God,

You want us to live our faith

not so much as a set of rules and practices

but as a relationship from person to person

with You and with people.

God, keep our hearts turned to You,

that we may live what we believe

and that we may express our love for You

in terms of service to those around us,

as Jesus did, Your Son,

who lives with You and the Holy Spirit

for ever and ever.


Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.' As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."


Today’s Gospel presents the criticism of Jesus against the scribes and the Pharisees of His time. At the beginning of the missionary activity of Jesus, the doctors of Jerusalem went to Galilee to observe Him (Mk 3:22; 7:1). Disturbed by Jesus’ preaching, they had based their attacks on saying that He was possessed (Mk 3:22). All along the three years the popularity of Jesus grew. And at the same time, the conflict between He and the religious authority also grew. The origin of this conflict was the way in which they placed themselves before God. The Pharisees sought their own security, not so much in God’s love toward them, but rather in the rigorous observance of the Law. Before this mentality, Jesus insists on the practice of love which makes the observance of the law relative and gives it its true significance.

Matthew 23:1-3: The root or origin of the criticism: They say but they do not do . Jesus recognizes the authority of the scribes and of the Pharisees. They occupy the chair of Moses and teach the law of God, but they themselves do not observe what they teach. So Jesus tells them: You must, therefore, do and observe what they tell you, but do not do as they do, because they say but do not do! This is a terrible criticism! Immediately, as in a mirror, Jesus shows some aspects of the incoherence of the religious authority.

Matthew 23:4-7: Look in the mirror in order to make a revision of life. Jesus calls the attention of the disciples concerning the incoherent behavior of some doctors of the Law. In meditating on this incoherence, it is helpful to think about ourselves and not about the Pharisees and the scribes of that time already past. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people’s shoulders, but will not lift a finger to move them; they do their works in order to be admired; they love to take the first places and to be called doctors. The scribes liked to enter into the houses of the widows and to recite long prayers to receive money in exchange! (Mk 12:40).

Matthew 23:8-10): You are all brothers. Jesus orders that we have the contrary attitude. Instead of using the religion and the community as means for self-promotion in order to appear more important before others, He asks not to use the title of Rabbi or Teacher, of Master, Father and Guide because only one is the guide, Christ; only God in Heaven is Father, and Jesus is the Master, the Teacher. You are all brothers. This is the basis of the fraternity which comes from the certainty that God is our Father.

Matthew 23:11-12: The final summary: the greatest must be the servant. This phrase is what characterizes both the teaching and the behavior of Jesus: The greatest among you must be your servant; the one who raises himself up, will be humbled (cfr. Mk 10:43; Lk 14:11; 18:14).


In what does Jesus criticize the Doctors of the Law and in what does He praise them?

In what would He criticize me and in what would He praise me?


'Honor to me is a sacrifice of thanksgiving;

to the upright I will show God's salvation.' (Ps 50:23)

Lectio Divina:
Tuesday, 02 February 2010 16:55

Lectio Divina: Luke 6:36-38

Season of Lent


Just and holy God,

our loving Father,

you offered us Your hand in friendship

and You sent us Your Son Jesus

to go with us on the road

of obedience and loyalty.

God, we often hurt this friendship,

we act as if we were not Your sons and daughters.

See the look of shame on our faces.

Forgive us, for we count on You.

Accept our thanks

for continuing to take us as we are

and loving us notwithstanding our sins.

We ask You this through Christ our Lord.


Jesus said to his disciples: "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."


These three brief verses of today’s Gospel (Lk 6:36-38) are the final part of a brief discourse of Jesus (Lk 6:20-38). In the first part of His discourse, He addresses Himself to the disciples (Lk 6:20) and to the rich (Lk 6:24) proclaiming four beatitudes for the disciples (Lk 6:20-23), and four curses for the rich (Lk 6:20-26). In the second part, He addresses Himself to all those who are listening (Lk 6:27), that is, the immense crowd of poor and sick, who had come from all parts (Lk 6:17-19). The words which He addresses to this people and to all of us are demanding and difficult: to love the enemy (Lk 6,27), not curse them (Lk 6:28), offer the other cheek to the one who slaps you on one, and do not complain if someone takes what is ours (Lk 6:29). How can this difficult advice be understood? The explanation is given in the three verses of today’s Gospel from which we draw the center of the Good News brought by Jesus.

Luke 6:36: Be merciful as your Heavenly Father is merciful. The Beatitudes for the disciples (Lk 6:20-23) and the curses against the rich (Lk 6:24-26) cannot be interpreted as an occasion for the poor to take revenge against the rich. Jesus orders us to have the contrary attitude. He says: Love your enemies! (Lk 6:27). The change which Jesus wants to bring about in us does not consist in merely changing something to invert the system, because in this way nothing would change. He wants to change the system. The idea which Jesus wants to portray comes from the new experience that He has of God the Father, full of tenderness, who accepts all, good and bad, who makes the sun shine on both the good and on the bad and makes the rain fall on both good and bad (Mt 5:5,45). True love does not depend, nor can it depend, on what I receive from others. Love must want the good of the other independently of what he does for me. Because this is how God’s love is for us. He is merciful not only toward those who are good, but with all, even with the ungrateful and the evil (Lk 6:35). The disciples of Jesus should radiate this merciful love.

Luke 6:37-38: Do not judge and you will not be judged. These last words repeat in a clearer way what Jesus had said before: Treat others as you would like them to treat you (Lk 6:31; cf. Mt 7:12). If you do not want to be judged, do not judge! If you do not want to be condemned, do not condemn. If you want to be forgiven, then forgive! If you want to receive a good measure, give this good measure to others! Do not wait for the other one to take the initiative. You take it and begin now! You will see that it is like this.


Lent is a time of conversion. Which is the conversion which today s Gospel is asking of me?

Have you already been merciful as the Heavenly Father is?

What are my limits in being merciful and forgiving?


Help us, God our Savior,

for the glory of Your name;

Yahweh, wipe away our sins,

rescue us for the sake of Your name. (Ps 79,9)

Lectio Divina:
Sunday, 31 January 2010 20:53

January 2010

  • Thursday, December 31, 2009
  • Friday, January 1, 2010
  • Saturday, January 2, 2010
  • Sunday, January 3, 2010
  • Sunday, January 3, 2010
  • Monday, January 4, 2010
  • Tuesday, January 5, 2010
  • Wednesday, January 6, 2010
  • Thursday, January 7, 2010
  • Friday, January 8, 2010
  • Saturday, January 9, 2010
  • Sunday, January 10, 2010
  • Monday, January 11, 2010
  • Tuesday, January 12, 2010
  • Wednesday, January 13, 2010
  • Thursday, January 14, 2010
  • Friday, January 15, 2010
  • Saturday, January 16, 2010
  • Sunday, January 17, 2010
  • Monday, January 18, 2010
  • Tuesday, January 19, 2010
  • Wednesday, January 20, 2010
  • Thursday, January 21, 2010
  • Friday, January 22, 2010
  • Saturday, January 23, 2010
  • Sunday, January 24, 2010
  • Monday, January 25, 2010
  • Tuesday, January 26, 2010
  • Wednesday, January 27, 2010
  • Thursday, January 28, 2010
  • Friday, January 29, 2010
  • Saturday, January 30, 2010
  • Sunday, January 31, 2010
  • Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:15

    Lectio Divina: Mark 6:1-6

    1) Opening prayer

    Lord our God,

    help us to love You with all our hearts

    and to love all people as You love them.

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

    who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

    one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

    2) Gospel reading - Mark 6:1-6

    Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

    3) Reflection

    • The Gospel today speaks of the visit of Jesus to Nazareth and describes the  obstinacy of the people of Nazareth who do not want to accept Him. (Mk 6:1-6). Tomorrow the Gospel describes the openness of Jesus toward the people of Galilee, shown through the sending out of His disciples on mission (Mk 6:7-13).

    • Mark 6:1-2a: Jesus returns to Nazareth. At that time Jesus went to His home town, and His disciples accompanied Him. “With the coming of the Sabbath, He began teaching in the synagogue”. It is always good to return to one’s home town and to reunite with friends. After a long absence, Jesus also returns, and as usual, on Saturday, He goes to the synagogue to participate in the meeting of the community. Jesus was not the coordinator of the community, but even though He was not, He takes the floor and begins to teach. This is a sign that people could participate and express their own opinion.

    • Mark 6:2b-3: Reaction of the people of Nazareth before Jesus. The people of Capernaum had accepted the teaching of Jesus (Mk 1: 22), but the people of Nazareth did not like the words of Jesus and were scandalized. For what reason? Jesus, the boy whom they had known since He was born, how is it that now He is so different? They do not accept God’s mystery present in Jesus, a human being and common as they are and known by all! They think that to be able to speak of God, He should be different from them! As we can see, not everything went well for Jesus. The people who should have been the first ones to accept the Good News were precisely those who had the greatest difficulty accepting it. The conflict was not only with foreigners, but  especially with His relatives and with the people of Nazareth. They refused to believe in Jesus, because they could not understand the mystery of God embracing the person of Jesus. “From where do all these things come to Him? And what wisdom is this which has been given to Him? And these miracles which are worked by Him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joses and Jude and Simon? His sisters too, are they not here with us?” And they would not accept Him. They do not believe in Jesus!

    • The brothers and the sisters of Jesus. The expression “brothers of Jesus” causes  polemics among Catholics and Protestants. Based on this text and on others, the Protestants say that Jesus had more brothers and sisters and that Mary had more sons! The Catholics say that Mary had no other sons. What should we think about all this? In the first place, the two positions, that of Catholics and that of the Protestants, both have arguments taken from the Bible and from the tradition of their respective communities. Therefore, it is not proper to discuss this question with arguments drawn only from reason. This is a question of profound convictions, which have something to do with the faith sentiments both of Catholics and Protestants. An argument taken only from reason cannot succeed in changing the conviction of the heart! On the contrary, it irritates and draws others away! Even when I do not agree with the opinion of another, I should always respect it! We, both Catholics and Protestants, instead of discussing texts, should unite to struggle in defense of life, created by God, a life which has been so disfigured by poverty and injustice, by the lack of faith. We should remember other phrases of Jesus: “I have come in order that they may have life and life in abundance” (Jn 10:10). “That all may be one, so that the world may believe that You, Father, have sent Me” (Jn 17:21). “Who is not against us is for us” (Mk 10:39-40).

    • Mark 6: 4-6. Jesus’ reaction before the attitude of the people of Nazareth. Jesus knows very well that “nobody is a prophet in his own country”. He says, “A prophet is despised only in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house”. In fact, where there is no acceptance or faith, people can do nothing. The preconception prevents this. Even if Jesus wanted to do something, He cannot, and He is amazed at their lack of faith. For this reason, before the closed door of His community “He began to make a tour around the villages, teaching”. The experience of this rejection led Jesus to change His practice. He goes to the other villages and, as we shall see in tomorrow’s Gospel, He gets the disciples involved in the mission instructing them on how they have to continue the mission.

    4) Personal questions

    • Jesus had problems with His relatives and with His community. From the time when you began to live the Gospel better, has something changed in your relationship with your family and with your relatives? 

    • Jesus cannot work many miracles in Nazareth because faith is lacking. Today, does He find faith in us, in me?

    • Does the debate over Mary and Jesus' brothers and sisters precipitate a change in our behavior or how we put faith into action? Should this change how we treat the poor and marginalized?

    5) Concluding prayer

    How blessed are those whose offense is forgiven,

    whose sin blotted out.

    How blessed are those to whom Yahweh imputes no guilt,

    whose spirit harbors no deceit. (Ps 32:1-2)


    Lectio Divina:
    Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:14

    Lectio Divina: Mark 8:1-10

    1) Opening prayer


    watch over Your family

    and keep us safe in Your care,

    for all our hope is in You.

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

    who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

    One God, forever and ever. Amen.

    2) Gospel reading - Mark 8:1-10

    In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, Jesus summoned the disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.” His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?” Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd. They also had a few fish. He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also. They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets. There were about four thousand people. He dismissed the crowd and got into the boat with his disciples and came to the region of Dalmanutha.

    3) Reflection

    The Gospel today speaks about the second multiplication of the loaves. The unitive thread of several episodes in this part of the Gospel of Mark is the food, the bread. After the banquet of death (Mk 6:17-29), comes the banquet of life (Mk 6:30-44). During the crossing of the Lake the disciples are afraid, because they have understood nothing of the bread multiplied in the desert (Mk 6: 51-52). Then Jesus declares that all food is pure (Mk 7: 1-23). In Jesus’ conversation with the Canaanite woman, the gentiles ate the crumbs which fell from the table of the children (Mk 7:24-30). And here, in today s Gospel, Mark speaks about the second multiplication of the loaves (Mk 8:1-10).

    Mark 8: 1-3: The situation of the people and the reaction of Jesus. The crowds who gathered around Jesus in the desert had no food to eat. Jesus calls the disciples and presents the problem to them: I feel pity for this people, because for three days they have been following Me and have not eaten. If I send them away to their homes without eating, they will faint on the way; and some came from very far! In Jesus’ concern there are two important things: a) People forget home and food and follow Jesus to the desert! This is a sign that Jesus aroused great sympathy, up to the point that people followed Him into the desert and remained with Him three days! b) Jesus does not ask them to solve the problem. He only expresses His concern to the disciples. It seems to be a problem without a solution.

    Mark 8: 4: The reaction of the disciples: the first misunderstanding. The disciples then think of a solution, according to which someone had to bring bread for the people. It does not even occur to them that the solution could come from the people themselves. They say: And how could we feed all these people in the desert? In other words, they think of a traditional solution. Someone has to find the money, buy bread and distribute it to the people. They themselves perceive that, in that desert, to buy bread, this solution is not possible, but they see no other possibility to solve the problem. That is, if Jesus insists in not sending the people back to their homes, there will be no way to feed them!

    Mark 8:5-7: The solution found by Jesus. First of all, He asks how much bread they have: seven loaves! Then He orders the people to sit down. Then, He takes those seven loaves of bread, gives thanks, breaks them and gives them to the disciples to distribute; and they distribute them to the crowds. And He does the same thing with the fish. As in the first multiplication (Mk 6: 41), the way in which Mark describes Jesus’ attitude, recalls the Eucharist. The message is this: participation in the Eucharist should lead to the gift and to the sharing of bread with those who have no bread.

    Mark 8: 8-10: The result: Everyone ate, they were satisfied and bread was left over! This was an unexpected solution, which began within the people, with the few loaves of bread that they had brought! In the first multiplication, twelve baskets of bread were left over; here, seven. In the first one, they served five thousand people. Here four thousand. In the first one there were five loaves of bread and two fish. Here, seven loaves of bread and a few fish.

    The time of the dominant ideology. The disciples thought one way, Jesus thinks in another way. In the way of thinking of the disciples there is the dominant ideology, the common way of thinking of people. Jesus thinks in a different way. It is not by going with Jesus and living in a community that a person is already a saint and renewed. Among the disciples, the old mentality always emerges again, because the leaven of Herod and of the Pharisees (Mk 8:15), that is, the dominant ideology, had profound roots in the life of those people. The conversion requested by Jesus is a deep conversion. He wants to uproot the various types of leaven.

    * The leaven of the community closed up in itself, without any openness. Jesus responds: The one who is not against is in favor! (Mk 9:39-40). For Jesus, what is important is not if the person forms part of the community or not, but if he/she is generous, available or not to do the good which the community has to do.

    * The leaven of the group which considers itself superior to others. Jesus responds: You do not know what spirit animates you (Lk 9:55).

    * The leaven of the mentality of class and of competition, which characterized the society of the Roman Empire and which permeated the small community which was just beginning. Jesus responds: Let the first one be the last one (Mk 9:35). This is the point on which He insists the most;  it is the strongest point of His witness: “I have not come to be served, but to serve” (Mk 10:45; Mt 20: 28; Jn 13:1-16).

    * The leaven of the mentality of the culture of the time. Jesus responds: Allow the little ones to come to me!. Jesus indicates that the little ones are the models of discipleship for adults: anyone who does not accept the kingdom of God as a child will not enter it (Lk 18:17).

    The reading of the Gospel, done in community, can help us to change life and the vision and can help us to continue to convert ourselves and to be faithful to the words of Jesus.

    4) Personal questions

    We can always encounter misunderstandings with friends and enemies. What is the misunderstanding between Jesus and the disciples on the occasion of the multiplication of the loaves? How does Jesus face this misunderstanding?

    In your house, with your neighbors or in the community, have there been misunderstandings? How have you reacted?

    Has your community had misunderstandings or conflicts with the civil or ecclesiastical authority? How did this happen?

    What is the leaven which today prevents the realization of the Gospel and should be eliminated?

    5) Concluding prayer

    Lord, You have been our refuge from age to age.

    Before the mountains were born,

    before the earth and the world came to birth,

    from eternity to eternity You are God. (Ps 90:1-2)

    Lectio Divina:
    Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:13

    Lectio Divina: Mark 7:31-37

    1) Opening prayer


    watch over Your family

    and keep us safe in Your care,

    for all our hope is in You.

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

    who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,

    One God, forever and ever. Amen.

    2) Gospel reading - Mark 7:31-37

    Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man's ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, "Ephphatha!" (that is, "Be opened!") And immediately the man's ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, "He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

    3) Reflection

    In today’s Gospel, Jesus cures a deaf-mute. This episode is not known very much. In the episode of the Canaanite woman, Jesus goes beyond the frontiers of the national territory and accepts a foreign woman who does not belong to the people and with whom it was forbidden to speak. In today’s Gospel we notice this same opening.

    Mark 7: 31. The region of the Decapolis. At that time, returning from the territory of Tyre, Jesus went to Sidon toward the Lake of Galilee, right through the Decapolis territory. Decapolis literally means “ten cities.” This was a region of ten cities in the southeast part of Galilee, and its population was gentile.

    Mark 7: 31-35. To open the ears and to loosen the tongue. A deaf-mute man was brought before Jesus. People wanted Jesus to place His hands on him. But Jesus goes far beyond this request. He leads the man aside from the crowd, puts His finger into the man’s ears and touches his tongue with spittle. Looking up to Heaven, He sighed deeply and said, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” At that same moment, his ears were opened, and at once the impediment of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. Jesus wants the people to open their ears and to loosen their tongues!

    Mark 7:36-37: Jesus wants no publicity. And He ordered them not to tell anyone about it, but the more He insisted, the more widely they proclaimed it. Their admiration was unbounded and they said,  “Everything He does is good; He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”  He prohibits that the cure be proclaimed, but in fact that does not happen. Those who have experienced what Jesus has done go and tell others, whether Jesus wants it or not! The people who were present at the cure began to proclaim what they had seen and summarize the Good News as follows: Everything He does is good; He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak! This affirmation of the people makes us remember creation, when it was said,  “God saw that everything was good!” (Gen 1: 31). And this also recalls the prophecy of Isaiah, where he says that in the future the deaf will hear and the dumb will speak (Is 29: 28; 35: 5, cf. Mt 11: 5).

    The recommendation not to tell anybody. Sometimes, the attention which Mark’s Gospel attributes to the prohibition of Jesus to proclaim the cure is exaggerated, as if Jesus had some secret that He wanted to keep. In the majority of cases in which Jesus works a miracle, He does not ask for silence. Rather, He once even asked for publicity (Mk 5: 19). Sometimes, He orders not to announce the healing (Mk 1: 44; 5: 43; 7: 36; 8: 26), but obtains the opposite result. The more He prohibits it, the more the Good News is proclaimed (Mk 1: 28,45; 3: 7-8; 7: 36-37). It is useless to prohibit! The interior force of the Good News is so great that it spreads by itself.

    Growing openness in the Gospel of Mark. Throughout the pages of Mark’s Gospel, there is a growing openness toward the other populations. Thus Mark leads the readers to open themselves toward the reality of the world around and to overcome the preconceptions which prevent peaceful co-existence among the different populations. When He passed through the Decapolis, a gentile region, Jesus responded to the request of the people of the place and cured a deaf-mute man. He is not afraid to be contaminated with the impurity of a gentile, because in curing him, He touches his ears and his tongue. The Jews and the disciples themselves have difficulty hearing  and understanding  that a gentile who was deaf and dumb can now hear and speak thanks to Jesus who touched him. It recalls the Song of the Servant, “The Lord God has opened the ears, and I listen to Him” (Is 50: 4-5). In driving the merchants out of the Temple, Jesus criticizes the unjust trade and affirms that the Temple should be a house of prayer for all peoples (Mk 11:17). In the parable of the wicked tenants, Mark refers to the fact that the message will be taken away from the chosen people, the Jews, and will be given to others, the gentiles (Mk 12:1-12). After the death of Jesus, Mark presents the profession of faith of a gentile at the foot of the Cross. In quoting the Roman centurion and how he recognizes the Son of God in Jesus, Mark is saying that the gentile is more faithful than the disciples and more faithful than the Jews (Mk 15:39). The openness to the gentiles appears very clearly in the final order given by Jesus to the disciples, after His Resurrection: “Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to all creation” (Mk 16:15).

    4) Personal questions

    Jesus shows a great openness toward people of another race, another religion and of other customs. We Christians, today, do we have the same openness? Do I have this openness?

    Definition of the Good News: Everything Jesus does is good! Am I good News for others?

    5) Concluding prayer

    Sing a new song to Yahweh!

    Sing to Yahweh, all the earth!

    Sing to Yahweh, bless His name! (Ps 96:1-2)

    Lectio Divina:
    Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:10

    Lectio: 2nd Sunday of Lent

    Luke 9:28-36

    The Transfiguration of Jesus
    A new way of fulfilling the prophecies
    Luke 9:28-36

    1. Opening prayer

    Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.
    Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.

    2. Reading

    a) A key to the reading:

    A few days earlier, Jesus had said that he, the Son of Man, had to be tried and crucified by the authorities (Lk 9:22; Mk 8:31). According to the information in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, the disciples, especially Peter, did not understand what Jesus had said and were scandalised by the news (Mt 16:22; Mk 8:32). Jesus reacted strongly and turned to Peter calling him Satan (Mt 16:23; Mk 8:33). This was because Jesus’ words did not correspond with the ideal of the glorious Messiah whom they imagined. Luke does not mention Peter’s reaction and Jesus’ strong reply, but he does describe, as do the other Evangelists, the episode of the Transfiguration. Luke sees the Transfiguration as an aid to the disciples so that they may be able to overcome the scandal and change their idea of the Messiah (Lk 9:28-36). Taking with him the three disciples, Jesus goes up the mountain to pray and, while he is praying, is transfigured. As we read the text, it is good to note what follows: “Who appears with Jesus on the mountain to converse with him? What is the theme of their conversation? What is the disciples’ attitude?”

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

    i) Luke 9:28: The moment of crisis
    ii) Luke 9:29: The change that takes place during the prayer
    iii) Luke 9:30-31: The appearance of the two men and their conversation with Jesus
    iv) Luke 9:32-34: The disciples’ reaction
    v) Luke 9:35-36: The Father’s voice

    c) The text:

    28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and Luke 9:28-36spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah" - not knowing what he said. 34 As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

    3. A moment of prayerful silence

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

    4. Some questions

    to help us in our personal reflection.

    a) What pleased you most in this episode of the Transfiguration? Why?
    b) Who are those who go to the mountain with Jesus? Why do they go?
    c) Moses and Elijah appear on the mountain next to Jesus. What is the significance of these two persons from the Old Testament for Jesus, for the disciples for the community in the 80s? And for us today?
    d) Which prophecy from the Old Testament is fulfilled in the words of the Father concerning Jesus?
    e) What is the attitude of the disciples during this episode?
    f) Has there been a transfiguration in your life? How have such experiences of transfiguration helped you to fulfil your mission better?
    g) Compare Luke’s description of the Transfiguration of Jesus (Lk 9:28-36) with his description of the agony of Jesus in the Garden (Lk 22:39-46). Try to see whether there are any similarities. What is the significance of these similarities?

    5. A key to the reading

    for those who wish to go deeper into the theme.

    a) The context of Jesus’ discourse:

    In the two previous chapters of Luke’s Gospel, the innovation brought by Jesus stands out and tensions between the New and the Old grow. In the end, Jesus realised that no one had understood his meaning and much less his person. People thought that he was like John the Baptist, Elijah or some old prophet (Lk 9:18-19). The disciples accepted him as the Messiah, but a glorious Messiah, according to the propaganda issued by the government and the official religion of the Temple (Lk 9:20-21). Jesus tried to explain to his disciples that the journey foreseen by the prophets was one of suffering because of its commitment to the excluded and that a disciple could only be a disciple if he/she took up his/her cross (Lk 9:22-26). But he did not meet with much success. It is in such a context of crisis that the Transfiguration takes place.
    In the 30s, the experience of the Transfiguration had a very important significance in the life of Jesus and of the disciples. It helped them overcome the crisis of faith and to change their ideals concerning the Messiah. In the 80s, when Luke was writing for the Christian communities in Greece, the meaning of the Transfiguration had already been deepened and broadened. In the light of Jesus’ resurrection and of the spread of the Good News among the pagans in almost every country, from Palestine to Italy, the experience of the Transfiguration began to be seen as a confirmation of the faith of the Christian communities in Jesus, Son of God. The two meanings are present in the description and interpretation of the Transfiguration in Luke’s Gospel.

    b) A commentary on the text:

    Luke 9:28: The moment of crisis
    On several occasions Jesus entered into conflict with the people and the religious and civil authorities of his time (Lk 4:28-29; 5:21-20; 6:2-11; 7:30.39; 8:37; 9,9). He knew they would not allow him to do the things he did. Sooner or later they would catch him. Besides, in that society, the proclamation of the Kingdom, as Jesus did, was not to be tolerated. He either had to withdraw or face death! There were no other alternatives. Jesus did not withdraw. Hence the cross appears on the horizon, not just as a possibility but as a certainty (Lk 9:22). Together with the cross there appears also the temptation to go on with the idea of the Glorious Messiah and not of the Crucified, suffering servant, announced by the Prophet Isaiah (Mk 8:32-33). At this difficult moment Jesus goes up the mountain to pray, taking with him Peter, James and John. Through his prayer, Jesus seeks strength not to lose sense of direction in his mission (cf. Mk 1:35).

    Luke 9:29: The change that takes place during the prayer
    As soon as Jesus starts praying, his appearance changes and he appears glorious. His face changes and his clothes become white and shining. It is the glory that the disciples imagined for the Messiah. This transformation told them clearly that Jesus was indeed the Messiah expected by all. But what follows the episode of the Transfiguration will point out that the way to glory is quite different from what they imagined. The transfiguration will be a call to conversion.

    Luke 9:30-31: Two men appear speaking with Jesus
    Together with Jesus and in the same glorious state there appear Moses and Elijah, the two major exponents of the Old Testament, representing the Law and the Prophets. They speak with Jesus about “the Exodus brought to fulfilment in Jerusalem”. Thus, in front of the disciples, the Law and the Prophets confirm that Jesus is truly the glorious Messiah, promised in the Old Testament and awaited by the whole people. They further confirm that the way to Glory is through the painful way of the exodus. Jesus’ exodus is his passion, death and resurrection. Through his “exodus” Jesus breaks the dominion of the false idea concerning the Messiah spread by the government and by the official religion and that held all ensnared in the vision of a glorious, nationalistic messiah. The experience of the Transfiguration confirmed that Jesus as Messiah Servant constituted an aid to free them from their wrong ideas concerning the Messiah and to discover the real meaning of the Kingdom of God.

    Luke 9:32-34: The disciples’ reaction
    The disciples were in deep sleep. When they woke up, the saw Jesus in his glory and the two men with him. But Peter’s reaction shows that they were not aware of the real meaning of the glory in which Jesus appeared to them. As often happens with us, they were only aware of what concerned them. The rest escapes their attention. “Master, it is good for us to be here!” And they do not want to get off the mountain any more! When it is question of the cross, whether on the Mount of the Transfiguration or on the Mount of Olives (Lk 22:45), they sleep! They prefer the Glory to the Cross! They do not like to speak or hear of the cross. They want to make sure of the moment of glory on the mountain, and they offer to build three tents. Peter did not know what he was saying.
    While Peter was speaking, a cloud descended from on high and covered them with its shadow. Luke says that the disciples became afraid when the cloud enfolded them. The cloud is the symbol of the presence of God. The cloud accompanied the multitude on their journey through the desert (Ex 40: 34-38; Nm 10:11-12). When Jesus ascended into heaven, he was covered by a cloud and they no longer saw him (Acts 1:9). This was a sign that Jesus had entered forever into God’s world.

    Luke 9:35-36: The Father’s voice
    A voice is heard from the cloud that says: “This is my Son, the Chosen, listen to him”. With this same sentence the prophet Isaiah had proclaimed the Messiah-Servant (Is 42:1). First Moses and Elijah, now God himself presents Jesus as the Messiah-Servant who will come to glory through the cross. The voice ends with a final admonition: “Listen to him!” As the heavenly voice speaks, Moses and Elijah disappear and only Jesus is left. This signifies that from now on only He will interpret the Scriptures and the will of God. He is the Word of God for the disciples: “Listen to him!”
    The proclamation “This is my Son, the Chosen; listen to him” was very important for the community of the late 80s. Through this assertion God the Father confirmed the faith of Christians in Jesus as Son of God. In Jesus’ time, that is, in the 30s, the expression Son of Man pointed to a very high dignity and mission. Jesus himself gave a relative meaning to the term by saying that all were children of God (cf. John 10:33-35). But for some the title Son of God became a resume of all titles, over one hundred that the first Christians gave Jesus in the second half of the first century. In succeeding centuries, it was the title of Son of God that the Church concentrated all its faith in the person of Jesus.

    c) A deepening:

    i) The Transfiguration is told in three of the Gospels: Matthew (Mt 17:1-9), Mark (Mk 9:2-8) and Luke (Lk 9:28-36). This is a sign that this episode contained a very important message. As we said, it was a matter of great help to Jesus, to his disciples and to the first communities. It confirmed Jesus in his mission as Messiah-Servant. It helped the disciples to overcome the crisis that the cross and suffering caused them. It led the communities to deepen their faith in Jesus, Son of God, the One who revealed the Father and who became the new key to the interpretation of the Law and the Prophets. The Transfiguration continues to be of help in overcoming the crisis that the cross and suffering provoke today. The three sleeping disciples are a reflection of all of us. The voice of the Father is directed to us as it was to them: “This is my Son, the Chosen; listen to him!”

    ii) In Luke’s Gospel there is a great similarity between the scene of the Transfiguration (Lk 9:28-36) and the scene of the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Olives (Lk 22:39-46). We may note the following: in both scenes Jesus goes up the mountain to pray and takes with him three disciples, Peter, James and John. On both occasions, Jesus’ appearance is transformed and he is transfigured before them; glorious at the Transfiguration, perspiring blood in the Garden of Olives. Both times heavenly figures appear to comfort him, Moses and Elijah and an angel from heaven. Both in the Transfiguration and in the Agony, the disciples sleep, they seem to be outside the event and they seem not to understand anything. At the end of both episodes, Jesus is reunited with his disciples. Doubtless, Luke intended to emphasise the resemblance between these two episodes. What would that be? It is in meditating and praying that we shall succeed in understanding the meaning that goes beyond words, and to perceive the intention of the author. The Holy Spirit will guide us.

    iii) Luke describes the Transfiguration. There are times in our life when suffering is such that we might think: “God has abandoned me! He is no longer with me!” And then suddenly we realise that He has never deserted us, but that we had our eyes bandaged and were not aware of the presence of God. Then everything is changed and transfigured. It is the transfiguration! This happens every day in our lives.

    6. Psalm 42 (41)

    “My soul thirsts for the living God!”

    As a hart longs for flowing streams,
    so longs my soul for thee, O God.
    My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When shall I come and behold the face of God?

    My tears have been my food day and night,
    while men say to me continually, "Where is your God?"
    These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
    how I went with the throng,
    and led them in procession to the house of God,
    with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
    a multitude keeping festival.

    Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you disquieted within me?
    Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my help and my God.
    My soul is cast down within me,
    therefore I remember thee from the land of Jordan
    and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
    Deep calls to deep at the thunder of thy cataracts;
    all thy waves and thy billows have gone over me.

    By day the Lord commands his steadfast love;
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
    I say to God, my rock:
    "Why hast thou forgotten me?
    Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?"
    As with a deadly wound in my body,
    my adversaries taunt me,
    while they say to me continually,
    "Where is your God?"

    Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you disquieted within me?
    Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my help and my God.

    7. Final Prayer

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

    Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:09

    Lectio Divina: Matthew 5,43-48

    Lent Time


    Lord God, from You comes the initiative of love.
    You seek us out and You tell us:
    I am your God; you are my people.
    You love us in Jesus Christ, Your Son.
    God, may our response of love
    go far beyond the demands of any law.
    May we seek You and commune with You
    in the deepest of our being
    and may we express our gratitude to You
    by going to our neighbor
    with a love that is spontaneous like Yours.
    We ask You this through Christ our Lord.


    Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."


    In today’s Gospel we see how Jesus has interpreted the commandment “You shall not kill” in such a way that its observance leads to the practice of love. Besides saying “You shall not kill” (Mt 5:21), Jesus quoted four other commandments of the ancient law: you shall not commit adultery (Mt 5:27), you shall not bear false witness (Mt 5:33), eye for eye, and tooth for tooth (Mt 5:38) and, in today s Gospel, you shall love your neighbor and will hate your enemy (Mt 5:43), five times, Jesus criticizes and completes the ancient way of observing these commandments and indicates the new way to attain the objective of the law, which is the practice of love (Mt 5:22-26; 5:28-32; 5:34-37; 5:39-42; 5:44-48).

    Love your enemies. In today's Gospel Jesus quotes the ancient law which says: You will love your neighbor and hate your enemy . This text is not found like this in the Old Testament. It is more a question of the mentality of the time, according to which there was no problem if a person hated his enemy. Jesus was not in agreement and says: But I tell you: if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Do not even the gentiles do as much? You must, therefore, set no bounds to your love, just as your heavenly Father sets none to His . And Jesus gives us the proof. At the hour of His death He observed that which He preached.

    Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing. A soldier takes the wrist of Jesus and places it on the arm of the cross, places a nail and begins to hammer it in. Several times. The blood was flowing down. The body of Jesus contorted with pain. The soldier, a mercenary, ignorant, far from knowing what he was doing, and of what was happening around him, continued to hammer as if it were a piece of the wall of his house and he had to put up a picture. At that moment Jesus prays for the soldier who tortures Him and addresses His prayer to the Father: Father, forgive them! They know not what they are doing! He loved the soldier who killed Him. Even wanting it with all their strength, the lack of humanity did not succeed to kill in Jesus His humanity and love! He will be imprisoned, they will spit on Him, will laugh and make fun of Him, they will make of Him a false king crowning Him with a crown of thorns, they will torture Him, will oblige Him to go through the streets like a criminal hearing the insults of the religious authority. On Calvary they will leave Him completely naked in the sight of all. But the poison of this lack of humanity did not succeed in suppressing the source of love and humanity which sprang from within Jesus. The water of the love which sprang from within was stronger than the poison of hatred which was coming from without. Looking at that soldier, Jesus felt sorrow and prayed for him and for all: Father, forgive them! They know not what they are doing! Jesus, in solidarity, almost excuses those who were ill treating and torturing Him. He was like a brother who goes with his murderous brothers before the judge and he, the victim of his own brothers, says to the judge: They are my brothers, you know they are ignorant. Forgive them! They will become better! He loved the enemy!

    Be perfect as is your Father who is in Heaven. Jesus does not want to frighten, because this would be useless. He wants to change the system of human living altogether. The notion which He constructs comes from the new experience He has from God the Father, full of tenderness and who accepts all! The words of threat against the rich cannot be an occasion of revenge on the part of the poor. Jesus orders that we have a contrary attitude: Love your enemies! True love cannot depend on what one receives from others. Love should want the good of others independently of what they do for me. This is the way God s love is for us.


    Am I capable to love my enemies?

    Contemplate Jesus, in silence, who at the hour of His death, loved the enemy who killed Him.


    How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
    who walk in the Law of Yahweh!
    Blessed are those who observe His instructions,
    who seek Him with all their hearts (Ps 119,1-2)

    Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:08

    Lectio Divina: Matthew 5,20-26

    Season of Lent


    God of mercy and compassion,

    you challenge us to be responsible

    for the good and the evil we do

    and You call us to conversion.

    God, help us to face ourselves

    that we may not use flimsy excuses

    for covering up our wrongs.

    Make us honest with ourselves,

    and aware that we can always count on Jesus Christ

    to be our guide and strength on the road to You,

    now and for ever.


    Jesus said to his disciples: "I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. "You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."


    The text of today s Gospel forms part of a broader or more extensive whole: Mt 5:20 up to Mt 5:48. In these passages Matthew tells us how Jesus interprets and explains the Law of God. Five times He repeats the phrase: You have heard how it was said to our ancestors, in truth I tell you! (Mt 5:21. 27. 33.38. 43). Before, He had said: Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; no, I have come not to abolish, but to complete them (Mt 5:17). The attitude of Jesus before the Law is, at the same time, one of breaking and of continuity. He breaks away from the erroneous interpretations, but maintains firm the objective which the Law should attain: the practice of a greater justice, which is Love.

    Matthew 5:20: An uprightness which surpasses that of the Pharisees. This first verse presents the general key of everything which follows in Matthew 5:20-48. The word Justice never appears in the Gospel of Mark, and it appears seven times in that of Matthew (Mt 3:15; 5:6.10.20; 6:1.33; 21:32). This has something to do with the situation of the communities for which Mark wrote. The religious ideal of the Jews of the time was to be just before God. The Pharisees taught: people attain justice before God when they succeed to observe all the norms of the law in all its details! This teaching generated a legalistic oppression and caused great anguish in the people because it was very difficult to be able to observe all the norms (cfr. Rm 7:21-24). This is why Matthew takes the words of Jesus on justice to show that it has to surpass the justice of the Pharisees (Mt, 5:20). According to Jesus, justice does not come from what I do for God in observing the law, but rather from what God does for me, accepting me as His son or as His daughter. The new ideal which Jesus proposes is the following: therefore, be perfect as is your Heavenly Father! (Mt 5:48). That means: you will be just before God when you try to accept and forgive people as God accepts and pardons me, in spite of my defects and sins.

    By means of these five very concrete examples, Jesus shows us what to do in order to attain this greater justice which surpasses the justice of the  and the Pharisees. As we can see, today’s Gospel takes the example of the new interpretation of the fifth commandment: You shall not kill! Jesus has revealed what God wanted when He gave this commandment to Moses.

    Matthew 5:21-22: The law says: You shall not kill! (Ex 20:13). In order to observe fully this commandment it is not sufficient to avoid murdering. It is necessary to uproot from within everything which, in one way or another, can lead to murder, for example, anger, hatred, the desire to revenge, insult, and exploitation, etc.

    Matthew 5:23-24. The perfect worship which God wants. In order to be accepted by God and to remain united to Him, it is necessary to reconcile oneself with brother and sister. Before the destruction of the Temple, in the year 70, when the Christian Jews participated in the pilgrimages in Jerusalem to present their offerings at the altar and to pay their promises, they always remembered this phrase of Jesus. In the year 80, at the time when Matthew wrote, the Temple and the Altar no longer existed. They had been destroyed by the Romans. The community and the communitarian celebration became the Temple and the Altar of God.

    Matthew 5:25-26: To reconcile oneself. One of the points on which the Gospel of Matthew exists the most is reconciliation. That indicates that in the communities of that time, there were many tensions among the radical groups with diverse tendencies and sometimes even opposing ones. Nobody wanted to cede to the other. There was no dialogue. Matthew enlightens this situation with the words of Jesus on reconciliation which demands acceptance and understanding. The only sin that God does not forgive is our lack of pardon toward others (Mt 6:14). That is why one should try to reconcile yourself before it is too late!


    Today there are many people who cry out for justice! What meaning does evangelical justice have for me?

    How do I behave before those who do not accept me as I am? How did Jesus behave before those who did not accept Him?


    From the depths I call to You, Yahweh:

    Lord, hear my cry.

    Listen attentively to the sound of my pleading! (Ps 130,1-2)

    Lectio Divina:
    Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:07

    Lectio Divina: Matthew 7:7-12

    Season of Lent

    1) Opening prayer

    Lord, our God,

    You are a generous Father,

    who give us what is good for us

    simply because You love us.

    Give us grateful hearts, Lord,

    that we may learn from You

    to give and share without counting the cost

    but simply with love and joy,

    as Jesus, Your Son, did among us,

    who lives with You and the Holy Spirit forever.

    2) Gospel reading - Matthew 7:7-12

    Jesus said to his disciples: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. "Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets."

    3) Reflection

    • The Gospel today gives a part of the Sermon on the Mount, the new law of God which has been revealed to us by Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount has the following structure:

    a) Mathew 5:1-16: The entrance door: the Beatitudes (Mt 5:1-10) and the mission of the disciples: to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Mt 5:12-16).

    b) Mathew 5:17-18: The new relationship with God: The new justice (Mt 5:17-48) which does not expect a reward for practicing almsgiving, for praying and fasting (Mt 6:1-18).

    c) Mathew 6:19-34: The new relationship with the goods of the earth (Mt 6:19-21), do not look at the world with a jaundiced eye (Mt 6:22-23), do not serve God and money (Mt 6:24), do not be concerned about food and drink (Mt 6:23-34).

    d) Mathew 7:1-23: The new relationship with other people: do not look for the splinter in your brother’s eye (Mt 7:1-5); do not throw your pearls in front of pigs (Mt 7:6); the Gospel today: do not be afraid to ask things from God (Mt 7:7-11); and the Golden Rule (Mt 7:12); choose the hard and narrow roads (Mt 7:13-14), beware of false prophets (Mt 7:15-20).

    e) Mathew 7:21-29: Conclusion: do not only speak but also practice (Mt 7:21-23); the community built on this basis will resist the storm (Mt 7:24-27). The result of these words is a new conscience before the scribes and the doctors (Mt 7:28-29).

    • Mathew 7:7-8: Jesus’ three recommendations: to ask, to seek and to knock: “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you!” A person is asked. The response depends both on the person as well as on the insistence with which it is asked (cf Lk 18:1-7). The seeking is defined by some criteria. The better the criteria, the more certainty one can have of finding what one is looking for. To knock at the door is done with the hope that there will be someone on the other side of the door at home. Jesus completes the recommendation, offering the certainty of the response: “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it will be opened; because anyone who asks receives, and anyone who seeks will find and to anyone who knocks the door will be opened”. That means that when we ask God, He listens to our petition. When we seek God, He allows Himself to be found (Isa 5: 5-6). When we knock on the door of God’s house, He opens the door for us.

    • Mathew 7:9-11: Jesus’ question to the people. “Is there anyone among you who would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or would hand him a snake when he asked for a fish?” Here appears the simple and direct way which Jesus has for teaching the things of God to the people. Speaking to the parents, He connects Himself to the daily experience. Between the lines of the question one can guess the response the people yelled out: “No!” because nobody gives a stone to a son who asks for bread. There is no father and no mother who would give a snake to their son when he asks for a fish. And Jesus draws the conclusion: “If you, then, evil as you are, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Jesus calls us evil to stress the certainty of being listened to by God when we ask Him for something. And this, because if we who are not saints, know how to give good things to our children, how much more is the Father in heaven. This comparison has as its objective to take away from our heart any doubt concerning the prayer addressed to God with trust. God will listen! Luke adds that God will give the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:13).

    • Mathew 7:12: The Golden Rule. "So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the law and the prophets.” This is the summary of the entire Old Testament, of the law and the prophets. And this is the summary of everything which God wants to tell us, the summary of all the teaching of Jesus. This Golden Rule is not found only in the teaching of Jesus, but also, in one way or other, in all religions. This responds to the most profound and more universal sentiment of humanity.

    4) Personal questions

    • Ask, seek, knock on the door: How do you pray and speak with God?

    • Are you persistent in what you ask for, as the widow in  Lk 18:1-7 was, or do you give up after not getting results immediately? Would you pray persistently (and insistently) for years, or just months, or just a week?

    • How are your wants aligned with what God would want for you?

    • How do you live the Golden Rule?

    5) Concluding prayer

    Lord I praise Your name for Your faithful love and Your constancy;

    Your promises surpass even Your fame.

    You heard me on the day when I called,

    and You gave new strength to my heart. (Ps 138: 2-3)

    Lectio Divina:
    Page 198 of 204

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