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Saturday, 02 January 2010 21:17

Lectio Divina: 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)

Jesus presents the programme of His mission

in the community of Nazareth

Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21

1. Opening prayer

Lord, let the light of Your glory shine within us

and lead us through the darkness of this world

to the radiant joy of our eternal home.

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. Lectio

a) The text:

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, 3rd Sunday Ordinary CI too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."

b) Comment:

A brief introductory summary presents Jesus’ activity, His person, and the scene of this Gospel (Lk 4:14-21) takes place in the synagogue in Nazareth on a Saturday. Jesus’ return to the place from where His fame had spread everywhere in the region of Galilee and to which the Spirit led His steps has a special signifigance. In concise terms, Luke tries to give a salvific interpretation to it by shedding light on the salient aspects of the events. Jesus’ teaching in the synagogue signifies His Jewish origin and His wish to be part of the culture so as to emphasize the vital role of the law that God had entrusted to His people and to offer Himself as fulfillment and hope of Israel.

To the question implied in the narrative - Is Jesus a prophet? - the answer becomes clearer according to the criteria of discernment used by Israel to verify whether a prophet was sent by Yahweh or not: is his teaching in accordance with the teachings of the law, do his works correspond with God’s commandments, do his prophecies concerning the future come true?  In Nazareth, Jesus presents Himself as a prophet – in fact He compares Himself to Elijah and Elisha – even though He does not define Himself as such in keeping with His custom that avoids any attempt at defining Himself.

c) A moment of silence:

Let us allow the voice of the Word to resonate within us.

3. Meditatio

a) Some questions:

- To consider carefully  every circumstance: are we always in a hurry during our day? Do we really wish to reflect carefully on what happens to us?

- He sent me to proclaim the good news to the poor: do I always think of the poor as the others, while I belong to the haves and those who know, and consequently, I do not need anyone?

- Today this scripture has been fulfilled: what scripture do we know so well as to recognize it as incarnation in our day?

b) A key to the reading:

A historical contextualization

The passage of the synagogue of Nazareth is part of an approach that will later form the key to the reading to what follows in Luke’s Gospel. The reference to the prophet Isaiah is basic because therein is revealed the continuity of the human history of God. Jesus’ gestures, placed in parallel, “He stood and opened the scroll” (v.17), “He closed the scroll and sat down” (v.20), give the narrative a liturgical character that is customary yet new.

The newness occurs in the homily that renders the prophecy present. Today, a key word in Luke, expresses the fulfillment in Christ of God’s purpose. The immediate reactions to this today are of surprise and unbelief, of wonder and scandal, even to rejection already found in the question that follows Jesus’ proclamation, a question hanging in the air without an answer: “Is this not the son of Joseph?” (v. 22). The contrast with the Word proclaimed by a man who is imbued with the Spirit of the Lord, consecrated by an anointing, sent on a special mission of messianic character: to bring the good news, to forgive, to proclaim…creates a conflict of identity.

A literary contextualization

This passage does not have precise parallels in the synoptic Gospels. Jesus’ visit to Nazareth in Matthew 13:53-58 and in Mark 6:1-6a is limited to a question concerning Jesus’ origin and His rejection. There is no description of the rite in the synagogue nor is there a record of the words Jesus pronounced and of the interpretation of the present fulfillment of the sacred Word. The only point in common is the rejection of Jesus by the Nazarenes.

Through Jesus’ discourse in Nazareth, Luke wants to introduce and shed light on the whole public ministry of Jesus. Isaiah 61:1-2 contains a synthesis of the great themes that characterize Luke’s Gospel and those most dear to him: the Holy Spirit, the messianic anointing, the eschatological liberation, the messianic joy, the divine intervention in favor of the poor and oppressed, the proclamation of the year of grace. The program is inaugurated in Mark with the proclamation: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:14-15) and in Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5: 1-48), appears in Luke at the center of the Jewish belief: that which is fulfilled is not the time but the scripture. The reader is invited to see the necessity of “walking” with Christ and to imitate Him on the way of conformity to the will of the Father. Jerusalem, the end of a long journey (Lk 9:51-18,14) that leads Jesus towards the decisive moment of His life, is also the final point of His earthly mission (Lk 24) and the beginning of the life of the newborn Church (Acts 1-2). 

Literary genre

In this passage, we can see a slight literary unity. The editorial intervention of Luke that begins from traditional data follows its own purpose. The unitary design of both parts shows internal clarity and accurate external delimitation. For Luke, the two fields of questioning are inseparable: Who is Jesus? To whom is His work addressed? The relationship between word and action is very strong, the dramatic action of a proclamation that takes place in life. This passage wants to introduce the public ministry of Jesus, almost enabling Him to act on the confines of His belonging to Israel. The Spirit abundantly given to Jesus: at His birth (1:35), at His baptism (3:22), during the temptations (4:1) at the beginning of His mission (4:14) is the Spirit mentioned in Isaiah (v.18) who makes God’s action explicit. An action without ethnic limits and that does not seek notoriety, but that is in favor of those in need of salvation: the poor, prisoners, the blind, the oppressed, and to begin the time of grace of the Lord.  We pass from a culture of the synagogue that is not capable of welcoming the ancient Word fulfilled in the today, to a culture of following on the roads of the world. Jesus goes off. He follows His way, that from Jerusalem will lead Him to the ends of the earth through His followers

Detailed analysis of the text

A detailed analysis of the verses of this passage will reveal important peculiarities, which, within a historical framework, present in the Nazareth synagogue scene a synthesis of the content of the Gospel.

v.16: It seems that the synagogue was a place frequented by Jesus. It is here that from His early adulthood He has heard the Word of God and has interpreted it according to the living tradition of the people. It is significant that Jesus seeks out the centers of worship. Every adult Jew could read the word, generally the leaders of the synagogue entrusted this task to those who were experts in Scripture. The fact that Jesus gets up to read shows that it was customary for Him to do so as it was customary for Him to attend the synagogue. The words: “as was His custom” lend great force to the verse almost as though the one who reads and speaks is not just anyone, but a son of Israel expert in the reading and interpretation of the Torah and the prophets. Christian faith then is born from faithful representatives of the people of Israel whose time of waiting has come to fulfillment. All the main characters in Luke are authentic Israelites: Zachary, Elizabeth and John, Mary, Joseph and Jesus, the apostles, and later in Acts, Paul. This is “a custom” that carries with it something new. The synagogue is the place where the proclamation begins and spreads to the cities of Judah and Galilee and the whole of Israel,  even to the ends of the earth.

vv. 17-19: Jesus finds the passage in Isaiah 61:1-2 which probably refers to the consecration of a prophet (cf. 1 Kg 19:16). Luke leaves out from the citation from Isaiah the menacing end because it is of no interest to his purpose: he emphasizes that Jesus’ teaching has its roots in scripture (17-19; 25-27) and makes it present in His own person. Isaiah’s words on His lips acquire their full meaning and summarize His mission (cf 4:1), full of the Spirit, anointed by the Lord, sent to proclaim the good news to the poor, freedom to prisoners and those oppressed, sight to the blind and to preach the time of grace of the Lord.

v. 20: The detailed description of the gestures foreshadows what is to come. Jesus speaks while sitting, the typical position of one who teaches. The eyes of the people turned towards Him prepare us for the importance of what He is about to say. His is a short but disturbing homily. The movements show the character of this passage from Luke. Jesus came, He went in, He stood up, He sat down, He passed among them, He went away. The Nazarenes too rise but it is to throw Him out. The contrast is clear. Jesus stands up to read, the men stand up to send Him away. The waiting described in this verse, “The eyes of all in the synagogue were gazing on Him,” degenerates into a rejection. The problem is not the proclamation, already well known and source of hope for devout Israelites, but the one who proclaims it and makes it His own.

v. 21: Jesus does not make any comments on the words of Isaiah, but He makes them present. His is a word event - rhêma - (Acts 10:37), a word that is salvation now. The prophecy comes alive and is taking place. Jesus’ interpretation goes beyond every expectation. In the Word, the today is present, the today that is typical of the Evangelist and that is the today of salvation, the today of the fulfillment that comes from listening (cf Rom 10:17). What is essential for Luke is listening. The realization of the ancient promises repeated in the whole of Luke’s works (Lk 9:51; Acts 2:1; 19:21) is for those who listen: the anawim, the poor, the oppressed, those favored by Jhwh (Is 11:4; 29:19) and now those favored by Jesus (Mt 11:28).

c) Reflection:

The exegesis made by Jesus Himself on Isaiah 61 is an example of actualization that reveals the messianic present and has recourse to scripture passages to shed light on the present situation. Christ’s is a creative authority that invites people to adapt their lives to the message, accepting the Anointed of God and renouncing the presumption of reducing Him to their dimension. This pragmatic perspective is the key to actualization in every age: the today of salvation echoes wherever there is preaching, so is the welcoming and the commitment.

In the synagogue of Nazareth, we find the fundamental answers of human beings who live in expectation of meeting with salvation. Jesus is sent by God and is sustained by the Spirit. The anointing says that He is the Christ. In Him scripture is fulfilled. He is the today of God who fulfills past history now come to maturation in Jesus and will turn into the daily today of tomorrow that is the time of the Church, it too sent as prophetic Word, sustained by the Spirit.

The main message found in this passage of Luke is the scripture. The scripture contains the whole of God’s secret who lives in eternity and who becomes one of us.

4. Oratio

Psalm 2: 6-9

"I myself have installed my king

on Zion, my holy mountain."

I will proclaim the decree of the Lord,

who said to me, "You are my son;

today I am your father.

Only ask it of Mme,

and I will make your inheritance the nations,

your possession the ends of the earth.

With an iron rod you shall shepherd them,

like a clay pot you will shatter them."

5. Contemplatio

Today: this the key word in my daily life. In this today the Scripture is fulfilled. In this today Christ goes into the synagogue of my convictions to proclaim the good news to the poverty of my thought, to my feelings that are prisoners of that desire built on the ruins of grey days stretched from hour to hour, to my vision obscured by my all too short-sightedness. A year of grace, of conversion, of blessing. Lord, may my today be Yours so that not one of Your words may fall in vain in my life, but that Your words may be fulfilled as grains of wheat in the frozen furrow of the past, capable of budding at the first signs of spring.

Lectio Divina:
Saturday, 02 January 2010 10:06

Lectio Divina: Mark 3:20-21

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

Almighty God,

ruler of all things in heaven and on earth,

listen favorably to the prayer of Your people,

and grant us Your peace in our day.

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 3:20-21

Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

3) Reflection

• The Gospel today is very short. There are only two verses. It speaks about two things: (a) about the great activity of Jesus up to the point of not even having time to eat; (b) the contrary reaction of the family of Jesus up to the point of thinking that He was out of His mind. Jesus had problems with His family. Sometimes the family helps; at other times it constitutes an obstacle. This is what happened with Jesus, and this is what happens with us as well.

• Mark 3:20: The activity of Jesus. Jesus returned home. His home is now in Capernaum (Mk 2:1). He is no longer living with His family in Nazareth. People, knowing that Jesus was at home, went there. Such a crowd of people gathered there that He and His disciples did not even have time to eat calmly (Mk 6:31)

• Mark 3:20: Conflict with His family. When Jesus’ relatives knew this, they said, “He has lost His mind!” Perhaps this was so because Jesus did not seem to be behaving normally. Perhaps they thought that He was jeopardizing the name of the family. Whatever it was, the relatives decided to take Him back to Nazareth. This is a sign that the relationship of Jesus with His family was suffering. This must have been a source of suffering for Him as well as for Mary, His Mother. Later on (Mk 3:31-35) Mark tells what the encounter of Jesus with His relatives was like. They arrived at the house where Jesus was staying. They had probably  come there from Nazareth. There is a distance of about 40 km from there to Capernaum. His mother was with them. They could not enter the house because there were many people there at the entrance. This is the reason why they sent Him a message: “Your mother and Your brothers and sisters are outside asking for You!” Jesus’ reaction was firm. He asked, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” And He Himself answers, pointing to the crowd gathered there around Him, “Here are My mother and My brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is My brother and sister and mother”. He extended the family! Jesus does not allow the family to draw Him away from the mission.

• The situation of the family at the time of Jesus. In ancient Israel, the clan, that is, the large family (the community), was the basis of living together. This was for the protection of small families and of people, the guarantee of the possession of the land, the principal channel of tradition, and the defense of identity. That was the way which the people of that time had to incarnate the love of God in the love toward neighbor. To defend the clan, the community, was the same as to defend the Covenant. In Galilee at the time of Jesus, because of the Roman system introduced and imposed during the long years under the government of Herod the Great (37 BC to 4 BC), and his son Herod Antipas (4 BC to 39 AD), all this had ceased to exist, or existed less every day. The clan (community) was becoming weaker. The taxes that had to be paid to the government and to the Temple, the increasing indebtedness, the individualistic mentality of Hellenism, the frequent threats of violent repression on the part of the Romans, the obligation to accept the soldiers and to give them lodging, the ever greater problems for survival, all led the families to close  in on themselves and on their own needs. Hospitality was no longer practiced; neither was sharing, nor communion around the table, nor acceptance of the excluded. This closing in was strengthened by the religion of the time. The observance of the norms of purity was a factor in the marginalization of many people: women, children, Samaritans, foreigners, lepers, possessed, publicans or tax collectors, the sick, mutilated people, paraplegics. These norms, instead of helping and favoring acceptance, sharing and communion, favored separation and exclusion.

Thus, the political, social and economic situation as well as the religious ideology of the time,  was against and contributed to the weakening of the central values of the clan and the community. Therefore, in order for the Kingdom of God to manifest itself once again in community living, the people had to overcome the narrow limits of the small family and open themselves up to the larger family and the community.

Jesus gives the example. When His relatives get to Capernaum and try to take hold of Him to take Him back home, He reacts. Instead of remaining closed up in His small family, He extends the family (Mk 3:33-35). He creates the community. He asks the same thing of those who want to follow Him. Families cannot close up in themselves. The excluded and the marginalized should be accepted, once again, into the community, and in this way feel accepted by God (cf. Lk 14:12-14). This is the path to be followed in order to attain the objective of the Law which said, “Let there be no poor among you” (Dt 15:4). Just like the great prophets, Jesus tries to strengthen and affirm community life in the villages of Galilee. He takes the profound sense or significance of the clan, the family, and the community, like an expression of the incarnation of the love of God in the love toward neighbor.

4) Personal questions

• Does the family help participation in the Christian community or does it make it difficult?

• How do you take on your commitment in the Christian community?

• What can all this tell us concerning our relationships in the family and in the community?

5) Concluding prayer

Clap your hands, all peoples,

acclaim God with shouts of joy.

For Yahweh, the Most High, is glorious,

the great king over all the earth. (Ps 47:1-2)

Lectio Divina:
Saturday, 02 January 2010 10:05

Lectio Divina: Mark 3:13-19

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

Almighty God,

ruler of all things in heaven and on earth,

listen favorably to the prayer of Your people,

and grant us Your peace in our day.

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 3:13-19

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: He appointed the Twelve: Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.


• The Gospel today describes the acceptance and mission of the twelve apostles. Jesus begins with two disciples to whom He adds two others (Mk 1:16-20). Gradually, the number increased. Luke tells us that He called the 72 disciples so as to go on mission with Him (Lk 10:1).

• Mark 3:13-15: The call for a two-fold mission. Jesus calls whom He wants and they go with Him, they follow Him. Then, “He appointed twelve, to be His companions and to be sent out to proclaim the message, with power to drive out devils.” Jesus calls them for a double purpose, for a two-fold mission: (a) to be with Him, that is, to form the community of which He, Jesus, is the center; (b) to pray and to have power to drive out devils, that is, to announce the Good News and to fight against the power of evil that ruins the life of people and alienates people. Mark says that Jesus went up to the mountain, and, while He was there, He called the disciples. The call means climbing up. In the Bible, to climb the mountain recalls the mountain that Moses climbed when he had the encounter with God (Ex 24:12). Luke says that Jesus went up to the mountain, prayed all night, and the following day He called the disciples. He prayed to God so as to know whom to choose (Lk 6:12-13). After having called them, Jesus makes the election official and creates a more stable group of twelve people in order to give more consistency to the mission and to signify the continuity of God’s project. The twelve apostles of the New Testament are the successors of the twelve tribes of Israel.

• Thus, the first community of the New Testament comes into being, a model community, which gradually grows around Jesus during the three years of His public activity. At the beginning they are only four (Mk 1:16-20). Shortly afterwards the community increases as the mission is developing, extending into the towns and villages of Galilee. There is a time when they do not even have the time to eat or to rest (Mk 3:2). This is why Jesus was concerned with giving the disciples some rest (Mk 6:31) and to increase the number of missionaries (Lk 10:1). In this way, Jesus tries to maintain the two-fold objective of the call: to be with Him and to go on mission. The community which is formed in this way around Jesus has three characteristics which belong to His nature: it is a forming, missionary community, and is inserted among the poor of Galilee.

• Mark 3:16-19: The list of names of the twelve apostles. Immediately after, Mark gives the names of the twelve: Simon to whom He gave the name of Peter; James and John the sons of Zebedee, to whom He gave the name of Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, the man who was to betray Him. The majority of these names come from the Old Testament. For example, Simon is the name of one of the sons of the patriarch Jacob (Gn 29:33). James is the same as Jacob (Gn 25: 26). Judas is the name of the other son of Jacob (Gn 35:23). Matthew also bore the name of Levi (Mk 2:14), who was the other son of Jacob (Gn 35:23). Of the twelve apostles, seven have a name that comes from the time of the patriarchs. Two have the name of Simon; two are called James; two Judas; one Levi. There is only one who has a Greek name: Philip. It would be like in a family where all have names of ancient times and only one has a modern name. This reveals the desire that people have to remake history from the beginning! It is worthwhile to think about the names which we give our children today. Like the apostles, each one of us is called by God by our name.

4) Personal questions

• To be with Jesus and to go on mission is the two-fold purpose of the Christian community. How do you take on this commitment in the community to which you belong?

• Jesus called the twelve disciples by their names. You, I, we, all of us exist because God calls us by our name. Think about this!

5) Concluding prayer

Show us, Lord, Your faithful love,

grant us Your saving help.

His saving help is near for those who fear Him,

His glory will dwell in our land. (Ps 85:7, 9)

Lectio Divina:
Saturday, 02 January 2010 10:05

Lectio Divina: Mark 3:7-12

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

Father of heaven and earth,

hear our prayers,

and show us the way to Your peace in the world.

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 3:7-12

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea. Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, "You are the Son of God." He warned them sternly not to make him known.

3) Reflection

• The conclusion reached at the end of this fifth conflict (Mk 3: 2 to 6) is that the Good News as it was announced by Jesus said exactly the opposite of the teaching of the religious authority of the time. This is why, at the end of the last conflict, it is foreseen that Jesus will not have an easy life and will be put to death. Death is already appearing on the horizon. They decide to make Him die (Mk 3:6). Without sincere conversion it is not possible for people to reach a correct understanding of the Good News.

• A summary of the evangelizing action of Jesus. The verses of today’s Gospel (Mk 3:7-12) are a summary of the activity of Jesus and they highlight an enormous contrast. Earlier, in Mk 2:1 to 3:6, only conflicts were spoken of, including the conflict of  life and death between Jesus and the civil and religious authority of Galilee (Mk 3:1-6). Now, in the summary, we have the contrary: an immense popular movement, greater than the movement of John the Baptist, because people come not only from Galilee, but also from Judea, from Jerusalem, from Idumaea, from Transjordan, and even from the pagan region of Tyre and Sidon to encounter Jesus! (Mk 3:7-12). All want to see Him and to touch Him. The people are so numerous that Jesus Himself is concerned. There is a danger of being crushed by the multitude. This is why He asks the disciples to have a boat ready for Him so that the crowd would not crush Him. And from the boat He spoke to the crowds. Especially the excluded and the marginalized who came to Him with their ailments: the sick and those possessed. Those who were not accepted in the society of the time were accepted by Jesus. Here is the contrast: on the one side the religious and civil leaders decided to put Jesus to death (Mk 3:6), and on the other side there was an immense popular movement seeking salvation in Jesus. Who will win?

• The unclean spirits and Jesus. Mark insists very much on the expulsion of the unclean spirits. The first miracle of Jesus is the expulsion of the unclean spirits (Mk 1:25). The first impact caused by Jesus is due to the expulsion of the devil (Mk 1:27). One of the principal causes of  Jesus’ clash with the s is the expulsion of the unclean spirits. (Mk 3:22). The first power which the Apostles received when they were sent out on mission was the power to expel demons (Mk 16:17). What does it mean in Mark’s Gospel to drive out or expel evil spirits?

• At the time of Mark the fear of the devil was increasing. Some religions, instead of liberating the people, increased fear and anguish. One of the objectives of the Good News of Jesus is to help people liberate themselves from this fear. The coming of the Kingdom means the coming of a stronger power. Jesus is “the Stronger Man” Who has come to conquer and overcome Satan, the power of evil, and to take way from Satan those imprisoned by fear (Mk 3:27). This is why Mark insists very much on the victory of Jesus over the power of evil, over the devil, over Satan, sin and death. From the beginning to the end, with similar words, Mark repeats the same message: “And Jesus drove out, expelled the impure spirits!” (Mk 1: 26.27,34,39; 3:11-12,15,22,30; 5:1-20; 6:7.13; 7:25-29; 9:25-27,38; 16:9,17). It seems almost a refrain which is repeated! Today, instead of always using the same words, we prefer to use diverse words. We would say, “The power of evil, Satan, which causes so much fear to people - Jesus overcame him, dominated him, conquered him, threw him off the throne, drove him out or expelled him, eliminated him, annihilated him, knocked him down, destroyed him and killed him!” What Mark wants to tell us is this: “Christians are forbidden to be afraid of Satan!” After Jesus rose from the dead, it is madness and a lack of faith to invoke Satan at every moment, as if he still had any power over us. To insist on the power of the devil in order to persuade people to return to Church means to ignore the Good News of the Kingdom. It is a lack of faith in the Resurrection of Jesus!

4) Personal questions

• How do you live your faith in the Resurrection of Jesus? Does your faith in some way help you to overcome fear?

• To drive away or expel the devil! What do you do in order to neutralize this power in your life?

5) Concluding prayer

Joy and happiness in You to all who seek You!

Let them ceaselessly cry,”'Great is Yahweh”

who love Your saving power. (Ps 40)

Lectio Divina:
Saturday, 02 January 2010 10:04

Lectio Divina: Mark 3:1-6

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

Father of heaven and earth,

hear our prayers,

and show us the way to Your peace in the world.

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 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up here before us." Then he said to the Pharisees, "Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

3) Reflection

• In today’s Gospel we meditate on the last of the five conflicts which Mark presents at the beginning of his Gospel (Mk 2:1 to 3:6). The four previous conflicts were provoked by the enemies of Jesus. This last one is provoked by Jesus himself and reveals the seriousness of the conflict between Him and the religious authority of His time. It is a conflict of life or death. It is important to note the category of enemies which has arisen in this conflict. It is a question of the Pharisees and the Herodians, that is, of the religious and civil authority. When Mark wrote his Gospel in the year 70, many of them still remembered very well the terrible persecution of the 60’s, perpetrated by Nero against the Christian communities. In hearing that Jesus Himself had been threatened to death and how He behaved in the midst of these dangerous conflicts, the Christians found a source of courage and direction so as not to be discouraged along the journey.

• Jesus in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Jesus enters the Synagogue. He had the habit of participating in the celebrations of the people. A man was there who had a withered hand, a physically disabled person who could not participate fully, because he was considered impure. Even if he was present in the community, he was marginalized. He had to remain far away from the rest.

• The concern of the enemies of Jesus. The enemies were observing Him to see if Jesus would cure on Saturday. They wanted to accuse Him. The second commandment of the Law of God ordered to “sanctify the Sabbath”. It was prohibited to work on that day (Ex 20:8-20). The Pharisees said that to cure a sick person was the same as working. And for this reason they taught, “It is prohibited to cure on the Sabbath!” They placed the law above the well-being of people. Jesus was an uncomfortable person for them, because He placed the well-being of people above the norms and laws. The concern of the Pharisees and of the Herodians was not zeal for the Law, but rather the will and the desire to accuse and get rid of Jesus.

• Get up and stand in the middle! Jesus asks two things of the physically disabled person: “Get up and stand in the middle!” The word “get up” is the same one which the communities of Mark also used to say: “rise, resurrect”. The disabled person has to “rise”, to get up, to live in the middle and to take his place in the center of the community! The marginalized, the excluded, must live in the middle! They cannot be excluded. They must be together with the others! Jesus calls the excluded one to stand in the middle.

• Jesus’ question leaves the others without knowing what to say. Jesus asks, “Is it permitted on the Sabbath to do good or to do bad, to save life or to kill?” He could have asked, “On the Sabbath, is it permitted to cure: yes or no?!” And in this way all would have answered, “No, it is not permitted!” But Jesus changed the question. For Him, in that concrete case, “to cure” was the same as “to do good” or “to save a life”, and not “to kill!”  With His question Jesus put His finger on the wound. He denounced the prohibition of curing on the Sabbath, considering this to be a system of death. A wise question! The enemies do not know what to answer.

• Jesus looked angrily around at them, grieved to find them so obstinate. Jesus reacts with indignation and sadness before the attitude of the Pharisees and the Herodians. He orders the man to stretch out his hand, and He cures him. By curing the disabled man, Jesus shows that He does not agree with the system which places the law above life. In response to Jesus’ action, the Pharisees and the Herodians decide to kill Him. With this decision they confirm that, in fact, they are defenders of a system of death! They are not afraid to kill in order to defend the system against Jesus, who attacks and criticizes it in the name of life.

4) Personal questions

• The disabled man was called to stand in the center of the community. In our community, do the poor and the excluded have a privileged place?

• Have you, yourself, ever been confronted by people such as the Herodians and the Pharisees, who place the law above the well-being of people? What did you feel at that moment? Did you agree with them or did you challenge them?

5) Concluding prayer

Yet You are merciful to all,

and nothing that You have made disgusts You,

Lord, lover of life! (Wis 11:23-26)

Lectio Divina:
Saturday, 02 January 2010 10:04

Lectio Divina: Mark 2:23-28

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

Father of heaven and earth,

hear our prayers,

and show us the way to Your peace in the world.

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 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?" He said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?" Then he said to them, "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."

3) Reflection

• The Law exists for the good of people. One day on the Sabbath, the disciples passed by a cornfield and they opened a path by plucking ears of corn. In Matthew 12:1 it is said that they were hungry. Quoting the Bible, the Pharisees criticized the attitude of the disciples. It would be a transgression of the law of the Sabbath (cf. Ex 20:8-11). Jesus responded quoting the Bible to indicate that the arguments of the others have no meaning. He recalls that David himself did something which was prohibited, because he took the sacred bread of the temple and gave it to the soldiers to eat because they were hungry (I Sam 21:2-7). Jesus ends with two important phrases: (a) the Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath; (b) The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath!

• The Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath. For more than five hundred years, from the time of the Babylonian captivity to the time of Jesus, the Jews had observed the law of the Sabbath. This secular observance became for them a strong sign of identity. The Sabbath was rigorously observed. At the time of the Maccabees, toward the end of the second century before Christ, this observance had reached a critical point. Attacked by the Greeks on Sabbath, the rebellious Maccabees preferred to allow themselves to be killed rather than to transgress the law of the Sabbath by using arms to defend their own life. For this, one thousand people died (I Mac 2: 32-38). Reflecting on the massacre,  the Maccabee leaders concluded that they should resist and defend their own life, even on the Sabbath (I Mac 2:39-41) Jesus used the same attitude: to consider the law of the Sabbath in a relative way in favor of  human life, because the law exists for the good of human life, and not vice-versa!

• The Son of Man is also the Lord of the Sabbath! The new experience of God as Father gives Jesus, the Son of Man, the key to discovering the intention of God who is at the origin of the Law of the Old Testament. For this reason, the Son of Man is also the Lord of the Sabbath. Living with the people of Galilee during thirty years and feeling in His own person the oppression and the exclusion to which so many brothers and sisters were condemned in the name of the Law of God, Jesus perceives that this could not be the significance of that law. If God is Father, then He accepts all as sons and daughters. If God is Father, then we should be brothers and sisters to others. And this is what Jesus lived and preached, from the beginning to the end. The Law of the Sabbath must be at the service of life and of fraternity. It was precisely because of His fidelity to this message that Jesus was condemned to death. He disturbed the system. He was uncomfortable for them and the system defended itself, using force against Jesus, because He wanted the Law itself to be at the service of life and not vice-versa.

• Jesus and the Bible. The Pharisees criticized Jesus in the name of the Bible. Jesus responds and criticizes the Pharisees using the Bible. He knew the Bible by heart. At that time, there were no printed Bibles as we have today! In every community there was only one Bible, hand written, which remained in the Synagogue. If Jesus knew the Bible so well, it means that during 30 years of His life in Nazareth, He participated intensely in the life of the community, where the Scripture was read every Saturday. By comparison, we are still lacking very much in familiarity with the Bible and participation in the community!

4) Personal questions

• The Sabbath is for the human being and not vice-versa. How do I interpret this?

• Even without having the Bible at home, Jesus knew it by heart. Do I?

5) Concluding prayer

I give thanks to Yahweh with all my heart,

in the meeting-place of honest people, in the assembly.

Great are the deeds of Yahweh,

to be pondered by all who delight in them. (Ps 111:1-2)

Lectio Divina:
Saturday, 02 January 2010 10:03

Lectio Divina: 2nd Sunday of Ordinary time (C)

The First Miracle of Jesus

“Do whatever He tells you!”

John 2:1-11

1. Opening prayer

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

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

2. Reading

a) A key to the reading:

The Gospel of this second Sunday of Ordinary Time places us before the celebration of the Wedding at Cana, in Galilee. At that time, just as now, everybody liked feasts: the feast for a marriage or for a Baptism, the birthday party, the feast of the patron or patroness of the Church, the feast at the end of the year, feasts and more feasts… There are some feasts which remain engraved in our memory and which, over time,  acquire a more profound significance. Other feasts, we forget. We no longer remember them because they have lost their significance. The feast of the wedding at Cana, as it has been described in the Gospel of John (Jn 2:1-11), has remained alive in the memory of the Christian people, and for some it has taken on a more profound meaning. To understand this progressive discovery of the significance of the wedding at Cana we must remember that the Gospel of John is different from the other Gospels. John describes the facts of the life of Jesus in such a way that the readers discover in them a more profound dimension, which only faith can perceive. John, at the same time, presents a photograph or an x-ray. This is why, during the reading, it is good to be very attentive to the details of the text, especially to the two following things: (i) to the attitudes and behavior of the people and (ii) to what is lacking and to the abundance which appear in the wedding at Cana.

b)    A division of the text to help in the reading:

John 2:1-2: Feast of the wedding. Mary is present. Jesus is the one who has been invited.

John 2:3-5: Jesus and His mother faced with the lack of wine.

John 2:6: The jars for the ablutions are empty.

John 2:7-8: The initiative of Jesus and of the servants.

John 2:9-10: The discovery of the sign by the chief wine steward

John 2:11: The Evangelist’s brief commentary

c) Text:

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you." 2ndSundayOrdinaryCNow there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the them, "Fill the jars with water." So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from — although the servers who had drawn the water knew —, the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now." Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

3. A moment of prayerful silence

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

4. Some questions

to help us in our personal reflection.

a) Which point in this text did you like best? Which one impressed you the most? Why?

b) What struck you in the attitude and behavior of the people? Why?

c) What kind of lack and what kind of abundance was there in the feast? What is the significance of this detail?

d) What did Jesus do and how did He do it to offer wine in abundance?

e) Jesus begins the announcement of the Kingdom at a wedding feast. What does He want to teach us with this gesture?

f) What is the message of this text for us today?

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

a)    The context in order to understand the photograph and the x-ray:

When we say “photograph”, we indicate the facts in themselves, just as they appear before our eyes. When we say “x-ray”, we are speaking of a deeper dimension, invisible to our eyes, which is enclosed in the facts that only faith reveals to us.

It is in the way in which John describes the facts that he takes an x-ray of the words and the gestures of Jesus. Through these small details and references, he uncovers the symbolic dimension and, in doing this, he helps us to penetrate more deeply into the mystery of the person and the message of Jesus. In the wedding at Cana, in Galilee, there is the change of the water of the ablutions of the Jews into the wine for the wedding feast. Let us look closely at the details with which John describes the feast, in a way that we can understand the deeper significance of this beautiful and well known episode.

b) Comment on the text:

John 2:1-2: Wedding feast. Jesus has been invited.

In the Old Testament, the wedding feast was a symbol of God’s love for His people. That was what everyone expected in the future (Hos 2:21-22; Isa 62:4-5). It is precisely in a wedding feast, around a family and a community, that Jesus performs His first sign (Jn 2:11). The mother of Jesus was also at the feast. Jesus and His disciples had been invited. The mother of Jesus takes part in the celebration. This symbolizes the Old Testament. Together with His disciples Jesus is the New Testament which is arriving. The mother of Jesus will help to pass from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

John 2:3-5: Jesus and His mother faced with the lack of wine.

Right in the middle of the celebration, the wine is depleted. The mother of Jesus recognizes the limitations of the Old Testament and takes the initiative, in order that the New Testament may be manifested. She approaches Jesus and says, “They have no wine!” Here we have the photograph and the x-ray. The photo represents the mother of Jesus as someone who is attentive to the problems of others and is aware that the lack of wine would ruin the feast. She is not only aware of the problem, but also takes the initiative to solve it. The x-ray reveal the deepest dimension of the relationship between the Old Testament (the mother of Jesus) and the New Testament (Jesus). The statement, “They have no wine!” comes from the Old Testament and awakens in Jesus the action which will bring the New Testament to light. Jesus says, “Woman, what do you want from Me?” That is, what is the link between the Old and the New Testament? “My hour has not yet come!” Mary did not understand this response as negative, as a no, because she tells the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” It is in doing what Jesus teaches that one goes from the Old to the New Testament! Jesus’ hour, in which the passage from the Old to the New Testament will take place, is His Passion, Death and Resurrection. The changing of the water into wine is the anticipation of what is new, which will come from the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.

At the end of the first century, the first Christians debated the validity of the Old Testament. Some no longer wanted to know anything about the Old Testament. In the meeting of the apostles in Jerusalem, James defended the continuity of the use of the Old Testament (Acts 15:13-21). In fact, at the beginning of the second century, Marcion rejected the Old Testament and remained only with the books of the New Testament. Some even affirmed that after the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus of Nazareth should no longer be remembered, but that we should speak only of the Risen Christ. In the name of the Holy Spirit, they said: “Anathema Jesus!” (I Cor 12: 3).

John 2:6: The jars for the ablutions are empty.

It is a small point, but with significant detail. The jars were usually full, especially during a feast. Here they are empty! Why? The observance of the law of purification, symbolized by the six jars, has exhausted all their possibilities. The ancient law has already succeeded to prepare the people to be able to have the union of grace and justification before God. The jars, the old Covenant, are empty! They are no longer capable of generating new life.

John 2:7-8: Jesus and the servants.

The recommendation of the mother of Jesus to the servants is the last order of the Old Testament: “Do whatever He tells you!” The Old Testament looks toward Jesus. From now on, the words and gestures and actions of Jesus will be the ones to direct our life. Jesus calls the servants and orders them to fill the six empty jars. In all, over six hundred liters! He immediately orders them to draw from the jars and to take them to the chief steward. Jesus’ initiative takes place without the intervention of the chief steward. Neither Jesus, nor His mother, nor the servants, were obviously the bosses. None of them went to ask permission from the steward or the bridegroom. Renewal passes to the people who do not belong to the center of power.

John 2:9-10: Discovery of the sign by the president of the feast.

The chief steward tasted the water transformed into wine and said to the bridegroom, “Everyone serves good wine first. But you have kept the best wine until now!” The chief steward, the Old Testament, recognizes publicly that the New is better! Where before there was water for the rite of ablutions of the Jews, now there is abundant wine for the feast. There was a lot of wine: over six hundred liters, and the feast was almost over! What is the meaning of this abundance? What was done with the wine which was left over? We are drinking it even now!

John 2:11: Comment of the Evangelist.

This is the first sign. In the fourth Gospel, the first sign takes place to help in the building up of the family, of the community, in order to mend the relationships among people. Six other signs will follow. John does not use the word miracle, but  sign. The word sign indicates that the actions of Jesus on behalf of the people have a more profound value, that can only be discovered with the x-ray of faith. The small community which had formed around Jesus that week, seeing the sign, was ready to accept the deeper significance and “believe in Him”.

c) Extending the information:

* A much expected wedding

In the Gospel of John, the beginning of Jesus’ public life takes place at a wedding feast, a moment of great joy and of great hope. For this same reason, the wedding at Cana has intense symbolic significance. In the Bible, matrimony is the image used to signify the realization of the perfect union between God and His people. This marriage between God and His people was expected for a long time, for over eight hundred years!

It was prophet Hosea (around the year 750 BC) who, for the first time, represented the hope of this marriage when he narrates the parable of the infidelity of the people before the proposal of Yahweh. The monarchy in Israel had abandoned Yahweh and His mercy, leading the people toward false gods. But the prophet, sure of God’s love, says that the people will be led once again to the desert to listen to the following promise from God: “I shall betroth you to Myself forever. I shall betroth you in uprightness and justice, and faithful love and tenderness. Yes, I shall betroth you to Myself in loyalty and in the knowledge of Yahweh!” (Hos 2:21-22). This marriage between God and the people indicates that the ideal of the exodus will be attained (Hos 2:4-25). About a hundred and fifty years later, the prophet Jeremiah takes the words of Hosea to denounce the monarchy of Judah. And he says that Judah will have the same destiny as Israel because of its infidelity (Jer 2:2-5; 3:11-13). But Jeremiah also looks towards the hope of a perfect marriage with the following novelty: it will be the woman who will seduce the husband (Jer 31:22). And in spite of the crisis created by the Babylonian exile, the people do not lose hope that one day this marriage will take place. Yahweh will have compassion on His abandoned spouse (Isa 54:1-8). With the return of the exiled, the “abandoned one” will again be the spouse accepted with great joy (Isa 62:4-5).

Finally, looking at the events which are taking place, John the Baptist looks towards Jesus, the awaited bridegroom (Jn 3:29). In His teachings and conversations with the people, Jesus takes back Hosea’s parable, the dream of the perfect marriage. He presents Himself as the long-awaited  bridegroom (Mk 2:19). In His conversation with the Samaritan woman, He discreetly presents Himself as the true bridegroom, the seventh one (Jn 4:16-17). The Christian communities will accept Jesus as the expected  bridegroom (2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-31). The wedding at Cana wishes to show that Jesus is the true bridegroom who arrives for the long expected wedding, bringing a tasteful and abundant wine. This definitive marriage is described with beautiful images in the book of Apocalypse (Rev 19:7-8; 21:2).

* The Mother of Jesus in the Gospel of John

Even though she is never called by the name of Mary, the mother of Jesus appears two times in the Gospel of John: at the beginning of the wedding at Cana (Jn 2:1-5), and at the end, at the foot of the Cross (Jn 19:25-27). In both cases she represents the Old Testament which is waiting for the New one to arrive, and, in both cases, she contributes to the arrival of the New One. Mary is the bond of union between what was before and what will come afterwards. At Cana, she, the mother of Jesus, symbol of the Old Testament, is the one who perceives the limitations of the Old Testament and takes the necessary steps in order to proceed to the New one. At the foot of the Cross, she is at the side of the “Beloved Disciple”. The Beloved Disciple is the community which grows around Jesus. He is the son born from the Old Testament. At the request of Jesus, the son, the New Testament, receives Mary, the Old Testament, in his house. Both of them have to walk together. In fact, the New cannot be understood without the Old. The New Testament would have no basis, foundation. And the Old without the New would be incomplete: a tree without fruit.

* The Seven Days of the New Creation

The text begins by saying: “On the third day” (Jn 2:1). In the previous chapter, John had already repeated the expression: “On the following day” (Jn 1:29,35,43). Considering this, it offers the following schema: The witness of John the Baptist to Jesus (Jn 1:19-28) takes place on the first day. “The day after” (Jn 1:29), that is the second day, is the Baptism of Jesus (Jn 1: 29-34). The third day, the call of the disciples and Peter takes place (Jn 1:35-42). On the fourth day, Jesus calls Philip, and Philip calls Nathanael (Jn 1:43-51). Finally, “three days later” that is on the seventh day, that is, on Saturday, the first sign, that of the wedding at Cana, takes place (Jn 2, 1). Throughout the Gospel, Jesus performs seven signs.

John uses the outline of the week to present the beginning of  Jesus’ activity. The Old Testament uses the same outline to present creation. In the first six days, God created all things calling them by name. On the seventh day He rested, and worked no more (Gen 1:1-2: 4). In the same way, Jesus, in the first days of His activity, calls the people  and creates the community, the new humanity. On the seventh day, that is, on Saturday, Jesus does not rest, but works the first sign. Throughout the next chapters, from 2 until 19 included, He performs six other signs, always on Saturday (Jn 5:16; 9:14). Finally, in the morning of the Resurrection, when Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb, it is said, “the first day of the week” (Jn 20:1). It is the first day of the new creation, after that prolonged Saturday in which Jesus worked the seven signs. Accused of working on Saturday, Jesus answers, “My Father still goes on working and I am at work too” (Jn 5:17). Through the activity of Jesus between Cana and the Cross, the Father completes what is lacking in the old creation, in a way in which the new creation can emerge in the Resurrection of Jesus.

6. Pray with Psalm 148

Alleluia! Praise Yahweh from the heavens,

praise Him in the heights.

Praise Him, all His angels,

praise Him, all His host!

Praise Him, sun and moon,

praise Him, all shining stars,

praise Him, highest heavens,

praise Him, waters above the heavens.

Let them praise the name of Yahweh

at whose command they were made;

He established them for ever

and ever by an unchanging decree.

Praise Yahweh from the earth,

sea-monsters and all the depths,

fire and hail, snow and mist,

storm-winds that obey His word,

mountains and every hill,

orchards and every cedar,

wild animals and all cattle,

reptiles and winged birds,

kings of the earth and all nations,

princes and all judges on earth,

young men and girls,

old people and children together.

Let them praise the name of Yahweh,

for His name alone is sublime,

His splendor transcends earth and heaven.

For He heightens the strength of His people,

to the praise of all His faithful,

the children of Israel,

the people close to Him.

7. Final Prayer

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

Lectio Divina:
Saturday, 02 January 2010 09:47

Lectio Divina: John 1:35-42

The call of the first disciples


Dear Father, You who are God Almighty and a merciful God, receive the prayer of your children, as the Savior that You have sent as a new light on the horizon of the world, rises again and shine on our entire lives.


From the Gospel of John (1:35-42)

John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God." The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah," which is translated Christ. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas," which is translated Peter.


In the first chapter of his Gospel John takes us through a sort time of travel. A week  punctuated by the repetition (three times) of the expression "the day after" (vv. 29, 35 and 43). Our track puts us at the second of these moments, the central one and the most important one, characterized by physical and spiritual transition of the first disciples of John to Jesus.

Our scene is brought to life by a very intense exchange of looks: from John to Jesus (v. 35), from Jesus to the two disciples (v. 38), by the disciples of Jesus (vv. 38-39), and finally Jesus speaks as he is looking, to the person of Peter (v. 42).

The evangelist uses different verbs, but all are full of nuances. Not casual looks, but life changing looks instead. Jesus, the Lord looks at His disciples and us, so that, in our turn, we should learn to look at Him. The verb that closes the passage is beautiful; "to look" which means in this manner, "to look inside".

Jesus is walking along the sea, along the shores of our lives, and John acts as a photographer. He records it. He uses verbs which tell us that today, Jesus still is passing by us, and our lives can be visited and intersected by Him. Our world can welcome the imprints of His footsteps.

The center of the passage is centered on the movement of Jesus. He walks first, then turns and stops. His eyes and His heart change the life of the two disciples. Here Jesus is revealed as God incarnate, God came among us. He turned from the bosom of the Father and turned toward us.

It is beautiful to see how the Lord draws us in His movements, in His own life. In fact, He invites the two disciples to "come and see." You can not sit still, when meeting the Lord and His presence puts us in motion. It makes us get up from our old positions and makes us run. Collecting all the verbs referring to the disciples in this passage, we have: "followed Him" (v. 37); "followed Him" (v. 38); "they went ... they saw ... they stayed with Him" (v. 39).

The first part of the passage closes with the beautiful experience of the first two disciples who remain with Jesus They later come into His house and stay with Him. This is the path of salvation, of true happiness, which is offered to us when we accept to remain, to stand still, firm, determined, in love, without turning to and fro, toward one or the other master of the moment. Because, when there is Jesus, the Lord, and you are invited by Him, nothing is missing.


The time passage of this part of the Gospel, with its "day after" shows us that the Lord is not distant, but He enters our days and years in our concrete existence. Am I willing to open myself to Him, to share my life with Him? I am ready to deliver into His hands my present and my future so that He can drive my "day after"?

The disciples make a wonderful spiritual journey, highlighted by the verbs "heard, followed, went, saw, and stayed." Do I want to start this beautiful adventure with Jesus too? Do I open my ears to hear, to listen deeply, so I can give my positive response to the love of the Father who wants to join me? Do I feel born in me the joy of starting a new journey and walking behind Jesus? Are my heart and eyes wide open  to see what really happens in and around me and to recognize in any event the presence of the Lord?

Peter receives a new name from Jesus and his life is completely transformed. Do I feel like that today, giving to the Father my name, my life and my whole person, so that He might give me a new birth as His son or daughter, calling me by name in His infinite love?


The LORD is my shepherd;

there is nothing I lack.

In green pastures You let me graze;

to safe waters You lead me;

You restore my strength.

You guide me along the right path for the sake of Your name.

Even when I walk through a dark valley,

I fear no harm for You are at my side.

(Psalm 23)

Lectio Divina:
Thursday, 31 December 2009 21:23

Liturgical Year C

The Liturgical Year celebrates the Mystery of Christ

By preaching the Church “announces” “the whole mystery of Christ” (CD 12) and with the Liturgy it “celebrates it presenting the sacred memory (SC 102).  In such a way it makes present today “the unfathomable treasure of Christ” (Eph 3, 8 ff; cf. 1, 18; 2, 7): his signs of salvation, with which the faithful come into contact in order to draw from it the grace of salvation.  The Liturgical Year which has its “source” and its “summit” in the Paschal Mystery is articulated into five “periods of time” which have a special relationship with the diverse moments of the Mystery of Christ (SC 10; LG 11).  Therefore, they follow a progressive order: Advent and Christmas; Lent and the Passover or Easter; Ordinary Time.


• Time of Advent and of Christmas
Advent is a time of preparation with a twofold characteristic: it recalls the first coming of the Son of God in humility and pre- announces the second coming in glory: it is a time of active waiting, of expectation, of desire, of prayer, of evangelization, of joy.  Christmas is a time of joyful contemplation of the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of his first manifestations, who has come for our salvation “man among men”. During this time Mary is particularly celebrated as “Mother of God”.


• Time of Lent and of Passover or Easter
Lent is a time of preparation the purpose of which is to guide to a more intense and gradual participation in the Paschal Mystery.  During this time the catechumens are accompanied through the various degrees of Christian initiation, and the faithful through the living memory of Baptism and Penance. The Passover or Easter is the summit of the Liturgical Year, from which all the other parts draw their efficacy of salvation, it is the fulfilment of the redemption of humanity and of perfect glorification of God: it is the destruction of sin and of death, communication of resurrection and of life.


• Ordinary Time
During this long period of time, which has a first stage between Christmas Time and Lent, and develops more extensively from Pentecost to the following Advent, is a global celebration of the mystery of Christ, which is taken up again and deepened in many of its particular aspects.
Already, we can say that Sundays – “The Day of the Lord” – are the “Weekly Passover or Easter” and therefore, a living grafting into the central nucleus of the mystery of Christ throughout the whole year; but then the Weeks (33 and 34) develop through an intense and continued recourse to the Bible the deepening of small cycles of the mystery of Christ, offering these to the meditation of the faithful in order that this may become a stimulus to the action in the Church and in the world.



Liturgical Colors

Liturgies celebrated during the different seasons of the liturgical year have distinctive music and specific readings, prayers, and rituals. All of these work together to reflect the spirit of the particular season. The colors of the vestments that the priest wears during the liturgy also help express the character of the mysteries being celebrated.


White, the color of joy and victory, is used for the seasons of Easter and Christmas. It is also used for the feasts of Our Lord, for feasts of Mary, the angels, and for saints who are not martyrs. Gold may also be used on solemn occasions.


Red (the color of blood) is used on days when we celebrate the passion of Jesus on Passion Sunday and Good Friday. It is also used for the birthday feasts of the apostles and evangelists and for the celebrations of martyrs. Red (the color of fire) recalls the Holy Spirit and is used on Pentecost and for the sacrament of Confirmation.


Green, seen everywhere in plants and trees, symbolizes life and hope and is used during Ordinary Time.


The colors violet or purple in Advent help us to remember that we are preparing for the coming of Christ. Lent, the season of penance and renewal, also uses the colors violet or purple.


Rose may be used on the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, and on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday. It expresses the joy of anticipation for Christmas and Easter, respectively.


Thursday, 31 December 2009 16:31

Lectio Divina: Mark 2:13-17

Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

Father of love, hear our prayers.

Help us to know Your will

and to do it with courage and faith.

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 2:13-17

Jesus went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. Jesus said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed Jesus. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus heard this and said to them, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

3) Reflection

• In yesterday’s Gospel, we saw the first conflict which arose concerning the forgiveness of sins (Mk 2:1-12). In today’s Gospel we meditate on the second conflict which arose when Jesus sat at table with the sinners (Mk 2:13-17). In the years 70’s, the time when Mark wrote, there was a conflict in the communities between Christians who had been converted from paganism and those from Judaism. Those from Judaism found it difficult to enter into the house of converted pagans and sit with them around the same table (cf. Acts 10:28; 11:3). In describing how Jesus faces this conflict, Mark directs the community to solve the problem.

• Jesus taught, and the people were happy to listen to Him. Jesus goes out again to go near the sea. People arrive and He begins to teach them. He transmits the Word of God. In Mark’s Gospel, the beginning of the activity of Jesus is characterized by teaching and by acceptance on the part of the people (Mk 1:14,21,38-39; 2:2,13) in spite of the conflict with religious authority. What did Jesus teach? Jesus proclaimed the Good News of God (Mk 1:14). He spoke about God, but He spoke in a new way. He spoke from His experience, of the experience which He himself had of God and life. Jesus lived in God. Surely He had touched the heart of the people who liked to listen to Him (Mk 1:22,27). God, instead of being a severe Jew who threatens from afar with punishment and hell, becomes a friendly presence and a Good News for the people.

• Jesus calls a sinner to be a disciple and invites him to eat in His house. Jesus calls Levi, a tax collector and he immediately leaves everything and follows Jesus. He begins to be part of the group of disciples. The text says literally: While Jesus was at table in His house. Some think that in his house means the house of Levi. But the most probable translation is that it was a question of the house of Jesus. It is Jesus who invites all to eat in His house: sinners and tax collectors, together with the disciples.

• Jesus has come not for the just, but for sinners. This gesture or act of Jesus causes the religious authority to get very angry. It was forbidden to sit at table with tax collectors and sinners, because to sit at table with someone meant that he was considered a brother! Instead of speaking directly with Jesus, the scribes of the Pharisees speak with the disciples: How is it that He eats and drinks together with tax collectors and sinners? Jesus responds: “It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I came to call not the upright, but sinners! As before with the disciples (Mk 1:38), it is the conscience of His mission which helps Jesus to find the response and to point the way for the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus.

4) Personal questions

• Jesus calls a sinner, a tax collector, a person hated by the people, to be His disciple. What is the message for us in this act of Jesus?

• Jesus says that He has come to call sinners. He provides a path to forgiveness. How do we act once we have His forgiveness? Do we consciously try to avoid sin?

5) Concluding prayer

May the words of my mouth always find favor,

and the whispering of my heart, in Your presence,

Yahweh, my rock, my redeemer. (Ps 19:14)

Lectio Divina:
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