Archive for “2015”

From the Rector

ON THIS THIRD SUNDAY OF THE EASTER SEASON we are reminded of the importance of the Gospel phrase: “You are witnesses of these things.” We can easily see in today’s Gospel how Jesus was putting the final touches in the preparation of his apostles to take his Gospel to the world. He had already spent three years with them, calling them to Him, teaching them, sending them out to preach in His name, to cure the sick, to raise the dead. He had already shown them the example of service. He had already ordained them priests and given them the ability to bring down his body and blood to the altars on Holy Thursday. He had already given them the ability to forgive and retain sins on Easter Sunday evening. He had already shown them that the model to follow, living for God and dying out of love for God and for others. In today’s Gospel, we see how Jesus finishes His preparations.  He started by wishing them peace again, eating in front of them and showing them His wounds so that they would know that they were not hallucinating, but that Jesus really had risen. Then St. Luke tells us that Jesus did two very important things. First, he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, so that they would understand that “everything written about (him) in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Jesus had to do this because the apostles had not gotten the connections Jesus had talked about before, which now, after his resurrection, they would finally be able to understand. Now they would understand the real meaning of the existence of Adam and Eve and the consequences of original sin. Now they would get the real meaning of what happened to Abel, killed by his brother Cain. Abel was a type, a forerunner of Jesus who, though innocent, was killed by his brother. Now they would be able to grasp the story of the sacrifice of Isaac, the only Son, who carried the wood for the sacrifice, and who the Lamb was that God would provide, Jesus, the Lamb of God. Now they would be able to understand the real exodus, the real Passover, which wasn’t just from Egypt through the Red Sea to the promised land, but from this life, through death, into eternal life. Jesus opened their minds to understand how all of Sacred Scripture had pointed to Him. Just as Jesus did with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, to whom Jesus said, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Jesus, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.” We’re told in that scene that the disciples hearts were burning as they felt incredible consolation that comes from contact with the Truth, who is Jesus. Jesus continues to open up the Sacred Scriptures for us at every Mass, teaching us in the Gospel. Jesus concluded this first thing by summarizing and giving the apostles their full mission: “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” Their mission was to go and witness to Jesus, to preach about Jesus, about His suffering out of love, about His resurrection and about the call to repentance through the forgiveness of sins. And we see how well they had listened to Jesus and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, followed His marching orders. The question for us today and every day is simply this: How are each of us doing when it comes to listening to Jesus, at following Him, at embracing His way of life, at being “doers of the word, not hearers only” (James 1:22)?  When we stray and sin, do we seek Christ’s mercy and forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation?  All of us are called – indeed invited by Christ – when Jesus says “follow me.”  How good of a job are we doing at following Him?  It’s never too late, folks, to do a turn around – to undergo that level of conversion of mind and heart, to turn away from the ways of the world and instead embrace the way of Christ.  And once we have embraced the way of Christ, to share in Christ’s saving mission to share his way with others.  That is how we come to know Him, and to love Him – Christ our Lord, Savior and Redeemer. A piece of sage advice is given to us in our second reading from the First Letter of Saint John when he writes: “The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Those who say, ‘I know him,’ but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.”  Let’s think about this today, and take action on how we can show greater love for Christ by following Him, living our lives in witness to Him, and sharing in His saving mission.


4/25/2015 Lectio Divina

Saturday, April 25 ~ Third Week in the Season of Easter

Saint Mark, Evangelist

 

Holy Gospel: Mark 16:15-20  Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

 

Meditation: Ask yourself this simple question as you read and meditate upon sacred scripture: “Lord, what are you saying to me in these scripture passages?” Need some inspiration?  Think about this. Saint Mark the Evangelist is honored today. Each of the four gospel accounts gives us a portrait of Jesus, His mission and teaching.  Each is different in style, length, and emphasis.  But they all have a common thread and purpose — the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. When the Lord Jesus departed physically from the Apostles, they were not left in sorrow or grief.  Instead, they were filled with joy and with great anticipation for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ last words to His Apostles point to His saving mission and to their mission to be witnesses of His saving death and His glorious resurrection and to proclaim the good news of salvation to all the world. God’s love and gift of salvation is not just for a few, or for a single nation — it is for the whole world, and for all who will accept it.  The Gospel guides us, inspires us, enlightens us, challenges our way of thinking and our ways of life, and invites us to share in the life of Christ.  Do you believe in the power of the Gospel teachings – the power to inspire us to conform our lives to Christ?

 

Prayer: O God, who raised up Saint Mark, your Evangelist, and endowed him with the grace to preach the Gospel, grant, we pray, that we may so profit from his teaching as to follow faithfully in the footsteps of Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Today’s gospel passage is the “great commission” which the risen Christ gives to the whole church, and is directed to each and every one of us. All believers have been given a share in this task — to be heralds of the good news and be living witnesses to the teachings of Jesus Christ. We have not been left alone in this task, for the risen Lord works in and through us by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Today we witness a new Pentecost as the Lord pours out his Holy Spirit upon his people to renew and strengthen the body of Christ and to equip it for effective ministry and mission world-wide. Ask yourself:  Do I give adequate reflection on God’s Word and how these timeless teachings have an application in my daily life? Am I a living witness to others the joy of the Gospel and the hope of the resurrection? What holds me back from conforming my life to Christ, and joining in the mission of Christ and His Apostles?

 

 

Scripture passages (NAB translation) courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;

prayers are from The Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing, 2011;

information about saints, solemnities, feasts and memorials courtesy of Catholic Culture.

frlumpe:2015

4/24/2015 Lectio Divina

Friday, April 24 ~ Third Week in the Season of Easter

Saint Fidelis, Priest and martyr

 

Holy Gospel: John 6:52-59  The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”  These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

 

Meditation: Why did Jesus offer himself as “food and drink”?  The Jews were scandalized and the disciples were divided when Jesus said “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you.”  What a hard saying, unless you understand who Jesus is and why he calls himself the bread of life. The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, when Jesus said the blessing, broke and distributed the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigured the superabundance of the unique bread of the Eucharist, or Lord’s Supper. The Gospel of John has no account of the Last Supper meal (just the foot washing ceremony and Jesus’ farewell discourse).  Instead, John quotes extensively from Jesus’ teaching on the bread of life. In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in sacrifice as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to their Creator. Melchizedek’s offering of bread and wine, who was both priest and king (Genesis 14:18), prefigured the offering made by Jesus, our high priest and king.  The remembrance of the manna in the wilderness recalled to Israel that it lives by the bread of the Word of God (Deuteronomy 8:3).When at the Last Supper Jesus described his blood “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28), he was explaining his coming crucifixion as a sacrifice for sins. His death on the cross fulfilled the sacrifice of the paschal lamb.  That is why John the Baptist called him the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Jesus made himself an offering and sacrifice, a gift that was truly pleasing to the Father. He “offered himself without blemish to God” (Hebrews 9:14) and “gave himself as a sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2).

 

Prayer: O God, who were pleased to award the palm of martyrdom to Saint Fidelis as, burning with love for you, he propagated the faith, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that, grounded in charity, we may merit to know with him the power of the Resurrection of Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Jesus chose the time of Passover to fulfill what he had announced at Capernaum– giving his disciples his body and his blood.  Jesus’ passing over to his Father by his death and resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Last Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the church in the glory of God’s kingdom. When the Lord Jesus commands his disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he invites us to take his life into the very center of our being. That life which he offers is the very life of God himself. Do you hunger for the bread of life?

4/23/2015 Lectio Divina

Thursday, April 23 ~ Third Week in the Season of Easter

 

Holy Gospel: John 6:44-51 Jesus said to the crowds: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.”

 

Meditation: God offers us, his people, abundant life.  But we can miss it.  What is the bread of life which Jesus offers?  It is first of all the life of God himself — life which sustains us not only now in this age but also in the age to come. The Rabbis said that the generation in the wilderness have no part in the life to come. In the Book of Numbers it is recorded that the people who refused to brave the dangers of the Promised Land were condemned to wander in the wilderness until they died. The Rabbis believed that the father who missed the promised land also missed the life to come. When Jesus offers us real life he brings us into a new relationship with God, a relationship of trust, love, and obedience.  And he offers us real life which last forever, a life of love, fellowship, communion, and union with the One who made us in love to be with him forever.  To refuse Jesus is to refuse eternal life, unending life with the Heavenly Father. To accept Jesus as the bread of heaven is not only life and spiritual nourishment for this world but glory in the world to come. Do you truly accept Jesus as the bread of life?

 

Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, let us feel your compassion more readily during these days when, by your gift, we have known it more fully, so that those y9ou have freed from the darkness of error may cling more firmly to the teachings of your truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Saint Bonaventure wrote this beautiful prayer to Jesus, the bread of life: “Grant that my soul may hunger after Thee, the bread of angels, the refreshment of holy souls, our daily and super substantial bread, having all sweetness and savor and every delight of taste; let my heart ever hunger after and feed upon Thee, upon whom the angels desire to look, and may my inmost soul be filled with the sweetness of Thy savor; may it ever thirst after Thee, the fountain of life, the fountain of wisdom and knowledge, the fountain of eternal light, the torrent of pleasure, the richness of the house of God. May it ever compass Thee, seek Thee, find Thee, run to Thee, attain Thee, meditate upon Thee, speak of Thee, and do all things to the praise and glory of Thy name, with humility and discretion, with love and delight, with ease and affection, and with perseverance unto the end.”

4/22/2015 Lectio Divina

Wednesday, April 22 ~ Third Week in the Season of Easter

 

Holy Gospel: John 6:35-40  Jesus said to the crowds, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen me, you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”

 

Meditation: For us to understand who Jesus is, we need to understand why he called himself the “bread of life.”  The Jews understood that God promised them manna from heaven to sustain them on their journey to the promised land.  Bread is the very staple of life.  We could not live without food for very long.  Bread sustains us.  But what, then, is life?  Jesus clearly meant something more than mere physical existence.  The life Jesus refers to is connected with God, the author of life.  Real life is a relationship with the living God, a relationship of trust, love, obedience.  This is what Jesus makes possible for us — a loving relationship with the God who created us for love with Him.  Apart from Jesus no on can enter that kind of life and relationship.

 

Prayer: Be present to your family, O Lord, we pray, and graciously ensure those you have endowed with the grace of faith an eternal share in the Resurrection of your Only Begotten Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Ask yourself: are you satisfied with mere physical existence, or do you hunger for real life?  Jesus makes three claims here.   First he offers himself as spiritual food which produces the very life of God within us.  Second, he promises unbroken friendship and freedom from the fear of being forsaken or cut off from God.  Third, he offers us the hope of sharing in his resurrection. Those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior will be raised up to immortal life with Jesus when he comes again on the last day.  Remember, our earthly journey is just that – a journey.  And where our journey leads us is up to us as to whom we follow – is it Christ our shepherd and guide?  Or is it someone or something else?  Jesus leads us to eternal life, everything else leads to a dead end – literally! Knowing this, why would anyone choose to follow anyone or anything but Christ on our earthly journey?

 

4/21/2015 Lectio Divina

Tuesday, April 21 ~ Third Week in the Season of Easter

Saint Anselm, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

 

Holy Gospel: John 6:30-35 The crowd said to Jesus: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to Jesus, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

 

Meditation: Do you have a true and genuine hunger for the bread of life?  The Jewish people had always regarded the manna in the wilderness as the bread of God (Psalm 78:24, Exodus 16:15).  There was a strong Rabbinic belief that when the Messiah came he would give manna from heaven. This was the supreme work of Moses. Now the Jewish leaders were demanding that Jesus produce manna from heaven as proof to his claim to be the Messiah. Jesus responds by telling them that it was not Moses who gave the manna, but God. And the manna given to Moses and the people was not the real bread from heaven, but only a symbol of the bread to come. Jesus then makes the claim which only God can make: I am the bread of life. The bread which Jesus offers is none else than the very life of God. This is the one true bread which can truly satisfy the hunger in our hearts. So the question becomes for each of us: Do you hunger for God and for the food which produces everlasting life?

 

Prayer: O God, who led the Bishop Saint Anselm to seek out and teach the depths of your wisdom, grant, we pray, that our faith in you may so aid our understanding, that what we believe by your command may give delight to our hearts. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Have you tasted the bread of life? Have you come to Jesus? Or are you trying to cram other things in your life, instead of the only thing that will give you meaning, direction – life itself?! So what do you have to do to receive this great treasure – this “pearl of great price” we hear in scripture – this living bread? You have to sell all you have; your desires to go your own way instead of God’s way; your desire to have power or fame. You have to put everything else behind God and seek Him and his righteousness first and all else will be given to you. This is never easy, and it will cost you a great deal. But what you get in return will be worth the price. So, seize this opportunity – taste the bread that Jesus offers!

 

4/20/2015 Lectio Divina

“We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.” ~Pope Francis, “The Face of Mercy” – Paragraph 2

 

Monday, April 20 ~ Third Week in the Season of Easter

 

Holy Gospel: John 6:22-29 After Jesus had fed the five thousand men, his disciples saw him walking on the sea.] The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left. Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”  So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

 

Meditation: What do you hunger most for in life?  Is it health, wealth, power, titles, fame, love, truth, life? Jesus addressed this issue with those who sought him after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. Where they simply hungry for things which satisfy the body or for that which satisfies the heart and soul? Jesus echoes the question posed in the Old Testament by the prophet Isaiah: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy” (Isaiah 55:2)? There are two kinds of hunger — physical and spiritual. Only God can satisfy the spiritual hunger in our heart and soul — the hunger for truth, for life, and for love. Jesus also spoke about the works of God and what we must do to be doing the works of God, namely to believe in God’s Son whom he has sent into the world.

 

Prayer: Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, putting off our old self with all its ways, we may live as Christ did, for through the healing paschal remedies you have conformed us to his nature. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Jesus offers a new relationship with God which issues in a new kind of life – in fact the only real life.  It is a life of love and service, and the forgiveness of others which corresponds to God’s mercy and kindness; a life of holiness and purity which corresponds to God’s holiness; and a life of submission and trust which corresponds to the wisdom of God. This is the work which Jesus directs us to and enables us to perform in the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you hunger for the bread which comes down from heaven and thirst for the words of everlasting life?  Find this hunger, and fulfill it with Christ!