Archive for “2015”

Lectio Divina 7/17/2015

Friday, July 17 ~ Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 12:1-8 Jesus was going through a field of grain on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the Sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

 

Meditation: What does the commandment “keep holy the Sabbath” require of us? What is the primary intention behind this command? The religious leaders of the time confronted Jesus on this issue. The “Sabbath rest” was meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God’s goodness and the goodness of his work, both in creation and redemption. It was a day set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on our behalf. It was intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment. Jesus’ disciples are scolded by the scribes and Pharisees, not for plucking and eating corn from the fields, but for doing so on the Sabbath. In defending his disciples, Jesus argues from the scriptures that human need has precedence over ritual custom. In their hunger, David and his men ate of the holy bread offered in the Temple. Jesus also quoted of the Sabbath work involved in worship in the Temple. This kind of work was usually double the work of worship on weekdays. Jesus then quotes from the prophet Hosea (6:6): I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. While the claims of ritual sacrifice are important to God, mercy and kindness in response to human need are even more important.

 

Prayer: O God, who show the light of your truth to those who go astray, so that they may return to the right path, give all who for the faith they profess are accounted Christians the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ and to strive after all that does it honor. 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: What a difference Sunday makes when it truly is a day of rest, a day to stop our labors and other unnecessary “busy-ness.” For centuries, Christian citizens have sought recognition in their respective nations of Sunday as a legal holiday, a day of rest from labor. This has been done, in part, by a concern for the rights of workers and their need for leisure. The Church lifts up the value of human work, seeing in it an imitation of God in His work of creation. At the same time, she insists on the need and the right to rest and on the right to have time for family and for worship. In our present age, a new social phenomenon has emerged: the weekend, which has altered the very character of Sunday. The weekend’s impact on society has not been bad in all aspects, for it has brought opportunities for cultural and social events that, to some extent, can meet our human need for rest. But all too often our Sunday gets lost in the weekend. It gets left out of the planned activities or gets tucked in almost as an afterthought. In regard to this problem, Pope John Paul II once wrote: “Unfortunately, when Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes merely part of a ‘weekend,’ it can happen that people stay locked within a horizon so limited that they can no longer see ‘the heavens.’ Hence, though ready to celebrate, they are really incapable of doing so.” When Sunday is forgotten, and we are left only with a weekend, events become strictly entertaining or just an extension of work. How do you spend your Sundays?  Is it a day of worship and thanksgiving to God by first attending Mass? A day of rest?  Or just another day of the week?

 

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

 

Lectio Divina 7/16/2015

Thursday, July 16 ~ Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Memorial, Our Lady of Mount Carmel

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

 

Meditation: What is this “yoke” which Jesus refer to in the gospel? The Jews used the image of a yoke to express submission to God. They spoke of the yoke of the law, the yoke of the commandments, the yoke of the kingdom, the yoke of God. Jesus  says his yoke is “easy”. The Greek word for “easy” can also mean “well-fitting”. Yokes were tailor-made to fit the oxen well. We are commanded to put on the “sweet yoke of Jesus” and to live the “heavenly way of life and happiness”. Jesus also says his “burden is light”. There’s a story of a man who once met a boy carrying a smaller crippled lad on his back. “That’s a heavy load you are carrying there,” exclaimed the man. “He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother!” responded the boy. No burden is too heavy when it’s given in love and carried in love.

 

Prayer: May the venerable intercession of the glorious Virgin Mary come to our aid, we pray, O Lord, so that, fortified by her protection, we may reach the mountain which is Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: By embracing the way and the truth and the life of Christ, Jesus offers us the kingdom of righteousness, peace, happiness and joy.  This is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one. The yoke of Christ’s kingdom, his kingly rule and way of life, liberates us from the chains of sin, the burden of guilt and from the oppression of sin and hurtful desires. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation the priest – acting in the person of Christ – lifts the burden of sin and the weight of hopelessness from us. Jesus used the analogy of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for a weight of glory and victory from sin. The yoke which Jesus invites us to embrace is his way of grace and freedom from the power and the weight of sin. Do you want to begin with a fresh start in life – a life of Christ? Get to confession, you’re your sins absolved by the priest, then start anew by trusting in God’s love and by submitting to his will and his plan for your life.

 

Lectio Divina 7/15/2015

Wednesday, July 15 ~ Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 11:25-27 At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

 

Meditation: It is a safe presumption that all of us want to know the mind and thoughts of God. Jesus thanks the Father in heaven for revealing to his disciples the wisdom and knowledge of God. What does Jesus’ prayer tell us about God and about ourselves? First, it tells us that God is both Father and Lord of earth as well as heaven. He is both Creator and Author of all that he has made, the first origin of everything and transcendent authority, and at the same time, goodness and loving care for all his children. All fatherhood and motherhood is derived from him (ref. Ephesians 3:14-15). Jesus’ prayer also contains a warning that pride can keep us from the love and knowledge of God.  Pride is Satan’s favorite sin, for all sin has its roots in pride.

 

Prayer: Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, just as we celebrate the heavenly birthday of the Bishop Saint Bonaventure, we may benefit from his great learning and constantly imitate the ardor of his charity. 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: What makes us ignorant and blind to the things of God? Certainly intellectual pride, coldness of heart, and stubbornness of our human will shut out God and his kingdom.  Pride is the root of all vice and the strongest influence propelling us to sin. It first overpowers the human heart, making it cold and indifferent towards God.  It also closes the mind to God’s truth and wisdom for our lives. What is pride? It is the inordinate love of oneself at the expense of others and the exaggerated estimation of one’s own learning and importance. Jesus contrasts intellectual pride with child-like simplicity and humility. The simple of heart are like “babes” in the sense that they see purely without pretense and acknowledge their dependence and trust in the one who is greater, wiser, and more trustworthy. They seek one thing — the “summum bonum” or “greatest good” who is God himself. Simplicity of heart is wedded with humility.  Humility is the queen of virtues, because humility inclines the heart towards grace and truth. Just as pride is the root of every sin and evil, the grace of humility takes the right attitude before God and allows him as God to do all. Remember that God opposes the proud, and gives grace to the humble (ref. Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6). Only the humble in heart can receive true wisdom and understanding of God and his ways. Do you submit to God’s word with simple trust and humility?

 

The Prayer of Saint Bonaventure:  Pierce, O most sweet Lord Jesus, my inmost soul with the most joyous and healthful wound of Thy love, and with true, calm and most holy apostolic charity, that my soul may ever languish and melt with entire love and longing for Thee, may yearn for Thee and for thy courts, may long to be dissolved and to be with Thee. 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 delightful taste. May my heart ever hunger after and feed upon Thee, Whom the angels desire to look upon, and may my inmost soul be filled with the sweetness of Thy savor; may it ever thirst for Thee, the fountain of life, the fountain of wisdom and knowledge, the fountain of eternal light, the torrent of pleasure, the fullness of the house of God; may it ever compass Thee, seek Thee, find Thee, run to Thee, come up to Thee, meditate on Thee, speak of Thee, and do all for the praise and glory of Thy name, with humility and discretion, with love and delight, with ease and affection, with perseverance to the end; and be Thou alone ever my hope, my entire confidence, my riches, my delight, my pleasure, my joy, my rest and tranquility, my peace, my sweetness, my food, my refreshment, my refuge, my help, my wisdom, my portion, my possession, my treasure; in Whom may my mind and my heart be ever fixed and firm and rooted immovably. Amen.

Lectio Divina 7/14/2015

 

Tuesday, July 14 ~ Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24 Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum: Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld. For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

 

Meditation: Wherever Jesus traveled he did mighty works to show the people how much God had for them. Chorazin and Bethsaida were areas that had been blessed with the visitation of God. The people there heard with their own ears the good news and experienced with their own eyes the wonderful works which Jesus did for them. Why was Jesus upset with these communities?  The word “woe” means calamity, distress, sorrow, misfortune, misery, grief, or wretchedness. It is as much an expression of sorrowful pity and grief as it is of dismay over the calamity and destruction which comes as a result of human folly, sin, and ignorance. Why does Jesus lament and issue a stern warning?  The people who heard the gospel here apparently  responded with indifference. Jesus rebukes them for hearing the truth and yet doing nothing about it – they were called to conversion of mind and heart, and yet they let the teachings of Christ go in one ear and other the other!

 

Prayer: O God, who desired the Virgin St. Kateri Tekakwitha to flower among Native Americans in a life of innocence, grant, through her intercession, that when all are gathered into your Church from every nation, tribe and tongue, they may magnify you in a single canticle of praise. 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: If Jesus were to visit our cities, towns and neighborhoods today, what would he say? Would he issue a warning like the one he gave to Chorazin and Bethsaida?  How would you respond to such a warning? Would you convert from your way of life?  Or would you discount his teachings and, thus, his warning?  Without question a conversion of mind and heart demands change — a change of heart and way of life.  God’s word is life-giving and it saves us from destruction — the destruction of soul as well as body. Jesus’ anger is directed toward sin and everything which hinders us from doing the will of God. In love he calls us to walk in his way of truth and freedom, grace and loving-kindness, justice and holiness.  Do you receive his word with faith and obedience?  Or do you discount the laws of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ because some call them “old fashioned” and not part of our “modern” lifestyle and culture? God’s laws and the teachings of Christ are timeless, and should never be met with doubt and indifference.  Think about it – do you respond to Jesus’ call to conversion?  If not, why not?

 

Lectio Divina 7/13/2015

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments

is not the truest of guides for human life?” ~Saint Benedict, from the Rule of Saint Benedict (73:3)
“The outcome or the fruit of reading holy scripture is by no means negligible: it is the fullness of eternal happiness. For these are the books which tell us of eternal life, which were written not only that we might believe but also that we might have everlasting life. When we do live that life we shall understand fully, we shall love completely, and our desires will be totally satisfied. Then, with all our needs fulfilled we shall truly know the love that surpasses all understanding and so be filled with the fullness of God. The purpose of scriptures, which comes to us from God, is to lead us to this fullness according to the truths contained in those sayings of the apostles to which I have referred. In order to achieve this, we must study holy scripture carefully, teach it and listen to it in the same way.” ~ Saint Bonaventure

 

Monday, July 13 ~ Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Henry

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 10:34-11:1 Jesus said to his Apostles: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple – amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.

 

Meditation: The battle Jesus speaks of is not an earthly conflict between nations, but spiritual warfare between the forces of Satan and the armies of heaven. The scriptures make clear that there are ultimately only two kingdoms — God’s kingdom of truth light, and Satan’s kingdom of deceit and darkness. Satan has only one aim — the complete domination of our hearts, minds, and will for his kingdom. And he will use any means possible to draw us from good to evil, from truth to deception, from light to darkness, and from life to death. There are no neutral parties in this spiritual battle. We are either for or against the kingdom of God – there can be no middle ground, compromise, secular redefinition or “political correctness.” The choices we make and the actions we take in living out our daily lives reveal whose kingdom we choose to follow. Always remember that God sent Jesus to overthrow Satan’s power and to set us free from everything that would keep us from the love of God and his wise rule in our lives — freedom from slavery to sin and our unruly desires, freedom from fear, greed, and selfishness.

 

Prayer: O God, whose abundant grace prepared Saint Henry to be raised by you in a wonderful way from the cares of earthly rule to heavenly realms, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that amid the uncertainties of this world we may hasten towards you with minds made pure. 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: When Jesus spoke about “division” the Old Testament prophecy of Micah unfolds: “a man’s enemies are the men of his own household” (ref. Micah 7:6). The love of God compels us to choose who will be first in our lives. To place any relationship or anything else above the laws of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ becomes a form of idolatry. Jesus challenges his disciples to examine who and what they love first and foremost. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Jesus Christ. Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is only due to God. It is possible that family, friends, colleagues and neighbors can become our enemies by leading us astray, by embracing a lifestyle that is contrary to the truth and God’s will. Who in your life who leads you away from God? Who distances you from God’s love?