Archive for “2016”

Lectio Divina 6/24/2016

Friday, June 24 ~ Twelfth Week in the Season of Ordinary Time

Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 1:57-66,80 When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea.  All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.

 

Meditation: John the Baptist’s life was fueled by one burning passion – to point others to Jesus Christ and to the coming of God’s kingdom. Scripture tells us that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15, 41) by Christ himself, whom Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, John leaped in the womb of Elizabeth as they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). The fire of the Spirit dwelt in John and made him the forerunner of the coming Messiah. John was led by the Spirit into the wilderness prior to his ministry where he was tested and grew in the word of God. John’s clothing was reminiscent of the prophet Elijah (see Kings 1:8). John broke the prophetic silence of the previous centuries when he began to speak the word of God to the people of Israel. His message was similar to the message of the Old Testament prophets who chided the people of God for their unfaithfulness and who tried to awaken true repentance in them. Among a people  unconcerned with the things of God, it was his work to awaken their interest, unsettle them from their complacency, and arouse in them enough good will to recognize and receive Christ when he came. What is the significance of John the Baptist and his message for our lives? When God acts to save us he graciously fills us with his Holy Spirit and makes our faith come “alive” to his promises. Each and every day the Lord is ready to renew us in faith, hope, and love. Like John the Baptist, the Lord invites each of us to make our life a free-will offering to God. God wants to fill us with his glory all the days of our lives, from birth through death. Renew the offering of your life to God and give him thanks for his mercy and favor towards you.

 

Prayer: Grant, we pray, almighty God, that your family may walk in the way of salvation and, attentive to what Saint John the Precursor urged, may come safely to the One he foretold, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Do you marvel at the grace and work of God, especially in your personal life? The friends of Zechariah and Elizabeth marveled at the wonderful way in which God blessed them with a child. This child was destined by God for an important mission. The last verses in the last book of the Old Testament, taken from the prophet Malachi, speak of the Lord’s messenger, the prophet Elijah who will return to “turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” (ref. Malachi 4:6). We see the beginning of the fulfillment of this word when the Angel Gabriel announced to Zechariah the marvelous birth and mission of John the Baptist (ref. Luke 1:17). When this newly born child was about to be named, as customary on the eighth day, his relatives quibbled over what name to give him. This child, however, has been named from above! And Elizabeth is firm in her faith and determined to see that God be glorified through this child. The name “John” means “the Lord is gracious”. In the birth of John and in the birth of Jesus the Messiah we see the grace of God breaking forth into a world broken by sin and without hope. John’s miraculous birth shows the mercy and favor of God in preparing his people for the coming of its Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

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:2016

Lectio Divina 6/23/2016

Thursday, June 23 ~ Twelfth Week in the Season of Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 7:21-29 Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

 

Meditation: What’s the significance of the story for us? The kind of foundation we build our lives upon will determine whether we can survive the storms and trials of life that are sure to come. Builders usually lay their foundations when the weather and soil conditions are at their best. It takes foresight to know how a foundation will stand up against adverse conditions. Building a house on a flood plain, such as a dry river-bed, is a sure bet for disaster! Jesus prefaced his story with a warning: We may fool one another with our words, but God cannot be deceived. He sees the heart as it truly is – with its motives, intentions, desires, and choices (Psalm 139:2). There is only one way in which a person’s sincerity can be proved, and that is by one’s practice. Fine words can never replace good deeds. Our character is revealed in the choices we make, especially when we must choose between what is true and false, good and evil. Do you cheat on an exam or on your income taxes, especially when it will cost you? Do you lie, or cover-up, when disclosing the truth will cause you pain or embarrassment? A true person is honest and reliable before God, neighbor, and oneself. Such a person’s word can be taken as trustworthy.

 

Prayer: O God, strength of those who hope in you, graciously hear our pleas, and, since without you mortal frailty can do nothing, grant us always the help of your grace, that in following your commands we may please you by our resolve and our deeds. 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 you could foresee a threat to your life and the lose of your home and goods, wouldn’t you take the necessary precautions to avoid such a disaster? Jesus’ story of being swept away by flood waters and wind storms must have caught the attention of his audience who knew that terrific storms did occasionally sweep through their dry arid land without any warning signs. When Jesus described the builders who were unprepared for such a life-threatening storm, he likely had the following proverb in mind: When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm for ever (ref. Proverbs 10:25).

Lectio Divina 6/22/2016

Wednesday, June 22 ~ Twelfth Week in the Season of Ordinary Time

Saint John Fisher, Bishop and Martyr; and Saint Thomas More, Martyr

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.”

 

Meditation: What do grapes, thorns, figs, and thistles have to teach us about the kingdom of God? The imagery used by Jesus would have been very familiar to his audience. A certain thorn bush had berries which resembled grapes. And a certain thistle had a flower, which at least from a distance, resembled the fig. Isn’t it the same today? What we “hear” might have a resemblance of the truth, but, in fact, when you inspect it closely, it’s actually false. False prophets or teachers abound today as much as they did in biblical times. But with the internet and plethora of cable TV channels, the messages of an army of false prophets have the ability to work their way into our homes, into our family lives, and – if we’re not careful – into our minds and hearts.  Keep up your spiritual guard! Don’t let your moral compass be misguided by false prophets!

 

Prayer: O God, who in martyrdom have brought true faith to its highest expression, graciously grant that, strengthened through the intercession of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, we may confirm by the witness of our life the faith we profess with our lips. 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’s the test of a true or false teacher? Jesus connects soundness with good fruit. Something is sound when it is free from defect, decay, or disease and is healthy. Good fruit is the result of sound living – living according to moral truth and upright character. The prophet Isaiah warned against the dangers of falsehood: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness (ref. Isaiah 5:20). The fruits of falsehood produce an easy religion which takes the iron out of religion, the cross out of Christianity, and any teaching which eliminates the hard sayings of Jesus, and which push the judgments of God into the background and makes us think lightly of sin. How do we avoid falsehood in our personal lives? By being true – true to God, his word and his grace. And that takes character! Those who are true to God know that their strength lies not in themselves but in God who supplies what we need. The fruit of a disciple is marked by faith, hope and love, justice, prudence, fortitude and temperance. Do you cultivate good fruit in your life and reject whatever produces bad fruit?

 

About Saint Thomas More: His belief that no lay ruler has jurisdiction over the church of Christ cost Thomas More his life. Beheaded on Tower Hill, London, July 6, 1535, he steadfastly refused to approve Henry VIII’s divorce and remarriage and establishment of the Church of England. Described as “a man for all seasons,” More was a literary scholar, eminent lawyer, gentleman, father of four children and chancellor of England. An intensely spiritual man, he would not support the king’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Nor would he acknowledge Henry as supreme head of the church in England, breaking with Rome and denying the pope as head. More was committed to the Tower of London to await trial for treason: not swearing to the Act of Succession and the Oath of Supremacy. Upon conviction, More declared he had all the councils of Christendom and not just the council of one realm to support him in the decision of his conscience. Four hundred years later, in 1935, Thomas More was canonized a saint of God. Few saints are more relevant to our time. In fact, in 2000, Pope John Paul II named him patron of political leaders. The supreme diplomat and counselor, Thomas More did not compromise his own moral values in order to please the king, knowing that true allegiance to authority is not blind acceptance of everything that authority wants. Henry himself realized this and tried desperately to win his chancellor to his side because he knew More was a man whose approval counted, a man whose personal integrity no one questioned. But when Thomas resigned as chancellor, unable to approve the two matters that meant most to Henry, the king felt he had to get rid of Thomas.

Lectio Divina 6/21/2016

Tuesday, June 21 ~ Twelfth Week in the Season of Ordinary Time

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Confessor

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 7:12-14  Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces. “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”

 

Meditation: Jesus’ expression about “pearls before swine” is concerns not exclusivity, but with purity — the purity of the faith which has been entrusted to us by an all-loving and all-wise God. The early church referenced this expression with the Eucharist or the Lord’s Table. In the liturgy of the early church, a proclamation was given shortly before communion: Holy things to the holy. The Didache, a first century church manual stated: Let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist except those baptized into the name of the Lord; for, as regards this, the Lord has said, `Give not that which is holy unto dogs.'” The Lord invites us to his table, but we must approach worthily.

 

Prayer: O God, giver of heavenly gifts, who in Saint Aloysius Gonzaga joined penitence to a wonderful innocence of life, grant through his merits and intercession, that, though we have failed to follow him in innocence, we may imitate him in penitence. 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: Jesus concludes his discourse with the reminder that we must treat our neighbor in the same way we wish to be treated by God and by others. We must not just avoid doing harm to our neighbor, we must actively seek his or her welfare. In doing so, we fulfill the law and the prophets, namely what God requires of us – loving God with all that we have and are and loving our neighbor as ourselves. The personal love we show to our neighbor is fueled by the love that God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). The Holy Spirit is every ready to transform our lives in Jesus’ way of love. Do you thirst for holiness and for the fire of God’s love? If not, or if you find yourself repeatedly falling short in this regard, pray the prayer of St. Clement XI of Rome: “Let me love you, my Lord and my God, and see myself as I really am – a pilgrim in this world, a Christian called to respect and love all whose lives I touch, those in authority over me or those under my authority, my friends and my enemies. Help me to conquer anger with gentleness, greed by generosity, apathy by fervor. Help me to forget myself and reach out towards others.”

Lectio Divina 6/20/2016

“If we know God, our identification of ourselves with those we love will be patterned on our union with God, and subordinate to it. Thus our love will begin with the knowledge of its own limitations and rise to the awareness of its greatness. For in ourselves we will always remain separate and remote from one another, but in God we can be one with those we love.”

~Excerpted from No Man is an Island by Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO

 

Monday, June 20 ~ Twelfth Week in the Season of Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 7:1-5 Jesus said to his disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”

 

Meditation: Let’s admit it – we all have the potential to be rather critical at times (and not of the “constructive criticism” variety), but nobody wants to be judged or condemned. Then why is judgementalism so rampant, even among Christians? “Thinking the best of other people” is necessary if we wish to grow in love. And kindliness in judgment is nothing less than a sacred duty. The Rabbis warned people: “He who judges his neighbor favorably will be judged favorably by God.” How easy it is to misjudge and how difficult it is to be impartial in judgment. Our judgment of others is usually “off the mark” because we can’t see inside the person, or we don’t have access to all the facts, or we are swayed by instinct and unreasoning reactions to people. It is easier to find fault in others than in oneself.

 

Prayer: Grant, O Lord, that we may always revere and love your holy name, for you never deprive of your guidance those you set firm on the foundation of your love. 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: Jesus reminds each of us of a heavenly principle that we can stake our lives on: what you give to others (and how you treat others) will return to you. The Lord knows our faults and he sees all, even the imperfections and sins of the heart which we cannot recognize in ourselves. Like a gentle father and a skillful doctor he patiently draws us to his seat of mercy and removes the cancer of sin which inhabits our hearts. Do you trust in God’s mercy and grace? Ask the Lord to flood your heart with his loving-kindness and mercy that you may only have room for love, charity, compassion and forbearance towards your neighbor.