Archive for “2016”

Lectio Divina 7/29/2016

Friday, July 29 ~ Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Martha, Virgin

 

Holy Gospel: John 11:19-27 Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother [Lazarus, who had died]. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

 

Meditation: The loss of a loved one naturally produces grief and anguish of heart. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming to pay respects for the loss of Lazarus, she immediately went out to meet him before he could get to her house. What compelled her to seek Jesus out? Was it simply the companionship and consolation of a friend who loved her brother deeply? Or did she recognize in Jesus the hope that God would restore life? Martha, like many Orthodox Jews, believed in the life to come. The loss of her brother did not diminish her hope in the resurrection. She even gently chides Jesus for not coming soon enough to save Lazarus from an untimely death. Jesus does something unexpected and remarkable both to strengthen her faith and hope in the life to come and to give her a sign of what he was to accomplish through his own death and resurrection. Jesus gave to her belief a new and profound meaning: He came from the Father to defeat sin and death for us and to restore life to those who believe in him.

 

Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, whose Son was pleased to be welcomed in Saint Martha’s house as a guest, grant, we pray, that through her intercession, serving Christ faithfully in our brothers and sisters, we may merit to be received by you in the halls of heaven. 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 states in today’s Gospel and in many other places in the New Testament that he is the Resurrection and the Life. The life he offers is abundant life – life which issues from God himself. And eternal life – the fullness of life which knows no end. Do you seek the abundant life which Jesus offers to those who believe in him?

 

About Saint Martha: Martha was born of noble and wealthy parents, but she is still more illustrious for the hospitality she gave to Christ our Lord. After His Ascension into heaven, she was seized by the Jews, together with her brother and sister, Marcella her handmaid, and Maximin, one of the seventy two disciples of our Lord, who had baptized the whole family, and many other Christians. They were put on board a ship without sails or oars, and left helpless on the open sea, exposed to certain shipwreck. But God guided the ship, and they all arrived safely at Marseilles. This miracle, together with their preaching, brought the people of Marseilles, of Aix, and of the neighborhood to believe in Christ. Martha, after having won the love and admiration of the people of Marseilles by the sanctity of her life and her wonderful charity, withdrew in the company of several virtuous women to a spot remote from men, where she lived for a long time, greatly renowned for her piety and prudence.

 

 

 

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 7/28/2016

Thursday, July 28 ~ Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 13:47-53 Jesus said to the disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.

 

Meditation: History tells us that the two most common ways of fishing in Jesus’ time was with a casting-net (or hand-net) which was thrown from the shore and the drag-net or trawl which was let down or cast into the waters from a boat. As the boat moved through the waters the drag-net was drawn into the shape of a great cone which indiscriminately took in all kinds of fish and flotsam and jetsam swept in its path. It usually took several men to haul such a net to shore. What is Jesus’ point here? Just as a drag-net catches every kind of fish in the sea, so the church acts as God’s instrument for gathering in all who will come. Just as the drag-net does not or cannot discriminate, so the church does not discriminate between the good and the bad, the useless and the useful. God’s kingdom is open to all who will accept and believe. But there will come a time of separation, at the close of the age, when the angels will send the good and the bad to their respective destinations. Our duty is to gather in all who will come. God, in the end, will give the good and the bad the reward they deserve. God offers the treasure of his kingdom to all who believe. Do you hunger for God and his kingdom, and live your life according to God’s way?

 

Prayer: O God, protector of those who hope in you, without whom nothing has firm foundation, nothing is holy, bestow in abundance your mercy upon us and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may use the good things that pass in such a way as to hold fast even now to those that ever endure. 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: This parable, like so many that Jesus taught, points out that there will be a time when we will face the judgment throne of God, and by the actions that we chose to undertake in our earthly life – good and bad as defined by God, not as defined by popular culture or advocacy groups, opinions on blogs or in People magazine – will ultimately determine how we will spend eternity.  Jesus offers a life with him in heaven by simply taking up his invitation to follow him.  Why would we choose anything else?

Lectio Divina 7/27/2016

Wednesday, July 27 ~ Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 13:44-46 Jesus said to his disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”

 

Meditation: Discovering God’s kingdom is like stumbling across hidden treasure or finding the one pearl of great price. When we discover the kingdom of God we receive the greatest possible treasure — the Lord himself. Selling all that we have to obtain this incomparable treasure could mean many things — our friends, job, our “style of life”, what we do with our free time. Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. In this parable what does the treasure of the kingdom refer to? It certainly refers to the kingdom of God in all its aspects. But in a special way, the Lord himself is the treasure we seek. If the Almighty is your gold and your precious silver, then you will delight yourself in the Almighty (Job 22:22-23).  Is the Lord the treasure and delight of your heart?

 

Prayer: O God, protector of those who hope in you, without whom nothing has firm foundation, nothing is holy, bestow in abundance your mercy upon us and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may use the good things that pass in such a way as to hold fast even now to those that ever endure. 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 do you treasure most and how do you keep it secure? In a peasant community the best safe was often the earth. The man in the parable “went in his joy” to sell everything. Why? Because he found a treasure worth possessing above everything else he had. He did not, however, have enough to buy the treasure. Fortunately, he only needed enough money to buy the field. In a similar fashion, God offers his kingdom as incomparable treasure at a price we can afford! We can’t pay the full price for the life which God gives us. But when we exchange our life for the life which God offers, we receive a treasure beyond compare.  So what is of greater value, then?  The treasure of this earthly life?  Or the treasure that God makes available to us – the Lord himself!

Lectio Divina 7/26/2016

Tuesday, July 26 ~ Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 13:36-43 Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom. The weeds are the children of the Evil One, and the enemy who sows them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

 

Meditation: There are different ways of accepting God’s word and they produce different kinds of fruit accordingly. There is the prejudiced hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable and blind to what he or she doesn’t want to hear. Then there is the shallow hearer. He or she fails to think things out or think them through; they lack depth. They may initially respond with an emotional reaction; but when it wears off their mind wanders to something else. Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or cares, but who lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important. Such a person is for ever too busy to pray or too preoccupied to study and meditate and pray on God’s word. He or she may work so hard that they are too tired to even think of anything else but their work. Then there is the one whose mind is open. Such a person is at all times willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand. God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand his will and have the strength to live according to it.  The “evil one” refers to Satan who also tempts us with sowing his evil seed in our hearts and minds.  The evil one can also refer to those among us who promote ways that are contrary to that of Christ – those who embrace contrary ways of living, far from the way that God has commanded and Christ has taught.  Do you embrace the laws of God and the teachings of Christ and His Church?  Or do you embrace the ways of the evil one, public opinion, the politically correct, that which may be popular, that which may be civilly legal yet immoral in the eyes of God, and anything that is contrary to the truths in sacred scripture?

 

Prayer: O Lord, God of our Fathers, who bestowed on Saints Joachim and Anne this grace, that of them should be born the Mother of your incarnate Son, grant, through the prayers of both, that we may attain the salvation you have promised to your people. 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: Don’t be naïve, folks. An enemy exists who seeks to destroy the good seed of His word before it can bear fruit. Both good and evil can be sown in our hearts like tiny seeds which germinate, and in due time yield a harvest of good or bad fruit. We must stand guard lest evil take root in our hearts and corrupt us. In the day of judgment each will reap what he or she has sown in this life. Those who sow good will shine in the kingdom of their Father. They will radiate with the beauty, joy, and fullness of God’s love.

 

About Saints Joachim and Anne: It was in the home of Joachim and Ann where the Virgin Mary received her training to be the Mother of God. Thus, devotion to Ann and Joachim is an extension of the affection Christians have always professed toward our Blessed Mother. We, too, owe a debt of gratitude to our parents for their help in our Christian formation.  Our information about Mary’s parents comes from an apocryphal Christian writing, the Protoevangelium Jacobi (or Gospel of James), written about the year 170 A.D. Accordingly, Joachim was a prominent and respected man who had no children, and he and his wife, Anne, looked upon this as a punishment from God. In answer to their prayers, Mary was born and was dedicated to God at a very early age. From this early Christian writing have come several of the feast days of Mary, particularly the Immaculate Conception, the Nativity of Mary, and her Assumption into Heaven. Very early also came feast days in honor of Saints Joachim and Anne, and in the Middle Ages numerous churches, chapels, and confraternities were dedicated to St. Anne. The couple early became models of Christian marriage, and their meeting at the Golden Gate in Jerusalem has been a favorite subject of Christian artists. Anne is often shown in paintings with Jesus and Mary and is considered a subject that attracts attention, since Anne is the grandmother of Jesus. Her two great shrines — that of Ste. Anne d’Auray in Britanny, France, and that of Ste. Anne de Beaupre near Quebec in Canada — are very popular. We know little else about the lives of Mary’s parents, but considering the person of Mary, they must have been two very remarkable people to have been given such a daughter and to have played so important a part in the work of the Redemption.

Lectio Divina 7/25/2016

“Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny… This means to say that we should not passively exist, but actively participate in His creative freedom, in our own lives, and in the lives of others, by choosing the truth. To put it better, we are even called to share with God the work of creating the truth of our identity. We can evade this responsibility by playing with masks, and this pleases us because it can appear at times to be a free and creative way of living. It is quite easy, it seems, to please everyone. But in the long run the cost and the sorrow come very high. To work out our own identity in God, which the Bible calls ‘working out our salvation,’ is a labor that requires sacrifice and anguish, risk and many tears. It demands close attention to reality at every moment, and great fidelity to God as He reveals Himself, obscurely, in the mystery of each new situation.”

~Excerpted from “Seeds of Contemplation” by Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO

 

Monday, July 25 ~ Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Feast of Saint James, Apostle

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 20:20-28 The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.” Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 

Meditation: There are many who seek places of honor, position, and prestige. Many seem to have an unquenchable thirst for fame and recognition, to seek the limelight and be the center of attention, to have their voice or opinion heard through a web site, blog, Facebook or Twitter for example. Should we be surprised to see some of the disciples of Jesus thirsting for power, authority, and position?  James and John, the sons of Zebedee, urged their mother to strike a deal with Jesus, their Master. They wanted the distinction of being in the highest position of authority and power, next to Jesus, of course! When Jesus called the twelve apostles to be his inner circle of disciples who would rule on his behalf, he did the unthinkable! He taught contrary to their understanding of power and position, by reversing the order of master and servant, lord and subject, first and last!

 

Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, who consecrated the first fruits of your Apostles by the blood of Saint James, grant, we pray, that your Church may be strengthened by his confession of faith and constantly sustained by his protection. 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 kind of cup does the Lord have in mind for us? For some such a cup entails physical suffering and the painful struggle of martyrdom. But for many, it entails the long routine of the Christian life, with all its daily sacrifices, disappointments, set-backs, challenges, struggles, and temptations. As disciples we must always be ready to lay down our lives in martyrdom for the sake of the gospel and be ready to lay it down each and every day in the little and big sacrifices required. What makes such sacrifice a joy rather than a burden? It is love — the kind of “love which God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (ref. Romans 5:5). An early church father summed up Jesus’ teaching with the expression: “to serve is to reign with Christ.”  We share in God’s reign by laying down our lives in humble service and love for one another, just as Jesus did for our sake. Are you ready to lay down your life and to serve others as Jesus has taught and modeled for us?