Posted by: livingscripture | April 17, 2014

HOLY THURSDAY

From the Word of the Day

 

The spirit of the Lord is upon me for the Lord has consecrated me with oil.  He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the suffering, to bind the wounds of the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom to slaves, and liberty to prisoners.”

 (Isaiah 61: 1)    

 

How should we live this Word Bread 2

The Lord Isaiah presents is Jesus, the promised Redeemer.  It is not by chance that he speaks in the first person here.  What the Spirit of the Lord makes Him accomplish by clothing Him totally in His power is decisively salvation.  These brief lines say He is, above all, the bringer of good news.  This is not atypical.  On the contrary, it stands out precisely because of the adjective ‘Good’ that qualifies its substance.

Attention is also placed on the recipients.  It deals with suffering, with those on the periphery of existence, who not only have nothing, but also count for nothing.  Other recipients are the many who have wounded hearts due to lack of love or mistaken love.  It is the strong proclamation of what men and women have the greatest right to, freedom from all that enslaves the mind, sentiments, and decisions.

The proposal is to reflect on these lines, to remember in our heart all the kinds of oppression that today cause the degradation of society.  On this Holy Thursday, it helps us to be aware of how this painful reality accords with the Mystery of Jesus.  How true it is that in His Passion and Death, He took upon Himself all these evils and suffered so that we could re-discover our good, so that we could  return to be ourselves, people who walk with heads held high, knowing they are loved and forgiven, and therefore able to love in turn.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation during this Holy Thursday, I shall reflect at length on the great love Jesus has for me and for each person and how much He suffered to relieve our pain.  I will ask Him to help me see how I can best imitate Him.

Jesus, thank You for the Eucharist, the memorial that renews this mystery of grace, of joy, of freedom! 

The voice of St. Francis de Sales, Spiritual Director 

In the strength of adoring and eating Beauty, Goodness, and Purity in person in this divine Sacrament, you will become beautiful, good, and pure.

Posted by: livingscripture | April 16, 2014

Wednesday of Holy Week

From the Word of the Day

 

The Lord has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.”

 (Isaiah 50: 4)     

 

How should we live this Wordimage004-light to my feet

 

It is interesting to note that the Prophet Isaiah recognizes that his speech is not that of a teacher, but that of a disciple.  Who is his teacher?  It is not a secret.  Every morning, he dedicates himself to listening first.  There must have been an initiation for listening, because the Prophet affirms that the Lord Himself opened his ear.  It must not have been a very easy operation.  The most immediate temptation is that of resisting, of drawing back, avoiding an involvement that implies a life commitment.  However, once the temptation is overcome and he listens like a disciple who trusts his teacher, the result is the gift of an important capacity, that of knowing how to console the weary.

Statistics show the evident growth of depression in the world today.  Is it possible to bring people back to a serene meaning of life?  We can believe this if our speaking, if our words are born directly from our discipleship.

Yes, my God free my interior ear from the ‘wax’ of many useless preoccupations.  Give me always a heart attentive to Your Word that is a light to my path and a comfort to my life.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation during Holy Week, I will renew my joy in being a disciple of the Lord.  I will ask Jesus to help me persevere in listening to His Word, meditating on it, and living it.  Thus, I can bring words of hope and consolation to the sad and depressed.

Thank You, Lord!  How beautiful it is to be Your disciple! 

The voice of a Commentator 

Pope Bergoglio learned that the search for peace must begin with an interior journey and relief of suffering.  In this sense, his passage from the See of Buenos Aires to that of Rome did not require a change of attitude.  The visit to the refugees of Lampedusa was in full continuity with his visits to the shantytowns at the periphery of the Argentine capital.

 

Posted by: livingscripture | April 15, 2014

Tuesday of Holy Week

From the Word of the Day

 

The Lord called me from birth; from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.”

 (Isaiah 49: 1)    

 

How should we live this Wordholy Face 3

During Holy Week, the spiritual journey becomes more intense in the light and fire of the Biblical passages that enlighten the mystery of Jesus in the Passion.  Yes, it is the mystery of great suffering as the value and meaning of Jesus who freely accepts to be annihilated, acquires density.  What the prophets had said of Him shows the greatness and the human-divine identity of His Person.  It is not by chance that the author exhorts us, asking for attentive listening, not only on the part of the Israelites, but from people of faraway nations as well.

What is shown here is the call, the pronouncement of the name, not at birth, but already from when he was a little ‘seed’ in his mother’s womb.  It is a beginning that sinks its roots in a plan of salvation that is so awesome it emerges in this way.  However, what we want to reflect on today is the power of God’s call regarding each one of us.

It is power and beauty, power and consolation.  Guarded and called by name well before we opened our eyes to life, we become aware of the value and dignity and greatness that are ours in being a Christian man or woman.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation during Holy Week, I will reflect on my call and the fact that God knows me from my mother’s womb and loves me.  What an awesome reality!

Thus even in our difficult days when in our life there arise threats or accusations, or contradictions, we can be certain that we come from the great Love of God who is Father and Mother in the power and tenderness with which He desires only and always our good.  This is authenticated when we live God’s plan at the service of our sisters and brothers. 

The voice of St. John Bosco

We must all carry our cross like Jesus, and our cross is the sufferings that we all meet in life!

 

Posted by: livingscripture | April 14, 2014

Monday of Holy Week

From the Word of the Day

 

Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.”

 (John 12: 3)       

 

How should we live this Word sinner

The evangelist John, the one closest to the Lord, evokes a scene that is in strong contrast with that which he is about to narrate.  In a short while, he will tell in detail the terrible horrors of Jesus’ Passion and Death.  Here he evokes an event where devotion, tenderness, and adoring Love prevail.  It is the gestures and objects that speak.  They express ways of being with the Lord and His Person that divinely rules.  They tell of sentiments and the ways different persons behave with Him.

There is the way of service, like that of Martha.  There is the adoring transport of Mary. There is the malevolent reaction of Judas.  However, the gesture of pouring the perfume of precious nard on Jesus’ feet by Mary and drying them with her hair is of such beauty that it has drawn the awed attention of many mystics through the centuries.

We need not be redundant, but rather we must stimulate ourselves at any cost to set aside time for contemplation, for entering into the home of Bethany, into the depths of our heart.  We need be preoccupied about our worthiness.  Let us reread the passage and immerse ourselves in Mary’s gesture.  The pure, precious nard is the attitude of heart that the Holy Spirit creates in us if we invoke Him with faith.  The pure nard is Love, the one we give Jesus and His living members, those who dwell with us or those we meet on our way.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation during Holy Week, I will place myself at Jesus’ feet, pouring out my love and desire for Him and giving Him the best of my time, my energy, my entire self.

O Lord, give me Your pure nard, infuse me with Love.  This is everything.  Empty it completely into me…oh then, what perfume! 

The voice of Pope Francis 

Hate, envy, and pride dirty life.  You do not have to fear goodness and tenderness.

 

Posted by: livingscripture | April 13, 2014

PALM SUNDAY

From the Word of the Day

 

I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.  The Lord God is my help; therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”

 (Isaiah 50: 6-7) 

 

How should we live this Wordjesus-palm16[1]

Even though on this Palm Sunday the Liturgy emphasizes the feast of the simple and the little ones who honor Jesus, the background is still the explicit allusion to the Passion and Death of the Lord.    Here the prophet Isaiah, at a distance of centuries, contemplates even the details of what the Messiah is to suffer.  It is important to note that what he sees and hands down, this living prophecy, to posterity is the fruit of his identity as a disciple of Christ and has a very good goal, to console those who are discouraged.

Isaiah totally identifies himself with the Person of Jesus, to the point of speaking in His place, in the first person.  Two elements of extreme importance emerge from this scene:

ª  Jesus does not endure insults and beatings; He accepts them without resistance.

ª  The profound motive for which He is not shamed lies in the certainty that God the Father assists Him and gives Him strength to the point that He does not experience confusion or a sense of defeat.

Another Biblical passage comes to mind, “Those who trust in You are not disappointed”.  Throughout the centuries, the whole history of Christians confirms this fully.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation at the beginning of Holy Week, I will renew my trust in Jesus to help me to be His true disciple no matter what the cost.

Lord Jesus, in the difficult hours of my days, help me live their challenge with a heart that is serene because of Your example and these holy words. 

The voice of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta 

I have discovered the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no suffering but only more love.

Posted by: livingscripture | April 12, 2014

Fifth Saturday of Lent

From the Word of the Day

 

So from that day on they planned to kill him.  So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert, to a town called Ephraim, and there he remained with his disciples.”

 (John 11: 53-54)               

 

How should we live this WordJesus and apostles

Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.  Paradoxically, they want to kill the one who serves life because they are inhabited by feelings of death revealed in the measure in which Life expresses itself and flourishes.  The more the good acts, the more evil hearts close themselves in hostility.  Too much light reveals the shadows and this becomes unacceptable for those who live comfortably in the dark.

Jesus is well aware of this and decides to distance Himself, going to a city close to the desert.  He is not fleeing, but rather preparing Himself, together with His disciples.  They all need this interval, this time before the agony, before the final struggle.  His absence will lead the people of Jerusalem to question, and to look for Him, but due to which motives.

During this time of suspension, the disciples can listen to His last words with more attention to later be able to reread events in the light of faith and not of fear.  Jesus nourishes Himself deeply with the Father’s love and the love of His friends to resist the final temptation, to the thought of abandoning Himself to such a distracted and superficial humanity.

Tomorrow we enter into Holy Week and we too need time, an interval in which to nourish our spirit with personal and community prayer, in which to listen to the last words of Jesus, the words of one who is dying, words that count, essential words for every life.  It is a time in which to ask ourselves if we seek Jesus and why we seek Him.  And even, where we can find Him.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I shall ask the Lord with insistence the grace of touching the love with which He gave Himself and to value it.  I will ask to discover in His most hidden wounds, what He wants to tell me in order to change me, to console me, to heal me.

You are the Lord of Life who chose death for love of me.  You are the continual offer of forgiveness notwithstanding my hardness.  You remain immobile, crucified, so that I may never lose sight of You and You can fill me my eyes and heart with You. 

The voice of P. Mazzolari, Man of God 

The Incarnation and the Passion are the folly of God’s love to make Himself accepted by sinful humanity.  After such folly, we understand that the greatest sin is that of not believing God’s love for us.

Posted by: livingscripture | April 11, 2014

Fifth Friday of Lent

From the Word of the Day

 

O Lord of hosts, you who test the just, who probe mind and heart, let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause!”

 (Jeremiah 20: 20:12)      

 

How should we live this WordHighway_Home_blank-961x828[1]

 

Jeremiah does not negate his desire for revenge toward those who persecute him.  His suffering is too great to overlook the gravity of what he is undergoing.  However, he places this vendetta in God’s hands.  He will know what to do and how to render him justice.  Revenge yes, but from the Lord.  It is not easy to leave the defense of our interests to others, and it is still harder to leave the defense of our life to others.  It seems that we alone can understand the depth of the situation; only we can decide what to do.

We think, ‘who can have our existence at heart more than ourselves?’  It is a logical reasoning, but faith makes us understand something more.  It tells us that ‘God scrutinizes the heart and the mind’, ours, that of our enemies, of our persecutors, of those who do not understand us.  God knows better than others how to defend us and how to ‘pay back’.

Does this exempt us from ‘legitimate defense’ in the face of those who do us harm in many ways?  Certainly not!  We need to safeguard our reputation, or health, our work, our commitment, our dear ones.  But at the same time, we need to learn day by day to place everything in the hands of the One who knows what we really need, what we lack, and knows the persons who harm us as well.  As for me, I must do all with an upright conscience, but judgment of heart and of the actions that follow belongs to God.  It is not easy to entrust ourselves to His decisions, to His way of acting, especially in regard to those who maltreat us, but if our first preoccupation is to entrust our cause to Him, realizing that it is also His cause, then we will face everything with more peace.  He will illumine us on the steps to take and on the best defense to actuate.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I shall reflect that if I walk the road of love, of the good, then my cause is also God’s.

Lord, You are my best defense because I am precious in Your eyes and You do not want to lose me; You do not want to lose my heart.

The voice of an Anonymous Writer

There is something higher than winning or losing, living or dying – giving oneself.

Posted by: livingscripture | April 10, 2014

Fifth Thursday of Lent

From the Word of the Day

 

I know him.  And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar.  But I do know him and I keep his word.”  (John 8: 55 

 

How should we live this Word Nicodemus 2

In his disputations with the Jews, Jesus keeps to the point and does not let Himself be drawn to personal attacks, nor is He insulting.  His identity as God’s Son is strong.  He is sure of His message.  He does not hesitate nor does He let Himself be provoked or placed in doubt.  The question at hand is basic.  Who is He?  What value does His word have?  Also, what do those present have to hear even at the risk of His being stoned?  He cannot depart from these because they are the foundation.

So much security almost makes us invidious, we who are so easily anxious.  The opposition of some puts us on the defensive or closes us in places where we feel secure because we are among people who think like us.  Sometimes, we become rigid and we mistake this rigidity for solidity.  We forget that our identity as children of God and as Christians is above all, received and not built by us.  It matures in the measure in which we are with the Father, breathing the Word of the Son, and trusting the wise guidance of the Spirit.

We must not fight against others to define our identity, but on the contrary, they will be the ones who help us to be sure in the confrontation.  We need not invent new, complicated words to engage those before us, but rather assimilate those of Jesus and speak them with firm meekness.  We must not attack, or insult, or throw stones but rather be ready to receive them and avoid reducing God’s Love to human measure.

This is the road that prevents us from falling into presumption as did the antagonists of Jesus and not hear His words addressed to us, “You say…He is our God…You do not know Him.”

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I shall reflect on these words and this whole situation, asking Jesus to help me walk in His ways always.

Lord, You are the one who gives me my most intimate identity.  You give me the ‘horse’s strength’ as a psalm says.  You make me secure because You give me Your secure Word.

The voice of Antoine de Saint Exupery, Author

Those who turn their back on the sun see only their own shadow.

Posted by: livingscripture | April 9, 2014

Fifth Wednesday of Lent

From the Word of the Day

 

We are descendents of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.  How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”  (John 8: 33)

 

How should we live this Wordlight

“We have never been slaves to anyone”.  It is as though they were saying, we are already free.  But can an affirmation like this be made with such certainty?  Is freedom already a given in the life of believers?  On the one hand, Christ has made us free.  On the other hand, faith is a continuous journey in which we nourish ourselves gradually with the Lord’s gift and we gradually become true.

Christ and His Word are for us as offer of freedom on which to draw in order to learn to live and act as free persons.  In reality, we do not know well what the Freedom given by God is.  We know the freedom of doing what we want to do, of movements, of choices.  But freedom, the gift of God, is first of all freedom of heart, a vital breath within that sweeps away the old person to give breath to the new person.

Freedom, as God’s gift, is the freedom to be able to give ourselves because we are not interiorly chained.  We are free of slavery to money, to power, to esteem, to honor, to excessive preoccupation with ourselves.  We are free from social conditioning that robs our identity and gives us masks.  We are free to give.

We are sufficiently free to understand that we are not completely so; that liberty is a continuous gift and a continuous conquest and implies the need to struggle.  For the Jews who disputed with Christ, freedom was the direct consequence of belonging to the chosen people, the people of Abraham.  It was given at birth.  This sense of security built the wall of separation from Jesus.  Instead, our only certainty is knowing that the truth will make us free, and that truth is a freedom that we always long for and always seek.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I shall turn to Jesus and ask Him to make me truly free to love Him and others.

Lord, do not allow me to be deluded by thinking that I am completely free.  Help me always to realize that freedom is a growth process.  The more I grow in You and in Your love, the freer I become. 

The voice of George Bernanos, Author 

The greatest threat to freedom does not consist in letting it be taken from us, because if it is allowed to be taken, it can always be reacquired.  It is rather, in unlearning how to love it, and no longer understanding it.

 

Posted by: livingscripture | April 8, 2014

Fifth Tuesday of Lent

From the Word of the Day

 

But with their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water?  We are disgusted with this wretched food!’.”  (Numbers 21: 4-5)        

 

How should we live this Wordc87f64fa5[1]

When we commence the faith journey, sooner or later we are beset with discouragement or doubt, just like the Israelites in the desert.  We too tire of the journey; recriminations and grumbling rise to our lips.  We tend to blame others for our difficulties, to speak against someone, as the people spoke against God and Moses.

We may feel repugnance for what we did for a commitment taken that has tired us, for things we’ve heard too many times, for repetitive actions, just as they were sick and tired of the same food.    This desert of difficult feelings is hard to live because it creates aridity of spirit.  We cannot turn back and even the new seems too heavy and difficult to sustain.  When we are in this state, then it is more than necessary to lift our eyes toward the One who was raised up and detach ourselves from our ego a bit.

Without Him, we die in our sins, as the Gospel says.  With Him, the poison of these feelings does not succeed in reaching our depths and does not kill us.  However, our eyes must remain fixed on Him, turned toward Him in the awareness of our fragility, with the humility that stops complaining.  We must stop living with nostalgia for the things that are past and go ahead in the knowledge that God wants to give us so much, everything, freedom of heart and from sin, the joy of His friendship, and the Promised Land.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I will turn my gaze on Jesus and renew my faith and trust in Him knowing that any feelings of tiredness and annoyance are transient and even these can be offered to Jesus for His Kingdom.

Lord, from Your Cross You look at me and love me.  Let Your love descend on this arid earth toward those sentiments that seem to separate us from You.  Let my eyes meet Yours constantly and never stray from You.  Help me never to get lost in myself and in my troubles.

The voice of Rilke, Poet

If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it.  Accuse yourselves for not having been sufficiently poetic to call its wealth to yourself.  For the Creator, nothing is poor.

 

 

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