Posted by: livingscripture | December 20, 2014

Third Saturday of Advent


From the Word of the Day

“Then Mary said: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord.  Let it be done to me according to your word.’ And the angel left her.”

(Luke 1: 38)


Today’s Gospel passage recounts the celebrated verses of the Annunciation to Mary, so well known and who knows how many times the theme of meditation for all of us.  This may make it difficult to find something new in it.  I like to read it parallel to the preceding ‘annunciation’ made by the angel Gabriel to Zechariah.  Instead of receiving God’s Word with faith and joy, he shows pessimistic skepticism with his incredulity.  Mary on the other hand, abandons herself with pure and total faith to the God of the impossible.  “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.  Be it done unto me according to your word”.  

I wish to pause a moment on a short word that is very important, “Behold”!  It appears in the Bible many times, above all in the vocations of many personages like Abram, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah…up to Mary, and even Jesus Himself who, according to the Letter to the Hebrews 10: 7 and Psalm 40: 7-9, said upon entering the world, “…Then I said, Behold, I come…because it is written of me in the scrolls, to do Your will, O Lord”.  It extends to the ‘Behold’ of each of us as the Lord waits for our consent to His word and to His will.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I will take a look at my response to the Lord during my day.  I will try to repeat with Mary, “Behold”, which speaks of my readiness to do His will as He inspires me.

Virgin of ‘Behold’, which you practiced with radical fidelity in your whole existence thanks to your docility to the Spirit, grant that it may become the constant response of my life, “Behold, Lord”! 

The voice of Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus at Loretto on September 1, 2007

Mary, Mother of the yes, you listened to Jesus and recognized the timbre of His voice and the beat of His heart.  Morning star, speak to us of Him and tell us of your journey to follow Him in the way of faith.  Mary, who lived with Jesus at Nazareth, imprint in our life, your sentiments, your docility, your silence that listens, and make the Word blossom in choices of true freedom.  Mary, speak to us of Jesus, so that the freshness of our faith may shine in our eyes and warm the heart of those we meet, as you did in visiting Elizabeth.


Posted by: livingscripture | December 19, 2014


From the Word of the Day

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.  Then Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this?  For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years’.  And the angel said to him in reply, ‘I am Gabriel, who stand before God.  I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.  But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.’.”

(Luke 1: 5-25) 

How should we live this Word Zechariah

Today’s Advent Gospel is another invitation to deepen our faith, presenting to us the figure of Zechariah in a particular moment of his priestly life, characterized by a crisis of faith.

As he was serving as priest in his division’s turn before God, the Angel Gabriel appeared to him and told him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard.”  Instead of receiving the Word of God with faith and joy, he shows pessimistic skepticism, “How shall I know this?  For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”  This is so strange!  Zechariah is an upright priest, who scrupulously observes all the laws and prescriptions of the Lord, and yet his faith seems to waver and he does not believe or hope any more.  The angel scolds him, “You did not believe my words.”  To accept God’s plan, it is no longer sufficient to observe the laws and prescriptions.  There is the need to go beyond, to make a leap of pure faith that abandons self totally to God.  Because of this lack of faith, Zechariah must undergo a new trial that should cure his incredulity.  He will be speechless until the fulfillment of the Lord’s Word.

The speechlessness which Zechariah must experience because of his unbelief, symbolically recapitulates all the lack of faith of the ancient people of Israel, personified in this priest of the mosaic cult.  It is also the synthesis of all the incredulity of Christians of our times, including our own.  In fact, many forms of spiritual speechlessness and of the heart’s aphasia that close us in on ourselves are the fruit of our incapacity to believe and to be awed before the marvels God works in the history of salvation.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I will ask the Lord to cure me of my heart’s aphasia so that I may always praise and glorify Him for his powerful Love. 

My God, I praise You for all the wonders of Your Love!

The voice of the Collect of today’s Liturgy 

O God, through the child-birth of the Virgin You have revealed to the world the splendour of Your glory.  Grant that Your people may venerate with a lively faith and celebrate with sincere love, the great mystery of the Incarnation.


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Comment by Fr. Fernando Bergamelli, SDB

Posted by: livingscripture | December 18, 2014


From the Word of the Day

“Joseph, her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.  Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.  For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.  She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus.”

(Matthew 1: 19-21)

How should we live this Word Fwpainti[1]

Christmas is near.  Today’s Gospel places before us as an example of preparation for the great event, the splendid figure of Joseph, Mary’s husband.  The Gospel describes him as a righteous man.  In biblical terms of Old Testament spirituality, righteous means a person who is constantly conformed to God’s will, whatever it may cost.  In this dramatic and mysterious situation, Joseph never utters a word, which is the sign of a deep interior life and total confidence in God’s plan.  The Baby that had blossomed in the virginal womb of Mary, his wife, came from elsewhere and had need of Mary to be born.  He needed Joseph in order to live and grow.  Joseph understood in the Spirit, that behind this marvelous plan of God, there was a mysterious call for him as well, and now he had to freely consent to it.  He was not being asked to love Mary less, but to love her more, with a silent love that was not invasive in order to leave the field free for mysterious transcendent Love.

Thus Joseph learns to be a father through a new kind of paternity that keeps him in the shadows.  From the first moment of the Baby’s conception, and above all when according to the Law, he must give Him a name, he will feel in the depths of his heart that the child was not his, that He would never remain with him, but that He would have to be occupied with His Father’s business.  Thus Joseph was a substitute father, a vicar who had to keep self respectfully in the background.  Is there another truer love on earth, different, that allows the loved person to be autonomous in order to adore the mystery of God indwelling in Him?

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I will ponder the great humility, generosity, faith, and love of Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, and ask him to help me love as he did. 

O Lord, help me to follow in Joseph’s footsteps, the Righteous man, who adored and served silently.

The voice of the Preface from the Solemnity of St. Joesph

St. Joseph, the righteous man, was chosen as the husband of Mary, the Virgin and the Mother of God.  Wise and faithful servant, he was placed as head of the family to guard as a father, Your only Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted by: livingscripture | December 17, 2014


From the Word of the Day

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham…  Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar…Jesse, became the father of David the king.  David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah…Jacob, became the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.  Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.”

(Matthew 1: 1-16)

 How should we live this Word Mother love

Today’s Gospel narrates the genealogy of Jesus Christ.  It is a long list of names that are mostly unknown to today’s readers and some are difficult to pronounce.  Some may ask, “What is the use of this arid succession of names?”  And yet, it has deep theological meaning.

The Liturgy does well in presenting this Gospel passage during Advent in preparation for the coming of Jesus as a human being.  It seeks to emphasize the reality of the Lord’s incarnation.  Matthew wishes to highlight the providential nature of the history of salvation that goes from Adam to Christ.  In it, God has given His mercy and His salvation profusely.  Even the excluded are gathered in His mysterious design of love.  In fact, we note the presence of four women, three of whom were sinners: Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, and then David’s.  Even David and Solomon were big sinners.  And yet, Jesus is born form this history made up of sin, in this sinful race, not in another purer and more perfect race.  He immersed Himself in the brackish current of the river of human generations that preceded Him, in solidarity with us sinners.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I will thank Jesus for choosing to be one of us, with His beautiful humility and tender love.

O God, of great love, you wanted the most pure flower of Your Son to blossom in the womb of the Virgin Mary, a the stem of the stump of many past generations that were not sinless.  Grant that the generations of our times may find hope and salvation in You.  

The voice of J. B. Metz, Contemporary Theologian

Tertullian said that ‘the flesh is the cornerstone of salvation’.  With wonderment we hear these words that express the mystery of Advent and Christmas of these days…It was in the flesh that the Son accomplished the central act of salvation and redemption; with the dedication of His body, he accomplished His salvific obedience before the Father.  Christian salvation is an incarnated salvation.  It did not occur ‘outside’ or ‘above’ our corporeality, but within it, with it, and definitive, directed to it.

Posted by: livingscripture | December 16, 2014


From the Word of the Day

“A man had two sons.  He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’  The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went.  The man came to the other son and gave the same order.  He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go.  Which of the two did his father’s will?’ they answered, ‘The first.’  Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you.”

(Matthew 21: 28-31: 2-17) 

How should we live this Wordvine and branches

Most of us begin by answering the Lord like the first of the two brothers in today’s parable.  When we are invited to work in the vineyard, we immediately respond ‘yes’, but then we do not go!  Our first response is apparently generous but as yet very superficial.  We are too sure of ourselves like the son.  He did not consider his limitations and had not yet experienced what the proverb says, ‘between saying and doing lays an ocean!’

This is why Jesus prefers the second son, the one who began with a ‘no’, the one who had then humbly entered the door of repentance.  Jesus prefers this one that said ‘no’, and then repented and went to work in the vineyard, perhaps secretly.  Repentance is not only finding a way that leads to God’s Kingdom, it is the only way.  There is no other.  We must all pass through the door of repentance, sooner or later; otherwise there will be no room for us in the Kingdom.

We want to save face at any cost, but one day unknown to us, in the moment in which our habitual generosity has left us, we will suddenly find ourselves in the arms of Mercy, with all our proud presumption taken from us.  Only then will we truly know how to give thanks and cry with joy before our Father!

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I will probe my ‘yes’ to God.  Is it active and generous?

Which of the two sons do I identify with?  Hopefully, the second so that my ‘no’s’ may find repentance and bring me to humble service in the Lord’s vineyard. 

The voice of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr 

It is better to keep quiet and be, rather than talk and not be.  It is beautiful to teach, if the one teaching, does.  In fact, there is only one teacher who ‘said’ and ‘it was done’.  What He did in silence, is worthy of the Father.  Those who truly possess the Word of Jesus can listen even to His silence to be perfect, so as to do what He says and be known for what is silent. 


Posted by: livingscripture | December 15, 2014


From the Word of the Day

“The utterance of Balaam, son of Beor, the utterance of the man whose eye is true, the utterance of one who hears what God says, and knows what the Most High knows, of one who sees what the Almighty sees, enraptured, and with eyes unveiled.  I see him, though not now; I behold him, though not near: a star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel.”

(Numbers 24: 2-17)

How should we live this WordRevelation20-11WhiteThroneFromSky_250

Today’s first reading briefly speaks of the utterance of Balaam.  It lights our joy and our hope in the eager anticipation of holy Christmas that is coming because it lets us perceive horizons of a radiant star that shines brightly from Jacob.  Our eyes constantly turn toward the light of the star that comes to illumine us!

Balaam was a pagan diviner who was called by Balak, king of Moab, to curse the people of Israel in his name before the battle.  But God intervenes, and Balaam cannot pronounce the curse.  He absolutely cannot do it.  Even if he wants to curse, the words that come from his mouth are only of blessing.  “How goodly are your tents, O Jacob; your encampments, O Israel!”

Here a great instruction comes to us from a pagan diviner in this Advent season.  May our mouths never utter words of malediction for anyone, but learn only to pronounce words of benediction for all our sisters and brothers.  The Spirit accomplishes something even greater through Balaam.  In fact, he predicts the coming of a mysterious personage who will rise from Jacob like a bright star.  This is one of the first oracles of Biblical tradition that is later re-read in a Messianic key until the affirmation of Christ Himself in the last book of the Bible, “I am the radiant star of morning”.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I will ponder on these words and thank God that I have seen its fulfillment in the coming of Christ. 

O Star that rises, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice, Come to illumine those who are in darkness and in the shadow of death. (O Antiphon of December 21)  St. Ignatius of Antioch is an authoritative witness of this ancient tradition.  In fact, in his well known ‘Hymn of the Star’, cited below, in a poetic moment of great effect, he sees shine in the sky a star more brilliant than all the others:  the New Man, Christ the Lord, Son of God and of the Virgin Mary. 

The voice of St. Ignatius, Bishop and Martyr 

A star of heaven shone more than all the other stars.

Its light was unspeakable, and its newness aroused awe.

All the other stars, together with the sun and the moon, were in chorus around the star.

But it was superior to all with its light.


Posted by: livingscripture | December 14, 2014


From the Word of the Day

“Who are you?  He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, ‘I am not the Christ’.  So they asked him, ‘What are you then?  Are you Elijah?’  And he said, ‘I am not.’  ‘Are you the Prophet?’  He answered, ‘No’.  ‘What do you have to say for yourself?’  He answered, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord’.”

(John 1: 19-23)


How should we live this Word desert

On our journey toward Christmas, the Liturgy of the Word this third Sunday of Advent places before us as the sublime model the figure of John the Baptist, emphasizing his great humility.  In fact, in his answer to the priests and Levites about his true identity, we note that the Precursor never pronounces his name, but always responds to their questions with three negations, “I am not the Christ” – “I am not Elijah” – “I am not the Prophet”.  He simply defines himself as a ‘voice’ crying out that is then destined to dissolve itself once his mission is completed.  The Baptist puts us before a basic dilemma: either we renounce ourselves or we renounce Christ.  He did not deny Christ, but rather himself.

This is an important lesson for us today as well, especially for those who have received the ministry of the proclamation of the Word.  The Precursor is fully convinced that his whole existence is in function of the coming of the Lord and he is only the one pointing to Christ.

We must admit that in the majority of cases, none of us arrives at denying Christ directly and formally.  But there is another form of negation that is more subtle and hidden, but still negation.  It is that of proudly affirming our ‘ego’ when we attribute illusory merits to ourselves that are not ours.  This is a way of denying Christ and His Grace.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I will ask for the help to be like John, one who lives only for the Lord and to proclaim Him to others with my life. 

Jesus, You must grow and I must diminish! 

“The third candle of the Advent Wreathe illumines our journey towards Christmas!  It is the flame of joy that I offer and that I receive for having understood that You, Lord Jesus, are our salvation!  It is the joy I see blossom in a friend’s smile, in the face of an elderly person, in the words of those who live with me.  It is the joy I receive from those who accept me, help me, and forgive me.  Come Lord Jesus, You are the Light of the world.” 

The voice of St. Augustine 

John the Baptist did not say he was the Christ.  He simply recognized who he was.  He pointed out the due differences.  He held himself humbly.  He justly saw where to find salvation.  He understood he was but a lantern and was afraid the wind of pride would put extinguish it.

Posted by: livingscripture | December 13, 2014


From the Word of the Day

“O Shepherd of Israel, hearken, from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.  Rouse your power…give us new life.”

 (Psalm 80)         

 How should we live this Word 120706_lead_today[1]

We began our week accompanied by a beautiful psalm and now we close it meditating on another marvelous poem.  It is a powerful choral invocation to God seen as the Shepherd and at the same time, the Lord.  He is the strong King who can save us.  Many have defined this psalm as the Advent door, as the community prayer that invokes the coming of the Lord in the parabola of time.  It is a prayer of provocation because the psalmist, the community in which the psalm is born, begs God to come, to awaken from the sleep in which He appears to have fallen and return to His creation.  We will return to You Lord with all our heart but You, Lord, turn to us as well, return to us, the people You have created, chosen, and consecrated.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I will add my constant invocation to the Lord to return to us and to save us in these troubled times. 

Lord, we want to learn the words of this psalm by heart to repeat them to you over and over.  Come, Lord, come to save us!  Maranatha! 

The voice of Pope John Paul II


Psalm 80 is a psalm strongly characterized by suffering, but also by firm faith.  God is always ready to ‘return’ to His people, but His people must also return to Him in fidelity.  If we are converted from sin, the Lord will be ‘converted’ from His intention to punish.  This is the conviction of the psalmist that finds an echo in our hearts, opening them to hope.

Posted by: livingscripture | December 12, 2014

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

From the Word of the Day

“Sing and rejoice!  See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the Lord”. (Zechariah 2: 14-17)

“I am the Lord your God who teaches you for your good; who guides you on the road you are to follow”.   (Isaiah 48: 17)         

(Passages are from the Mass of Our Lady and the Mass of Advent)


How should we live this Wordour-lady21

The prophet Zechariah proclaims the closeness of our God and bids us rejoice.  Isaiah emphasizes the difficulty of a good life, but at the same time, he tells of the fluidity of this fatigue due to God’s presence, who wants to be known and loved by His creatures.  It happens rarely that the Bible speaks of God’s voice coming directly.  It is usually indirect, through His prophets and patriarchs.  But in these passages the prophets create a space where God’s voice arrives directly.  “I am the Lord your God!”  “I am coming to dwell among you!”  This is God’s ‘visiting card’, which introduces further revelations.    As we await the fullness of revelation in the coming of the Savior, God manifests Himself as the One who accompanies us on our journey.  God is close to us.  God directs us to the good and the beautiful to be chosen with love.

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I will revel in God’s closeness to me and listen attentively to His voice speaking in the silent depths of my heart. 

Lord, so many deny Your presence and Your existence in the sufferings of life.  Please be our companion on the journey.  Help me to be Your mediator, proclaiming You as our Friend, ever humble and sincere. 

The voice of a Letter of Diognetus

For all the time in which He conserved and guarded the mystery of His wise plan, it seemed that God neglected us and did not think of us.  But when through His Beloved Son, He revealed and made known what had been prepared from the beginning, He offered us its totality: to enjoy His benefits, to contemplate Him, and to understand Him.  Who of us was expecting such favours as these?


Posted by: livingscripture | December 11, 2014

Second Thursday in Advent

From the Word of the Day

“The afflicted and the needy will seek water in vain; their tongues are parched with thirst.  I, the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.”

 (Isaiah 41: 17)  

How should we live this WordimagesCARK0V2I

This image of the afflicted that look for water reminds me of the Samaritan woman in John’s Gospel.  She was looking for water knowing very well that shortly she would need more.  The idea of water that quenches thirst once and for all aroused her enthusiasm.  Her enthusiasm led her to continue to chat with Jesus and little by little, He reveals the true nature of her thirst to her.  She accepts that provocation and even with her evident limitations, she goes beyond and learns to attribute new meanings to her thirst.  It is an attribution that leads her to understand what she is really looking for in her life so full of other, partial loves.

In the passage quoted above, we are also included in the afflicted of Isaiah, in this logic of those who regard thirst as common to all,.  There exists no language that does not experience being thirsty.  God is there; ready to respond to that thirst, without any intention of abandoning us in our search for satisfaction and accompaniment in our experiences of those who thirst.

Isaiah’s objective is of thirst as seeking, as a dynamic expectancy.  This is how it is before God.  We are thirsty, in continuous movement to satisfy that thirst, mistaking sources and then choosing to go back to seek better

Today as I pause for silent contemplation, I shall satisfy my thirst by turning to God, the only true water that can quench it forever. 

Lord, forgive my useless searching.  Accompany me in this expectant journey…and allow me to quickly find the source of water that satisfies forever. 

The voice of St. Peter Chrysologus, Church Father 

Wounded in spirit, humans began to want to see God with bodily eyes.  But if God cannot be contained in the entire world, how could He be perceived by limited human vision?  We must respond that the need for love does not pay attention to what it will be, what it demands, or what is possible for it.  Love does not stop before the impossible, does not hesitate to face difficulties.  Love, if it does not reach what it yearns for, kills the lover.  Thus it goes where it is attracted, not where it should go.  Love generates desire, augments ardour, and ardour tends to what is forbidden.  What more?


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