Posted by: livingscripture | March 30, 2017

Fourth Thursday of Lent

 

 

WORD of the DAY

 But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.   (John 5: 31)

How shall I live this Word?

In John’s Gospel today, we see again in a very dramatic way, the conflict between Jesus and the Jews.  Long and complex discourses tell of the evolution of an understanding of the mission of Jesus that leads either to faith or to rejection.  Jesus is scandalous; He places Himself as a stumbling block above all on the road of those who want to provoke Him and fight against Him.  His every word demolishes and knocks down the hypocritical religious system of the Jews and exalts the revelation that leads to faith.  He is not afraid to say that the one who assures the truthfulness of His testimony is God Himself.

Lord, the discourses of Jesus are prolonged in time.  They are not only addressed to the Jews of that time.  Today, He speaks to us and asks us to take a position in His regard.  Sustain our witness of faith; help us to not cultivate atheistic religiosity.

 

The voice of the Liturgy: Communion Antiphon

 I will place my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people, says the lord.

 

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Posted by: livingscripture | March 29, 2017

Fourth Wednesday of Lent

 

 

WORD of the DAY

 

I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to restore the land… (Isaiah 49: 9)

How shall I live this Word?

Isaiah the prophet proclaims a word of hope, of a future for his people.  He reminds them of the covenant and describes it as personified, formed, and established for the people.  it is a covenant that does not limit itself to being a contract, a piece of paper that guarantees words declared.

God’s covenant takes a body in the people, in His representatives, and therefore in each one who belongs to the people.  It is a community fact and a personal fact; an ecclesial experience and a personal experience.  The covenant of Abraham offered animals as holocausts; that of Moses transformed his face and restored radiance to the elderly spectators of the encounter.  The new covenant traverses the body and existence, first of Christ and thence of all people and allows them to accomplish the works of God: to restore the land, and allot the desolated heritages, to free the prisoners.

Lord, grant that the daily Eucharist may make us men and women of Your covenant and, with what we are, allow us to restore life, to free and not waste Your precious heritage.

 

The voice of the Liturgy

I pray to You, O Lord,

For a time of favor;

In Your great mercy,

Answer me, O God,

With Your salvation

That never fails.    (Cf. Psalm 69)

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Posted by: livingscripture | March 28, 2017

Fourth Tuesday of Lent

 

 

WORD of the DAY

 

Do you want to be healed? (John 5: 3)

How shall I live this Word?

Jesus question is addressed to an elderly man who had been sick for 38 years.  We do not know any details about his illness or how old he was when he became sick.  But 38 years of an illness is already quite a lot.  He had no friends or relatives and so he lay at the edges of a pool, waiting to touch the water when the angel passed and the waters had healing power.  It was a metaphor for being at the end, totally abandoned even by himself!

We have known friends, relatives, acquaintances who have been sick for many years and have given up and are just waiting for who knows what.  Jesus reaches them as well with the question, “Do you want to be healed?”  He comes to awaken them and lead them to their responsibility.  Jesus invites, asks, be we are the ones who must move, at least in our desire, without fearing that we may regret the loss of the tranquility of indigence or of marginalization.

Lord, grant that these beautiful miracles do not only reach our ears.  Let them be the signs that impact the reality of our life, even uncovering some of the contradictions that we hide.

 

The voice of the Liturgy

You who are thirsty, come to the water,

Says the Lord;

Come, you who have no money,

Come and drink with joy.  (Cf. Isaiah 55: 1)

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Posted by: livingscripture | March 27, 2017

Fourth Monday of Lent

 

 

WORD of the DAY

 

You will rejoice and always rejoice in what I am about to create… (Isaiah 65: 18)

How shall I live this Word?

This is a  week under the sign of joy and of hope.  The prophecy of Isaiah solicits us to recognize the newness that God is revitalizing; re-establishing the beauty of the beginnings and creating newness.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ second sign helps us to see the newness of God passing even through what seems to be dead and lost.  The newness of God does not arouse the emotions, but becomes visible in faith, believable in hope, and generates love.

Lord, cross my existence with Your newness!

 

The voice of the Liturgy

Glory to You, O Christ, Word of God!

Seek the good and not evil if you want to live,

And the Lord will be with you.  (Amos 5: 14)

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Posted by: livingscripture | March 26, 2017

Fourth Sunday of Lent

 

 

WORD of the DAY

 

My Shepherd is the Lord, there is nothing I shall want. (Psalm 22)

How shall I live this Word?

Psalm 22 is one of the most beautiful psalms of the Psalter.  It is the psalm most quoted  in the Bible, in Church tradition, and the one that comes to the lips of those who have lost everything, become aware that in the end, we can only trust God who remains faithful in the darkness of our existence.

There are many conversion stories  that can be told.  One is of a victim of his government, one of the ‘disappeared’ of his country in a dictatorship of some years ago.  He was the son of Protestants, a non-believer, a revolutionary, imprisoned.  After months of torture and awaiting death, he hears the words of Psalm 22 that run through his mind and come to his lips and allow hope to be born again.  Words that he remembers from his catechism classes and that God now uses to transform it into a personal revelation.

God is the only one who guides him “on just paths because of His name.  Even if I should walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for You are at my side”.

It is a prayer that God Himself put in his heart and now he could look at life and death in a different way.  God’s light guides us in the darkness and leads us to conversion.

Lord, help us to see You in Your light that is in us and that You are.

 

The voice of the Liturgy

Glory to You, o Christ, Word of God!

I am the Light of the world, says the Lord;

Those who follow Me will have the light of life.  (John 8: 12)

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Posted by: livingscripture | March 25, 2017

ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD

 

 

WORD of the DAY

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,  to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”  But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. (Luke 1: 26-29)

How shall I live this Word?

We have often paused on this passage that regards the Announcement to Mary that she was to be the Mother of the Son of God.  Here, we are invited to grasp the essential point of the account, the recollected and happy atmosphere, the simplicity of the one receiving the unthinkable message in her feminine humanity.  In fact, we are far from the spectacle of some presumed apparitions and we are not before a cold letting oneself be overcome by divine needs in total oblivion.

We have a young girl who is probably attending to household tasks.  She is engaged to Joseph, a poor but noble man of Davidic descent.  The angel illumines the room with his “Rejoice” and gives the reason for this joy:  She is interiorly full of grace and the Lord has opened Her life to the point of entering into her womb.

It is all so marvelous, but Mary does not shout or dance for joy.  She is troubled but not depressed.  She asks how this can be happening.  I too want to rejoice with Mary for her divine maternity and for the way she lived it.

I  want to thank you, O my Mother, for how you lived this great announcement.  Give me a simple and pure heart; a small reflection of yours.  Help me to live by faith in the awareness of being inhabited by Jesus, through grace: the one received at baptism and revived in the Sacrament of Forgiveness and in the Eucharist.  I am here to rejoice with You!

The voice of Pope Francis on a Marian Day, October 13, 2013

What happened to the Virgin in a unique way, also happens to us at the spiritual level when we receive the Word of God with a good and sincere heart and we put it into practice.  It is as though God takes flesh in us; He comes to live in us, because He dwells in those who love Him and observe His Word.  It is not easy to understand this, but it is easy to feel it in our heart.

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Posted by: livingscripture | March 24, 2017

Third Friday of Lent

 

 

WORD of the DAY

 

“Which is the first of all the commandments?”  Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

(Mark 12: 28b- 31)

How shall I live this Word?

Jesus has just closed the mouth of the Scribes and Pharisees.  When will His adversaries leave Him in peace?  Now they ask Him a very important question: What is the first Commandment of God?  Jesus’ response is flawless: it regards the absolute primacy of God in the heart and life of human beings.  It is interesting to note that Jesus, without being asked, adds the second important commandment, following that of love of God.

We know this deals with love of our neighbor that must be placed together with the love we have to have for ourselves!  What should be emphasized is the fact that in the Old Testament, both were recorded but separately: one in Deut. 6: 5 and the other in Lev. 19: 18).

It is extremely important that Jesus unites them as though making them one entity of the love due to God.  This is the root of authentic Christianity: mine, yours, ours go to the Lord.  And we even have the basic reason for this in the New Covenant: “We cannot love God whom we do not see, if we do not love our brethren whom we do see”.  Let us remember the ancient words: “You see your brother?  You see the Lord”.

Lord Jesus, help me to love You, asking You to be the absolute Lord of my heart.  Grant that I may recognize You and love You in my brother, my sisters, in everyone because they are worthy of my love and even in those I would want to exclude from my heart.

The voice of Pope Francis

Love of God and love of neighbor are the two sides of the same medal; two faces that become one, that of Christ.  “We cannot love God without loving our neighbor and we cannot love our neighbor without loving God…In effect, the visible sign that the Christian can show as a witness of God’s love to the world is precisely love of our sisters and brothers”. 

 

Posted by: livingscripture | March 23, 2017

Third Thursday of Lent

 

 

WORD of the DAY

 

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. (Luke 11: 23b)

How shall I live this Word?

These words of Jesus come at a hard moment in His life, when He is continually attacked by the evil tongues of His adversaries.  They have gone so far as to say that His miracles were the fruit of a secret understanding with Beelzebub, the head of the demons.  They said this out of their great envy.  Jesus remains calm and clarifies His identity by saying the incontestable truth that He is of divine nature.  God is Truth: the source of every truth; therefore, turning one’s back on Jesus, the Truth of the Father, means turning one’s back on what is substantially true.

What sense does a life have if it abandons the road of the Whole Truth, expressed by Jesus in His Gospel?

The image I have in mind is that of the pearl of great price.  It could be sold or traded, and bring incredible wealth.  Instead, the man loses it and never gives a thought to finding it again.  This person would be considered crazy, good for nothing, dissipating in a moment all his possessions.

Thus it is in life.  How easy it is to lose it, to dissipate it, to make our days meaningless, filling them with preoccupations about empty actions that are even evil at times.

Guide me Lord, grasp my heart and will so that my days may be redeemed constantly by Your Truth, illuminated, embraced, valued by Your being Love.

The voice of Pope Francis at Morning Meditation, church of St. Martha, 10/11/13

Thus, these are the criteria for responding to the challenges posed by the devil in the world: the certainty that “Jesus fights against the devil; that those who are not with Jesus, are against Jesus; vigilance”.  We must keep in mind that “the devil is astute; he is never cast out forever; only on the last day will he be”. This is why it is necessary to be vigilant.  “This is his strategy: you became a Christian, go ahead in your faith and I will leave you tranquil.  But then, when you are discouraged and not very vigilant and you feel secure, I will return”.

 

Posted by: livingscripture | March 22, 2017

Third Wednesday of Lent

 

 

WORD of the DAY

 Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfil.  (Matthew 5: 17)

How shall I live this Word?

The Law and the doctrine of the Prophets were of great richness for the people of Israel.  Surrounded by peoples, not only of different cultures but who were also idolaters, the Israelites were able through the centuries to remain monotheists, adorers of the ONE TRUE GOD, attentive to practice the teachings of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and above all, to regulate their journey of life in the light of the Decalogue that Moses had received from God on Mount Horeb.

Those who were against Jesus, let themselves be overtaken by envy and jealousy.  The miracles and the Word that attracted the people, aroused in them a deep hostility toward Him.  The Doctors  of the Law with the Scribes and Pharisees, sought to stir up the good but ignorant people by calumniating Jesus as though He were a subverter of the worst kind.  This is why Jesus seeks to bring clarity.  No, He has not come to abolish the Law but to bring it to fulfilment.  Even today Christianity, in regard to the Hebrew faith, is this and nothing else.

Jesus, fullness of Love, grant us Your Holy Spirit so that we too, with the Hebrews whom the Holy Father calls our ‘elder brothers’, may form a chain along the road of Truth and Love in which globalization becomes the fraternity called to contagion the whole world with love.

The voice of Pope Francis in the Angelus of February 16, 2014

With this, Jesus reminds us that words can kill!  When we say a person has a snake’s tongue, what does this mean?  That their words kill!  Not only must we not threaten the life of our neighbors, we must not pour out on them the poison of anger and strike them with calumny.  Or speak badly of them.  Gossip.  Gossip can also kill, because we kill the name of the person!  Gossip is very ugly!  At first, it may seem like something pleasant, even entertaining, like eating a candy.  But in the end, it fills the heart with bitterness, and it poisons us as well.  I tell you truthfully, I am convinced that if each of us made the resolution to avoid gossip, we would become saints!  It is a lovely road!  Do we want to become saints?

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Posted by: livingscripture | March 21, 2017

Third Tuesday of Lent

 

 

WORD of the DAY

 

So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.   (Matthew 18: 35)

How shall I live this Word?

Jesus says these words when Peter, in regard to this important theme of forgiveness, asks the question between naivety and danger: How many times is a Christian called to forgive?  The response is peremptory…do away with half measures of ‘if’ and ‘but’.

Forgiveness is part of what Jesus has called His commandment: that of loving our neighbor as He loves us.  It is the apex of love that Jesus expressed in the highest moment of His life on earth that was entirely a gift of love.  When He said, “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing”, He ended in beauty, His words and actions, forgiving those who were killing Him.

This is the profound reason for the threatening words for those who do not forgive as God forgives.  “If you do not forgive others, God will not forgive you”.  This happens only when the heart persists in remaining closed; chooses not to forgive, using reasons that are not in conformity with the Gospel.  We can ask ourselves if this can really happen.  Our freedom is in play.  Do I or do I not want to forgive?

Lord, help me to forgive always, beyond the judgment of condemnation that can rise in my mind.  To forgive from the heart means immersing my heart in Yours, Lord Jesus.  Y ou forgave at the height of Your existence.  Grant that I may always have the strength and the beauty of forgiving in the events of my life.

The voice of Pope Francis in Misericordiae Vultus 9

How difficult it seems at times to forgive!  And yet, forgiveness is the instrument placed in our fragile hands to attain serenity of heart.  Leaving aside rancor, anger, violence, and vendetta is the necessary condition for living happily.

 

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