Tag Archives: lectio divina

Advent awakens us from our stupor

Toronto, November 29, 2013 (Zenit.org)
by Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB

This year the liturgical season of Advent begins at sundown on Saturday evening, November 30, 2013. Advent culminates with the birth of the Savior at Christmas. The Advent season in its liturgical observance is devoted to the coming of God at the end of history when Jesus shall reign as king. The time is chiefly a celebration of “the coming of God” in ultimate triumph. Advent confronts us and wakes us from our stupor.

Advent, far from being a penitential time or a time of despair, is a time of rejoicing in hope and a time of patient waiting. Christians are invited to quietly prepare our hearts and our lives for the coming of the ever-greater one in the flesh. For what or for whom are we waiting in life? What virtues or gifts are we praying to receive this year? What material things do we seek? The people, qualities, things we await give us great insights into who we are.

FROM THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

II. THE MYSTERIES OF JESUS’ INFANCY AND HIDDEN LIFE

522 The coming of God’s Son to earth is an event of such immensity that God willed to prepare for it over centuries. He makes everything converge on Christ: all the rituals and sacrifices, figures and symbols of the “First Covenant”. He announces him through the mouths of the prophets who succeeded one another in Israel. Moreover, he awakens in the hearts of the pagans a dim expectation of this coming.

523 St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. “Prophet of the Most High”, John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah”, John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.

524 When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
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Long ago St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote that almost everything about our Lord Jesus Christ is twofold:

He has two births: one from God before the ages,
the other from the Virgin at the end of all ages.
He has two comings: the one is hidden and resembles the falling of the dew upon a fleece;
the other – the future one – on the contrary will be manifest.
At his first coming, he was wrapped in linens and laid in a manger;
at the second, light shall be his robe.
In the first coming he endured the Cross-,
heedless of its shame;
in his second coming he will be in glory
surrounded by an army of angels.
Let us therefore not stop at his first coming
but look forward to the second.
We hailed him at his first coming with the words,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
And we shall hail him in the same way at his second coming.
For we shall go out to meet the Lord and his angels,
and, prostrating ourselves before him, we shall cry,
‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’

Advent teaches us that there are two ways of looking at history: one is sociological and the other is religious. The first, chronos, is essentially unredeemed and cyclic. The second, xairos, is redeemed by God in Christ Jesus and becomes the possibility of providence and sacrament.

You may appreciate part of a homily by Blessed John Henry Newman, the great 19th century English Cardinal and teacher:

They watch for Christ who are sensitive, eager, apprehensive in mind,
who are awake, alive, quick-sighted, zealous in honoring him,
who look for him in all that happens, and who would not be surprised,
who would not be over-agitated or overwhelmed,
if they found that he was coming at once…
This then is to watch: to be detached from what is present,
and to live in what is unseen;
to live in the thought of Christ as he came once,
and as he will come again; to desire his second coming,
from our affectionate and grateful remembrance of his first.

Each week I offer a reflection on the Sunday Scripture readings that are proclaimed in most Christian Churches throughout the world. These readings are posted on the Salt and Light Television Network website on the Tuesday preceding the Sunday.

Fr. Thomas Rosica CSB is CEO of the Salt and Light Catholic Television Network.

from Zenit.org

Lectio Divina for 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

(Zenit.org) by Monsignor Francesco Follo

1) A lesson to live the present and a bewildering command

The first reading and the gospel of the Roman Liturgy about the parable of the poor Lazarus and of the rich glutton, [i] give the direction how to live the present. They don’t have the aim of terrifying us regarding the future punishment if we do not behave. These texts from the Bible tell us that the one who looks only for his or her overabundance cannot take care of the brothers in need and cannot recognize the Son of God in the poor Lazarus. Lazarus is Christ who has suffered all our pain and who has the wounds of the crucified love. He is at our door and waits.

Let’s contemplate the scene narrated by Christ. We see a rich man without name (or better his name are his riches) and a second man named Lazarus[ii]( = the one helped by God because he has nothing). Both men are under the look of the Almighty but they receive His presence in a different way.

The first doesn’t need it; he is so well off that he can enjoy –independently from God – a life with abundant banquets and elegant garments. The other has no one except God; he doesn’t have anything to eat and his body is covered in sores. Nobody goes near him, only dogs approach and console him.

Let’s now have a look at ourselves: we too have sores that we can hide under our riches, but God knows them. These sores make us lie down on earth and implore the heaven. They sharpen our hunger for completeness and are “loopholes” that open us to the Mystery. We are blessed when we miss being “poor” because this is the truth of our being a person. We are poor but we do not deny it to ourselves so that it disguises what we are; if we do not put ourselves at God’s level we think that we can do without him. What do we have that we didn’t receive from Him? Let’s remember that the kingdom of heaven is ours because we are poor of heart, we are sons and daughters, we are men and women … like Jesus… for this reason we are “rich,” rich of His love, rich of having God as Father.

Then we will be able to do the impossible: “to love our enemies” (as we are remembered in today’s Gospel of the Ambrosian liturgy).

A monk from Mount Athos comments this stupefying command of Christ: “There are men that wish suffering and agony in the eternal fire to their enemies and to the enemies of the Church. In thinking so they don’t know God’s love. The one that has the love and the humility of Christ cries and prays for the entire world. Maybe you say: this one is an evildoer and he must burn in the eternal flame. But I ask you: let’s suppose that the Master gives you a place in his kingdom. If you see burning in the eternal fire the one to whom you have wished eternal suffering, would you not have compassion for him even if he had been an enemy of the Church? Do you have a heart of stone? In the Kingdom of Heaven there is no room for stones. There, the humility and the heart of Christ who has mercy of everybody, are required” He ends with this prayer:” Master, as you have prayed for your enemies, teach us through the Holy Spirit to love them and even to pray for them. However it is a difficult thing for us sinners if your grace is not with us.”

Let’s look at Saint Francis of Assisi who was poor and humble, because there is nothing greater than to learn the humility and the begging of Christ (Lazarus is the symbol of Jesus mendicant of love). The humble person lives poor and happy, all is good to his heart. Only the one who is humble and poor of heart sees God in the Holy Spirit. Humility is the light in which we see God who is the light: in his light we see light. Our dawn “dies” in God’s day.

2) Death is not a level, it is a scale

The counterbalance is seen in the second part of the parable where the parts are inverted: now the rich in under and Lazarus is up. Death shows that the Kingdom of God has won. When one dies, he opens his eyes. Death is the time when we see things as they really are. Death is the dramatic door that allows the sunset of our human dawn to “die” in the light of the everlasting day of God.

Now comes on stage also the other five brothers of the rich man (the sixth brother) who continue to live “carefree” in their riches. It is their way of living that makes them blind in front of the “seventh” (seven is a number that is the symbol of completeness) brother (Jesus) who is near, just over the door through which they don’t want to look because there is the wounded poor. They are blind in front of the Holy Scriptures (that yet are very clear).

The rich man of this parable doesn’t oppose God and doesn’t oppress the poor; he just doesn’t see him and lives as if God doesn’t exist nor has anything to do with him.

Now the rich man asks the poor for a drop of water for himself and to warn his brothers. What good would do to warn them? They have the prophets and Moses and don’t need anything else. There are not the voices that are missed, not the evidences, but the freedom to understand and the clear mind to see. It is the way of living as a rich man that makes blind.

The way to the Cross is a road of light that takes to Heaven. This road has a name: charity, with lot of synonyms: mercy, pity, compassion, sharing, solidarity, communion, unity, welcoming, participation and assumption.

The road that takes to Heaven is Called Christ. There are no other ways. There are no other roads. There are no other lanes. It is a love pure, true, real, spiritual, made of concreteness and of the gift of one’s life and riches that takes to Heaven. On this road we find the consecrated Virgins. On the day of their consecration the Bishop prayed: “Give them the warmth of love to love you above all others. Make their lives deserve praise without seeking to be praised. May they give you glory by holiness of action and purity of heart. May they love you and fear you; may they love you and serve you. Be you their glory, their joy, their whole desire. Be their comfort in sorrow, their wisdom in perplexity, their protection in the mist of justice.” ( Rite of the Consecration of the virgins)

From zenit.org

Commentary for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

The Sunday Readings from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Here is a lectio divina (commentary) from the Carmelite Order.