Engaging the Gospel – Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C): Gospel – Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

Today’s Gospel is much more than just a description of historical events. Rather, it reveals a divine reality still at work in the world now — indeed, until the end of time.

Jesus’ commissioning of the disciples Whom He has chosen, and entrusted with His own power, endures through the ministry of the Church, governed by the bishops who are themselves successors to the apostles.

The Catechism teaches:

The Lord Jesus endowed His community with a structure that will remain until the Kingdom is fully achieved…The Twelve [apostles] and the other disciples share in Christ’s mission and his power…By all His actions, Christ prepares and builds His Church (paragraph 765).

“The Gospel was handed on in two ways” – not only in writing, but

orally, by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received (76, quoting Dei Verbum).

In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church, the apostles left bishops as their successors…The apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time (77, quoting Dei Verbum).

As a result, “the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church” (862).

Since the apostles (and disciples in today’s reading) were chosen together and sent out together, this ministry has ever had a “collegial character.”

Every bishop exercises his ministry from within the episcopal college, in communion with the bishop of Rome, the successor of St Peter and head of the college. So also priests exercise their ministry from within the presbyterium of the diocese, under the direction of their bishop (877).

Question for reflection: How do I support those who dedicate their lives to the Lord’s service?

Engaging the Gospel – Most Holy Trinity

Most Holy Trinity: Gospel – John 16:12-15

God’s interior life as Holy Trinity is “a mystery that is inaccessible to reason alone, or even to Israel’s faith, before the Incarnation of God’s Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit,” as the Catechism notes (237):

The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – reveals Himself to men and reconciles and unites with Himself those who turn away from sin (234).

As St. Gregory of Nazianzus (d. 389) wrote,

the Old Testament proclaimed the Father clearly, but the Son more obscurely. The New Testament revealed the Son and gave us a glimpse of the divinity of the Spirit. Now the Spirit dwells among us and grants us a clearer vision of Himself (quoted in 684).

Through the revelation of the Holy Trinity, we see that God exists in an eternal relationship of love, and He “freely wills to communicate the glory of His blessed life” (257) to us:

By the grace of Baptism in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we are called to share in the life of the Blessed Trinity, here on earth in the obscurity of faith, and after death in eternal light (265).

Question for reflection: When have I felt that God was leading me patiently into a deeper knowledge of Him?

Engaging the Gospel – Pentecost

Gospel – John 7:37-39 (Vigil), (Year C) John 20:19-23 or John 14:15-16, 23b-26

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit fulfills Old Testament prophecy, and continues in the life of the Church, as the Catechism explains:

In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for His saving mission…[Jesus’] whole life and His whole mission are carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit Whom the Father gives Him “without measure.”

This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people…a promise which [Christ] fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost.

–Catechism paragraphs 1286-87

From that time on, the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ’s will, imparted to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit that completes the grace of Baptism…The imposition of hands is rightly recognized by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church.

–Paul VI, quoted in Catechism 1288

Through the anointing of the sacrament of Confirmation, we receive the indelible “mark, the seal of the Holy Spirit. A seal is a symbol of a person, a sign of personal authority, or ownership of an object” (1295).

“This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in His service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial” (1296).

The “effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost” (1303).

Question for reflection: How have I experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in my life?

 

Engaging the Gospel – Second Sunday of Lent

2nd Sunday of Lent (Year C): Gospel – Luke 9:28b-36

“For a moment Jesus discloses His divine glory” in His Transfiguration (Catechism paragraph 555), evoking the theophanies, or manifestations of God, in the Old Testament.

Through the presence of the cloud, the appearance of Moses and Elijah, and its setting on a mountain, the Transfiguration calls to mind, and yet transcends, these earlier divine manifestations to the people of Israel.

“In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God, while veiling the transcendence of His glory” (697).

“Christian tradition has always recognized that God’s Word allowed Himself to be seen and heard in these theophanies, in which the cloud of the Holy Spirit both revealed Him and concealed Him in its shadow” (707).

In the Old Testament, “Elijah, like Moses before him, hides in a cleft of the rock until the mysterious presence of God has passed by” (2583). In the New Testament, with the Word made flesh in Jesus, God manifests Himself in a radically new way.

Hence “only on the mountain of the Transfiguration will Moses and Elijah behold the unveiled face of Him Whom they sought; the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shines in the face of Christ” (2583).

Question for reflection: What leads me to reflect upon the majesty of God?

Engaging the Gospel – Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C): Gospel – Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21

Jesus reveals that He is the fulfillment of prophecy

“In the Old Testament, the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission” (Catechism paragraph 1286).

The book of the prophet Isaiah, in particular, reveals the characteristics of the Messiah. “This is why Christ inaugurates the proclamation of the Good News” by reading Isaiah 61:1-2 to those in attendance at the Nazareth synagogue (714).

The very title of Messiah – which means “anointed” in Hebrew, and is translated into Greek as Christos – signifies a “divine mission” (436).

St. Irenaeus, writing in the second century, considered the anointing from the perspective of the Holy Trinity: “The One Who anointed is the Father, the One Who was anointed is the Son, and He was anointed with the Spirit Who is the anointing” (quoted in 438).

Question for reflection: When did I first truly embrace Jesus as my Savior?

Engaging the Gospel – Mark 13:24-32

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B): Gospel – Mark 13:24-32

Jesus speaks to end times expectation

Today’s Gospel, with its companion passages in Matthew and Luke, “is probably the most difficult Gospel text,” Benedict XVI has noted:

This difficulty stems from both its content and its language: in fact, it speaks of a future that exceeds our own categories and for this reason Jesus uses images and words taken from the Old Testament; but above all He introduces a new center, which is He Himself, the mystery of His Person and of His death and Resurrection.

…The “Son of Man” is Jesus Himself Who links the present and the future; the ancient words of the prophets have finally found a center in the Person of the Nazarene Messiah: He is the True Event which remains the firm and enduring point in the midst of the world’s upheavals.

Hence Jesus wants us to remain focused upon Him:

…He wishes to prevent His disciples in every epoch from being curious about dates and predictions; He wants instead to provide them with a key to a profound, essential interpretation and, above all, to point out to them the right way on which to walk, today and in the future, to enter eternal life…

Dear friends, in our day too there is no lack of natural disasters nor, unfortunately, of war and violence. Today too we need a permanent foundation for our life and our hope, especially because of the relativism in which we are immersed. May the Virgin Mary help us to accept this center in the Person of Christ and in His Word.

Angelus of November 18, 2012.

As the Catechism phrases it, “the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by distress and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching” (paragraph 672).

Question for reflection: How have I discerned signs of God’s presence in my own life?

Pope Francis on Lectio Divina

Lectio divina, “divine reading,” is a form of prayer that includes meditation.

Pope Francis explains:

There is one particular way of listening to what the Lord wishes to tell us in His Word and of letting ourselves be transformed by the Spirit. It is what we call lectio divina. It consists of reading God’s Word in a moment of prayer and allowing it to enlighten and renew us…

In the presence of God, during a recollected reading of the text, it is good to ask, for example: ‘Lord, what does this text say to me? What is it about my life that you want to change by this text? What troubles me about this text? Why am I not interested in this?’

Or perhaps: ‘What do I find pleasant in this text? What is it about this word that moves me? What attracts me? Why does it attract me?’

When we make an effort to listen to the Lord, temptations usually arise. One of them is simply to feel troubled or burdened, and to turn away.

Another common temptation is to think about what the text means for other people, and so avoid applying it to our own life. It can also happen that we look for excuses to water down the clear meaning of the text. Or we can wonder if God is demanding too much of us, asking for a decision which we are not yet prepared to make.

This leads many people to stop taking pleasure in the encounter with God’s Word; but this would mean forgetting that no one is more patient than God our Father, that no one is more understanding and willing to wait.

He always invites us to take a step forward, but does not demand a full response if we are not yet ready. He simply asks that we sincerely look at our life and present ourselves honestly before Him, and that we be willing to continue to grow, asking from Him what we ourselves cannot as yet achieve.

Evangelii Gaudium, 152-53.