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Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:09

Lectio Divina: Matthew 5,43-48

Written by

Lent Time


Lord God, from You comes the initiative of love.
You seek us out and You tell us:
I am your God; you are my people.
You love us in Jesus Christ, Your Son.
God, may our response of love
go far beyond the demands of any law.
May we seek You and commune with You
in the deepest of our being
and may we express our gratitude to You
by going to our neighbor
with a love that is spontaneous like Yours.
We ask You this through Christ our Lord.


Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers and sisters only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."


In today’s Gospel we see how Jesus has interpreted the commandment “You shall not kill” in such a way that its observance leads to the practice of love. Besides saying “You shall not kill” (Mt 5:21), Jesus quoted four other commandments of the ancient law: you shall not commit adultery (Mt 5:27), you shall not bear false witness (Mt 5:33), eye for eye, and tooth for tooth (Mt 5:38) and, in today s Gospel, you shall love your neighbor and will hate your enemy (Mt 5:43), five times, Jesus criticizes and completes the ancient way of observing these commandments and indicates the new way to attain the objective of the law, which is the practice of love (Mt 5:22-26; 5:28-32; 5:34-37; 5:39-42; 5:44-48).

Love your enemies. In today's Gospel Jesus quotes the ancient law which says: You will love your neighbor and hate your enemy . This text is not found like this in the Old Testament. It is more a question of the mentality of the time, according to which there was no problem if a person hated his enemy. Jesus was not in agreement and says: But I tell you: if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Do not even the tax collectors do as much? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Do not even the gentiles do as much? You must, therefore, set no bounds to your love, just as your heavenly Father sets none to His . And Jesus gives us the proof. At the hour of His death He observed that which He preached.

Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing. A soldier takes the wrist of Jesus and places it on the arm of the cross, places a nail and begins to hammer it in. Several times. The blood was flowing down. The body of Jesus contorted with pain. The soldier, a mercenary, ignorant, far from knowing what he was doing, and of what was happening around him, continued to hammer as if it were a piece of the wall of his house and he had to put up a picture. At that moment Jesus prays for the soldier who tortures Him and addresses His prayer to the Father: Father, forgive them! They know not what they are doing! He loved the soldier who killed Him. Even wanting it with all their strength, the lack of humanity did not succeed to kill in Jesus His humanity and love! He will be imprisoned, they will spit on Him, will laugh and make fun of Him, they will make of Him a false king crowning Him with a crown of thorns, they will torture Him, will oblige Him to go through the streets like a criminal hearing the insults of the religious authority. On Calvary they will leave Him completely naked in the sight of all. But the poison of this lack of humanity did not succeed in suppressing the source of love and humanity which sprang from within Jesus. The water of the love which sprang from within was stronger than the poison of hatred which was coming from without. Looking at that soldier, Jesus felt sorrow and prayed for him and for all: Father, forgive them! They know not what they are doing! Jesus, in solidarity, almost excuses those who were ill treating and torturing Him. He was like a brother who goes with his murderous brothers before the judge and he, the victim of his own brothers, says to the judge: They are my brothers, you know they are ignorant. Forgive them! They will become better! He loved the enemy!

Be perfect as is your Father who is in Heaven. Jesus does not want to frighten, because this would be useless. He wants to change the system of human living altogether. The notion which He constructs comes from the new experience He has from God the Father, full of tenderness and who accepts all! The words of threat against the rich cannot be an occasion of revenge on the part of the poor. Jesus orders that we have a contrary attitude: Love your enemies! True love cannot depend on what one receives from others. Love should want the good of others independently of what they do for me. This is the way God s love is for us.


Am I capable to love my enemies?

Contemplate Jesus, in silence, who at the hour of His death, loved the enemy who killed Him.


How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the Law of Yahweh!
Blessed are those who observe His instructions,
who seek Him with all their hearts (Ps 119,1-2)

Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:08

Lectio Divina: Matthew 5,20-26

Written by

Season of Lent


God of mercy and compassion,

you challenge us to be responsible

for the good and the evil we do

and You call us to conversion.

God, help us to face ourselves

that we may not use flimsy excuses

for covering up our wrongs.

Make us honest with ourselves,

and aware that we can always count on Jesus Christ

to be our guide and strength on the road to You,

now and for ever.


Jesus said to his disciples: "I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven. "You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, 'You fool,' will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."


The text of today s Gospel forms part of a broader or more extensive whole: Mt 5:20 up to Mt 5:48. In these passages Matthew tells us how Jesus interprets and explains the Law of God. Five times He repeats the phrase: You have heard how it was said to our ancestors, in truth I tell you! (Mt 5:21. 27. 33.38. 43). Before, He had said: Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; no, I have come not to abolish, but to complete them (Mt 5:17). The attitude of Jesus before the Law is, at the same time, one of breaking and of continuity. He breaks away from the erroneous interpretations, but maintains firm the objective which the Law should attain: the practice of a greater justice, which is Love.

Matthew 5:20: An uprightness which surpasses that of the Pharisees. This first verse presents the general key of everything which follows in Matthew 5:20-48. The word Justice never appears in the Gospel of Mark, and it appears seven times in that of Matthew (Mt 3:15; 5:6.10.20; 6:1.33; 21:32). This has something to do with the situation of the communities for which Mark wrote. The religious ideal of the Jews of the time was to be just before God. The Pharisees taught: people attain justice before God when they succeed to observe all the norms of the law in all its details! This teaching generated a legalistic oppression and caused great anguish in the people because it was very difficult to be able to observe all the norms (cfr. Rm 7:21-24). This is why Matthew takes the words of Jesus on justice to show that it has to surpass the justice of the Pharisees (Mt, 5:20). According to Jesus, justice does not come from what I do for God in observing the law, but rather from what God does for me, accepting me as His son or as His daughter. The new ideal which Jesus proposes is the following: therefore, be perfect as is your Heavenly Father! (Mt 5:48). That means: you will be just before God when you try to accept and forgive people as God accepts and pardons me, in spite of my defects and sins.

By means of these five very concrete examples, Jesus shows us what to do in order to attain this greater justice which surpasses the justice of the  and the Pharisees. As we can see, today’s Gospel takes the example of the new interpretation of the fifth commandment: You shall not kill! Jesus has revealed what God wanted when He gave this commandment to Moses.

Matthew 5:21-22: The law says: You shall not kill! (Ex 20:13). In order to observe fully this commandment it is not sufficient to avoid murdering. It is necessary to uproot from within everything which, in one way or another, can lead to murder, for example, anger, hatred, the desire to revenge, insult, and exploitation, etc.

Matthew 5:23-24. The perfect worship which God wants. In order to be accepted by God and to remain united to Him, it is necessary to reconcile oneself with brother and sister. Before the destruction of the Temple, in the year 70, when the Christian Jews participated in the pilgrimages in Jerusalem to present their offerings at the altar and to pay their promises, they always remembered this phrase of Jesus. In the year 80, at the time when Matthew wrote, the Temple and the Altar no longer existed. They had been destroyed by the Romans. The community and the communitarian celebration became the Temple and the Altar of God.

Matthew 5:25-26: To reconcile oneself. One of the points on which the Gospel of Matthew exists the most is reconciliation. That indicates that in the communities of that time, there were many tensions among the radical groups with diverse tendencies and sometimes even opposing ones. Nobody wanted to cede to the other. There was no dialogue. Matthew enlightens this situation with the words of Jesus on reconciliation which demands acceptance and understanding. The only sin that God does not forgive is our lack of pardon toward others (Mt 6:14). That is why one should try to reconcile yourself before it is too late!


Today there are many people who cry out for justice! What meaning does evangelical justice have for me?

How do I behave before those who do not accept me as I am? How did Jesus behave before those who did not accept Him?


From the depths I call to You, Yahweh:

Lord, hear my cry.

Listen attentively to the sound of my pleading! (Ps 130,1-2)

Lectio Divina:
Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:07

Lectio Divina: Matthew 7:7-12

Written by

Season of Lent

1) Opening prayer

Lord, our God,

You are a generous Father,

who give us what is good for us

simply because You love us.

Give us grateful hearts, Lord,

that we may learn from You

to give and share without counting the cost

but simply with love and joy,

as Jesus, Your Son, did among us,

who lives with You and the Holy Spirit forever.

2) Gospel reading - Matthew 7:7-12

Jesus said to his disciples: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. "Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets."

3) Reflection

• The Gospel today gives a part of the Sermon on the Mount, the new law of God which has been revealed to us by Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount has the following structure:

a) Mathew 5:1-16: The entrance door: the Beatitudes (Mt 5:1-10) and the mission of the disciples: to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Mt 5:12-16).

b) Mathew 5:17-18: The new relationship with God: The new justice (Mt 5:17-48) which does not expect a reward for practicing almsgiving, for praying and fasting (Mt 6:1-18).

c) Mathew 6:19-34: The new relationship with the goods of the earth (Mt 6:19-21), do not look at the world with a jaundiced eye (Mt 6:22-23), do not serve God and money (Mt 6:24), do not be concerned about food and drink (Mt 6:23-34).

d) Mathew 7:1-23: The new relationship with other people: do not look for the splinter in your brother’s eye (Mt 7:1-5); do not throw your pearls in front of pigs (Mt 7:6); the Gospel today: do not be afraid to ask things from God (Mt 7:7-11); and the Golden Rule (Mt 7:12); choose the hard and narrow roads (Mt 7:13-14), beware of false prophets (Mt 7:15-20).

e) Mathew 7:21-29: Conclusion: do not only speak but also practice (Mt 7:21-23); the community built on this basis will resist the storm (Mt 7:24-27). The result of these words is a new conscience before the scribes and the doctors (Mt 7:28-29).

• Mathew 7:7-8: Jesus’ three recommendations: to ask, to seek and to knock: “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you!” A person is asked. The response depends both on the person as well as on the insistence with which it is asked (cf Lk 18:1-7). The seeking is defined by some criteria. The better the criteria, the more certainty one can have of finding what one is looking for. To knock at the door is done with the hope that there will be someone on the other side of the door at home. Jesus completes the recommendation, offering the certainty of the response: “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it will be opened; because anyone who asks receives, and anyone who seeks will find and to anyone who knocks the door will be opened”. That means that when we ask God, He listens to our petition. When we seek God, He allows Himself to be found (Isa 5: 5-6). When we knock on the door of God’s house, He opens the door for us.

• Mathew 7:9-11: Jesus’ question to the people. “Is there anyone among you who would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or would hand him a snake when he asked for a fish?” Here appears the simple and direct way which Jesus has for teaching the things of God to the people. Speaking to the parents, He connects Himself to the daily experience. Between the lines of the question one can guess the response the people yelled out: “No!” because nobody gives a stone to a son who asks for bread. There is no father and no mother who would give a snake to their son when he asks for a fish. And Jesus draws the conclusion: “If you, then, evil as you are, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Jesus calls us evil to stress the certainty of being listened to by God when we ask Him for something. And this, because if we who are not saints, know how to give good things to our children, how much more is the Father in heaven. This comparison has as its objective to take away from our heart any doubt concerning the prayer addressed to God with trust. God will listen! Luke adds that God will give the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:13).

• Mathew 7:12: The Golden Rule. "So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the law and the prophets.” This is the summary of the entire Old Testament, of the law and the prophets. And this is the summary of everything which God wants to tell us, the summary of all the teaching of Jesus. This Golden Rule is not found only in the teaching of Jesus, but also, in one way or other, in all religions. This responds to the most profound and more universal sentiment of humanity.

4) Personal questions

• Ask, seek, knock on the door: How do you pray and speak with God?

• Are you persistent in what you ask for, as the widow in  Lk 18:1-7 was, or do you give up after not getting results immediately? Would you pray persistently (and insistently) for years, or just months, or just a week?

• How are your wants aligned with what God would want for you?

• How do you live the Golden Rule?

5) Concluding prayer

Lord I praise Your name for Your faithful love and Your constancy;

Your promises surpass even Your fame.

You heard me on the day when I called,

and You gave new strength to my heart. (Ps 138: 2-3)

Lectio Divina:
Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:06

Lectio Divina: Luke 11:29-32

Written by


Forgiving, merciful God,

we pray to You for a good measure

of humility and honesty

to acknowledge before You and people

that we are weak and fallible men and women,

who often try to turn a blind eye

to our shortcomings and our sins.

Strong with the grace won in the hard way

by Your Son on the cross,

we beg You for the courage

to seek Your forgiveness

and to turn and return wholeheartedly to You

and to serve You and people.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”


We are in Lent. The Liturgy presents texts which can help us to convert ourselves and to change our life. What helps more in conversion are the facts of the history of the People of God. In today’s Gospel, Jesus presents two episodes of the past: Jonah and the Queen of the South, and transforms this into a mirror in such a way that one can discover God’s call to conversion.

Luke 11:29: The evil generation which asks for a sign. Jesus calls the generation evil because it does not want to believe in Jesus and continues to ask for signs which can indicate that Jesus has been sent by the Father. But Jesus refuses to present these signs, because if they ask for a sign it is because they do not believe. The only sign which will be given is that of Jonah.

Luke 11:30: The sign of Jonah. The sign of Jonah has two different aspects. The first one is what the text of Luke affirms in today’s Gospel. Jonah was a sign, through his preaching, for the people of Nineveh. Listening to Jonah, the people were converted. In the same way, the preaching of Jesus was a sign for His people, but the people did not show any sign of conversion. The other aspect is that which the Gospel of Matthew affirms when he quotes the same episode: For as Jonah remained in the belly of the sea-monster for three days and three nights, so will the Son of man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights (Mt 12:40). When the fish vomited Jonah into the dry land, he went to announce the Word of God to the people of Nineveh. In the same way, after the death and resurrection on the third day, the Good News will be announced to the people of Judah.

Luke 11:31: The Queen of the South. Following this, Jesus recalls the story of the Queen of the South, who came from the ends of the earth to meet Solomon, and to learn from his wisdom (cfr. I Kg 10:1-10). Twice Jesus affirms: Look, there is something greater than Solomon here, and look, there is something much greater than Jonah here .

A very important point in the discussion between Jesus and the leaders of His people is the way in which Jesus and His enemies place themselves before God. The Book of Jonah is a parable which criticizes the mentality of those who wanted God only for the Jews. In the story of Jonah, the pagans were converted listening to the preaching of Jonah and God accepts them in His goodness and does not destroy the city. When Jonah sees that God accepts the people of Nineveh and does not destroy the city Jonah became very indignant. He fell into a rage. He prayed to the Lord: Lord, is not this what I said would happen when I was still in my own country? That was why I first tried to flee to Tarshish, since I knew You were a tender, compassionate God, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, who relents about inflicting disaster. So now, Lord, please take my life, for I might as well be dead as go on living!. (Jon 4:1-3). For this reason, Jonah was a sign for the Jews of the time of Jesus and it continues to be for us Christians. He wants for all to be disciples (Mt 28:19), that is, that they be persons who, like Him, radiate and announce the Good News of the love of God for all peoples (Mk 16:15).


Lent, the time for conversion. What has to change in the image of God that I have? Am I like Jonah or like Jesus?

On what is my faith based, founded? In signs or in the Word of Jesus?


God, create in me a clean heart,

renew within me a resolute spirit,

do not thrust me away from Your presence,

do not take away from me Your spirit of holiness. (Ps 51,10-11)

Lectio Divina:
Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:06

Lectio Divina: Matthew 6:7-15

Written by

Season of Lent


Lord God,

You speak Your mighty word to us,

but we cannot hear it

unless it stirs our lives

and is spoken in human terms.

Keep speaking Your word to us, Lord,

and open our hearts to it,

that it may bear fruit in us

when we do Your will

and carry out what we are sent to do.

We ask You this through Your living Word,

Jesus Christ our Lord.


Jesus said to his disciples: "In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. "This is how you are to pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. "If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."


There are two versions of the Our Father: Luke (Lk 11:1-4) and Matthew (Mt 6:7-13). In Luke, the Our Father is shorter. Luke writes for the communities which came from Paganism. In Matthew the Our Father is found in the Discourse on the Mountain, in the part where Jesus orientates the disciples in the practice of the three works of piety: alms (Mt 6:1-4), prayer (Mt 6:5-15) and fasting (Mt6:16-18). The Our Father forms part of a catechesis for the converted Jews. They were accustomed to pray, but had some vices which Matthew tries to correct.

Matthew 6:7-8: The faults to be corrected. Jesus criticizes the people for whom prayer was a repetition of a magic formula, strong words addressed to God to oblige Him to respond to our needs. The acceptance of our prayer by God does not depend on the repetition of words, but on God’s goodness, on God who is love and mercy. He wants our good and knows our needs even before we pray to Him.

Matthew 6:9a: The first words: Our Father, Abba Father, is the name which Jesus uses to address Himself to God. It reveals the new relationship with God that should characterize the life of the communities (Ga 4:6; Rm 8:15). We say Our Father and not My Father . The adjective places the accent on the awareness or knowledge that we all belong to the great human family of all races and creeds. To pray to the Father is to enter in intimacy with Him. It also means to be sensitive to the cry of all the brothers and sisters who cry for their daily bread. It means to seek in the first place the Kingdom of God. The experience of God as our Father is the foundation of universal fraternity.

Matthew 6:9b-10: Three requests for the cause of God: The Name, the Kingdom, the Will. In the first part we ask that our relationship with God may be re-established again. To sanctify His name: The name JAHVE means I am with you! God knows. In this name He makes Himself known (Ex 3:11-15). The name of God is sanctified when it is used with faith and not with magic; when it is used according to its true objective, not for oppression but for the liberty or freedom of the people and for the construction of the Kingdom. The coming of the Kingdom: The only Lord and King of life is God (Is 45:21; 46:9). The coming of the Kingdom is the fulfillment of all the hopes and promises. It is life in plenitude, the overcoming of frustration suffered with human kings and governments. This Kingdom will come when the Will of God will be fully accomplished. To do His will: The will of God is expressed in His Law. His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. In Heaven the sun and the stars obey the laws of their orbit and create the order of the universe (Is 48:12-13). The observance of the law of God will be a source of order and well-being for human life.

Matthew 6:11-13: Four petitions for the cause of the brothers: Bread, Pardon, Victory, Liberty. In the second part of the Our Father we ask that the relationship among persons may be restored. The four requests show how necessary it is to transform or change the structures of the community and society in order that all the sons and daughters of God may have the same dignity. The daily bread. In Exodus the people received the manna in the desert every day (Ex 16:35). Divine Providence passed through the fraternal organization, the sharing. Jesus invites us to live a new Exodus, a new fraternal way of living together which will guarantee the daily bread for all (Mt 6:34-44; Jo 6:48-51). Forgive us our debts: Every 50 years, the Jubilee Year obliged people to forgive their debts. It was a new beginning (Lv 25:8-55). Jesus announces a new Jubilee Year, a year of grace from the Lord (Lk 4:19). The Gospel wants to begin everything anew! Do not lead us into temptation, do not put us to the test: In Exodus, people were tempted and fell (Dt 9:6-12). The people complained and wanted to go back (Ex 16:3; 17:3). In the new Exodus, the temptation will be overcome by the strength which people receive from God (I Co 10:12-13). Deliver us from evil: The Evil One is Satan, who draws away from God and is a cause of scandal. He succeeds in entering in Peter (Mt 16:23) and to tempt Jesus in the desert. Jesus overcomes him (Mt 4:1-11). He tells us: Courage, I have conquered the world! (Jn 16:33).

Matthew 6:14-15: Anyone who does not forgive will not be forgiven. In praying the Our Father, we pronounce the phrase which condemns us or absolves us. We say: Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass us (Mt 6:12). We offer God the measure of pardon that we want. If we forgive very much, He will forgive us very much. If we forgive little, He will forgive little. If we do not forgive, He will not forgive us.


Jesus prayer says forgive our debts . In some countries it is translated as forgive our offenses . What is easier to forgive, the offenses or to forgive the debts?

Christian nations of the Northern Hemisphere (Europe and USA) pray everyday: Forgive our debts as we forgive those who are in debt to us! But they do not forgive the external debt of poor countries of the Third World. How can we explain this terrible contradiction, source of impoverishment of millions of people?

Debt, in the context of society, is not only money. In fact, in referring to people who have served time in jail we say “they have paid their debt to society”. Do we accept these people back into society? Not only have they paid their “debt”, they are often treated as having not been forgiven.

How do we forgive others in terms of immigration, documented or not, and accept them into our communities?


Proclaim with me the greatness of Yahweh,

let us acclaim His name together.

I seek Yahweh and He answers me,

frees me from all my fears. (Ps 34,3-4)

Lectio Divina:
Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:05

Lectio Divina: Matthew 25:31-46

Written by

Season of Lent


Lord, holy God, loving Father,

you give us the task to love one another

because You are holy

and You have loved us before we could love You.

Give us the ability to recognize Your Son

in our brothers and sisters far and near.

Make us witnesses that love exists and is alive

and that You, the God of love,

exist and are alive now for ever.


Jesus said to his disciples: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.' Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?' He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."


The Gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as the New Messiah. Like Moses, Jesus also promulgates the Law of God. As with the ancient law, the new one, given by Jesus, also contains five books or discourses. The Sermon on the Mountain (Mt 5:1 to 7:27), the first discourse, opens with eight Beatitudes. The discourse on vigilance (Mt 2:4, 1 to 25, 46), the fifth discourse, contains the description of the Last Judgment. The Beatitudes describe the door of entrance into the Kingdom, enumerating eight categories of people: the poor in spirit, the meek, the afflicted, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers and the persecuted because of justice (Mt 5:3-10). The parable of the Last Judgment tells us what we should do in order to possess the Kingdom: accept the hungry, the thirsty, the foreigners, the naked, the sick and the prisoners (Mt 25:35-36): At the beginning, as well as at the end of the New Law, there are the excluded and the marginalized.

Matthew 25:31-33: Opening of the Last Judgment. The Son of Man gathers together around Him the nations of the world. He separates people as the shepherd does with the sheep and the goats. The shepherd knows how to discern. He does not make a mistake; sheep on the right, goats on the left. Jesus does not make a mistake. Jesus does not judge nor condemn. (cfr. Jn 3:17; 12:47). He does not separate alone. It is the person himself/herself who judges and condemns because of the way in which he/she behaves toward the little ones and the excluded.

Matthew 25:34-36: The sentence for those who are at the right hand of the Judge. Those who are at the right hand of the judge are called Blessed of my Father! That is, they receive the blessing which God promised to Abraham and to his descendants (Gen 12:3). They are invited to take possession of the Kingdom, prepared for them from the foundation of the world. The reason for the sentence is the following: I was hungry, a foreigner, naked, sick and prisoner, and you accepted me and helped me! This sentence makes us understand who are the sheep. They are the persons who accepted the Judge when he was hungry, thirsty, a foreigner, naked, sick and prisoner. Because of the way of speaking about my Father and the Son of Man, we can know that the Judge is precisely Jesus Himself. He identifies Himself with the little ones!

Matthew 25:37-40: A request for clarification and the response of the Judge: Those who accept the excluded are called just . That means that the justice of the Kingdom is not attained by observing norms and prescriptions, but rather by accepting those in need. But it is strange that the just do not even know themselves when they accepted Jesus in need. Jesus responds: Every time that you have done this to one of my brothers, you have done it to me. Who are these little brothers of mine? In other passages of the Gospel of Matthew, the expression “my brothers” indicates the disciples (Mt 12:48-50; 28:10). This also indicates the members of the community who are more abandoned and neglected who have no place and are not well received (Mt 10:40). Jesus identifies Himself with them. In the broader context of the last parable, the expression “my smallest brothers” is extended and includes all those who have no place in society. It indicates all the poor. The just and the blessed by my Father are all the persons from all nations who accept and welcome others with total gratuity, independently of the fact that they are Christians or not.

Matthew 25:41-43: The sentence for those who were at the left hand side. Those who were on the other side of the Judge are called cursed and they are destined to go to the eternal fire, prepared by the devil and his friends. Jesus uses a symbolic language common at that time to say that these persons will not enter into the Kingdom. And here, also, their is only one reason: they did not accept or welcome Jesus as one who is hungry, thirsty, a foreigner, naked, sick and/or a prisoner. It is not that Jesus prevents them from entering into the Kingdom, rather it is our way of acting that is our blindness which prevents us from seeing Jesus in the little ones.

Matthew 25:44-46: A request for clarification and the response of the Judge. The request for clarification indicates that it is a question of people who have behaved well, people who have their conscience in peace. They are certain to have always practiced what God asked from them. For this reason they were surprised when the Judge says that they did not accept Him, did not welcome Him. The Judge responds: Every time that you have not done these things to one of my brothers, the little ones, you did not do it to me. It is the omission! They did not do anything extra. They only missed practicing good towards the little ones and the excluded. This is the way the fifth Book of the New Law ends!

In the saints and Church Fathers we have a lot to learn about virtues and vices. It is not enough to just avoid vice, or sin, but to also work toward attaining virtue and virtuous behavior. To do no harm is not the same as to help. This is what we are called to do: to not just avoid doing wrong or harm, but to go out of our way to do good as well.


What struck you the most in this parable of the Last Judgment?

Do I focus my life more on avoiding harm or on doing good for others?

Stop and think: if the Last Judgment would take place today, would you be on the side of the sheep or on the side of the goats?


The precepts of Yahweh are honest,

joy for the heart;

the commandment of Yahweh is pure,

light for the eyes. (Ps 19,8)

Lectio Divina:

Luke 4, 1-13

The temptations of Jesus.
Victory by means of prayer and the Bible
Luke 4, 1-13


a) Initial Prayer

Oh Lord, at the beginning of this Lenten time you invite me to meditate, once more, on the account of the temptations, so that I may discover the heart of the spiritual struggle and, above all, so that I may experience the victory over evil.
Holy Spirit, “visit our minds” because frequently, many thoughts proliferate in our mind which make us feel that we are in the power of the uproar of many voices. The fire of love also purifies our senses and the heart so that they may be docile and available to the voice of your Word. Enlighten us (accende lumen sensibus, infunde amorem cordibus) so that our senses, purified by you, may be ready to dialogue with you. If the fire of your love blazes up in our heart, over and above our aridity, it can flood the true life, which is fullness of joy.

b) Reading of the Gospel:

Luke 4, 1-131 Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert, 2 for forty days being put to the test by the devil. During that time he ate nothing and at the end he was hungry. 3 Then the devil said to him, 'If you are Son of God, tell this stone to turn into a loaf.' 4 But Jesus replied, 'Scripture says: Human beings live not on bread alone.' 5 Then leading him to a height, the devil showed him in a moment of time all the kingdoms of the world 6 and said to him, 'I will give you all this power and their splendour, for it has been handed over to me, for me to give it to anyone I choose. 7 Do homage, then, to me, and it shall all be yours.' 8 But Jesus answered him, 'Scripture says: You must do homage to the Lord your God, him alone you must serve.' 9 Then he led him to Jerusalem and set him on the parapet of the Temple. 'If you are Son of God,' he said to him, 'throw yourself down from here, 10 for scripture says: He has given his angels orders about you, to guard you, and again: 11 They will carry you in their arms in case you trip over a stone.' 12 But Jesus answered him, 'Scripture says: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' 13 Having exhausted every way of putting him to the test, the devil left him, until the opportune moment.

c) Moment of prayerful silence:

To listen silence is necessary: of the soul, of the spirit, of the sensibility and also exterior silence, with the tension to listen to what the Word of God intends to communicate.


a) Key for the reading:

Luke with the refinement of a narrator mentions in 4, 1-44 some aspects of the ministry of Jesus after His Baptism, among which the temptations of the devil. In fact, he says that Jesus “Filled with the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert, for forty days” (Lk 4, 1-2). Such an episode of the life of Jesus is something preliminary to his ministry, but it can also be understood as the moment of transition of the ministry of John the Baptist to that of Jesus. In Mark such an account of the temptations is more generic. In Matthew, it is said that Jesus “was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil” (Mt 4, 1), these last words attribute the experience of the temptations to an influence which is at the same time heavenly and diabolical. The account of Luke modifies the text of Matthew in such a way as to show that Jesus “filled with the Holy Spirit” , leaves the Jordan on his own initiative and is led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, where “he is tempted by the devil” (4, 2). The sense which Luke wants to give to the temptations of Jesus is that those were an initiative of the devil and not a programmed experience of the Holy Spirit (S. Brown). It is as if Luke wanted to keep clearly distinct the person of the devil from the person of the Holy Spirit.

Another element to be kept in mind is the order with which Luke disposes the order of the temptations: desert – sight of the kingdoms of the world – pinnacle of Jerusalem. In Matthew, instead, the order varies: desert – pinnacle – high mountain. Exegetes discuss as to which is the original disposition, but they do not succeed in finding a unanimous solution. The difference could be explained beginning with the third temptation (the culminating one): for Matthew the “mountain” is the summit of the temptation because in his Gospel he places all his interest on the theme of the mountain (we just have to remember the sermon on the mountain, the presentation of Jesus as “the new Moses”); for Luke, instead, the last temptation takes place on the pinnacle of the temple of Jerusalem because one of the greatest interests of his Gospel is the city of Jerusalem (Jesus in the account of Luke is on the way toward Jerusalem where salvation is definitively fulfilled) (Fitzmyer).

The reader can legitimately ask himself the question: In Luke, just as in Matthew, were there possible witnesses to the temptations of Jesus? The answer is certainly negative. From the account of Luke it appears clearly that Jesus and the devil are one in front of the other, completely alone. The answers of Jesus to the devil are taken from Sacred Scripture, they are quotations from the Old Testament. Jesus faces the temptations, and particularly that of the worship which the devil intends from Jesus himself, having recourse to the Word of God as bread of life, as protection from God. The recourse to the Word of God contained in the Book of Deuteronomy, considered by exegetes as a long meditation on the Law, shows Luke’s intention to recall this episode of the life of Jesus with the project of God who wishes to save mankind.

Did these temptations take place historically? Why do some, among believers and non believers, hold that such temptations are only some fantasy on Jesus, some invention of a story? Such questions are extremely important in a context such as ours which seeks to empty the accounts in the Gospel, from its historical and faith content. Certainly, it is not possible to give a literary and ingenuous explanation, nor to think that these could have happened in an external way. That of Dupont seems to us to be sufficiently acceptable: “Jesus speaks about an experience which He has lived, but translated into a figurative language, adapted to strike the minds of his listeners” (Les tentationes, 128). More than considering them as an external fact, the temptations are considered as a concrete experience in the life of Jesus. It seems to me that this is the principal reason which has guided Luke and the other Evangelists in transmitting those scenes. The opinions of those who hold that the temptations of Jesus are fictitious or invented are deprived of foundation, neither is it possible to share the opinion of Dupont himself, when he says that these were “a purely spiritual dialogue that Jesus had with the devil” (Dupont, 125). Looking within the New Testament (Jn 6, 26-34; 7, 1-4; Hb 4, 15; 5, 2; 2, 17a) it is clear that the temptations were an evident truth in the life of Jesus. The explanation of R.E. Brown is interesting and can be shared: “Matthew and Luke would have done no injustice to historical reality by dramatizing such temptations within a scene, and by masking the true tempter by placing this provocation on his lips” (the Gospel According to John, 308). In synthesis we could say that the historicity of the temptations of Jesus or the taking root of these in the experience of Jesus have been described with a “figurative language” (Dupont) or “dramatized” (R.E. Brown). It is necessary to distinguish the content (the temptations in the experience of Jesus) from its container (the figurative or dramatized language). It is certain that these two interpretations are much more correct from those who interpret them in a an ingenious literary sense.

Besides Luke, with these scenes intends to remind us that the temptations were addressed to Jesus by an external agent. They are not the result of a psychological crisis or because He finds himself in a personal conflict with someone. The temptations, rather, lead back to the “temptations” which Jesus experienced in His ministry: hostility, opposition, rejection. Such “temptations” were real and concrete in his life. He had no recourse to His divine power to solve them. These trials were a form of “diabolical seducing” (Fitsmyer), a provocation to use His divine power to change the stones into bread and to manifest himself in eccentric ways.

The temptations end with this expression: “Having exhausted every way of putting him to the test, the devil left Jesus (4, 13). therefore, the three scenes which contain the temptations are to be considered as the expression of all temptations or trials” which Jesus had to face. But the fundamental point is that Jesus, in so far that He is the Son, faced and overcame the “temptation”. and, even more: He was tested and tried in His fidelity to the Father and was found to be faithful.

A last consideration regarding the third temptation. In the first two temptations the devil provoked Jesus to use His divine Filiation to deny the human finiteness: to avoid providing for himself bread like all men; requiring then from Him, an illusory omnipotence. In both of these, Jesus does not respond saying: I do not want to! But appeals to the Law of God, His Father: “It is written… it has been said…” A wonderful lesson. But the devil does not give in and presents a third provocation, the strongest of all: to save Himself from death. In one word, to throw himself down from the pinnacle meant a sure death. The Devil quotes Scripture, Psalm 91, to invite Jesus to the magic and spectacular use of divine protection, and in last instance, to the denial of death. The passage of the Gospel of Luke launches a strong warning: the erroneous use of the Word of God, can be the occasion of temptations. In what sense? My way of relating myself to the Bible is placed in crisis especially when I use it only to give moral teachings to others who are in difficulty or in a state of crisis. We refer to certain pseudo spiritual discourses which are addressed to those who are in difficulty: “Are you anguished? There is nothing else you can do but pray and everything will be solved”. This means to ignore the consistency of the anguish which a person has and which frequently depends on a biochemical fact or of a psycho-social difficulty, or of a mistaken way of placing oneself before God. It would be more coherent to say: Pray and ask the Lord to guide you in having recourse to the human mediations of the doctor or of a wise and knowledgeable friend so that they can help you in lessening or curing you of your anguish. One cannot propose Biblical phrases, in a magic way, to others, neglecting to use the human mediations. “The frequent temptation is that of making a Bible of one’s own moral, instead of listening to the moral teachings of the Bible” (X. Thévenot).

In this time of Lent I am invited to get close to the Word of God with the following attitude: a tireless and prayerful assiduity to the Word of God, reading it with a constant bond of union with the great traditions of the Church, and in dialogue with the problems of humanity today.


a) Psalm 119:

How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the Law of Yahweh!
Blessed are those who observe his instructions,
who seek him with all their hearts,

Let us renew ourselves in the Spirit
And put on the new man
Jesus Christ, our Lord,
in justice and in true sanctity.
(St. Paul).


and, doing no evil,
who walk in his ways.
You lay down your precepts
to be carefully kept.

Let us follow Jesus Christ
and serve Him
with a pure heart and good conscience.
(Rule of Carmel)

May my ways be steady
in doing your will.
Then I shall not be shamed,
if my gaze is fixed on your commandments.

Let us follow Jesus Christ
and serve Him
with a pure heart and good conscience. (Rule of Carmel)

I thank you with a sincere heart
for teaching me your upright judgements.
I shall do your will;
do not ever abandon me wholly.

Let us renew ourselves in the Spirit
And put on the new man
Christ Jesus, our Lord,
created according to God the Father
in justice and in true sanctity. Amen
(S. Paul).

b) Final Prayer:

Lord, we look for you and we desire to see your face, grant us that one day, removing the veil, we may be able to contemplate it.
We seek you in Scripture which speaks to us of you and under the veil of wisdom, the fruit of the search of people.
We look for you in the radiant faces of our brothers and sisters, in the marks of your Passion in the bodies of the suffering.
Every creature is signed by your mark, every thing reveals a ray of Your invisible beauty.
You are revealed in the service of the brother, you revealed yourself to the brother by the faithful love which never diminishes.
Not the eyes but the heart has a vision of You, with simplicity and truth we try to speak with You.


To prolong our meditation we suggest a reflection of Benedict XVI:
“Lent is the privileged time of an interior pilgrimage toward the One who is the source of mercy. It is a pilgrimage in which He himself accompanies us through the desert of our poverty, supporting us on the way toward the intense joy of Easter. Even in the “dark valley” of which the Psalmist speaks (Psalm 23, 4), while the tempter suggests that we be dispersed or proposes an illusory hope in the work of our hands, God takes care of us and supports us. […] Lent wants to lead us in view of the victory of Christ over every evil which oppresses man. In turning to the Divine Master, in converting ourselves to Him, in experiencing His mercy, we discover a “look” which penetrates in the depth of ourselves and which can encourage each one of us.”

Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:03

Lectio Divina: Luke 5:27-32

Written by

Season of Lent


Lord our God, merciful Father,

when You call us to repentance,

you want us to turn to people

and to build up peace and justice among us all. According to Your promise,

let us become, with Your strength,

lights for those in darkness,

water for those who thirst,

re-builders of hope and happiness for all.

May we thus become living signs

of Your love and loyalty,

for You are our God for ever.


Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus said to them in reply, "Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners."


Today s Gospel presents the same theme which we reflected upon in January in the Gospel of Mark (Mk 2:13-17). This time, it is only the Gospel of Luke which speaks and the text is much shorter, concentrating its attention on the principal supper which is the call and conversion of Levi, and what the conversion implies for us who are entering into the time of Lent.

Jesus calls a sinner to be His disciple. Jesus calls Levi, a tax collector, and he immediately left everything, follows Jesus, and begins to form part of the group of the disciples. Luke says that Levi had prepared a great banquet in his house. In the Gospel of Mark, it seemed that the banquet was in Jesus’ house. What is important here is the insistence on the communion of Jesus with sinners, around the table, which was a forbidden thing.

Jesus did not come for the just, but for sinners. This gesture of Jesus causes great anger among the religious authorities. It was forbidden to sit at table with tax collectors and sinners, because to sit at table with someone meant to treat him as a brother! With His way of doing things, Jesus was accepting the excluded and was treating them as brothers of the same family of God. Instead of speaking directly with Jesus, the  of the Pharisees speak with the disciples: Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? Jesus answers: It is not those that are well who need the doctor; I have come to call not the upright, but sinners, to repentance! His consciousness of His mission helps Jesus to find the response to indicate the way for the announcement of the Good News of God. He has come to unite the dispersed people, to reintegrate those who are excluded, to reveal that God is not a severe judge who condemns and expels, but rather He is Father who accepts and embraces.


Jesus accepts and includes people. What is my way of accepting people?

Jesus’ gesture reveals the experience that He has of God the Father. What is the image of God which I bear and express to others through my behavior?


Listen to me, Yahweh, answer me,

for I am poor and needy.

Guard me, for I am faithful,

save Your servant who relies on You. (Ps 861-2)

Lectio Divina:
Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:03

Lectio Divina: Matthew 9:14-15

Written by

Season of Lent


Lord of the Covenant,

we have not to fear Your judgment

if like You we become rich in mercy

and full of compassion for our neighbor.

May we not only know that You ask us

but practice with sincere hearts

to share our food with the hungry

and to loosen the bonds of injustice,

that through us Your light may shine

and Your healing spread far and wide.

Be with us in Your goodness.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?" Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast."


Today's Gospel is a brief version of the Gospel which we already meditated on in January, when the same theme of fasting was proposed to us (Mk 2:18-22), but there is a small difference. Today, the Liturgy omits the whole discourse of the new piece of cloth on an old cloak and the new wine in an old skin (Mt 9:16-17) and concentrates its attention on fasting.

Jesus does not insist on the practice of fasting. Fasting is a very ancient practice and done in almost all religions. Jesus Himself practiced it during the forty days (Mt 4:2). But He did not insist His disciples do the same. He leaves them free. For this reason, the disciples of John the Baptist and of the Pharisees, who were obliged to fast, want to know why Jesus does not insist on fasting.

While the bridegroom is with them, they do not need to fast. Jesus responds with a comparison. When the bridegroom is with the friends of the spouse, that is, during the wedding feast, it is not necessary for them to fast. Jesus considers Himself the spouse. The disciples are the friends of the spouse. The time which Jesus is with the disciples is the wedding feast. The day will come in which the spouse will no longer be there. Then, they can fast if they so desire. In this phrase Jesus refers to His death. He knows and He becomes aware that if He continues along this path of freedom the religious authority will want to kill Him.

Fasting and abstinence from meat are universal practices. The Muslims have fasting during Ramadan, during which they don’t eat until the rising of the sun. For diverse reasons, people impose upon themselves some form of fasting. Fasting is an important means to control oneself and this exists in almost all religions. It is also appreciated by those who are health conscious.

The Bible has many references to fasting. It was a way of making penance and of attaining conversion. Through the practice of fasting, Christians imitated Jesus who fasted during forty days. Fasting helps to attain the freedom of mind, self-control, and perhaps a critical vision of reality. It is an instrument to free our mind and not allow one to be transported by any breeze. It is a means to take better care of health. Fasting can be a form of identification with the poor who are obliged to fast the whole year and eat meat very rarely. There are also those who fast in order to protest.

Even if fasting and abstinence are no longer observed today, the basic objective of this practice continues to remain unchanged and is a force which should animate our life: to participate in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Surrender one’s own life in order to be able to possess it in God. Become aware or conscious of the fact that the commitment to the Gospel is a one way journey, without returning, which demands losing one’s life in order to be able to possess and find all things in full liberty.


What form of fasting do you practice? And if you do not practice any, what is the form which you could practice?

How can fasting help me to better prepare for the celebration of Easter?


Have mercy on me, O God, in Your faithful love,

in Your great tenderness wipe away my offenses;

wash me clean from my guilt,

purify me from my sin. (Ps 51:1-2)

Lectio Divina:
Saturday, 16 January 2010 11:02

Lectio Divina: Luke 9:22-25

Written by

Season of Lent


Lord our God,

You love us and You invite us

to share in Your own life and joy,

through a personal decision.

Help us to choose You and life

and to remain ever loyal

to this basic option

by the power of Jesus Christ, Your Son,

who was loyal to You and to us, now and forever.


Jesus said to his disciples: "The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised." Then he said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?"


Yesterday we entered into the season of Lent. Up until now the daily Liturgy followed the Gospel of Mark, step by step. Beginning yesterday until Easter, the sequence of the readings of the day will be dictated by the ancient tradition of Lent and of preparation for Easter. From the very first day, the perspective is that of the Passion, Death and Resurrection and of the meaning which this mystery has for our life. This is what is proposed in the rather brief text of today’s Gospel. The text speaks of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus and affirms that the following of Jesus presupposes that we carry our cross after Jesus.

Before, in Luke 9:18-21, Jesus asks, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered giving different opinions: John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the ancient prophets. After having heard the opinions of others, Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?”  Peter answers, “The Christ of God!”  that is, the Lord is the one awaited by the people! Jesus agrees with Peter, but He orders and charges them not to say this to anyone. Why did Jesus forbid this? Because at that time everybody was expecting the Messiah, but each one according to his own mind: some as king, others as priest, doctor, warrior, judge or prophet! Jesus thinks in a different way. He identifies Himself with the Messiah, servant and suffering, announced by Isaiah (42:1-9; 52:13-53:12)

The first announcement of the Passion. Jesus begins to teach that He is the Messiah, the Servant and affirms that, as Messiah, the Servant announced by Isaiah, soon He will be put to death in the carrying out of His mission of justice (Is 49: 4-9; 53:1-12). Luke usually follows the Gospel of Mark, but here he omits the reaction of Peter, who advised Jesus against or tried to dissuade Him from thinking of the suffering Messiah and he also omits the hard response: “Far from me, Satan! Because you do not think as God, but as men!” Satan is a Hebrew word which means accuser, the one who draws others far away from the path of God. Jesus does not allow Peter to get Him away from His mission.

Conditions to follow Jesus. Jesus draws conclusions valid even until now: “If anyone wants to follow Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross every day and follow Me.” At that time the cross was the death penalty which the Roman Empire gave to marginalized criminals. To take up the cross and to carry it following Jesus was the same as accepting to be marginalized by the unjust system which legitimized injustices. It was the same as to break away from the system. As St. Paul says in the letter to the Galatians, “The world has been crucified for Me and I to the world” (Gal 6:14). The cross is not fatalism, neither is it an exigency from the Father. The Cross is the consequence of the commitment freely assumed by Jesus to reveal the Good News that God is Father, and that, therefore, we all should be accepted and treated as brothers and sisters. Because of this revolutionary announcement, He was persecuted and He was not afraid to deliver His own life. There is no greater proof of love than to give one’s life for one’s brother or sister.


Everybody was waiting for the Messiah, each one in his/her own way. Which is the Messiah whom I await and whom people today await?

The condition to follow Jesus is the cross. How do I react before the crosses of life?


How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the wicked

and does not take a stand in the path that sinners tread,

nor a seat in company with cynics,

but who delights in the law of Yahweh

and murmurs His law day and night. (Ps 1:1-2)


Lectio Divina:
Page 221 of 225

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