Lectio Divina


Friday - Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

Father,
through the obedience of Jesus,
your servant and your Son,
you raised a fallen world.
Free us from sin
and bring us the joy that lasts for ever.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 19,27-29

Then Peter answered and said, 'Look, we have left everything and followed you. What are we to have, then?' Jesus said to them, 'In truth I tell you, when everything is made new again and the Son of man is seated on his throne of glory, you yourselves will sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father,  mother, children or land for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times as much, and also inherit eternal life.

3) Reflection

• Today is the Feast of Saint Benedict, patron of Europe.  This is why today the Gospel is different in Europe.   The other continents continue to meditate on the Discourse of the Mission (Mt 10, 16-23), which began on July 9th.  In Europe the Gospel today speaks to us about the invitation of Jesus to abandon everything and to follow him (Mt 19, 27-29). In order to understand the importance of this invitation it is well to keep in mind its context.  Jesus had said to the young rich man: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell all you possess, give it to the poor and you will have a treasure in Heaven.  Then, come and follow me. When the young man heard these words he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth” (Mt 19, 22). Before the negative reaction of the young man, Jesus comments saying: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 19, 24).  These words of Jesus astonished the disciples: “Who can be saved then?” Jesus answered: “By human resources this is impossible, for God everything is possible”.  And then follows Peter’s question which introduces today’s Gospel:
• Matthew 19, 27: Peter’s question. “Jesus, look, we have left everything and have followed you.  What are we to have then?” In spite of having abandoned everything to follow Jesus, they still have not abandoned their first mentality.  They have not as yet understood the sense of service and gratuity. They abandoned everything, but in reality to have something in return “What are we to have?”  The response of Jesus is symbolical.  And it is divided into two parts: (a) the reconstruction of the new Israel (Mt 19, 28) and (b) the reward for those who abandon everything out of love for Him (Mt 19, 29).
• Matthew 19, 28: The reconstruction of the new Israel. “In truth I tell you when the Son of man is seated on his throne of glory, you yourselves will sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel”.  Yes, there is a reward, but not because of merit. The reward will be the natural fruit of the gratuitous commitment, freely assumed, to follow Jesus in this life; because anyone who follows Jesus in this life, will be with him in the next life. The reward will be: to sit on the throne of glory together with Jesus. In the renewed world, announced by Isaiah (Is 65, 17-25; 66, 22-23), in which Jesus will appear as the Son of Man, the Universal Judge, announced by Daniel (Dn 7, 13-14), the Apostles will be with Jesus, not in the power, but in service.  In the Gospel of John Jesus formulates the same thing, in another way: “”I want them to be with me where I will be”.
• Matthew 19, 29: The reward for those who abandon everything out of love for Jesus. Everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times as much, and also inherit eternal life”. It is a question of a two-fold promise: a hundred times as much in this life and in the future eternal life.  Today in many basic ecclesial communities, people recognize the truth of this promise of Jesus in this life. because life in community increases the number of sisters and brothers, of fathers and mothers. Sharing increases reciprocal help to the point that in the community there are no persons in need.  The communities attain the ideal of the first Christians (cf. Ac 2, 44-45; 4, 34-35).
The option in favour of the poor. At the time of Jesus, there were several movements which tried, like Jesus, to live in community, in a new way: the Essens, the Pharisees and, later the Zelots.  But in Jesus’ community there was something new which was different from the other movements.  It was the attitude before the poor and the excluded.  The community of the Pharisees and of the Essens lived separated.  The word “Pharisee” means “separated”.  They were separated from unclean people. Some Pharisees considered that the people were ignorant and cursed (Jn 7, 49), in sin (Jn 9, 34). Jesus and his community, on the contrary, lived together with excluded persons: the poor, the tax collectors, the sinners, the prostitutes, the lepers (Mk 2, 16; 1, 41; Lk 7, 37).  Jesus recognizes the richness and the value which the poor possess (Mt 11, 25-26; Lk 21, 1-4). He proclaims them blessed, because theirs is the Kingdom, the Kingdom belongs to the poor (Lk 6, 20; Mt 5, 3). He defines his mission in this way: “Proclaim the Good News to the poor” (Lk 4, 18). He himself lives as the poor. He possessed nothing for himself, not even a stone where to lay his head (Lk 9, 58). And to anyone who wants to follow him to live with him, he orders to choose: either God or money! (Mt 6, 24). He orders that they make an option in favour of the poor! (Mt 19, 21-22) The poverty which characterized the life of Jesus and of the disciples characterizes also the mission. Contrary to other missionaries (Mt 23, 15), the disciples of Jesus cannot take anything with them, no gold nor silver, not two tunics nor purse, nor sandals (Mt 10, 9-10). They have to trust in hospitality (Lk 9, 4; 10, 5-6). And if they are accepted by the people, they should work as everyone else and live from what they receive in exchange (Lk 10, 7-8). Besides they should take care of the sick and of those in need (Lk 10, 9; Mt 10, 8). And it is only in this way that they will be able to tell people: “The Kingdom is here!” (Lk 10, 9). This different witness in favour of the poor was what was lacking in the popular movements of the time. Every time that a movement rises up in the Bible to renew the Covenant, they begin by re-establishing the rights of the poor and of the excluded. Without this the Covenant will not be reconstructed! This is what the prophets did, this is what Jesus does. He denounces the old system which, in the name of God, excluded the poor.  Jesus announces a new beginning which, in the name of God, accepts the excluded.     This is the sense and the reason of the insertion and of the mission of the community of Jesus in the midst of the poor. The option for the poor draws its origin from the new Covenant and it inaugurates it.   

4) Personal questions

• Can a person who lives worried for his/her riches or who wishes to buy all the products of the propaganda given on Television free himself/herself from everything to follow Jesus and live peacefully in a Christian community?  Is this possible?  What do you think?   
• How can one understand and practice today the counsels given by Jesus to the rich young man?  

5) Concluding Prayer

How blessed is anyone who fears Yahweh,
who delights in his commandments!
His descendants shall be powerful on earth,
the race of the honest shall receive blessings. (Ps 112,1-2)

 
 
 
 
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Last revised: 26 June 2008