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Lenten Cyber Retreat - Week 4

- Fr. Tim Hayes, EGL 1

LENTEN CYBER RETREAT - WEEK IV                  4/ 3
 
 

Theme:  Fanning into Flame our Faith in the Word of God Among Us

 
Petition for Week IV –  That those who live the Consecrated Life may be faithful in their response to the Word of God.
 
Lent Sunday IV                        April 3, 2011   
 
Year A Readings          http://www.usccb.org/nab/040311.shtml
 
The Second Scrutiny opens the eyes of our hearts to Truth.
 
Blindness covers a multitude of sins.  We are all seeing with eyes that are “darkened” by self-interest and by our faults and attachments.  Have you ever looked for something, searching frantically, only to discover when the search was over, the object of your search was right in front of you, or even in your hand?  The Kingdom is like that.  We see it when we come into our own persons, not as we have constructed ourselves to be, but as we are in the mind of God.  Our sight is restored to us when we come down to earth and go where we are sent.  Reality reveals itself to those who look to see it.  God reveals Himself only to those who do not disbelieve in Him.
 
We are confronted by Truth and truths that are often uncomfortable when we are open to the Revelation God gives through the life of Faith, especially through our experience of Word and Sacrament.  Our call is to see as God sees, allowing Him to transform us from within.  We must live the Truth and share it with others even in the face of rejection and ridicule.  The world longs for Truth and God has shared it with us.  We have been sent.
 
From the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini
By The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI
 
Sacred Scripture, inspiration and truth
 
A key concept for understanding the sacred text as the word of God in human words is certainly that of inspiration. Here too we can suggest an analogy: as the word of God became flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, so sacred Scripture is born from the womb of the Church by the power of the same Spirit. Sacred Scripture is “the word of God set down in writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” [Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 9.] In this way one recognizes the full importance of the human author who wrote the inspired texts and, at the same time, God himself as the true author. As the Synod Fathers affirmed, the theme of inspiration is clearly decisive for an adequate approach to the Scriptures and their correct interpretation, [Cf. Propositiones 5 and 12.] which for its part is to be done in the same Spirit in whom the sacred texts were written. [Cf. Dei Verbum, 12.] Whenever our awareness of its inspiration grows weak, we risk reading Scripture as an object of historical curiosity and not as the work of the Holy Spirit in which we can hear the Lord himself speak and recognize his presence in history.
 
The Synod Fathers also stressed the link between the theme of inspiration and that of the truth of the Scriptures. [Cf. Propositio 12] A deeper study of the process of inspiration will doubtless lead to a greater understanding of the truth contained in the sacred books. As the Council’s teaching states in this regard, the inspired books teach the truth: “since, therefore, all that the inspired authors, or sacred writers, affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully and without error, teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the sacred Scriptures. Thus, ‘all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be proficient, equipped for every good work’ (2 Tim 3:16-17, Greek) .”  [Dei Verbum, 11]
 
Certainly theological reflection has always considered inspiration and truth as two key concepts for an ecclesial hermeneutic of the sacred Scriptures. Nonetheless, one must acknowledge the need today for a fuller and more adequate study of these realities, in order better to respond to the need to interpret the sacred texts in accordance with their nature. Here I would express my fervent hope that research in this field will progress and bear fruit both for biblical science and for the spiritual life of the faithful.
 
God the Father, source and origin of the word
 
The economy of revelation has its beginning and origin in God the Father. By his word “the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth” (Ps 33:6). It is he who has given us “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6; cf. Mt 16:17; Lk 9:29). In the Son, “Logos made flesh” (cf. Jn 1:14), who came to accomplish the will of the one who sent him (cf. Jn 4:34), God, the source of revelation, reveals himself as Father and brings to completion the divine pedagogy which had previously been carried out through the words of the prophets and the wondrous deeds accomplished in creation and in the history of his people and all mankind. The revelation of God the Father culminates in the Son’s gift of the Paraclete (cf. Jn 14:16), the Spirit of the Father and the Son, who guides us “into all the truth” (Jn 16:13). All God’s promises find their “yes” in Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor 1:20). Men and women are thus enabled to set out on the way that leads to the Father (cf. Jn 14:6), so that in the end “God may be everything to everyone” (1 Cor 15:28). As the cross of Christ demonstrates, God also speaks by his silence. The silence of God, the experience of the distance of the almighty Father, is a decisive stage in the earthly journey of the Son of God, the incarnate Word. Hanging from the wood of the cross, he lamented the suffering caused by that silence: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34; Mt 27:46). Advancing in obedience to his very last breath, in the obscurity of death, Jesus called upon the Father. He commended himself to him at the moment of passage, through death, to eternal life: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46). This experience of Jesus reflects the situation of all those who, having heard and acknowledged God’s word, must also confront his silence. This has been the experience of countless saints and mystics, and even today is part of the journey of many believers. God’s silence prolongs his earlier words. In these moments of darkness, he speaks through the mystery of his silence. Hence, in the dynamic of Christian revelation, silence appears as an important expression of the word of God.
 
* * * * * * *
Reflection: God is the Source for all that Is.  The Word comes to us through the loving decision of God to send Him into our world and into our hearts.  The Holy Spirit prepares us to receive the Word and establishes the means by which the Word is communicated.  The Scriptures are a living expression of Faith that effect an encounter with the Word.  They must be received, read, proclaimed and integrated into life under the inspiration of the Spirit Who breathed them into being.  This can only happen when we approach them in Faith and with an openness to being formed by the Revelation they contain.
 
Silence is highlighted as one expression of God’s Word of Revelation.  The Father speaks to us in a language too deep for merely human words.  God’s Silence allows us to encounter Him as God.
 
4/ 4 MONDAY: “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the presbyterate.” [I Timothy 4:14]
 
What does the Word of God proclaimed this week tell you about the Gift you have received from God through the Sacramental Life of the Church?
 
4/ 5 TUESDAY: “I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.” [II Timothy 1:6]
 
What Sacraments have empowered you to live in response to the Word?  How do you continue to stir into flame the Sacraments and to share the Gift of God you have received?  Are there any Sacraments you need to approach to allow God to rekindle in you what you have been given?
 
4/ 6 WEDNESDAY:  “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David: such is my gospel, for which I am suffering, even to the point of chains, like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained.” [II Timothy 2:8-9]
 
What is the nature of your suffering and what are your chains?  How does the world treat you like a criminal?  Are you able to discover the freedom to which you are called in the midst of these constraints?  What is the Word of God being spoken through your response in Faith to the events and circumstances of your concrete situation?
 
4/ 7 THURSDAY: “Be eager to present yourself as acceptable to God, a workman who causes no disgrace, imparting the word of truth without deviation.” [II Timothy 2:15]
 
Are you eager to find acceptance from God first?  Are you a willing worker for the Kingdom?  How do you speak the Truth without deviation or compromise?  What truths do you hold with ever fiber of your being?  To whom are you called to speak a word of truth today?
 
4/ 8 FRIDAY: A Day of Abstinence from meat with the whole Church.
 
“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”  [II Timothy 3:16]
 
What Scriptures belong to you?  Are there particular texts that help you to express your Sight of God, your unique knowing in Faith Who God IS?  What texts express your call, the ministry entrusted to you through Faith?  When you teach, refute, correct and train for righteous living, what texts do you rely on?  What Scriptures equip you for the work assigned to you in the building up of the Kingdom?
                       
4/ 9 SATURDAY: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.  For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.” [II Timothy 4:1-5]
 
How do you fulfill your ministry in Christ?  Who charges you to be who God calls you to be?  How do you proclaim the word by your life?  Where do you experience the need to be persistent? Whom are you being invited to convince, reprimand or encourage by your teaching?  What enables you to be self-possessed as you share the Gospel with others?
 
4/10 SUNDAY            Worship with the community. 
 
Pray for the Catechumens as they experience the Third Scrutiny.
 
“Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.  No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”  [Hebrews 4:12-16]
 
How do you find the Word of God as living and effective in your life?  What is the word spoken to you at this moment and to what does it call you?  What is the timely help you need?  How do you cry out for mercy and grace?  Who is in need of the mercy and grace that God allows to flow through your life of Faith?
 

 

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