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Lenten Cyber Retreat - Week 6

- Fr. Tim Hayes, EGL 1


Theme:  Fanning into Flame our Faith in the Word of God Among Us
 
Petition for Week VI –  That the Church and all humanity may become one in their acceptance of God’s offer of Salvation through a living response to Jesus, the Word made Flesh, Who suffered, died and rose for us.
 
Holy Week       Passion Sunday            April 17, 2011 
 
Year A Readings          Procession        http://www.usccb.org/nab/041711.shtml#palms
 
Mass                http://www.usccb.org/nab/041711.shtml#mass
 
From the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini
By The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI
 
Sin as a refusal to hear the word of God
 
The word of God also inevitably reveals the tragic possibility that human freedom can withdraw from this covenant dialogue with God for which we were created. The divine word also discloses the sin that lurks in the human heart. Quite frequently in both the Old and in the New Testament, we find sin described as a refusal to hear the word, as a breaking of the covenant and thus as being closed to God who calls us to communion with himself. [For example: Dt 28:1-2,15,45; 32:1; among the prophets, see: Jer 7:22-28; Ez 2:8; 3:10; 6:3; 13:2; up to the latest: cf. Zech 3:8. For Saint Paul, cf. Rom 10:14-18; 1 Th 2:13.]
 
Sacred Scripture shows how man’s sin is essentially disobedience and refusal to hear. The radical obedience of Jesus even to his death on the cross (cf. Phil 2:8) completely unmasks this sin. His obedience brings about the New Covenant between God and man, and grants us the possibility of reconciliation. Jesus was sent by the Father as a sacrifice of atonement for our sins and for those of the whole world (cf. 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10; Heb 7:27). We are thus offered the merciful possibility of redemption and the start of a new life in Christ. For this reason it is important that the faithful be taught to acknowledge that the root of sin lies in the refusal to hear the word of the Lord, and to accept in Jesus, the Word of God, the forgiveness which opens us to salvation.
 
Mary, “Mother of God’s Word” and “Mother of Faith”
 
The Synod Fathers declared that the basic aim of the Twelfth Assembly was “to renew the Church’s faith in the word of God”. To do so, we need to look to the one in whom the interplay between the word of God and faith was brought to perfection, that is, to the Virgin Mary, “who by her ‘yes’ to the word of the covenant and her mission, perfectly fulfills the divine vocation of humanity.” [Propositio 55.] The human reality created through the word finds its most perfect image in Mary’s obedient faith. From the Annunciation to Pentecost she appears as a woman completely open to the will of God. She is the Immaculate Conception, the one whom God made “full of grace” (cf. Lk 1:28) and unconditionally docile to his word (cf. Lk 1:38). Her obedient faith shapes her life at every moment before God’s plan. A Virgin ever attentive to God’s word, she lives completely attuned to that word; she treasures in her heart the events of her Son, piecing them together as if in a single mosaic (cf. Lk 2:19,51). [Cf. Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (22 February 2007), 33: AAS 99 (2007), 132-133.]
 
In our day the faithful need to be helped to see more clearly the link between Mary of Nazareth and the faith-filled hearing of God’s word. I would encourage scholars as well to study the relationship between Mariology and the theology of the word. This could prove most beneficial both for the spiritual life and for theological and biblical studies. Indeed, what the understanding of the faith has enabled us to know about Mary stands at the heart of Christian truth. The incarnation of the word cannot be conceived apart from the freedom of this young woman who by her assent decisively cooperated with the entrance of the eternal into time. Mary is the image of the Church in attentive hearing of the word of God, which took flesh in her. Mary also symbolizes openness to God and others; an active listening which interiorizes and assimilates, one in which the word becomes a way of life.  Here I would like to mention Mary’s familiarity with the word of God. This is clearly evident in the Magnificat. There we see in some sense how she identifies with the word, enters into it; in this marvellous canticle of faith, the Virgin sings the praises of the Lord in his own words: “The Magnificat – a portrait, so to speak, of her soul – is entirely woven from threads of Holy Scripture, threads drawn from the word of God. Here we see how completely at home Mary is with the word of God, with ease she moves in and out of it. She speaks and thinks with the word of God; the word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the word of God. Here we see how her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how her will is one with the will of God. Since Mary is completely imbued with the word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate.” [Id., Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est (25 December 2005), 41: AAS 98 (2006), 251.]
 
Furthermore, in looking to the Mother of God, we see how God’s activity in the world always engages our freedom, because through faith the divine word transforms us. Our apostolic and pastoral work can never be effective unless we learn from Mary how to be shaped by the working of God within us: “devout and loving attention to the figure of Mary as the model and archetype of the Church’s faith is of capital importance for bringing about in our day a concrete paradigm shift in the Church’s relation with the word, both in prayerful listening and in generous commitment to mission and proclamation.” [Propositio 55.]
 
As we contemplate in the Mother of God a life totally shaped by the word, we realize that we too are called to enter into the mystery of faith, whereby Christ comes to dwell in our lives. Every Christian believer, Saint Ambrose reminds us, in some way interiorly conceives and gives birth to the word of God: even though there is only one Mother of Christ in the flesh, in the faith Christ is the progeny of us all. [Cf. Expositio Evangelii secundum Lucam, 2, 19: PL 15, 1559-1560.] Thus, what took place for Mary can daily take place in each of us, in the hearing of the word and in the celebration of the sacraments.
 

* * * * * * *
Reflection:  Holy Week is the perfect time to contemplate the contrast between Sin and Faith.  Sin is the refusal to hear the Word.  Faith is a personal “yes” to the Word, allowing it to be done to us according to God’s intention revealed to us.  Reflection on the Passion of Christ leads us to the conclusion that we are at a moment of decision.  Do we choose to live in the world moved by selfishness and our own desires, or do we imitate Jesus in His Self-offering?  The “villains” of the Passion are, in the end, the same as the redeemed, if only grace is acknowledged and forgiveness is sought.
 
Jesus dies for us.  He enters our world and reveals the full Truth, the Word of the Father, spoken in our humanity.  When we refuse to hear the Word that is spoken by every word and every action of Jesus, we remain in sin.  When, instead, we open to a loving acceptance of God’s Will through Faith, we receive the gift of redemption and become instruments of the growth of the Kingdom.
 
4/18  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?
 
4/19 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?
 
4/20 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?
 
**THE EASTER TRIDUUM**
 
4/21 HOLY THURSDAY  - ATTEND THE EVENING MASS OF THE LORD’S SUPPER
 
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?
 
4/22 GOOD FRIDAY - ATTEND THE LITURGY OF THE LORD’S PASSION     
 
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?
                       
The Divine Mercy Novena Begins today.
 
                        http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/novena.htm
 
Pray today for All mankind, especially sinners
 
4/23 HOLY SATURDAY - ATTEND THE EASTER VIGIL
 
http://www.usccb.org/nab/042311.shtml
                                    
                        Pray for those newly initiated into the Sacramental Life of the Church.
 
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?
 
Pray today for The souls of priests and religious
 
4/24 EASTER SUNDAY         Worship with the community. 
 
Pray for the Neophytes, those newly baptized and received into Full Communion in the Church.
 
 “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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