La parola di Dio è sorgente inesauribile di vita

Dai «Commenti sul Diatessaron» di sant’Efrem, diacono

(1, 18-19; SC 121, 52-53)
La parola di Dio è sorgente inesauribile di vita

    Chi è capace di comprendere, Signore, tutta la ricchezza di una sola delle tue parole? È molto più ciò che ci sfugge di quanto riusciamo a comprendere. Siamo proprio come gli assetati che bevono ad una fonte. La tua parola offre molti aspetti diversi, come numerose sono le prospettive di coloro che la studiano. Il Signore ha colorato la sua parola di bellezze svariate, perché coloro che la scrutano possano contemplare ciò che preferiscono. Ha nascosto nella sua parola tutti i tesori, perché ciascuno di noi trovi una ricchezza in ciò che contempla.
    La sua parola è un albero di vita che, da ogni parte, ti porge dei frutti benedetti. Essa è come quella roccia aperta nel deserto, che divenne per ogni uomo, da ogni parte, una bevanda spirituale. Essi mangiarono, dice l’Apostolo, un cibo spirituale e bevvero una bevanda spirituale (cfr. 1 Cor 10, 2).
    Colui al quale tocca una di queste ricchezze non creda che non vi sia altro nella parola di Dio oltre ciò che egli ha trovato. Si renda conto piuttosto che egli non è stato capace di scoprirvi se non una sola cosa fra molte altre. Dopo essersi arricchito della parola, non creda che questa venga da ciò impoverita. Incapace di esaurirne la ricchezza, renda grazie per la immensità di essa. Rallègrati perché sei stato saziato, ma non rattristarti per il fatto che la ricchezza della parola ti superi. Colui che ha sete è lieto di bere, ma non si rattrista perché non riesce a prosciugare la fonte. È meglio che la fonte soddisfi la tua sete, piuttosto che la sete esaurisca la fonte. Se la tua sete è spenta senza che la fonte sia inaridita, potrai bervi di nuovo ogni volta che ne avrai bisogno. Se invece saziandoti seccassi la sorgente, la tua vittoria sarebbe la tua sciagura. Ringrazia per quanto hai ricevuto e non mormorare per ciò che resta inutilizzato. Quello che hai preso o portato via è cosa tua, ma quello che resta è ancora tua eredità. Ciò che non hai potuto ricevere subito a causa della tua debolezza, ricevilo in altri momenti con la tua perseveranza. Non avere l’impudenza di voler prendere in un sol colpo ciò che non può essere prelevato se non a più riprese, e non allontanarti da ciò che potresti ricevere solo un po’ alla volta.

RESPONSORIO        Cfr. 1 Pt 1, 25; Bar 4, 1

 La parola del Signore rimane in eterno: * è questo il vangelo che vi è stato annunziato.
 Questo è il libro dei decreti di Dio, la legge che sussiste nei secoli; quanti si attengono ad essa avranno la vita:
 è questo il vangelo che vi è stato annunziato.

Monday (February 18): “No sign shall be given to this generation”

Daily Reading & Meditation

Monday (February 18):  “No sign shall be given to this generation”

Scripture:  Mark 8:11-13

11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven, to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, and getting into the boat again he departed to the other side.

Meditation: Are you good at reading signs? Signs tell us what is coming ahead. The people of Jesus’ time expected that the coming of the Messiah would be accompanied by extraordinary signs and wonders. The religious leaders tested Jesus to see if he had a genuine sign from heaven to back his claim to be the Messiah. False messiahs in the past had made extraordinary claims to attract their followers, such as claiming that they could cleave the Jordan River in two or cause the walls of Jerusalem to fall. 

What makes us blind-sighted to God’s presence and power in our lives?
Jesus knew the hearts of those who came to test him. They were more interested in seeking signs to prove that they were right and Jesus was wrong. Jesus revealed the true intention of their heart – they came to argue with him and to test him (Mark 8:11) because they did not believe that he spoke in the name of his Father in heaven. They wanted to discredit his claim to be the true Messiah and Savior. They unfortunately were blind-sighted to the truth of Jesus’ message that the Father had sent him, the only begotten Son, to set them free from sin, Satan, and death. No miracle of Jesus would convince them because their hearts were full of self-seeking pride and glory for themselves. 

Simeon had prophesied at Jesus’ birth that he was “destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that inner thoughts of many will be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35). Jesus gave the Pharisees no sign except himself and the ultimate proof of his divinity when he overcame death and rose victorious from the tomb on the third day.We also need no further proof than the witness of Jesus who fulfilled what Moses and the prophets had foretold would take place when the Messiah came to redeem his people. 

Jesus is the only begotten Son of God who came from the Father in heaven to set us free from the power of sin, Satan, and death. His death on the cross atones for all of our sins and opens for us the floodgates of God’s merciful love and healing forgiveness. He alone can set us free from guilt, condemnation, pride, and fear. He alone can give us abundant life, peace, and joy through the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus gives us “listening ears” and “eyes of faith” to recognize his presence in our lives 
The Lord reveals himself and makes his presence known to us in many ways – in his “word” (the good news he came to give us) and in the “breaking of the bread” in the Eucharist (he is the Bread of Life), in his church – the Body of Christ, and in his creation (he is the Word who created all things). And even in the daily circumstances of our lives the Lord Jesus continues to speak to us and guide us. If we seek the Lord Jesus, we will surely find him. And we can be confident that he will give us whatever we need to carry out his will for our lives. Most of all the Lord Jesus assures us of his daily presence with us and the promise that he will never leave us. Theresa of Avila’s prayer book contained a bookmark which she wrote: Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you; All things pass: God never changes. Patience achieves all it strives for. Whoever has God lacks nothing, God alone suffices. Is God enough for you?

“Lord Jesus, may I always recognize your saving presence in my life and never forget your promises when I encounter trials and difficulties. Give me a faith that never wavers, a hope that never fades, and a love that never grows cold.”

Psalm 119:67-68, 71-72, 75-76

67 Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now I keep your word. 
68 You are good and do good; teach me your statutes. 
71 It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. 
72 The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. 
75 I know, O LORD, that your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. 
76 Let your steadfast love be ready to comfort me according to your promise to your servant. 

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Why does this generation seek a sign, by John Chrysostom (347-407 AD)

“But for what sign from heaven were they asking? Maybe that he should hold back the sun, or curb the moon, or bring down thunderbolts, or change the direction of the wind, or something like that?… In Pharaoh’s time there was an enemy from whom deliverance was needed (Exodus 3-15). But for one who comes among friends, there should be no need of such signs.” (excerpt from GOSPEL OF ST. MATTHEW, HOMILY 53.3)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source: www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

Sunday (February 17): “Blessed are you poor – yours is the kingdom of God”

Daily Reading & Meditation

Sunday (February 17):  “Blessed are you poor – yours is the kingdom of God”

Scripture: Luke 6:17,20-26

17 [Jesus] came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea  and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon… 20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 “Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. 24 “But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 “Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. “Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 “Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

Meditation: When you encounter misfortune, grief, or tragic loss, how do you respond? With fear or faith? With passive resignation or with patient hope and trust in God? We know from experience that no one can escape all of the inevitable trials of life – pain, suffering, sickness, and death. When Jesus began to teach his disciples he gave them a “way of happiness” that transcends every difficulty and trouble that can weigh us down with grief and despair. Jesus began his sermon on the mount by addressing the issue of where true happiness can be found. The word beatitudeliterally means happiness or blessedness. Jesus’ way of happiness, however, demands a transformation from within – a conversion of heart and mind which can only come about through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit.

True happiness can only be fulfilled in God
How can one possibly find happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning, and persecution? If we want to be filled with the joy and happiness of heaven, then we must empty ourselves of all that would shut God out of our hearts. Poverty of spirit finds ample room and joy in possessing God alone as the greatest treasure possible. Hunger of the spirit seeks nourishment and strength in God’s word and Spirit. Sorrow and mourning over wasted life and sin leads to joyful freedom from the burden of guilt and oppression. 

The beatitudes strengthen us in virtue and excellence
Ambrose (339-397 A.D), an early church father and bishop of Milan, links the beatitudes with the four cardinal virtues which strengthen us in living a life of moral excellence. He writes: “Let us see how St. Luke encompassed the eight blessings in the four. We know that there are four cardinal virtues: temperance, justice, prudence and fortitude. One who is poor in spirit is not greedy. One who weeps is not proud but is submissive and tranquil. One who mourns is humble. One who is just does not deny what he knows is given jointly to all for us. One who is merciful gives away his own goods. One who bestows his own goods does not seek another’s, nor does he contrive a trap for his neighbor. These virtues are interwoven and interlinked, so that one who has one may be seen to have several, and a single virtue befits the saints. Where virtue abounds, the reward too abounds… Thus temperance has purity of heart and spirit, justice has compassion, patience has peace, and endurance has gentleness.” (EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 5.62–63, 68).

No one can live without joy
God reveals to the humble of heart the true source of abundant life and happiness. Jesus promises his disciples that the joys of heaven will more than compensate for the troubles and hardships they can expect in this world. Thomas Aquinas said: “No person can live without joy. That is why someone deprived of spiritual joy goes after carnal pleasures.” Do you know the joy and happiness of hungering and thirsting for God alone?

“Lord Jesus, increase my hunger for you and show me the way that leads to everlasting happiness and peace. May I desire you above all else and find perfect joy in doing your will.”

Psalm 1:1-6

1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Jesus, though rich, became poor for us, by Ambrose of Milan, 339-397 A.D.

“‘Blessed,’ it says, ‘are the poor.’ Not all the poor are blessed, for poverty is neutral. The poor can be either good or evil, unless, perhaps, the blessed pauper is to be understood as he whom the prophet described, saying, ‘A righteous poor man is better than a rich liar’ (Proverbs 19:22). Blessed is the poor man who cried and whom the Lord heard (Psalm 34:6). Blessed is the man poor in offense. Blessed is the man poor in vices. Blessed is the poor man in whom the prince of this world (John 14:30) finds nothing. Blessed is the poor man who is like that poor Man who, although he was rich, became poor for our sake (2 Corinthians 8:9). Matthew fully revealed this when he said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’ (Matthew 5:3). One poor in spirit is not puffed up, is not exalted in the mind of his own flesh. This beatitude is first, when I have laid aside every sin, and I have taken off all malice, and I am content with simplicity, destitute of evils. All that remains is that I regulate my conduct. For what good does it do me to lack worldly goods, unless I am meek and gentle?” (excerpt from EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 5.53-54)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use, please cite credits: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager