Isaiah, Chapter 41, verse 22-23
22 Let them draw near and foretell to us what it is that shall happen! What are the things of long ago? Tell us, that we may reflect on them and know their outcome; Or declare to us the things to come, 23 tell what is to be in the future, that we may know that you are gods! Do something, good or evil, that will put us in awe and in fear.
This verse is Isaiah’s indictment of Babylonian gods that is patterned on a legal trial, in which they are challenged to prove power over events of history and so justify their status as gods. Christ at his coming did show his power as God by his healings and miracles but still the Jews did not believe because their mind was trapped by wrong thinking. If we are to follow Christ we must know His thinking.
Today let us reflect on Christ’s mind given in the gospel.
“To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person, who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful. “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son; so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.
A few years ago I was assigned jury duty and while on the way to the court I saw spray painted John 3:16 and I thought I know that verse and said it in my head. That morning at court my group was not selected for the morning session and we were released for lunch. I thought maybe today I will skip lunch and go to the Basilica for Mass. I had for some time now been very unhappy with my place of employment and thought perhaps the Lord will give me some direction. The Basilica was the same church that Saint Pope John Paul II said his Mass in Phoenix when he was there. To my surprise the Mass was a memorial Mass for the anniversary of the death of Saint John Paul II and the reading during the Mass was John 3:16. I said to myself recognizing the Holy Spirit, “Speak Lord your servant is listening”. I thought well I am unhappy at work and John Paul II was a great teacher perhaps I am to become a teacher again. I immediately went over to the Diocese office to pursue a teaching job but the doors were locked. I thought ok Lord maybe not and started walking back to the courthouse for the afternoon session. On the way my mind was filled with questions about where the Lord is taking me when all of the sudden a bum walked up to me and handed me a “Chick” publication. I opened it and the first verse I seen was John 3:16. Ever since that day I still am looking for what the Lord was trying to tell me that day. Perhaps it is simply. I love you. Love and be loved.
The Bible is a weapon and in the hands of the untrained, “You could shoot your eye out kid”. Therefore the Bible should be handled with care. We should approach scripture reading in light of the liturgy and church Dogmas. “Dogma is by definition nothing other than an interpretation of Scripture.”(Pope Benedict XVI) Dogmas are the Church’s infallible interpretation of Scripture. In the 1970’s the Catholic Church revised its lectionary—the order of scriptural readings for the Mass. The readings now unfold in a three-year cycle and include almost all the books of both testaments of the Bible. The great thing about lectionary is that it presents the scriptures and also teaches us a method of understanding the Scriptures: Showing us a consistent pattern of promise and fulfillment. The New Testament is concealed in the Old, and the Old is revealed the New. Perhaps a good practice would be for us to read the daily scripture in the lectionary; maybe even before Mass.
"Lectio Divina", a Latin term, means "divine reading" and describes a way of reading the Scriptures whereby we gradually let go of our own agenda and open ourselves to what God wants to say to us. In the 12th century, a Carthusian monk called Guigo, described the stages which he saw as essential to the practice of Lectio Divina. There are various ways of practicing Lectio Divina either individually or in groups but Guigo's description remains fundamental.
- He said that the first stage is lectio (reading) where we read the Word of God, slowly and reflectively so that it sinks into us. Any passage of Scripture can be used for this way of prayer but the passage should not be too long.
- The second stage is meditatio (reflection) where we think about the text we have chosen and ruminate upon it so that we take from it what God wants to give us.
- The third stage is oratio (response) where we leave our thinking aside and simply let our hearts speak to God. This response is inspired by our reflection on the Word of God.
- The final stage of Lectio Divina is contemplatio (rest) where we let go not only of our own ideas, plans and meditations but also of our holy words and thoughts. We simply rest in the Word of God. We listen at the deepest level of our being to God who speaks within us with a still small voice. As we listen, we are gradually transformed from within. Obviously this transformation will have a profound effect on the way we actually live and the way we live is the test of the authenticity of our prayer. We must take what we read in the Word of God into our daily lives.
These stages of Lectio Divina are not fixed rules of procedure but simply guidelines as to how the prayer normally develops. Its natural movement is towards greater simplicity, with less and less talking and more listening. Gradually the words of Scripture begin to dissolve and the Word is revealed before the eyes of our heart. How much time should be given to each stage depends very much on whether it is used individually or in a group.
The practice of Lectio Divina as a way of praying the Scriptures has been a fruitful source of growing in relationship with Christ for many centuries and in our own day is being rediscovered by many individuals and groups. The Word of God is alive and active and will transform each of us if we open ourselves to receive what God wants to give us.
 Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 16. Bible Study.
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