In Lectio Divina, we read, we seek to understand with the help of a commentary, we ponder, we take time for stillness and we respond. It is a way of life, not a method of prayer. Take the Mother of God as your model, the one who brought forth the Word made Flesh, Our Savior Jesus Christ.
LECTIO DIVINA (Holy Reading)
PRAYING WITH THE SACRED SCRIPTURES WITH SISTER HILDEGARD
The readings for the 3rd Sunday of Lent are:
Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
Lectio: Read the first text from Exodus 17, verses 1-7.
Meditatio: A little background to the text, so that we can better understand its original setting, and its place in our lives.
This reading is the third of three texts. The first is 15:22-27. The second is 16:1-36. The third is 17:1-7. It begins with the people complaining, disgruntled to the point that Moses fears for his own
life. They can’t drink the water. It’s too bitter. This leads to the symbols: The staff, the rock, the fresh pure water. And we can see where it is leading. Christ will be the rock where we take refuge in our lives. It is Christ who will give us living water, and we will never be thirsty again.
As we have been reading this text, and understanding it, we may have been overcome with the miracle, or moved to prayer. This is the work of the Holy Spirit within us. Read over the text again, and make a response, or rather, carry it with you as you go about
life, and the Holy Spirit will prompt you to respond. I share my response in Evangelizatio 1.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 94
The response is: IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE TODAY, HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS. Psalm 94 is a call to praise the Lord, bow down before the Lord, and not close one’s heart as in the day of Massah and Meribah, places where the people tested the Lord.
Lectio: Read the Second text from Romans 5:1-2 and 5-8.
Meditatio: A little background to help us understand this text from Romans. Romans 5:1-8:39 takes the theme: the love of God assures salvation to those justified by faith. The particular theme of 5:1-11 is that the justified Christian, reconciled with God, will be saved . The effects of justification are firstly ‘peace’. Reconciliation replaces
estrangement. We will remember that on the First Sunday of Lent, the first text was from Genesis, and the story of Adam and Eve removing themselves from God, – estrangement. Now at last, the Son of God has given us the greatest gift – the way to God. The peace that
Christians experience is derived from being introduced into the sphere of divine favour, by Christ, who leads us to God. (Partially summed up from the commentary in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, 51, paragraphs 50 and 51). Verses 5-8 is about a hope which does not disappoint us. Psalms 22:6 and 25:20 stress that
the hope of God’s glory is not an illusion. One Christian person shares: Hope is the belief that beyond all darkness, suffering, and failure, lies a beautiful light that awaits us and makes our journey worth it. Archbishop Desmond Tutu shares: Hope is being able to see
that there is light despite all of the darkness. Take time to ponder on this text, reading it again and maybe a third time, in order to absorb
the wonders of our Saviour, a Saviour who has set us free and reconciled us with God. You may want to respond to the text immediately or take a few days. The Holy Spirit leads us to respond to the Word of God. I share my response in Evangelizatio 2.
The Gospel Verse is from John 4:42.15 – LORD,YOU ARE TRULY THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD; GIVE ME LIVING WATER, THAT I MAY NEVER THIRST AGAIN.
Lectio: Read the Gospel text from John 4:5-42.
Meditatio: A little background to help us respond.
This is a magnificent text, and one we can read over and over, as it draws us to drink the water of life. First of all, the woman! She was a Samaritan woman, and therefore unacceptable to Jews.
Secondly, she was at the well in the middle of the day’s heat. The local women would have gone to collect water early in the day. She was not acceptable to them, so she had no option but to go in the middle of the day, when she wouldn’t be offending anyone, or receive criticism. Into this very human, ordinary scene on an ordinary day, she is met by the Son of God, who is thirsty himself, and asks her for a drink, before he offers her living water. Secondly, there is us! This offer of living water is available to all of us, unconditionally! Our God, who knows everything about us, loves us and offers us life to the full if we would but relax, let our arms down and accept (fully) the water and elixir of life. And then there are the others! Just like the Samaritan woman went into the town sharing that life-giving message with others, we too are called to be bearers of living water to those we meet in our everyday lives. Read the Gospel text a number of times during the week. Sit with the text for many “quiet” times. Listen to the Holy Spirit pouring healing water on this text bringing forth the freshness of your response. I share my response in Evangelizatio 3.
Evangelizatio is about one’s response to the sacred texts, and the application of their message to our own living. It is probably the most powerful and the most challenging time for us who are at prayer. This is about our conversion, our turning back to God. It changes our lives and brings us closer to the presence of God within and around us.
1. My response to this text is to return to the beginning of January and note the absence of water over our country: drought, dust, bushfires like nothing we have seen in Australia. There were towns without water. Trucks were bringing in water.to remote towns. People lost their homes, their businesses, their livestock. Australia lost a great percentage of its fauna. Heroic people rescued koala bears, joeys and other injured wildlife. And our land and people cried out for rain. Eventually our prayer was answered, some rains came and with the help of our valiant firefighters, the fires were
brought under control. In this text from Exodus, the people complain. There is water but it is not to their taste. Do I complain about the least inconvenience? I have to think about that. Sr. Joan Chittister says that the wars of the future will be about water.
2. My response is to share first of all, that for many years I never understood what hope was (for a Christian). I grew up with the word “hope” confined to conversations about sporting teams, inter-school tennis, that the rain didn’t spoil a holiday at a camping ground. We hoped and hoped for all the things that seem trivial now, but back then, were part of our lives. “I hope we win the tennis against All Hallows” or “I hope that St. Rita’s beats All Hallows in the inter-school swimming.”! Faith and love were never problems. I understood them very well, and my love for God and for others
was expressed in practical ways. As I have grown older, hope has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I am happy to have this text from Romans for reflection and prayer. Archbishop Desmond Tutu places hope in a particularly perceptive way: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” And I am
called in this text, to rest in the peace of knowing that “the hope God is not deceptive because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” There are so many programs for happiness, novelties that wear off, pursuits that in the end don’t deliver what they promised. The hope of God’s
glory that has been promised to us is not an illusion. As believers, we couldn’t wish for more!
3. My response to this text is to note that Jesus can come into any ordinary situation on any ordinary day and ask me for a drink of water. Because of the Incarnation, it could be my elderly neighbour, a lady in the supermarket with one child in the trolley and two either side holding on to her. She deserves a smile – ordinary, but life-giving. And then there is the handyman, or plumber, or carpenter, doing bits and pieces for me at home. They deserve a cold drink or morning tea. I may even have baked something. An ordinary day, with ordinary trades people. Recently I was called by
the Lord to smile at a woman who was working on the Jamberoo Road. She was doing the go and stop sign. And ordinary job which many young people couldn’t stand. It was hard, I imagine to be on her feet all day. Who can we give a “cup of water” to today?
Lectio Divina is a way of life:
we read the sacred texts, we learn about them,
we respond to them in prayer,
and if the Lord bids us to a time of rest,
then we enter into “quiet”.
We listen to the Holy Spirit praying within us.
Woman at the Well by Sieger Köder