Lectio Divina

lectioIn Lectio Divina, we read, mind we seek to understand with the help of a commentary, discount we ponder, cialis 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 Sunday 15 January 2017 Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, by Sister Hildegaard, OSB, Jamberoo Abbey, Ausralia

“LET US NOW MOVE INTO PRAYER WITH THE SACRED TEXTS The readings are: Isaiah 49:3, and 5-6 1 Corinthians, 1:1-3 John 1:29-34. Lectio: Read the first text from Isaiah 49:3 and 5-6. Be aware of the way you handle your bible. Take it up reverently and read the sacred text with deep reverence. This text is given to all of us on this particular day in the Church’s Liturgical Year, for our formation as Christians.

Meditatio: Some Background on the text, so that we can understand it more profoundly, and make our response to it. Any commentary on this text will note that this text of three verses is part of a longer unit, relating the commissioning of the prophet himself. The text is from Second Isaiah. In verse 1, the prophet presents himself as another Jeremiah. He is called from his mother’s womb. Verse 3 is linked to verse 4 and presents the objection of Isaiah to the Lord’s call. Carroll Stuhlmueller, in his commentary on this text, notes that “objections are commonly introduced in the literary genre of the commission of prophets.” (cf. Isaiah 6:5, 40:6, and Jeremiah 1:6). In verse 6 of the text we are given, it is noted that the servant-prophet is “not the one to lead the new Exodus and to restore Israel…” – this Divine work will be carried out by God. (cf. “The New Jerome Biblical Commentary for a longer summary of this text). The mission of the servant-prophet is contrasted with the mission to be a light to the nations. And so, the prophet Isaiah declares openly what has been only inferred or 2 intuited up until now. There will be one who will carry out the divine work of God, and be that light which darkness cannot overcome. Read the text again a couple of times. Ponder on the text for a day or more. However, if you are aware of the Holy Spirit calling forth your response to the text, note it down. When the Holy Spirit prays within you or pours unction on a text and calls you forth, this is the true “prayer” (oratio) of Lectio Divina.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 39 The response is: HERE AM I LORD, I COME TO DO YOUR WILL. The Psalm we are given is Psalm 39, a prayer of thanksgiving. It is a Psalm which is rich in its Christology. In other words, we don’t have to look far to find Christ in this Psalm, which is also quoted in the Letter to the Hebrews: “You do not ask for sacrifice or offerings, (Old Testament); You do not ask for holocaust and victims, (Old Testament). Instead, here am I [the Son of God, the perfect offering, the Lamb of God]. (New Testament – new Covenant). Listen, as you pray with the Psalm throughout the week, to the Holy Spirit calling you to respond to a line, a word, a phrase. This is the Holy Spirit praying within you. Lectio: Read the Second text from the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 1-3. . Meditatio: Some background to help us with our understanding and our response. On this Sunday we begin the reading of the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. This letter will be read in full over the following Sundays, until the 8th Sunday of the Year, on February 26th. March 5th is the First Sunday of Lent, so a different set of readings is introduced. The text given to us on this Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, is part of 1:1-9, which contains greetings to the Church of Corinth. Some background notes: The opening formula follows a standard pattern. The word “apostle” underlines Paul’s authority as an emissary of Christ. Sosthenes is probably the man of Acts 18:17. Verse 2 mentions the Church of God. This is an important description of the Corinthian Christian Community, and one that is deliberate on Paul’s part. This community has been difficult and caused Paul much agonizing. He has addressed difficulties from time to time. Now he wants to emphasize that believers have been set apart by God. Believers are “holy”, not because of anything they have done. They have been sanctified by God. (cf. NJBC 4911). Stand back from the reading and go about your work for a while. Maybe a day or two. Be alert to the grace of God. Listen to the Holy Spirit playing on the fibres of your heart like a harpist on the strings of the harp. The Holy Spirit will bring forth the most beautiful response to this reading. You will be surprised by the Spirit. 3 The Gospel Verse is taken from John 1: 14 and 12. THE WORD OF GOD BECAME FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US. HE ENABLES THOSE WHO ACCEPTED HIM TO BECOME THE CHILDREN OF GOD. Lectio: Read the Gospel text from John 1:29-34. Read it slowly and reflectively, and maybe a second time. Try to read aloud rather than with the mind. Listen to the text as you read. Stand back from it and ponder. Meditatio: Some background to help us understand the text and respond to it. John 1:29-34 points to Jesus as “the Lamb of God”. This reality will be fulfilled at the Last Supper and on the Cross when the Lamb of God lays down his life for each one of us. The coming of the Spirit upon Jesus is the Divine sign to John the Baptist, that Jesus is the one designated by God, the “light of the nations” as described in the first text this Sunday. Jesus as the “lamb” probably carries over the image of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 – the one who is led to the slaughter like a lamb (Isaiah, 53:7), and bears our sins (Isaiah 53:4). Jesus is the “Lamb” of the Passover in John 19:36. A few words on the Spirit resting or remaining with Jesus. The words belong to John’s special vocabulary. They describe the permanent relationship between Father and Son, and between the Son and those who believe in Him. Here the Spirit is said to “remain with” Jesus who will be shown to be the one who dispenses the Spirit. Read John 3:5 and 34; John 7:38 and 39; John 20:22. Isaiah 52:1 describes the Spirit “resting” on the Servant. (This background has been summarized from the New Jerome Biblical Commentary). Read the Gospel text again slowly. Stand back from the text and the commentary and go about your work quietly ruminating.

EVANGELIZATIO: My lived response to the texts with which the Church exhorts me to pray. St. James says “Be doers of the Word.” And the Book of Deuteronomy tells us that the Word of God is in our hands to do it. 1. My response is to the end of this text. I hear it in the “tropological” sense, that is, I am the one who is called to be “the light of” my community. My monastic community is called to be the light of our nation, Australia. Each one of us is called to be “the light of” our parish community and our local community. Two beautiful Oblates of our Monastic community (both over 90 years of age), are “lights of” their own suburban street and a retirement village. One beautiful woman is a bright light for her neighbours in the same street and for those who come into her home to assist her with household tasks. The other beautiful woman walks around her village and brings her light to others, especially those in the Nursing Home. And because of these two women, the world is a better place. Surely the task for all of us is to keep the flame of Divine Light burning brightly and radiating goodness and beauty to all around us. 4 2. The Holy Spirit has put unction on the word “emissary”, in the commentary on this text. “Emissary” is not a commonly-used word in the English language. It means in this instance, a “messenger”, or an “ambassador” for Christ. Paul declares himself an apostle in order to underline his authority as an emissary for Christ. I too, am an “emissary for Christ”. What comes to the fore as I sit with this word, is the scene in the Book of Ruth, where Ruth says to Naomi, her mother-in-law, “Wherever you go, I will go, wherever you live, so shall I live. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.” As an emissary for Christ, I will follow Christ wherever he leads me, wherever he is living, wherever his people are, and wherever his obedience to his Father is manifest. First of all I do this in my own community. Secondly, within my own vocation to prayer at the heart of the Church on earth, and for all God’s people on earth. As an emissary for Jesus Christ, I open my heart to all God’s people who are hurting. I embrace them in my own heart and in my daily prayer. After the Liturgy of the Hours with the riches of the Psalms, I find that he Chaplet of Divine Mercy is the most helpful prayer for me: “Have mercy on us and on the whole world…” Over time, it has become the essence of continuous prayer for me. 3. My response is to the Spirit “resting” on Jesus. Cardinal Basil Hume, in his book “Searching For God” shares his experience of the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. He shares that “we come…into the presence of the Holy Spirit mainly through the recognition of our poverty. At that point where consciousness of self reaches nothingness or touches on the darkness beyond – that is where God is encountered. It is an awareness of the ground of our being. It is a radical poverty which enables us to be receptive to God’s action upon us, which is the action of the Spirit.” Lectio Divina is about reading the Sacred Scriptures and reflecting on them from an informed background. It is allowing the Holy Spirit to play on the fibres of my heart like a harpist, and bring forth the beauty of my response. In responding to the text, my life is changed more and more into Christ.”