Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Lectio Divina and a quasi Holy Week reflection

I accidentally started practicing lectio divina again on Monday. I'm not exactly sure how that happened, but for some reason the fact that it was Monday of Holy Week seemed to compel me to spend time with the Scripture in a new way.

For several years now I have been reading the bible towards the end of getting a better feel for the story as a whole. This meant reading large chunks at a time. The benefit of this kind of reading is that you get through the bible very quickly, which allows you to hold on to the overarching story. The problem with this kind of reading is that one can lose touch with text as that through which God speaks. The bible quickly becomes just another book I have to read. And I don't need another one of those!

Lectio divina is a way of reading shorter passages (10-20 verses) meditatively. It involves reading a passage several times, with long moments of silence in between, paying attention to words and phrases that stand out, as well as what your feeling as you read. The goal is to submit to the words as best you can. To open yourself to the God who is speaking through the words. It's kind of like mining for gold. Scooping up and sifting through a large amount of dirt until you arrive at what you're looking for. And it's not unusual to do more scooping and sifting and listening without necessarily finding some specific and direct word from God.

Using the Revised Common Lectionary as my guide, so far I've read John 12:1-11, John 12:20-36, and John 13:21-32.

Three images have stuck with me this week.

- The first is Mary anointing Jesus' feet with oil and then cleaning them with her hair. This image of devotion is the first thing we are to think about in Holy Week. This act of devotion that seems to be more important than compassion for the poor. Or perhaps, a devotion that is more authentic than Judas faux sense of compassion. Works that arise from faith, not works absent of faith and true devotion.

- The second is the Greeks who come to the disciples asking to see Jesus. It is another image of devotion. The blessing of Abraham is reaching the nations (gentiles).

- The third is Judas betraying Jesus. And here I am deflated, reminded that no sense of devotion erases my implication in the death of Jesus. Whether I am Judas who betrays Him or Peter who denies Him, to enter the story of God in Holy Week is to spend time as His betrayer.

You may want to reflect for yourself on these images of devotion and betrayal, pausing long enough to let the weight of each have its say.

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