Lectio divina is a beautiful way of encountering Jesus in Scripture and is an ancient tradition of the Church. To learn more about it, there is a brief description HERE including citations for further resources.
This coming Sunday is the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary time. Before we begin, you will want to have the Gospel passage ready to go. You can find it HERE. A simple prayer before you begin is a nice way to start (I like starting with the prayer to the Holy Spirit, a Glory Be would be good too).
This first very simple step is to simply read the Gospel passage. This is God sending you a letter, so just read it and be with it. Does any one word or phrase particularly speak to you at this time? If so, say it out loud to yourself. Sometimes there may be more than one. If so, say the first one and sit silently with that word or words. Then speak the second one.
REFLECT: What is God saying to you?
After you have sat with your word or phrase for a moment read the Gospel passage a second time. Reflect on the passage as a whole. What is God saying to you through this passage?
In my first reading of this Gospel passage from Luke two phrases caught my attention: “carry his own cross” and “renounce all his possessions.” This led me to think mostly just of material possessions and my constant need to divest myself of the clutter I seem to perpetually have around me. Another thought I had was that Jesus may not be talking only of material possessions, after all pretty much every story we have of Jesus has more than one meaning behind his words.
Reading this passage a second time something else struck me instead. The analogy of the builder constructing a tower. A builder should properly calculate everything before starting. If not, things may not turn out as expected and, as Jesus says, “onlookers should laugh at him.” At first glance it’s not obvious why Jesus uses this analogy in the context of renouncing your family and possessions to follow him. But then I remembered one of my first thoughts, that Jesus is not just talking about material possessions, he’s also talking about our souls and how we prepare our souls to be true followers of Jesus.
I don’t think Jesus wants us to literally hate our family members or the things we need in life (“need” being the important word here). But we must prepare our souls to be detached from the things of this world, even the people of this world. Like a builder who properly calculates and prepares for the construction of his tower, we must be continually preparing our souls for the next world. In addition to detachments from the things of this world, we must also be prepared to take up our cross, the cross that makes us different from the world around us precisely because we are focusing on the world to come.
RESPOND: What do you want to say to God?
Read the Gospel passage a third time. After this reading focus on how you would respond to God. What do you want to say to God?
My first thought in answering this question: I’m trying. Preparing my soul is hard. Human weakness being what it is, I want to have my cake and eat it too. So, yes, I’m trying, one day at a time. Slowly but surely, I spend time in prayer, spend time in Scripture, and spend time getting to know Jesus and building that personal relationship with him. As I focus more on those things I think detaching from worldly goods becomes easier and easier. One day at a time, Lord, always keeping you in sight.
Read the Gospel passage a fourth time and simply rest with God in his word. To close your time, I recommend an Our Father, or any other prayer of your choosing.
Lord God, help us to prepare our souls to be joined with you one day in our heavenly home. I pray for the strength to carry my cross, to stay true to the Christian way of life and renounce all worldly things. Help us to always have a focus on you, our Heavenly Father. Amen.
Find our Reflect series, a short version of Lectio Divina, on Instagram.