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Bible Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Liturgical Year Ordinary Time Prayer

Lectio Divina: Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (2016)

twenty-eighth-sunday-in-ordinary-timeThis coming Sunday’s Gospel reading is a familiar story. One of the things I most like about lectio divina is the chance to read and pray with a familiar passage and see it with new eyes. This comes from not just the act of reading for understanding, but from praying with it and listening to God’s voice. Join me in your preparation for this coming Sunday and pray along with the Gospel.

This Sunday’s passage is from the Gospel according to St. Luke, 17:11-19. I encourage you to pull it up and read it along with my reflections below. For a brief introduction to lectio divina, check out this page from St. Meinrad Archabbey.

READ

Read the Gospel passage slowly and write down or hold in your mind one or two words or phrases that stick out to you as you read. After you are done reading, say the word or phrase out loud to yourself and reflect on it. Do it again for other words or phrases that remained with you.

For me: pity, cleansed, a Samaritan.

After a few quiet moments, read the passage a second time.

REFLECT: What is God saying to you?

Reflecting on the words that caught my attention at first, I realized that my focus was mostly on the lepers and their healing. In reading this passage a second time I was more drawn to the leper who came back to praise and glorify Jesus, and especially Jesus’ own words. I found it interesting that Jesus was gratified by the Samaritan leper coming back to thank him. He was also mystified, and likely disappointed, that the other nine did not come back to show their gratitude. I think sometimes we humans underestimate the importance of showing our gratitude to others, most importantly to Jesus.

I think one thing God is telling me here is that a simple “thank you” or any act of gratitude is always appreciated, even by God himself.

I have three small children and I know I get irritated when they fail to say “thank you.” They are still in varying stages of learning manners, so it is a continual work in progress. And when they do say it, with no prompting, it totally warms my heart.

Just think of how special a “thank you” for our everyday blessings is to God. Even more so, those unexpected blessings, healings, or answers to long-desired prayers.

Reflect yourself on what you read. Once done, read the passage a third time before moving on.

RESPOND: What do you want to say to God?

I feel that I often begin my prayer time with a prayer of thanksgiving (I hope!). But maybe this is too general. Further, maybe I am waiting too long. I know I would rather be thanked right away for something I did for someone, not the next day or the next week (unless we’re talking like a written thank you, obviously that would take extra time). Generally, though, hearing a thank you in the moment is definitely preferred. I suppose, then, that I need to get better at showing my gratitude to God in the moment. No waiting, just stop and do it. There is no reason why I can’t stop and take two seconds to thank God for the blessing of running water while I am in the shower or washing dishes. How about for the roof over my head when it is raining outside, or the food on our table at each meal? Here’s a good one, stop and thank God for the gift of your children whenever they are acting their worst. There are a multitude of things I can thank God for throughout my day.

Thank you, God, for all my many blessings, especially for the gift to read, reflect, and understand your Word and for the amazing gift of social media to share your Gospel far and wide. Lord God, I hope to work on having a more grateful heart and attitude at all times.

What do YOU want to say to God? Respond to God in your own way.

REST

Finally, read the Gospel passage a fourth and final time. This time just rest with the Word.

YOUR TURN

Share in the comments, what do you feel God is saying to you in this passage? How would you respond to him? You can also join the conversation on the Catholic Sistas’ Instagram account, but I’d love to hear your thoughts here too.

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Bible Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Liturgical Year Ordinary Time Prayer Sacred Scripture

Lectio Divina: Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (2016)

Lectio Divina- 23rd SundayLectio 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).

READ

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.

REST

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.

Reflect for Ordinary Time- Sept 4Find our Reflect series, a short version of Lectio Divina, on Instagram.

 

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Discipleship Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Prayer

A Familiar Story, A New Light: Martha and Mary

My current Bible reading is the Gospel of Luke. My spiritual director has advised that I always be reading either one of the Gospels or a good biography on Jesus. So right now, the Gospel of Luke it is. It’s been interesting for me to actually sit down and read short passages, spend time reflecting on them, and praying on those passages with Jesus. None of what I read is really new. I hear it read at Mass, I’ve read various passages at times, and I’ve discussed events in the life of Jesus as described in the Gospels with others. The truly wonderful thing about the Bible is reading something you’ve read many times before and seeing it with new eyes.

What I am finding striking about my current reading of Luke’s Gospel is reading it from the beginning forward with no breaks. The Gospel as read during Mass may skip a few passages. If you don’t attend daily Mass you’ll miss those readings, too. You still get a lot of the Gospel in the course of a liturgical year by just hearing the Sunday Gospel reading, but you don’t necessarily get all of it. And it’s sometimes presented in a different order. So reading it from start to finish brings out a different flavor to Luke’s telling of Jesus’ life.

I find myself with lots of questions, more than I expected. I also find myself seeing a familiar story in a new light. And that’s the wonderful part about doing this.

By Johannes (Jan) Vermeer (1632 – 1675) (Dutch)
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Recently I read the story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10: 38-42). We’re all familiar with the story, I’m sure: Jesus comes to visit, Mary sits at his feet while Martha does all the work serving the guests, Martha complains to Jesus, Jesus tells her that Mary has chosen “the better part.” Often when this passage is discussed it’s common to ask who you are in the story? Are you Martha, busy and anxious about many things, or are you Mary, sitting and listening to the master? As a follower of Catholic blogs for many years I can’t tell you how many blog posts I’ve read where the author contemplates why she is “a Mary” or why she is “a Martha” or why we all have a bit of both in each of us.

I’ve always been a little leery of those Martha or Mary comparisons. I remember it coming up once in discussion with my husband and he immediately pegged me as a Mary. I was instantly a little offended. (He’s a Martha, by the way.)

When I read this story again recently I came away with a different take on it. I also considered why I had found offense to my husband’s label of me as a Mary. Why should I be offended by that when Jesus Himself says, “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Martha as the “worried and anxious” one is not doing anything wrong. She’s being a servant to the master. She’s meeting a need that must be met. And like Mary, she too has chosen her own actions. I don’t see the problem with Martha as one of being too busy. The problem is that she doesn’t take the time for the important things in life: spending time with her guests, taking a moment to listen to her family and friends, letting go of the work around her, and, most importantly, spending time with Jesus.

As for Mary, I think I’ve always kind of sympathized with Martha and looked at Mary as shunning her duties, maybe even as lazy. But in contemplating the role of Martha in this short passage, I realized that Mary is doing exactly what Martha is missing out on: spending time with her guests, living in the moment.

Contemplating this scenario gave me a whole different perspective on the “Martha and Mary” story. Neither sister is wrong in what they are doing. Both are doing good. Being a servant toward our fellow man is a very noble and Christian way of life. More important, however, spending time with our Lord listening to what He has to say to us, praying to Him, and just being with Him are the most noble and worthwhile of pursuits. Prior to this new realization I felt like I was being labeled as lazy when told I was “a Mary.” But now I see the opposite is actually true.

I think I’m actually more of a Martha instead.

It’s so easy to focus on our list of tasks to do each day. Especially as mothers. Our days are filled with dishes, cooking, laundry, diapers, kid’s activities, and so much more. Finding that time to just sit and be with Christ is hard. Really hard! I know I fail at it more than I like to admit. I realized that I can actually learn something from Mary and I want to be more like her. She is my role model for how I should be approaching my time with Jesus.

I’m still trying to figure out how this looks (or should look) in my life. I’d love to see what you have done in this regard. Have you found a way to put aside your Martha tasks in order to be more like Mary and spend time with Jesus? Let me know in the comments.

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Advent Liturgical Year Splendid Sundays

Splendid Sundays: Peace on Earth

Second Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 5

Open today’s readings in another window to read along.

Reflection

For he proclaims peace to his people.”  (Ps 23) These days it is hard to see this proclamation in our world, we wonder where the peace is.  We’re looking for peace in others, for others, in government, at work, everywhere, and often we just don’t see it.  Given the Advent season, the song popped in my head, “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.”  Imagine if everyone approached life with this attitude, let peace begin with me.  But is peace simply an attitude?

Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven. (Ps 23)

Can you image that day?  What a day!!!  It feels forever, lifetimes away!  But to God, it is all in the blink of His eye.  “With the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard ‘delay’” (2 Pt 3).  Advent is time that we reflect on His plan for our salvation.  We are in the midst of it, without delay.  Isaiah prophesied on behalf of the Lord, “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way.” (Is 40)  God made good on that  prophesy and sent us His only son, Christ Jesus 2,000 years ago… so, only two days ago to God ;).

Since everything is to be dissolved in this way,
what sort of persons ought you to be,
conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion,
waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God…
Therefore, beloved, since you await these things,
be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace. (2 Pt 3)

God’s grace sure is a gift, isn’t it?  And so are our lifetimes, as we need all of that time to cooperate with God’s grace because only He can make us worthy of His promises , “Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him”.  (Ps 23)  The four candles of the Advent wreath symbolize each of the four thousand years God’s people awaited the arrival of the first coming of Our Savior since Adam and Eve.  Advent is also a time where we, the beneficiaries of the New Covenant, look forward to His second coming with anticipation and preparedness.  We strive for holiness, keeping close to the Sacraments that God has provided for us such that we can be “found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.”  (2 Pt 3)  God divinely provides for our peace filled purification through His Church, the Bride of Christ (Eph 5).  Peace is more than an attitude, it is God’s sanctifying grace in us.

As the Christmas season brings about its busy-ness and bustle and you find yourself bewildered, “Where is Christ in this Christmas?!”, return to Christ in the Eucharist for peace, and turn to God in the confessional for some spot and blemish removal ;).

“Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.”