Accepting the Embrace of God – The Process of Lectio Divina

In this season of Lent we are paying attention to the spiritual practices that help us center our lives around the Living God made know in Jesus of Nazareth.  Today I want to introduce us to the habit of Lectio Divina, a spiritual way of ruminating with scripture so that we can live into God’s will for our lives.  Listen to the following introduction:

A very ancient art, practiced at one time by all Christians, is the technique known as lectio divina – a slow, contemplative praying of the Scriptures which enables the Bible, the Word of God, to become a means of union with God. This ancient practice has been kept alive in the Christian monastic tradition, and is one of the precious treasures of Benedictine monastics and oblates. Together with the Liturgy and daily manual labor, time set aside in a special way for lectio divina enables us to discover in our daily life an underlying spiritual rhythm. Within this rhythm we discover an increasing ability to offer more of ourselves and our relationships to the Father, and to accept the embrace that God is continuously extending to us in the person of his Son Jesus Christ.  (This is the introduction to Accepting the Embrace of God: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina by Fr. Luke Dysinger, OSB).

Tranfiguration_cwThe following are my reflections on a portion of our reading for today’s devotion:

"Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.  Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.  Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."  While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!"  When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.  But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Get up and do not be afraid."  And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone (Matthew 17:1-8, NRSV).

Scripture: "While [Peter] was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’" (Matthew 17:5, NRSV, alternate "my Beloved Son").

Observation: Jesus has travelled to a mountaintop to pray with Peter, James, and John – three "pillar" of the early church. While they are there Jesus is transfigured, his face shines like the sun, and his clothes turn "dazzling white" (in the Greek literally brighter than any earthly bleach can make them) and with him are Moses and Elijah. In many ways this is Mose and Elijah, Israel’s great prophets, having a half time pep talk with Jesus. Jesus knows he is headed toward Jerusalem and death on a cross. He has told the disciples this, but they had difficulty accepting his word. Jesus even had to rebuke Peter about "the suffering of the Son of Man" moments after Peter’s had proclaimed him "the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Peter does not recognize what is happening on the mountain, but he knows he wants to stay there (and who wouldn’t!). With an eager to please attitude Peter asks if they build some shelters so they can hang around for a while (forever!). God intervenes and says in essence "close your mouth" and "listen to my Beloved Son."

Application: Today I will work toward listening to Jesus, God’s Beloved Son. This is harder than it looks. I often speak first and ask questions later. Ready-fire-aim/speak is the common sequence of responding to others for many of us. Listening to God allows us to refocus our lives into a ready-aim-fire/speak attitude of offering the right word to the right person at the right moment. But that has to start with "listen to my Beloved Son."

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Beloved Son of God, and you invite us to become God’s sons and daughters – your brothers and sisters. Grant us peace so that we can still our hearts, minds, and mouths long enough to listen to you. Give us grace so that we might listen to the words, the cries, the laughter, and even the shouts of those around us. And when we have listened, really listened, give us the wisdom to offer the appropriate word. Amen.