A big Joy (lectio Divina – Divine reading)
It’s been a while since I wrote about prayer for the last time. Christmas is at our door So I decided to put a post about prayer and about the Birth of Our Lord. What follows is one suggestion for Lectio divina that My father writes every month to “Shalom Maná” a magazine of Shalom Community. For those who don’t know this method of prayer and meditation with God’s Word I have another post about it that might help.
Here’s what my father wrote:
I announce to you a great joy
Whoever reads the gospel according to Luke has certainly noticed that one of its most striking features is the joy. We suggest that you pray with the Word of God according to the method of Lectio Divina, the language relating to the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.
Read today, at least two times LK 1,5 – 2.20.
Within a large segment as suggested, we should choose a few verses that have touched us most. See for example, the verses that speak of joy (cf. Lk 1,184.108.40.206, 2.10).
The evangelist speaks of the messianic joy foretold by the prophets in the OT (Cf. Zeph 3.14-15, Jl 2.21 to 27; Is 12.6, Zc 2.14, 9.9). The joy of the arrival of Emmanuel, God with us. The joy for the presence of God among men. That was the joy announced by angels and experienced by the Anawin, by the poor of Yahweh, of which Mary is a prime example. To human eyes, the facts in this joy might seem, otherwise, reason for sadness or at least concern. The announcement of Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit took questions into the heart of Joseph who was appeased only after divine intervention. The high-risk pregnancy of elderly Elizabeth must have worried his family. The birth of Jesus in an overcrowded city like Bethlehem, a time of census ordered by the Romans must have worried Joseph And so on. But the contradiction is only apparent. The joy of God’s presence makes all relative. Honour, health, property, comfort, security… Everything loses its value before the real Good, the only absolute value. This is what is said or implied in the verses read.
Faced with these verses, meditate how is the joy (or lack of it) playing a role in your life. Do not be afraid to confront your difficulties with situations that are reported in the passage of the word you read. At Christmas time and at the end of the year, many feel an indefinite sadness, not seeing reason for joy. We must let the joy of the birth of Jesus relativize all other facts or feelings. Then, says St. Paul to the Romans, “what will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?”(Romans 8:35)
Your prayer may start like this: ‘Thank you, Lord God Almighty, who hath humbled to the point of making you one of us, like us in everything except sin. Thank you Lord Jesus because you have hidden these things from the wise and doctors, but revealed them to the little ones. Teach us to be poor and humble as you, and give us experience true happiness … ‘ you can put all that God showed your in your meditation.
To complete the last step of lectio, I suggest contemplating a manger or at least a picture of one, with the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph Immerse yourself in this great mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of love and joy.
At the end of your Lectio take your notebook to write down the graces and the good intentions for this day.
O God of goodness, who gave us the Holy Family as an example, grant us to imitate in our homes their virtues, so that united in the bonds of love, one day we can come to the joys of your home. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, our family is yours!