April 2021: Lectio Divina
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‘It was very early o the first day of the week and still dark’
Lectio: What the Word says in itself…
This is the Easter Gospel. It is descriptive. We know it was early on the first day of the week. It is the start of a new dawn as darkness gives way to light. The sealing stone was rolled away. Nothing could block God’s gift of new life. Mary Magdalene is first to reach the tomb, then Peter and John who is called ‘the other disciple, the one Jesus loved’ are all running. Is it out of fear, excitement, shock, surprise or confusion? The cloth references and the sight of the empty tomb fills Peter and John with a new understanding and appreciation about the detailed scripture of God’s Word and what it means to rise from the dead. We are like the two disciples. We arrive belatedly in the way we believe and encounter the Lord.
Meditatio: What the Word says to me/us…
People make routine visits to graves of loved ones. I met a man who told me that he only attends one Mass once a year and that is at the annual Cemetery Mass. He was annoyed that due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Mass was postponed. I asked him, why would he not go to Mass on Christmas Day or Easter Sunday? He said that the outdoor Mass in the graveyard, connected him with his people under the open sky and he linked this with working and walking the land that he inherited from them. It was his personal prayer of communion. It was in no way a passive faith – like the linen cloths strewn on the ground of the tomb. It was an expression of the line in the Creed: ‘I believe in the communion of saints, the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.’ I think that we are often too quick to rush to judgement about people’s faith. None of us know what haunts anyone’s heart. ‘He saw and he believed’ (John 20:8).
Oratio: What the Word leads me/us to say…
Sometimes you see a placard with the grim message on it: The End is Nigh. It is a dire warning to us about the end of the world. But the Resurrection of Jesus leads us into God’s future. It means that the destiny of all human beings is bound up with Jesus. The future is in his hands. This is described in St Paul’s Athens sermon in Acts 17: ‘He has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the one he has appointed. He has give proof of this to all by raising him from the dead.’ The resurrection is about our future. It is God’s encounter with us through his relationship with the world that ‘he loves so much’ and it is connected with Jesus and the resurrection. This is promise and covenant woven together to assure us and not to frighten us.
Contemplatio: Being transformed by the Word…
The Incarnation and the Resurrection has changed the history of the world. We pray in the Mass: ‘Save us Saviour of the world for by your cross and resurrection you have set us free.’ Freedom is the word of the Resurrection. Christ has been set free from all that holds back the growth of humanity to God. He is ‘alive and large in the world’ to act with an eternal love.
Actio: Putting the Word into practice…
New Age was a phrase that was hijacked by a movement in the 1970s and 1980s. But it is in Jesus that a precise definition of a New Age has dawned upon us and true transformation will take place through Christ the Mediator-Priest between God and us. St John reminds us that he is ‘close to the Father’s heart’ (John 1:18) and we are drawn into his heart-space of intimacy and love. We easily forget the Prophet Joel’s words: In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people, your sons and daughters will prophesy’ (Joel 2:28). It is an inclusive expression of God’s expansive heart. It is an ideal reading for Confirmation.