November 2019: Lectio Divina
Lectio Divina (Romans 6:5-11) Sharing in Christ’s Death – and in His Life
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Lectio: What the Word says in itself
This text is peppered with talk of death and life/resurrection. At ﬁrst glance, it seems Paul speaks only of the natural human process of living and dying, with the added hope of resurrected life for believers. A closer look, however, shows that Paul is speaking primarily of freedom from sin while using the language of death and resurrection.
In Paul’s view, sin arose through Adam, and death was a consequence of sin (Rom 5:12). Since all have sinned, death is universal. Jesus died and was raised, so death and its cause – sin – have been overcome. God saved us through the redemption in Christ Jesus (Rm 3:21-4).
This is a primary insight for Paul. Faith, in his eyes, is the recognition and acceptance of what God has given through Christ. A second insight for Paul is that through Christ, believers are at peace with God and can hope to share his glory. Even their suﬀerings must be seen in the light of Christ’s, who showed by his own suﬀering how much God loved each one (Rm 5:1-11). If sin and death were represented by Adam, now grace and life are represented by Christ (Rm 5:12-21).
Christians, therefore, do not receive new life only at the resurrection: they have a new life even now, in their freedom from sin and its eﬀects. Sin has been overcome by Christ in his own ﬂesh (Rm 8:3), but it remains a reality for Christians, despite their having died to it in baptism (Rm 6:1-4). The help of the Spirit will be necessary for them to achieve complete victory.
Meditatio: What the Word says to me/us
The repeated use of the word ‘death’ may lead us to explore our vulnerability when facing up to bereavement, ﬁnancial strain, illness, advancing age or other problems that may be confronting us. Likewise, the awareness of ‘freedom’ from sin and death in Jesus may bring us great consolation. Does the phrase ‘… so that the body of sin might be destroyed …’ ﬁll us with an awareness of having been made new by Christ in some way? We may choose also to reﬂect on the ways in which we are still ‘enslaved’ by sin, or on the myriad forms of slavery many people in our world must endure because of the failure of powerful people and systems to respect the fundamental human rights of others. How can we play our part in bringing to others something of the freedom won for us in Christ?
Oratio: What the Word leads me/us to say
Lord Jesus, help me to recognise the love you give to me everyday, especially through my relationships with other people. Unlike you, I readily ﬁnd reasons to postpone showing love to others. Thank you for your great generosity in sacriﬁcing yourself in love for my sake. Help me to be conscious that you are with me in my daily struggle against sin. May my baptism inspire me to be an instrument of your freedom and love. Help me to see other people and all of creation as icons of your love in our world.
Contemplatio: Being transformed by the Word
We look back without hurry over any words or phrases in the passage that may have struck us earlier, pondering how they bring out an awareness of all that God has done for us in Christ, out of love. We relish how it feels to be made free and loved unreservedly, as we consider how this brings us to a deeper awareness of how God looks upon us, and the signiﬁcance that has for us today.
Actio: Putting the Word into practice
Reﬂection on this passage may lead us to resolve to live out our baptism more intentionally. This could take concrete expression in any number of ways. For instance, it might lead us to form or join a lectio divina group to explore with others our experience of God in your daily life, through reﬂection on his Word. Alternatively, it might prompt us to share more of our time or expertise with people who are in moments of crisis or despair and need someone willing to listen to them. We might likewise be moved to appropriate God’s redemption by celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation more frequently.
Rev Thomas Dunne Boherlane