"Prayer is the beginning and the end. Reading the Bible is not like reading a novel or history book." (although it does contain books which are fictional and some that are historical) "It should begin with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to the Word of God. Scripture reading should end with a prayer that the Word will bear fruit in our lives, helping us to become holier and more faithful people." USCCB
One of my favorite ways to reflect on Scriptures is called lectio devina, where one reads a passage once, takes time to reflect, reads it a second time, takes time to reflect a second time, reads a third time, and reflects a third time, at each reflection listening carefully to what the Holy Spirit is speaking to one's heart, mind and soul.
I will read today's readings first, then choose which one I will reflect upon.
It will be today's second reading. They all call to me in different ways, but this will be the one.
Think of God's mercy, brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God. Do not model yourselves on the behavior of the world around you, but let your behavior change, modelled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and to know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do. Rom. 12:1-2
Rinse and repeat twice.
Now ready to begin. What stood out? "What is good? What is it that God wants? What is the perfect thing to do?" I remember the first reading in Jeremiah, his burning desire to speak, struggling with fear of what others might think. People did often reject him. He spoke as a fiery prophet. I remember Peter in the Gospel, taking Jesus aside and speaking what was in his heart and being emphatically rejected, by Jesus no less. For me, very hurtful. Maybe Peter had tougher skin than I and Jesus knew he could take it. Peter did not understand the task that Jesus had to do, the extreme religious intolerance that He had to overcome, and Jesus was frustrated with him. Later Peter would reject Jesus three times in his hour of agony. Not the perfect thing to do.
I wonder if Jesus comforted Peter later...aside. Remember that comment about getting behind me...?
"Think of God's mercy."
I see Jesus later, not in today's readings, but something that comes to mind, Jesus serving fish and bread for breakfast to the disciples that had abandoned him. I see Peter, forgiven and still loved by Jesus, at Pentecost, baptizing thousands of people of every language who finally understand one another, who have found a way through the aid and power of the Holy Spirit to worship God as thinking beings, overcoming language barriers. Wow, what mercy. We are all still benefiting. Just look at it this way--internet is the fruit of pentecostal communication!
What do I learn? What is the perfect will of God? In my life. Mercy. It is easy to look at Jeremiah and Peter and Jesus and provide commentary about their actions. It is also easy to want the adreneline rush of being a prophet, a prophet who believes that they alone bear the word of God when no one else understands. However, it doesn't feel like the right kind of good. My "righteousness" ends up being won at the expense of the ignorance or mistakes of others. Holy Spirit, how can I turn this around? Hmm. It does feel good to be right. What is right?
Pause. Open the eyes of my heart. Look over the Scriptures again. What is the word which speaks to my heart.
"As thinking human beings," I will hold that in my heart today. In my mind. I do not know what fruit it will bear, but that is my "word of the day". I suspect it will involve making meals, listening to those around me, modelling good decision-making for my children regarding how we will spend our day, learning as my children model kindness to me. Maybe writing someone a note, coming to a mutual understanding, forgiving and being forgiven...these things are right. After a day like that we always feel all good.
End in prayer. Thank you Holy Spirit for inspiring Paul to write to his friends, the church in Rome. Thank you St. Paul...we appreciate you taking the time to write. Heavenly Father, thank you for your love, providence, and care today...In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.