Lectio Divina 2020-06-26

One

“Who do you say I am?” Who do I say that Jesus is? How does this make a difference to my life and how I live it? I have to embrace and accept all of Jesus and not just the bits I like.
Peter received divine inspiration which led him to the answer that he gave. He didn’t know about Jesus because of books but through his relationship with and experience of him – living with him, watching, and listening to what Jesus was saying.

Who does God say that I am? – Jesus told Simon who Simon was. He gave him a new name – Peter (not a well known name in Aramaic or Hebrew) which means rock and what a huge commission he gave him yet at the end of the passage Peter became a stumbling block. His thoughts were worldly and not focused on the divine. Jesus knows me and knows what I am capable of even though I get things wrong and seem to loose my way. My weaknesses can become my strengths. I have to keep my focus and eyes on God.

Two

The Lord stood by me and gave me power……
it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father…..
Sometimes it’s easier for me to know God in my struggles, because it is so apparent my strength and love is coming from God; within, without and all around me.

Three

Matthew 16 verse 15
“But what about you? “ he asked “ Who do you say I am? “
On reading these two questions I felt that they were directed to me .
It would be easy for me to repeat the reply that Peter gave .
Yes I believe Jesus Christ is the son of the living God. What does this mean personally to me ?

Jesus is my Saviour part of my inner being.
Jesus dwells in my heart by faith.
Jesus gives strength to my soul
Jesus loves me as I am
Jesus gives me hope
Jesus gives me peace.

Four

The direct question put to the disciples by Jesus made me wonder how I would have answered. Peter response was truly wonderful. I feel inadequate sometimes that I don’t tell people I love the Lord. Do I miss the opportunity to profess my faith to people? Do I wait for other people to ask me about my faith? How can I help others to talk about God? Then the word courage came to mind. Peter showed great faith but also great courage in his response. I am going to pray that from now on the Holy Spirit will give me more courage to express and explain how wonderful life can be when on our faith journey with the living Lord.

Five

I took the reading from Universalis and at first read John 15: 15-19. I then realised this was for the vigil mass so then read Matthew 16: 13-19. In my meditation, unintentionally, I conflated the two. Anyway these are my thoughts. Jesus has spent a lot of time explaining to the disciples that he is the Messiah but they had not understood. At last Peter tells him he is the Son of God because this has been revealed to him by God. Jesus can now build his church on this rock. If we acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God he can also continue to build his church on us. There are two small words at the end with enormous consequences: follow me. This may take us where we would rather not go but as Jesus says elsewhere “I am with you always”.

Six

Jesus needed someone to build His church on. It had to be someone who had complete belief in Jesus as the Son of God. Peter proved to have this faith. The importance being his faith could only have come from God. We can’t learn faith or acquire it by any other means than directly from God. I am truly blessed that I have been given this wonderful gift of faith but how strong is my belief? Even Peter, the Rock, still questioned. It is so hard to want to be fully open to God and live a Christian life when we have to live in this world with all that gives us. I pray for tolerance and perseverance at this time.

Seven

My words were ‘on this rock I will build my church’.
Peter the rock seemed a little unsteady in this passage – one minute being inspired by God then the next , speaking in a way that let Satan use his mouth ! Peter eventually learnt that stability only comes from Jesus the rock through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I love the imagery Jesus gives us. A rock -solid, unmoving, steady, supportive. In these strange times I need to keep a firm focus on the one who loves us – Jesus the rock.
I heard a wise saying recently ‘ where your focus goes your energy flows’

Eight

“…on this rock”

These words always puzzled me before I was able to articulate why. The puzzlement I eventually realised was because it is Jesus himself who is The Rock and his only “replacement” is The Holy Spirit.

Some years ago, I dabbled in New Testament Greek. On looking up this passage, it seemed to me that the “Cephas” translated into “Petrus” that Jesus gave to Simon was not “the immovable, firm Rock” that I had been led to believe, but a “stone”, even “a pebble” or “rolling stone”. This lit up my heart and mind and I saw the passage – rightly or wrongly – in a new light.

It then seemed to me that while Jesus was indeed saying that Simon would eventually be leader/ spokesperson for the Fellowship of Believers. However, with something of a smile, if not a chuckle or belly laugh, maybe Jesus was at the same time acknowledging all the endearing defects of Simon.

Outwardly, Simon was no Rock, but something of a spontaneous bumbler. He blurted out things from his heart. Sometimes, as in this passage, they were directly from God. At other times, not so much so. Jesus inferred he was influenced by Satan when our man tried to dissuade him from going to his death. On Tabor he blurted out senseless stuff and when he called to Jesus to let him walk on the water, we all know he’d got a bit above himself and didn’t make it!

However, Jesus saw what was deep in the heart and his love, compassion, deep respect and appreciation for Simon shine through. He knew what God the Father had intended for Peter from all eternity and he gave it his whole-hearted support.

This relationship between Jesus and Peter touches me deeply. I realise again how I myself am known and loved; deeply respected and appreciated. I realise that my divine “placement” is supported by all of heaven who will do all in their power to ease my way as long as I surrender my will. I notice, too, that I have similar traits to Peter and other defects which the Lord overlooks because he sees my heart and my contrite spirit. The same goes for all of us, of course.

I stay gazing on the duo before us and want to remain a long time with what is filling my heart.

Nine

As so often, it’s challenging to read and think afresh about a passage that is so familiar.
What struck me anew was the apparent contradiction, almost in the same breath, of Simon being re-named Peter and then almost brutally dismissed as Satan! Wow!
We’ve rather lost the heavy implication of the name Peter, so familiar, because in English we have only “petrified” – metaphorically turned to stone, rigid with fear, or literally turned to stone, calcified in a petrifying well.
But here, Peter, Greek Petros, Latin Petrus, Aramaic Kephas, standing for authority, signified by possession of the keys of the kingdom, as he’s generally depicted in art.
But then also Satan – the Accuser. Not easy to reconcile these apparent opposites. And maybe we aren’t expected to reconcile them.
Binding and loosing [not losing!] – again not words we habitually use, but possibly the simplest equivalents may be condemning and forgiving.
The passage appears to imply that what Peter [and later, Matt 18:18, almost identical words, the church in general] decided on earth would be carried up to heaven, as it were.
But an arguably more perceptive understanding recognises that the decision on earth authoritatively mirrors what is already decided in heaven. “Having been bound in heaven” and “having been loosed in heaven” are the literal constructions.
It’s perhaps easier to believe that Peter, and hence the church, might be inspired to make such decisions in line with authentic heavenly values, than that they decide the values of heaven.

But Satan? And why “get behind me!”? Do we want our accusers out of sight or where we can face them? Did Peter’s rebuke represent a genuine temptation for Jesus?
For me the reassuring thing is that even Peter, the rock, the foundation stone, was not perfect, and that minutes or even seconds after he was literally Christened Peter, he could still put his metaphorical foot in it.
There is yet hope for us lesser mortals.

PS interesting that on this Feast of SS Peter and Paul there is no mention of Paul

Ten

Mathew 16 13-23

For this truth did not come to you from any human being, but it was given to you directly by my Father in heaven

I am always amazed at the way that God gets my attention. He has a secret key that unlocks a part of me to His presence, drawing me ever closer to Him. It’s a deeply personal experience beyond explanation, but I know it’s God.
Sometimes it may be a line of poetry, the long shadows on the beach early evening, my granddaughter lost in imaginative play, the warmth of the first sun of summer on my skin, a conversation that goes to a depth it hasn’t gone before. These moments take my breath away and I experience God opening my mind to His beauty and truth. I am left in awe and at the edge of a love that I have only glimpsed before that goes on and on in a depth that I have not yet realised.

Thank you Lord for this Lectio that has drawn me back into your presence

Eleven

I don’t know why this Gospel has been so easy for me. Maybe because it is very well known, or perhaps I felt the Lord has asked me the same question many times before; ‘Who do you say I am?’

It is interesting to have a look at what I received with this same Lectio years ago, and, no surprise here, my answer was the same ‘you are my Lord and my God.’

Though today I was caught by something else, it read for me ‘You are a happy, ( blessed in other versions), woman’.

Apart from the obvious, I am happy to be alive, and for the fact that family and friends are as well. However, it has a deeper meaning for me. Yes, I am a happy woman for our Father has granted me knowledge of Himself and His Son, and has sent His Holy Spirit to live in me, for I could too live in the Spirit.

Certainly, that by themselves are more than enough reasons to celebrate, but there are so many more gifts and graces I receive continuously… One of them is this group of Lectio Divina and every single person in it; from which I always find nourishment and comfort for my soul.

Another one is our hosts, nowadays are the Xaverian Fathers, (previously before the Discalzed Carmelite Priests). How many times so many of us have said ‘It is so good to be here’. It is a luxus, especially in our society, to find such a peaceful and beautiful environment, where everybody is welcome. Being able to pray Lectio Divina in our normal space, the Oratory, has always being a privilege, perhaps never more valued that in the current circumstances.

Nevertheless, as also so many times commented by so many, particularly during the months we were so welcoming hosted by Our Lady and St Edwards, Lectio Divina would work wherever we were, even in the middle of a park, because ‘Where two or more are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them. ‘ ( Mt 18:20) How true during these months of online Lectio.

And so, yes, how happy/ blessed I am indeed! Thank you Lord for your so many blessings granted to me and to our group.