Lectio Divina: 2020-11-20

Our Lectio Divina for this Friday took the reading for the Feast of Christ the King A
Mt 25:31-46 “He will take his seat on his throne of glory, and he will separate men one from another.”

One

So much to contemplate in this reading. Which one am I – the sheep or the goat? There is so much need around us all both in our immediate lives, nationally and globally. Hunger, poverty, bereavement, illness all exacerbated by the effects of Covid 19 and it is easy to feel overwhelmed.

At the end of the passage Jesus says “Truly I tell you just as you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it to me” Jesus identifies himself in the person in need. Every time we reach out to a person in need, in whatever way, we are serving Jesus himself and every time we show neglect we are neglecting him.

How well do I care for and support any one less fortunate than myself? As I reflect on my life can I see see when and where I have fallen far short of what Jesus is asking me to do. I ask God for forgiveness for the times when I have and that I may be filled with love and compassion for others.

Two

“I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me!”

There are many, many people in great need, even more now because of the pandemic. People have lost their jobs and will not be able to feed or clothe their children. Charities are suffering great losses and food banks are needed more than ever. People are lonely and need help with their mental health. I am sure our initial thoughts are of sorrow and concern for anyone affected by the pandemic but it isn’t all bad. This time of covid has given us a great opportunity to see, realise, appreciate what is truly important and given us the will and opportunity to help others. We used to eat out maybe several times a week, we visited coffee shops on a regular basis and generally had a great life spending money like it grew on trees. Covid has stopped all that and yes, it is hard not seeing friends and being with our loved ones but it has given us time to appreciate the important things in life. We will never return to that old life. We give more now, we help more now, we pray more now. What a wonderful gift has been given to us through the horrors of covid. I pray for everyone in a terrible place right now and that I will always put others first and help where and when I can – I come Lord to do your will.

Three

Lots to reflect on in this passage about the final judgement but I stuck with my practice of being attentive to the word I am drawn to, as that really works for me. However, as I proceeded, I had a gentle recall of the practice in a group I was occasionally part of. They followed the method of noticing two words: one that comforts and one that challenges. So, this I did.

The lesson was again, for me, against complacency.

I was stopped on: “…and you gave me food”. I could acknowledge that God had blessed me to be able to do this and so with each of the practices he mentions: this was the word of comfort. (Thank you, thank you, Lord that you have allowed me me to do these things, given the gifts to take the opportunities offered.)

Next came the challenging word: “… in so far as you neglected to do this to ONE …you neglected to do it to me.”

I asked myself about THE ONE. We might do much in a general way, or to many individuals and yet have ONE person we resist helping, often one “standing in front of us”.

My heart is stung once more at the memory/ies; I repent more deeply; I receive God’s mercy. Again I hear his gentle reprimand not to be complacent.

Four

I felt challenged by the Lord when doing Lectio this morning. This gospel passage is not about the future but about opening my eyes here and now. Opening my heart to the needs of my neighbour – the hungry, the refugee, the isolated and the lonely.
Jesus identifies with each one. Do I do the same?

If I turn away from my brothers and sisters, I am turning away from Jesus.
The message is simple, Lord. You will judge me on my love and service of others.
The parable does not use fancy words about justice or solidarity, but speaks of food, clothing and reaching out to those in need. It is love in action.

Lord help me to serve you, show me ways in which I can give practical help to those in need.

Five

‘ When the son of man comes in all his glory’. All Christians believe this will happen. But I have never sat and thought what will it like? In all his glory!!!! Apologies but I am using my limited skills to try and imagine the spectacle. I am one of the crowd watching the fabulous New Year’s firework displays. It could be in any major city in the world. It is a spectacular display of colours and noises. People faces look up in awe at the display. They are left speechless. That’s how I imagine all Christians will be like when he comes again. We will experience an utterly unbelievable display of God’s majesty, power and glory. I pray that we have done enough during our lives to be given a ticket to experience the display.

Six

The words that chose me today are, Lord, when did I see………..

The other day I was walking in the park and saw the trees reaching out to one another. I saw that’s how they are made and it’s how I am made, to reach out to others because we are all connected by God who is love.

I am thankful also for the folk who have reached out to me. Thanks be to God.

Seven

This passage is very big on my heart.

From young age, I have used it to drive my passions, for example I have tried to look for Christ in all my encounters; it led me to my work in life and the things I like to do. Having said that, it also makes me very much afraid of ending up as being self righteous which I would hate.

I think our believe in Christ as King and Saviour will lead us through the Holy Spirit to do right. He is the Light on our path.

Judgement belongs only to God in Christ….sheep or goat….

In the end, our salvation is only through Grace by Christ who died for us and I console myself with John 14: 1-3….

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many mansions, if it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

This passage really is my consolation and my belief and my trust in Christ the King whose faithfulness is Great.

Eight

I was a stranger and you invited me in

Early on in my Christian journey a woman came to work in my office. She was a larger than life character with a strong conviction for Jesus. There was something about her that drew people out. She knew how to listen with God’s ears. The first time I opened up to her I remember my spirits lifting and thinking ‘This must be what Jesus is like.’ Safe, accepting and compassionate.

Living in a racially divided community, Pamela knew about rejection, abandonment and injustice, but she was grounded in the belief that God was bigger than all of that and she felt his love. She responded to his call to live out verses 35 and 36.

Pamela passed away at 46 and when she walked out of her kitchen for the last time, her bread rolls, which she was making for someone’s funeral wake, were baking in the oven. She was an echo of God’s love to the end.

Our friendship was a turning point in my understanding of a living loving God. Her witness lives on in those that were privileged to know her and I am ever grateful to God that I was one of those people.

Dear Lord, you have given me the gift of a new day. Help me not to look back with regret at what I could have done better. Instead let me use that energy for your good. Let your love be released in me and touch all those that I may encounter today.

Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Nine

This passage is one I realise I need to act on, with conviction.
The Message translates ‘the least’ as ‘those being overlooked or ignored’.
I believe we are doing that in our parish for those without IT.

I am reminded of the widow petitioning the unjust judge.
I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me and those who also need to act, to become sheep.

Ten

Immediately the first word struck me afresh – When! Not if…

All the nations – not just the Jews, not just the Christians, not just anybody but everybody – all the nations.

And the people are separated, sheep from goats, the blessed and the damned.

What always niggles me is that parts of me fall into each category; as Dylan Thomas wrote, “we are not wholly bad or good, who live our lives under Milk Wood”

How then will the decision be made?

Of course, we don’t know, and are probably grateful that the decision isn’t ours to make.

But the point of the story is that the way we treat “others” is the truth about how we treat Jesus. And when was it that we discovered that in any case there are no “others”, only an extended self?[-p=/;’

Sorry – Mylo just made a contribution; he likes walking on the keyboard.

And it also follows that the way we treat “others” is in reality the way we treat ourselves.

As Saul found on the road to Damascus “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting”.

That was a shock – he thought he was persecuting heretic people! (And just about every Christian denomination has carried on where he left off.)

And that realisation changed his life, and, through his writings, ours.

The challenge for me – and it’s a huge challenge – is to see Jesus in everyone I meet, and not to make judgements that are in effect judgements on myself.

Forgive us, as we forgive… it’s the same process.

I’m still work in progress.

Eleven

‘Sheep’ versus ‘goats’; ‘blessed’ versus ‘cursed’.

One purpose of Lectio Divina is not to be complacent with yourself but to arise things in need to change, to act on them. The Gospel of today has let me in turmoil.

It seems that the example used and the need of separating sheep and goats came from something that was common at the time of Jesus in between shepherds that had both together in one herd. The sheep love to be left in the open while the goats loved to be sheltered, therefore the shepherds separated them at night time.

Though in reality the Gospel tells about the criterion used by God to separate not animals but people at the end of times; which is Charity, or Love.

I have been reflecting of the generosity at world level. It is shocking to learn that the most generous countries are not the rich ones; where Myanmar, Indonesia, countries like Libya, Kenya and an infinity of little and poor ones are in between the most generous ones.

The World Giving Index is an annual report which ranks countries in the world according to how charitable they are. By understanding ‘giving’ in various aspects of giving behaviour: helping a stranger, donating money to charity and volunteering in an organization. It was surprising seeing that in ‘helping a stranger’ none of the rich countries were at the top, and in volunteering were also many poor countries at the top before them. Isn’t it something to reflect about? I never understood charity as just giving money, but giving yourself, your time, your talents.

I have always had so much problem with a pushing ‘fund rising’ attitude from lot of people, grounded in honest aims I guess, but very pushing nevertheless, especially when using your children to reach you. I remember my oldest daughter being put in ridicule in front of her class in primary for not bringing the pound for a ‘good cause’, (we never knew which one); regardless of the charities we support in our church or privately. And letting us not the freedom in choosing whom we may consider a good organisation that deserve to be helped, popular or not. I don’t like to be ‘forced’ to give to a ‘Red Nose’ appeal, (with all my respects for the organisation that I don’t have anything against them), and not being able to help The Church in Need, for example, because I have not the Bank of England to give money to every single organisation or charity.

By the way, for me, charity, as money giving, and love are not the same thing neither. People can give money but don’t want to look at the face of those who ask for food. At the end everybody will be judge on the mercy and love shown to others in need.
Am I capable of seeing, loving and serving Jesus in them, and do it with joy?

I don’t want to listen my Lord telling me ‘go away with your curse upon you’. The ones cursed were sent away because they did nothing, when they were able of doing so, excusing themselves in not recognising the Lord in other people.

This morning I read that till Saturday Pope Francis is in Assisi, with over 2000 “change-makers” from all corners of the earth, participating virtually in the “The Economy of Francesco” global initiative. Where world experts in economy and social sciences come together trying to find real answers to transform hope for the rights of future generations into reality. Imagining and developing an economy that is inclusive, sustainable and that can help our brothers and sisters to live together in our common home. I pray for they can find real solutions and that the world implement them soon. It shouldn’t be anybody in need when God gave us enough for all.

And while great people can do big things, for me, today, I think the Lord is calling me to concentrate in small, in giving myself by doing little things but with great love. Holy Spirit lead me, help me to see, love and serve Our Lord in other people, to the best of my abilities, and do it with joy. Blessed be the Lord.