Creator and Lord of the Universe

LECTIO DIVINA:  Holy Reading

Sunday, November 25th, 2012,  is the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.   

The Readings are for Year B are:

Daniel 7:13-14.

Apocalypse 5:1-8.

John 18:33-37.

For those praying the Divine Office the Psalter takes Week Two.

Before beginning Lectio Divina, let us look at the week ahead in Liturgy, the Australian Church, and our Social Justice Calendar.

In the Liturgy this week:

November 30:  St. Andrew (Feast).

Our Social Justice Calendar: 

November 25:  International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

November 25:  On this day in 1981, the Declaration was passed on the Elimination of all forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief.

November 29:  U.N. International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Also on November 29th in 1980, Dorothy Day died.  She was the Founder of the Catholic Worker Movement.

November 30:  On this day in 1971, the Synod of Catholic Bishops issued the Statement, “Justice For the World”

December 1:  World Aids Day.

In the Australian Church this week:  

November 25:  The Diocese of Ballarat remembers the death of Bishop James O’Collins in 1983.

November 29:  The Diocese of Parramatta celebrates the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral in 2003.

Lectio:  Read the first reading from the  Prophet  Daniel, chapter 7, verses 13-14.    Read it aloud.  Read it slowly.  Be aware of the Holy Spirit placing unction on the message of this text.  When your heart responds to a word or a line, or a phrase, this is the Holy Spirit touching your heart and calling forth your response.

Meditatio:  A little background to the text will help us understand it and make a response to it.  

The Prophet Daniel, prior to this text, has seen (in a dream), the succession of empires which would dominate the world of his times.  He then saw that after these world empires, there would come the Messianic Age.  The characteristics of this Age (Messianic Kingdom) would be:

It won’t be of this world. The kingdom would last forever. The Kingdom will include all believers All believers will be united with their Lord (King), in His glory.

The word “servants” has the meaning of “followers”, not slaves.

The text is typical of Apocalyptic literature: dreams and visions.

After much pondering, take time to respond to the text.  You may want to ponder for a day or more, as you work, walk, garden…sit and watch the ocean, the lake, the river.  Just take time.

I share my response to this reading in Evangelizatio No. 1.

The responsorial Psalm:  THE LORD IS KING, HE IS ROBED IN MAJESTY.

Psalm 92 is the first of the royal Psalms, celebrating the kingship of God, as Creator and Lord of the Universe, whose eternal tranquillity calms the restless sea.  The Christology of this Psalm can be seen clearly in Mark 4:39 when the Messiah-King rebukes the wind and the sea.

Pray with the verses given, throughout the coming week, and mark the lines or phrases which are especially for you.  Repeat these in quiet prayer.

Lectio:  Read the Second Mass Reading:  Apocalypse 5:1-8.        

Meditatio: Some background to help us with our response.  The text doesn’t require much explanation.  It is one of those texts in which one can bather– a glorious portrayal of the Divinity of Jesus Christ.  However, the following points need highlighting:

The Resurrection of Jesus is the event that has inaugurated the new age.  It is the sign that the time of crisis has dawned.  The Resurrection of Jesus is equivalent to His installation as Universal King  (cf. 1 Cor. 15:20-28).

Jesus’ work fulfils the promise of Exodus 19:1.  Belonging to a kingdom means being under God’s rule, not Satan’s rule.  All who hear and obey God’s word are priests: mediators between God and the rest of humanity.  Verse 6 may have been part of early Christian liturgy, and has been inserted here.

Verse 7 takes us back to Daniel 7:13, and Zechariah 12:10, thus combining two Old Testament texts.

Verse 8 is a divine oracle.  It is the first of only two oracles in the Book of Revelation, where God is explicitly identified as the speaker.  21:5-8 is the other.

Most of this background can be gleaned in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, on the Book of Revelation.

For those who are interested in Biblical Archaeology, Joanne Lumley’s Greek Odyssey, available on DVD, shows (in one episode), the Island of Patmos, and the cave where St. John lived and wrote the Book of the Apocalypse.

I share my response in Evangelizatio 2

The Gospel Verse is taken from Mark 11:9-10, and speaks directly of Jesus Christ the King:  BLESSED IS HE WHO INHERITS THE KINGDOM OF DAVID OUR FATHER; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD.

Lectio:  The Gospel is John 18:33-37.

Meditatio:  Some background to the text which will help us respond. St. Augustine offers a magnificent commentary on this Gospel.  The main point of the commentary is that everyone reborn in Christ becomes the kingdom which is no longer of the world.  God has snatched us from the powers of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of his Beloved Son.  And, of this Kingdom, Jesus said:  “My Kingdom is not of this world.”  Therefore, the responsibility for each of us is enormous.  It is the responsibility of Gospel living in our everyday choices.  We live in the world, and yet our values are not of the world.  We live in the world, and yet act as if we don’t live in the world.  We walk, (or should walk), as the psalm says, “with blameless heart”, without malice, without the ways of acting which deny other human beings the respect they deserve.  

Some of the events in our Social Justice Calendar for this coming week are good reminders of how Christians are called to live.

Read the text again.   Ponder on it before making your response.  I share mine in Evangelizatio No. 3.

EVANGELIZATIO – my lived response to the texts given to me by the Church for my “formation”.  In responding to these texts I am listening with the ear of my heart, taking their riches into my life and changing all the time more and more into Christ.

I am called to respond to the text, “I gazed into the visions of the night.”  For those of us who “watch” in the night, or who get up to pray quietly before dawn, the darkness holds the mystery of Divine Presence.  It is a Presence which enfolds one.  It can’t be explained, but can certainly be experienced.  God created Night and Day.  Both Night and Day are characterised by Divine colours.  The colours of the night are revealed when, like Daniel, we take time to gaze into the Night, and listen to God speaking in the Night, especially the Night of our lives, when we’re plunged into a darkness over which we have no control.  I pray for the grace of faith to gaze into the night-time of my life and there respond to God who calls to me in the darkness.

I am called to respond to the truth of Christ being the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  In this Year of Grace, where I am challenged to “start afresh from Christ”, I am taken back to my beginnings – being born into a family of believers, clothed at Baptism with Christ, introduced to the Sacramental life of the Church.  On an “everyday” level, it is the Eucharist I receive that gives me the grace to begin again and to hold my Beginning (Christ), in my hand.  And my End?  Bl. Columba Marmion once wrote:  “God is our beginning and our end.  I adore God and lose myself in God.”  I say the same about Christ, the Beginning and the End of all I am, and all I do.  I adore Christ Jesus and lose myself in Christ Jesus.

The ways of the world are pitted against the ways of the kingdom which is not of this world.  In this world, we value possessions, dispose of human beings as representing dollars.  People are so easily made redundant.  In the Australian Parliament  the games of name-calling, slashing one another to bits, are all played out.  In fact, there is so much thrown at us, which is totally “of this world”, that it is hard to find the characteristics of the Kingdom “which is not of this world.”  Racial slurs and ethnic prejudice – these are not of Christ’s Kingdom.  So, I am going to read Mark’s Gospel this week, - the whole Gospel, since it is the end of the Year of Mark’s Gospel.  And as I read, I am going to list every single “tenet” of Christian life.  Clement of Alexandria, writing before 215 A.D., taught that “the commandments of the Lord shine clearly, enlightening the eyes.”  I pray for the enlightenment to live in a Kingdom “not of this world.”   Sr Joan Chittister says, “we must be healers in a harsh society.”  She also says that we don’t flee from the world, but rather we shed one set of attitudes for another, those of Jesus Christ.    It is up to me and to each of us to take this on board.

Lectio Divina is a way of life, not a method of prayer.  It is about reading (and listening), reflecting, praying in tune with the Holy Spirit within me, resting in God, responding in the way I live, and continually pondering on the Scriptures.  The traditional Latin words for this way of prayer are:  Lectio, Meditatio, Oratio, Contemplatio, Evangelizatio and Ruminatio. 

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