Praying with the Holy Scriptures this Lent: Wednesday April 17
In the spirit of the pastoral letter written by our bishop at the beginning of the season of Lent, where he urges us to "take one step with the Holy Spirit this Lent and so deepen our love for the inspired Sacred Scriptures," we would like to lead you in a prayerful encounter with the scriptures for each day of the season of Lent. This is not a bible study but a heart-felt encounter with the One who has longed to reveal himself to you in prayer.
The manner in which we will read the scriptures is called "Lectio Divina," an ancient method of reading, meditating, praying and contemplating the living word of God. Each day we will take the scripture of the day (the scripture of the daily Mass) and guide you through this beautiful process:
Today, Wednesday of Holy Week
Text: Matthew 26: 14-25
Step One: Lectio:
Slowly read the text below. As in all prayer, it is God who takes the first step, and so God now desires to speak to you through this holy text. Savor the words, but more importantly, savor the love with which the Lord speaks these words to you today.
One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?"
They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, "Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?"
He said, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The teacher says, "My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples."' The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.
When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said,
"Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me."
Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, "Surely it is not I, Lord?"
He said in reply, "He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born."
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?"
He answered, "You have said so.”
Step Two: Meditatio:
What does the biblical text say to us? I become aware of the thoughts and feelings I have as I encounter this holy text. The following reflection may help you today to focus on the meaning of the text for your life today.
One might wonder how important was Judas in the whole plot to have Jesus put to death? Did the authorities really need an inside informant? Repeatedly, we hear in the gospels of the public nature of Jesus’ preaching – he could have been arrested any number of times! How important was the information that Judas could provide?
Perhaps we are invited to see that more evil comes from division within than from opposition without. Just as God has a plan, so too does the evil one have a plan – and his plan is to destroy by creating division within the ranks. Internal division creates confusion and discouragement among all the members. In this was Satan’s plan – to intensify the evil of Good Friday by introducing Judas and his betrayal into the plot.
Think about it in terms of the family. A family united in heart and purpose can fight off all kinds of external threats, pull together in tough times and find that the bonds of love will prevail against any outside force. But once there is division in the family, once the bonds of love are compromised, discouragement so weakens us that we no longer have the power to move ahead.
For this reason, in the gospel of John Jesus prays for unity. “That they may be one, as you Father are in me and as I am in you. That they may be one in us.” May we embrace that prayer this day for all families, for our parish, for our community, for our world.
Step three: Oratio:
What do we say to the Lord in response to His word? What are the petitions or praise I offer him? What are the graces I am seeking as I encounter this holy text?
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Step Four: Contemplatio
We take the time to be silent, to allow our heart to rest in the One who loves us so. We simply allow our hearts to be still for all that we need and all that we have asked for has now been placed in the hands of the One who loves us so.