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, First Sunday of Lent
Text: Matthew 25: 31-46
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.
Jesus said to his disciples: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?'
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.'
And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
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.
There is something about this gospel that disturbs me. While I might see myself as kind and generous, a giving and compassionate person, here are times, maybe too often than I care to even admit, when I know I have deliberately passed by the needy without offering any help. I am aware of my rationalizations and the many reasons I pass by the beggars and the homeless.
Perhaps, even on a smaller scale, I am disturbed by the many times I have avoided “the ill.” Yes, there are times I visit somene in the hospital - and I can be attentive to the person who has a passing sickness and encourage them on their way to health. But the chronically ill, like the chronically poor, become an overwhelming burden.
Jesus, maybe you are challenging me today not be so proud as I think I am such a good disciple of yours - and take this Lenten journey seriously to see my failures and address them with you this day.
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, I bring to you this day these people whom I have avoided, whose needs I have not wanted to address. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see you in every moment, in every situation, in every person.
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 hat we need and all that we have asked for has now been placed in the hands of the One who loves us so.