Praying with the Holy Scriptures this Lent: Tuesday, March 12

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, Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
Text: Matthew 6:7-15

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:
"In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

"If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."

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.

Of all the petitions of the Our Father, Jesus singles out this petition as if to underscore that this is the most important in our relationship with God and others. Not only does Jesus teach us to pray “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” He wants to make the point that the measure of mercy with which we measure will be measured back to us!

Jesus certainly knew that the one area of discipleship that is so challenging for us is the area of offering forgiveness to others. How hard it is for us to have a vulnerable heart once we’ve been hurt! How hard it is for us to let go of a past offense and not ruminate over what has been done to us. For a moment, look at the hardened heart that cannot let go of past offenses. We can certainly obsess over the past in such a way that we cannot move forward. In that state of withholding forgiveness, our hardened heart will inevitably pass forward hurt to many others. We close ourselves off to God who is Mercy itself! We place ourselves into our own private place of torment – our own private Hell.

Jesus suggests that the way out of this place of torment is to forgive those who have offended us. But what does that mean and how can we possibly do that?

Forgiveness begins with the recognition that all of us are in this battlefield where bullets are flying and we just happened to get caught in the crossfire. Those who have hurt us have themselves been wounded in an endless line of cause and effect where victims have become perpetrators. Forgiving others comes from a heart that wants to see all the violence end, all the hurts to be healed and all of us move forward with life. If I desire that this endless chain of passing on hurts cease, once and for all, then my heart has become vulnerable, and able to receive the healing that God desires for me.

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?

I bring before the Lord any inability I may have in this present moment to let go of a past offense an the memory of one who has hurt me. I call upon the Holy Spirit that my own heart may be softened not only that I may extend forgiveness to others but also that I may now receive the very healing of God’s forgiveness in my 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 hat we need and all that we have asked for has now been placed in the hands of the One who loves us so.