Praying with the Holy Scriptures this Lent: Wednesday, March 13

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: Luke 11:29-32

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.

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them,
"This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here.  At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here."

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.

Those who are in twelve-step program know the pathway of conversion that is summed up in the first three steps.
Step one: Admit that my life is unmanageable.
Step two: Recognize that my loving Father desires to restore sanity in my life.
Step three: make a decision to turn my will over to Him.
In today’s gospel, Jesus speaks about the “outsiders” (the Ninevites) who realized that there life was a mess, and in a powerful way were able to open their hearts to the preaching of Jonah. Jesus sees that “this generation” has become comfortable with the mess of their lives and see no need for conversion.

Of course, the question is this: do we see that our lives are unmanageable? A week ago we allowed dirt to be placed on our forehead as a public sign that said my life is a mess. The dirt shaped in the sign of the cross was also a sign of hope that sanity can be restored if I would make the journey with Christ to surrender my will to the will of the Father.

The Ninevites knew that their life was a mess. Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus, Bartimaeus, the Samaritan woman, the man born blind, the lepers and the many people we will encounter on this Lenten journey were people that recognized that their life was a mess. Are we so intent on sanitizing our life (looking good, suitable) that we fail to see that our coping mechanisms are no longer working for us? Are we so intent on accommodating ourselves to “what is” that we fail to see that Jesus is offering a way out – freedom from slavery?

Some people may want a sign because the pathway of conversion is so scary. The only sign we have is the sign of absolute surrender, the sign of the cross.

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, what are the areas of my life, right now, that are unmanageable? Where have I come to believe that the love of the Father can restore balance and peace in my heart?

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.