Praying with the Holy Scriptures this Lent: Monday April 15

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, Monday of Holy Week
Text: John 12:1-11

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.

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, "Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days' wages and given to the poor?" He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.
So Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."
The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.

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.

For the first three days of Holy Week, the readings draw us to the tragic figure of Judas, the one who would betray Jesus. Today we see him in his righteousness objecting to the extravagant love of Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. “This perfume could have been sold and the money could have been given to the poor!” The evangelist comments that Judas had no real love of the poor but, as one who held the common purse, would have helped himself to any money received from others.

That aside, today we might want to look at Judas the crusader. Today he is the self-proclaimed champion of the poor. Others portray him as the disappointed zealot for the cause of Jewish liberation. What was the “cause” he was defending that brought him to betray Jesus? Was he unnerved by the gentleness of Jesus – the one about whom Isaiah speaks in today’s first reading: “a bruised reed he shall not break and a smoldering wick he shall not quench.”

Religion is full of crusaders. Crusaders can be so blinded by the cause that they trample over everything and everyone in the way. As the drama of Holy Week unfolds, it will be easy to identify the crusaders who eventually put Jesus to death. Can we identify that spirit of righteousness in us? Where might the Father be inviting us to embrace a spirit of gentleness?

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 prayerfully ask the Lord for the spirit of discernment, to see if there a situation in my life where God is calling me away from a "crusader spirit" to embrace a spirit of gentleness.

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.