Lectio Divina is a form of meditation rooted in liturgical celebration that dates back to early monastic communities. It involves focused reading of Scripture (lectio), meditation on the Word of God (meditatio), contemplation of the Word and its meaning in one’s life (contemplatio) and ends with prayer (oratio). For this Lent, we will have a Lectio Divina resource for the readings for Ash Wednesday and the Sundays of Lent that can be used by individuals or in group settings.
Authority. Today, we celebrate the feast of the chair of St. Peter. And what this means for us, is that today’s feast gives us an invitation to think about the structure of our church. The way in which our church is organized and put together so that we can have some certainty about what it means to believe.
Because important organizations in our lives have structure, they have rules. When we look at the United States for example, we have a Constitution that guides us and helps us to understand what it is we can and cannot do. Games have certain rules that are necessary for the game to be fair. And the church is no different. The church too, has rules, that help it to guide people in the proper way to live in fidelity to the Lord Jesus.
Such as what we celebrate today. When Peter is asked for his statement of faith about the Lord Jesus, the foundation of the church is set in motion by Jesus himself. Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the chosen one by God to save the world, is the beginning of the foundation of Peter’s leadership in Christ. And because of this steadfast statement of faith in Jesus the Messiah, Peter is given special authority to guide the church. Peter is given the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
This structure helps us to have certitude about what the Lord Jesus teaches and how it is that we are supposed to live these teachings in our lives. With deep faith in God let us pray for the Pope and for the bishops, that they might be faithful in their roles of leadership. And let us pray for each one of us, that guided by the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the church and the Lord Jesus himself we might become faithful followers of Jesus.
Who is it that you cast your lot in with? Is it God? Or is it some person, or group or cause, that relies on your own efforts? That is the question that is before us today. Over the past few weeks, we have seen a lot of division. We have seen people really get mean to each other with terrible words and phrases. We have just finished a brutal election season, which, even though it seems impossible, seems to get worse and worse. So, who are you with?
The temptation can be to rely more on our own efforts than to trust in God. Paul encounters this in the second reading for today. Some side with him, some side with Apollos, some side with Cephas, or Saint Peter. But when this happens, there is too much trust in the messenger and not in the message. We forget that the disciple of Christ is not more important than Christ. So, who are you with?
The first reading is similar. In the sections that come before what we heard today, it is King Ahaz who forsakes God and trusts in human political alliances to save his country. It fails miserably. The country is taken over, the people are exiled, and it feels like darkness covers the earth. Rather than listening to God’s message that came through the prophet, Ahaz got scared. He simply could not trust God. While he was in a precarious position, he could not place his trust in God. But God delivered anyway. Even though Ahaz did not see the great power of God, the people eventually did. This is what we read about today.
The gospel reminds us that it is in our call by Jesus that we ultimately experience fulfilment. A very important reminder is needed. Jesus was Lord before the election, Jesus is Lord now, and Jesus will be Lord. it is not about what we can do by ourselves. It is what God does for us. Open your hearts to be ready for God. Pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, find silence in your home, read the Word of God. In so doing, you become the vehicle of God’s grace and action in the world.
It is easy to forget that so much of our relationship with God is not dependent upon us. All we need to do is to place ourselves in the presence of God. By doing so, we both lose those sins and shortcomings that keep us from being the person God has created us to be, and we are able to be sent forth for the mission that God gives to only us. As we move into the season of Lent this Wednesday, let us place ourselves in God’s presence to receive the powerful and life-changing love of God.
The word identity is one that gets tossed around a lot. We hear all kinds of people reference it in terms of needing to find or discover it. While at one time, it may have only answered the question, “Who am I?”, today it seems to have taken on a much wider and more often applied meaning. Today it seems to be applied to a whole host of descriptions that includes, but is not limited to our job, our sexual preference, our gender, our faith preference, labels others give us, heck, even our credit needs to be guarded for the sake of our identity, so that it does not become stolen.
Jesus might have started today’s conversation with the disciples rather innocently, “Who do people say that I am?”, but before long the question becomes much more direct. When he firsts asks the question in reference to others, it is easy to hide behind pretty non-personal revelations. It is what others think. They do not need to lay any cards on the table. But before long, it becomes this personal question: “But who do you say that I am?” There is now no hiding. They must speak boldly about how they have come to experience Jesus.
As is often the case, it is Peter who first speaks boldly. He always seems to want to be noticed. Impulsive, but obviously a big heart. Did the other apostles agree with Peter? Did Peter say what he did because he fully believed it, or because he thought it was what Jesus wanted to hear? And if these answers were indicative of all of them, or some of them, how was it the apostles understood themselves, and what the answer to Jesus question implied for each of them?
Would we believe Peter today? What if Peter today were to recount a vision from God that changed dramatically a defining practice of our faith? The dietary laws of Moses were no small thing for one born Jewish to disregard. The challenge for Peter can be seen in his own “flip-flop”, to coin a modern day political term. His position changed on the issue. He had been an observant Jew, but now, things are different. Why?
Readings for Today
How do we look upon others? Peter and John are seen by the leaders of the Sanhedrin as ordinary, uneducated men. How could they be vehicles of the power of God? Do we entertain the belief that God can work and speak through anyone? Do we eliminate others because of the way we perceive them? Who are the ordinary and uneducated we exclude?
Readings for Today
What’s in a name? I suspect if I rattled off a few slogans and jingles, it would not take too long to identify the name of the company that uses it. The first question asked of new parents is what the name of the new child is. When a new sports team is created, there is much thought given to the name of the team. When thinking of the name of a website, great care is given to come up with something that is easy to remember.
Readings for Today
I do not like being dependent on others. While there are times when it is a good thing, there are also times where I do too many things myself when I would be better to let others help. And so the thought of having to be carried anywhere, to be so dependent upon others that I could not go anywhere without being carried by others, is not in any way an enjoyable situation for me. Every day, day after day, this man is carried to beg. Not only is he dependent upon others to move, he is also dependent upon others for sustenance. Were it not for others, the man would likely die.