1st Sunday Lent A
After his baptism the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness where during forty days and nights he came to understand the meaning of the words spoken to him from heaven: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, my favour rests on him.’ His sense of identity and mission became clear. I think the church, these last few years, is being led by the same Spirit into another kind of wilderness: falling numbers, clergy scandals, uncertainty about the role of women, the pastoral care of gays…. And then there’s the personal wilderness of addiction, broken relationships, homelessness, loneliness and isolation. Maybe the first step from any wilderness back to human society is to listen contemplatively to the word of God – cf. Hebrews 4: 12-13.
In the story of the three temptations of Jesus we discover, if we pay attention, that life’s best nourishment lies not in manmade bread, like wealth, pleasure, power or career, but in the word of God which gives meaning to everything else. We come to understand how easy and how deceptive it is to want to use and test God for our own personal ends. The supreme temptation people fall into is illusion: imagining they are king of the hill and lord of all they survey. It renders them totally blind (and utterly dangerous) – like Hitler…. and Putin, probably. The seeds of illusion, wanting to be served and worshipped, lie nesting within us. “Be off, Satan! For scripture says: ‘You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him.’”
There has been a renewal of scripture and rediscovery of contemplative prayer in recent times. Numerous small Lectio Divina groups that meet regularly, in person or by zoom, have sprung up that discuss and pray over the sacred scriptures. To help us listen to the word of God better especially during Lent I offer the four traditional movements of Lectio Divina as identified by Guido the Carthusian in the twelfth century.
Reading: Slowly read the sacred text and listen to it speak to you.
Meditating: A deep entry into the meaning of the text.
Praying: The reader’s response to God in the light of the reading.
Contemplating: Quietly abiding, resting, or being in the presence of God.
“As we read the scriptures, we search for the words or phrase that seem to speak to us directly. They may be words that lift our hearts or conversely trouble us or in some way arrest or hold or attention” – Richard Carter.
Fr. QQ – 02/22/2023