Sunday, January 26 has been designated as Word of God Sunday. Why? As Archbishop Rino Fisichella states, “Catholics have, they need, they should feel, the need to recover contact with the Word of God.” He went on to say that “according to statistics compiled now and then, our people listen to the Word of God, in fact, only exclusively when they go to Mass on Sunday.” As I continued to read the article regarding this new initiative, a story came to mind. Whether the story is true or not, I think the message is quite clear.
Many years ago on a foreign island missionaries brought the Word of God and Christianity to the people living there. After some time, the missionaries left, leaving the Word of God (Bible) with the people. Several decades later, new missionaries encountered the Island and were surprised at what they saw. People were caring for the sick and infirmed, healing those they could, teaching from the scriptures, and welcoming the stranger. The missionaries inquired why and how did they learn to act this way? The islanders shared the story of the first missionaries who came to them and when they left, they made sure to leave the “book of instructions” so they could continue to know how to lead a good life. Imagine the astonishment on the new missionaries’ faces.
How about us? Do we need to dust off our Bibles before we open them? Do we only hear the Word of God on the weekend? Do we believe that the Word of God is our instruction book for life, especially the New Testament? Those Islanders did believe and look at their results.
There are many ways that we can continue to learn from and about the Bible. We can attend a class, form a study group, or share our thoughts with friend. Another way that has worked for many is the prayer of Lectio Divina. This ancient form of Christian prayer can be prayed in solitude or in a small group setting. Unlike Bible study, Lectio Divina uses scripture for the sole purpose of prayerful meditation. It is not meant to be analyzed but reflected upon.
With the Lectio Divina method, you read aloud a brief scripture passage, then listens for a word or verse that stands out for you. Without any explanation, you write down or highlight the word or verse that touches your heart. Read the passage again and see how the passage is speaking to your life at this moment. Examples may include I feel…, I think…, I hear…, I wonder…and so on. Now read the verse for a third time. Ask yourself, “What is God asking me to do today and how is God calling me through the Spirit to follow Jesus today?” This may be a good time to journal about what you are feeling and hearing as part of your Lectio Divina session. Then remind yourself of the reading during the day.
If you have not paid any special attention to the Word of God in the past, perhaps this Sunday may be a great spring board for starting to see how it affects your life. Blessings and happy reflecting.
Till next week,