29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

   

     Let’s be honest, as Catholics, most of us are completely ignorant of the Scriptures. We often justify our ignorance of the Scriptures by claiming to have the teachings of the Church to guide us but, “the Bible is not a handbook devised for the dissemination of an ideology. It is a word from someone addressed to someone, a word that cannot be separated from him who pronounces it. Therefore it is a living word summoning each of us.”[1]  St. Paul reminds us in today’s 2nd reading that God speaks to us in the words of Scripture, which “is the basis of all authentic Christian spirituality.”[2]

     Friends we need both Scripture and tradition. The Bible and the teachings of the Catholic Church, go hand in hand. The historical truth is that the Bible received its authority from the Catholic Church. The different books of the Bible were composed over thousands of years by many different and divinely inspired authors, but it was not officially compiled until the year 382 AD when Pope Damasus I called the bishops of the world to meet in Rome to discern which books should be included in the Bible and commissioned St. Jerome to produce a reliable and consistent text. “There is no such thing as God’s Word floating around outside the Church – rather, it is always transmitted in the Church and through her.”[3] The Bible is a product of the Catholic Church and has its authority as the Word of God, because the Catholic Church discerned that these books were truly divinely inspired. It is simply illogical to believe in the Bible and ignore the teachings of the Church, because if one doubts the authority of the Church, they doubt the authority on which the Bible rests.

     At the same time the Bible is the living word of God. It speaks to all times and all cultures and so if we truly want to hear God speak to us, we must take time each day to prayerfully read the Scriptures. This ancient form of prayerfully reading the Scriptures, often called Lectio Divina, is a very simple 4 step way to open our hearts to what God wants to speak to us. First we slowly and prayerfully read the text of the Bible passage remaining attuned to any words or phrases to jump out to us. Once we have read the passage a couple times we come back to that word or phrase that stood out and meditate with it. In this act of meditating, we wait in prayerful silence for the Holy Spirit to fill our mind as we ponder the word or phrase. This mediation should then lead us to enter into a prayerful conversation with God.  Having heard God speak to us and having poured our hearts out to Him in prayer we silence ourselves and listen at the deepest level of our being to God who speaks to us in a still voice, which will lead to an interior transformation and a resolution for going forward.

     This morning, when I prayed with today’s Gospel the phrase pray without becoming weary continued to come to my mind and I thought of how tired I often get after praying. As I sat and meditated with that phrase it came to me that prayer is just conversation with God and so it shouldn’t be labor intensive so I prayed to God asking him to help me get out of the way in prayer and just spend time with Him. This then led to a resolution to come to my prayer time without any disposition, but rather just to place myself totally in His presence and let Him do the work He wants to do.

     Friends this ancient practice of lectio divina takes time and practice to sink into our lives. While at first it may feel like we are getting nothing out of it, if we spend just 10-15 minutes a day praying with Bible I can promise you that our entire relationship with God will begin to change for the better. If you feel like your prayer is dry and not working why not turn to the Word of God which “draws each of us into a conversation with the Lord: the God who speaks teaches us how to speak to him?” [4] After all “the novelty of biblical revelation consists in the fact that God becomes known through the dialogue which he desires to have with us.”[5]

      We can never forget that “the Word of God is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path,”[6] and so I invite you to join me in daily taking up this ancient practice of lectio divina. Either begin with the first chapter of Mark and start working your way through the Gospels or google the daily gospel reading and pray with it and watch God transform your life from within.

[1] Vanhoe, Cardinal Albert.Our Priest is Christ. (1969). Pg 14.

[2] Pope Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exortation Verbum Domini. Accessible at http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ben-xvi_exh_20100930_verbum-domini.html.  Paragraph 86.

[3] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger,.Dogma and Preaching Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011.  Pg 23

[4] Pope Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exortation Verbum Domini. Accessible at http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ben-xvi_exh_20100930_verbum-domini.html.  Paragraph 24.

[5] Pope Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exortation Verbum Domini. Accessible at http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ben-xvi_exh_20100930_verbum-domini.html.  Paragraph 6.

[6] Pope Benedict XVI Address at the 40th anniversary of DEI VERBUM, Friday, 16 September 2005. Accessible at https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2005/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20050916_40-dei-verbum.html

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