February 24th 2019

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Contents:

  1. Parish Bulletin for Holy Family
  2. Newsletter for St Benedict's
  3. This Sunday's Readings
  4. Sunday Reflection

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This Sunday's Readings

First Reading I Samuel 26:2.7-9.12-13.22-23
Saul set off and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, accompanied by three thousand men chosen from Israel to search for David in the wilderness of Ziph.
In the dark David and Abishai made their way towards the force, where they found Saul lying asleep inside the camp, his spear stuck in the ground beside his head, with Abner and the troops lying round him.
Then Abishai said to David, 'Today God has put your enemy in your power; so now let me pin him to the ground with his own spear. Just one stroke! I will not need to strike him twice.' David answered Abishai, 'Do not kill him, for who can lift his hand against the Lord's anointed and be without guilt? The Lord forbid that I should raise my hand against the Lord's anointed! But now take the spear beside his head and the pitcher of water and let us go away.' David took the spear and the pitcher of water from beside Saul's head, and they made off. No one saw, no one knew, no one woke up; they were all asleep, for a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen on them.
David crossed to the other side and halted on the top of the mountain a long way off; there was a wide space between them. He called out, 'Here is the king's spear. Let one of the soldiers come across and take it. The Lord repays everyone for his uprightness and loyalty. Today the Lord put you in my power, but I would not raise my hand against the Lord's anointed.'


Second Reading  I Corinthians 15:45-49

The first man, Adam, as scripture says, became a living soul; but the last Adam has become a life-giving spirit. That is, first the one with the soul, not the spirit, and after that, the one with the spirit. The first man, being from the earth, is earthly by nature; the second man is from heaven. As this earthly man was, so are we on earth; and as the heavenly man is, so are we in heaven. And we, who have been modelled on the earthly man, will be modelled on the heavenly man.


Gospel Reading    Luke 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples: 'I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To the man who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too; to the man who takes your cloak from you, do not refuse your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your property back from the man who robs you. Treat others as you would like them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks can you expect? For even sinners do that much. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what thanks can you expect? Even sinners lend to sinners to get back the same amount. Instead, love your enemies and do good, and lend without any hope of return. You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

'Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.'


Sunday Reflection 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Vade Mecum

The two words are a Latinised version of our word 'Handbook'. But then, the English word handbook is not as expressive as the two Latin words. A 'vade mecum' implies a trusted, reliable and proven, source of information enabling a person to achieve their hoped-for outcome from a journey into the unknown. People continue to use the phrase 'vade mecum' to describe how they treasure the source of the guidance they have received. When someone hands you their Bible and the leather binding is well patinated, the page crispness has lessened and their gold edging is worn, you know immediately that this is a well-used and revered source of inspiration.

The Book of Samuel (1st Reading for the 7th Sunday) describes a further incident in King Saul's jealous pursuit of the increasingly popular and younger, David. Unchecked jealousy, is a relationship killer that has crippled humanity from the days of the exiled Adam and Eve up to our own time. In the era of Saul and David there were no books. Revealed wisdom, handed on verbally by successive generations, was stored in the heart because it was regarded as sacred. Can what has pride of place in many 21st century people's hearts be designated as sacred?

Though David caught his persecutor asleep, he refused to take advantage of the situation and allow Saul to be killed because David recognised in Saul 'the Lord's anointed'. David had consulted his heart's 'vade mecum'. Today, worldwide, many would recognise Pope Francis as 'the Lord's anointed'. He, on the other hand and consulting daily his 'vade mecum', would recognise those who sleep rough around the Vatican, begging on its streets, as 'the Lord's anointed'. In response, Francis has set up medical and care centres, tucked beneath Bernini's gigantic and majestic colonnades, for these destitute 'anointed of the Lord'.

God's Word-made-Flesh, Jesus the Christ, has continued to pour his own 'vade mecum' into the hearts of the Baptised through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There is no situation that can confront us, as the Lord's anointed, for which we will not find a Christlike response if we are familiar with the treasures of his Divine gift. The Baptised, who value and live daily their adoption as the sisters and brothers of Jesus and adopted children of the Father, have Jesus' vade mecum as their constant companion. The Baptised who have packed away or put aside Jesus' 'vade mecum' from their hearts are like those with a Bible on their bookshelf in mint condition, as on the day it was published, but unopened.

'Lectio Divina', another Latin term meaning 'divine reading', describes a reading of Scripture in which we gradually let go of our own agenda. Instead, we open ourselves to what God is longing for us to hear. In the 12th century, a Carthusian monk called Guigo, described what, for him, were the essential stages of Lectio Divina. Nowadays, there are various ways of practicing Lectio Divina, either individually or in groups, but Guigo's description remains fundamental.

Guigo's first stage is the 'lectio', the 'reading'.
Finding a quiet and familiar corner, we sit and try to empty our over-active minds and imaginations. Initially, until we become accustomed to the process, this learning of stillness takes most of the time we have allocated for the Lectio Divina.
When we are mentally stilled, we read The Word of God, slowly and reflectively. Next, we pause for a few moments so that the Word begins to sink into us. Think of pouring water on the surface of dry soil in a pot with a plant dying of drought. The secret is to pour only a little water and then pause, allowing time for the soil to slowly become absorptive. Then repeat the exercise as often as necessary until the soil is sufficiently moist. If we pour too much water at the start, it just runs of the surface, spills and the roots remain dry! Any passage of Scripture can be used for this way of prayer but short passages are recommended.

The second stage is 'meditatio' (reflection) where we invite God to help us take from the passage what He wishes to give us.

The third stage is 'oratio' (response) where we set aside our thinking and calculating thereby allowing our hearts to speak openly to God reflecting what, in the passage of the Word of God, has struck us.

The fourth stage of Lectio Divina is 'contemplatio' (rest) where we let go of our own ideas, plans and meditations, our holy words and thoughts. Instead, we, as it were, allow the Word of God to hold us. We listen, at the deepest level of our being, to God who speaks within us with a still small voice. As we listen, we are gradually enlightened from within.

Over time, this process of Lectio Divina will have an effect on the way we live. The way we live is the true test of the authenticity of our prayer and it should become evident in our daily lives.

These stages of Lectio Divina are not fixed rules of procedure but simply guidelines as to how the prayer normally develops. Its natural development is towards greater simplicity, with us doing less thinking and more listening. How much time should be given to each stage depends very much on whether it is used individually or in a group.

The practice of Lectio Divina as a way of praying the Scriptures has been a fruitful source of growing in relationship with Christ for many centuries and in our own day is being rediscovered by many individuals and groups. The Word of God is alive and active and will transform each of us if we open ourselves to receive what God chooses to give us.

For the uninitiated there may be a question about what Scripture to choose. The Gospels hold a preeminent place. A personal favourite is John's Gospel being so location centred enabling the reader to visualise where Jesus was. There are also many dramatic conversations instanced. The 'summation' with which John introduces his Gospel could be transferred to the end, if a reader so wished.

'Lectio Divina', our daily reading of Scripture, expresses our love for our heavenly Father. The more we contemplate the treasure, the more the treasure reveals itself to us. It is like a masterly musical score or painting, the more we listen or view the more we understand what the composer or painter wished to reveal to us

(With thanks to the Carmelites for information about Guigo)