The 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]

The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]
Ez 17:22-24  +  2 Cor 5:6-10  +  Mk 4:26-34
June 17, 2018

Without parables He did not speak to them, but to His own disciples He explained everything in private.

These reflections mean to prepare you to hear the Scriptures at Sunday Mass.  Usually this preparation involves looking at the words of Scripture themselves.  But today, step back and consider a general way for preparing on your own to hear the Scriptures at Sunday Mass.  This way can be utilized every week of the Church year.

Lectio Divina is a form of praying Sacred Scripture:  not just reading Scripture, but praying it.  At first glance, we might not think there’s any difference between “reading Scripture” and “praying Scripture”.  However, there can be a radical difference.

Picture a dedicated atheist.  This atheist sees himself as doing battle against religion.  So he puts into practice one of the most basic principles of combat:  “Know your enemy”.

Wanting to understand how believers think so that he can debunk their beliefs, he takes a course at a noted Christian university in order to learn all about the Bible.  In his zeal, he might even earn a Ph.D. in biblical studies, and be able to quote at length from the Bible, name all the books of the Bible, and even teach others about the history and geography of the peoples and places of the Bible.  But all of that knowledge would not make him a believer.

By contrast, the aim of your praying Scripture is not merely knowing about Scripture, but believing in the God who wrote these Scriptures for your good, listening to Him speaking to you, and speaking to Him in response by your words and actions.

There are several easy ways to prepare for Lectio Divina.  One is to purchase a hand missal, which contains the complete set of the three-year cycle of prayers and readings that a missalette covers only for part of a year.  Another way, if you’re tech-savvy, is to go to the website of the United States bishops, where you can print out the Scriptures for any day in the coming months.  Another way is to go to your parish church for a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, and during your visit use the missalette in the pew for prayerful reading of Scripture.

The first step of “praying Scripture” is an act of choosing:  choosing a text from Scripture.  Some saints in explaining Lectio Divina recommend choosing a single chapter of a book of Scripture.  Others recommend a single verse, while others recommend only a single phrase or even only a single word.  A single verse is a good ideal.  You’ll notice in many hand missals or missalettes that, at the head of each Scripture passage, often in red, is a verse from that reading.  That is given to help you focus your attention, and this verse can be used for the practice of Lectio Divina.

Wherever and whatever resource of Scripture you use, find the Gospel passage for the coming Sunday.  The other steps of Lectio Divina help one to draw spiritual fruit from one’s chosen passage or verse.  As a simplified form of Lectio Divina, reflect on the coming Sunday’s Gospel passage for at least ten minutes a day during the weekdays leading up to Sunday.  Each of these days, ask the Lord to draw your attention to one verse in particular.  Not only will you grow in your love for the Word of God, but He—the divine Person who is the Word—will open your heart and mind to accepting more faithfully the Word made Flesh in the Holy Eucharist.