Paul Knitter’s Homily, October 23, 2016

Holy Wisdom Monastery Homilies 1 Comment

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Oct 23, 2016

 

A LECTIO DIVINA HOMILY

Paul Knitter

 

Introduction:

 

Today we’re going to try a little experiment.  “Lectio divina” is an integral part of Benedictine spirituality. So I’d like to explore with you whether we can occasionally integrate lectio divina into our homilies. Today I’m going to attempt a “lectio-divina-homily.”  — I, and the Liturgy Committee, will be eager to hear what you think.

 

Lectio divina (literally: divine reading), as many of you know, is a contemplative way to read Scripture. Basically, it consists of two steps:  you first read or listen to a passage from Scripture and try to grasp what it means; that’s the “lectio” part.  And then in a second step – the “divina” part – you allow the meaning of the text to grasp you.  So you first try to understand with your mind; and then you allow your heart, your feelings, to absorb what you understand. In the “lectio” or reading part of this exercise, you connect with the reading; in the “divina” part, the reading connects with you.

 

So, let’s try it.  I’m going to read and give a brief commentary on passages from each of our readings.  Then, at the sound of the meditation bell, we will sit together in a few minutes of silence. In the silence, allow your thinking to die down and let yourself feel or absorb what you heard. This feeling, in our Christian tradition, is the action of the Holy Spirit.

 

So I ask you all now to sit in a relaxed way, with your back comfortably straight, both feet on the floor, your eyes either gazing downward or closed.  And take a couple of cleansing breaths – inhaling fully so that you feel your stomach expand, hold the breath for a bit and then exhale slowly.  – Let’s do that, and then I’ll begin with the first reading.

 

From: Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22

 

Although our iniquities testify against us, act, O God, for your name’s sake.

We look for peace, but find no good; for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.

You, O God, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not forsake us.

We set our hope on you, for it is you who do all this.

 

Commentary:

Jeremiah is writing to the Jewish people at a time of terrible tumult connected with their domination by the kingdom of Babylon.  There was little peace, but great terror, much of it due to the people’s and their leaders’ own mistakes and iniquities.

 

In the midst of this terror, Jeremiah calls upon the Israelites to affirm what is the core-content of all religious experience:  no matter what happens to us,  no matter what we do, no matter how we mess up, no matter how hopeless things may seem – that is not the full picture, the full reality.

 

In the midst of it all, always, we are also held by an unconditional loving Presence that we Jews and Christians call God. This Presence, this Holy Mystery, is, as the text states, “in the midst of us” providing the strength, the endurance, the creativity to carry on, no matter what happens.  We can encounter this Holy Mystery in prayer and meditation and in our relationships with each other.

 

We know it by trusting it, by  “setting our hope” on it.  Trust, and you will know.

 

Although our iniquities testify against us, act, O God, for your name’s sake.

We look for peace, but find no good; for a time of healing, but there is terror instead.

You, O God, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not forsake us.

We set our hope on you, for it is you who do all this.

 

[Ring meditation bell.]

 

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

 

The time of my departure has come.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

 

Christ stood by me and gave me strength.

Christ will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for the dominion of heaven.

 

This letter describes St. Paul as he faced the prospect of dying.  In fighting the good fight, in straining to finish the race, he has kept the faith – the same faith, the same trust, in Holy Mystery as did Jeremiah and the Jews.

 

For Paul and for Christians, the man Jesus Christ embodies what this Holy Mystery looks like and what it means to live a life of trusting it. The risen Christ lives on in them, stands by them, and gives them strength to face whatever they have to face.

 

And Paul tell us that just as it pays off to trust this Holy Mystery during life, it pays off to trust it in death.  We may not know what “the dominion of heaven” really is; we may not know how our life carries on after death.  But as in life so in death, we can trust.  And by trusting, we will know.

 

The time of my departure has come.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

 

Christ stood by me and gave me strength.

Christ will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for the dominion of heaven.

 

[Ring meditation bell.]

 

 

 

 

Luke 18: 9-14

 

Jesus spoke (told this parable) to those who trusted in themselves.

All who exalt themselves will be humbled.

But all who humble themselves will be exalted.

 

This parable tells us just what the previous two readings require when they call us to trust in the Holy Mystery of God.

 

To trust in the Holy Mystery that holds us requires that we humble ourselves. Humility means accepting the truth – the truth that we are interdependent creatures, which means that we cannot handle things all by ourselves, by trusting only in ourselves.  We are creatures in need of resources beyond ourselves –as Twelve Step programs put it, in need of a Power greater than ourselves.

 

To receive that higher Power we first must humble ourselves, empty ourselves, let go of ourselves in total trust.  And in such receptive openness, in such humble, total trusting, paradoxically, we will be exalted.  We will be empowered. We will realize that the higher Power is the deeper Power within ourselves.   

 

Jesus spoke (told this parable) to those who trusted in themselves.

All who exalt themselves will be humbled.

But all who humble themselves will be exalted.

 

[Ring meditation bell.]

 

 

 

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 23, 2016

 

Prayers of the Faithful

 

Like the tax-collector in today’s Gospel who recognized his need and trusted in God’s love, we humbly and confidently make known our needs:

 

  • For all the refugees and victims of war who like the Jews at the time of Jeremiah “look for peace and a time of healing but find terror instead,” may they find God in their midst through those who offer them shelter and assistance, we pray:

 

  • For all those who like Paul in our second reading are facing death. Through their own faith and with help of loved ones, may they be able to trust the God of both life and death, we pray:

 

  • As we enter the final weeks of the presidential and congressional campaigns, may those who call themselves followers of Jesus be examples of humility and mutual respect, we pray:

 

Let us now quietly mention the names of those we wish to remember in prayer:

 

We make these prayers as a community of those seeking to follow the example of Jesus, aware that it is the living Christ who prays with us and in us.

 

LET US OFFER EACH OTHER A SIGN OF PEACE AND LOVE

 

Comments 1

  1. OMG that is so beautiful. I do lectio here with the St Louis Abbey and now I know why I HWM! Keep it coming for it nourishes me. Can’t wait to be home. Pray for me.

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