Since April 2020, I have been jointly hosting a shared Lectio group on Tuesday evenings. The following are my reflections only, during the prayer session and as I wrote them up. Please see my separate commentary and leaflet for more information about shared Lectio.
Gospel reading: Matthew 23.23–26
Words: without neglecting
There is so much of justice and mercy and faith that needs doing, and no-one can possibly do all of it. I’m concerned with climate and other environmental issues, and women, and sexuality and reading #BLM books, ‘doing the work’. But I can’t possibly sort all of that, and it’s pointless even trying.
I am always questioning: Have I got my priorities right? What is my vision? What is my calling? It has taken me many years to come to the realisation that actually, for me it comes down to “without neglecting” to love God first – heart, soul, mind, strength – and then self and neighbour. Finally I paid attention enough to God’s still small voice!
So my priority now has become my practice of contemplative prayer, seeking God’s face, without neglecting the big things of justice and mercy and faith, and without neglecting to pay attention to the small things too. And I hope that if I seek God’s face first, then my priorities for the other things will fall into place.
Gospel reading: Matthew 19.23–26 [27-end]
Words: but who?
The disciples have got the wrong end of the stick again, stuck in the old covenant of God’s blessing equating to acquiring riches. In the new covenant, the meek and poor in spirit are blessed, a child is greater than John the Baptist, the rich man goes to hell while the beggar at his gate goes to heaven, the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
But Jesus doesn’t answer their question with ‘the poor will be saved’. The Kingdom of God is topsy-turvy, and here again our expectations are up-ended.
Jesus answers with ‘For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.’ It is an absolute. All are alike before God in this way. We have to let go of everything that is doing and being and trying to be in control and to determine our own salvation or destiny. Maybe it is easier for poor people to do this, but still everything comes back to God and God alone.
Gospel reading: Matthew 18.1–5,10,12–14
Words: called a child
Jesus called a child. Even children are called and all have a vocation in this sense. I imagine the child playing with friends under a tree, and on Jesus calling suddenly springing up and looking around with joy, then dropping everything to run over and stand in front of Jesus with eyes for no-one except him. Everything done in utter simplicity and trust. There is no ‘must just say goodbye’ or ‘when I’ve finished playing this game’. This is our calling, my calling, to become like this child in trust, simplicity and humility.
Gospel reading: Matthew 14.22–27 [28-end]
Words: battered … take heart
I reflect on the three-fold comfort of ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ Ego eimi means I am, so… ‘Take heart, I am; do not be afraid.’ All things are in my hands. I got you.
‘Take heart’ – I am with you as you struggle up the mountain.
‘I am’ – I am with you on the mountain top of encounter (see also v23 and the Feast of the Transfiguration in two days’ time).
‘Do not be afraid’ – I am with you as you descend the mountain to an uncertain future.