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 8:18,23-27
Words: Lord save us! … followed
Imagined the lack of dignity of the disciples, pawing at Jesus’ clothing to awaken him, yelling and screaming in fear.
I remember Psalm 107 and the nugget salvation story of “some [who go] down to the sea in ships”: “A stormy wind arose, which tossed high the waves of the sea” – graphic descriptions which parallel the Gospel closely – and the sailors “reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and you delivered them… quieted the waves of the sea… calm… and you brought them to the harbour.”
But (old chestnut alert!) boats are not made and intended to stay in harbour, so after necessary repairs the ships will put out to sea again.
The disciples followed Jesus into the boat, and I follow Jesus into the boat. And there will be gales and there will be calm, and there will be steady winds. And Jesus will always be there, and always available to be called on in extremis, in however undignified and terrified a manner.
Gospel reading: Matthew 7.6,12-14
Words: in everything
In context… ‘In everything’ is a tall order – holding nothing back, doing the work. I can’t help thinking, though, that it would be better not to ‘do as you would be done by’ but to do as the other person would be done by.
Out of context… God is in everything, permeates Creation, to the deepest core of my being. I am in God in everything. God is all in all, and I will rest in my all and spend time with God indwelling.
Gospel reading: Matthew 5.43-48
I started with another passage, the parable of the slaves (Luke 12.41-48). Much has been given to me (talent, education, background, etc) therefore much will be demanded. And not measuring up to that, especially compared with my contemporaries at university.
…which is seeing things in terms of worldly achievement. Yet when God demanded it all, I gave it all up to follow and test my vocation. Then I gave up the security of staying with the religious life, and returned to live a simple life in the world that is not ‘the same’ as many others’ lives or as my life was before. So I hear God saying to me: ‘Because you have done this, therefore I will bless you.’
It is a different type of perfection, to be willing to give it all up, to empty the self, as Christ did (Phil 2.5-8).
‘Because you have followed me, therefore I will bless you.’ Amen.
Gospel reading: Matthew 5:13-17
Salt has positive and negative aspects. The body needs some, but not too much. Food needs some for taste, but not too much. It is good as a preservative, but is bad for the land. For example, rising sea levels with climate change are poisoning wells and land in Pacific islands and coastal Bangladesh. The Israelites probably caused famine by not observing the Sabbath but ploughing every year, drawing up salts to the surface.
There is a need for Sabbath, and a need for balance.
Gospel reading: Mark 12.13-17
They who were not Jesus’ friends or allies were ‘utterly amazed’ at him. Perhaps the Greek ‘amazed’ has negative connotations here. But for me I want to take it positively and ponder over how there was nothing in them that was not amazed – they were utterly, totally, and completely amazed, without holding anything back.
In the hymn to the tune ‘O Waly Waly’, God ‘loves beyond our uttermost’. God knows us totally, completely, both our light, and our uttermost darkness. And God loves us, totally, completely, utterly, and beyond that. The line always makes me well up when I sing it, because it touches the wellspring of a deep truth.
So I want my response to be love of God, utterly and completely, holding nothing back, so there is no part of me that does not love God. It is a work in progress!