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Readings: IS 50:5-9A; PS 116:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9; JAS 2:14-18; MK 8:27-35
This homily was the 10th in the series. Click on the links below for the other homilies.
Below are two bulletin articles related to the homily. The first is about the First Reading, Responsorial Psalm, and the Second Reading. The second article is about encountering Jesus through Sacred Scripture using a method called Lectio Divina.
First and Second Reading
The Liturgy of Word follows the Introductory Rites. We sit and prepare ourselves to encounter Jesus Christ through Sacred Scripture. The selection of readings for a given Sunday Mass is part of a three-year cycle. Such a cycle allows the faithful to hear more of Sacred Scripture than prior to Vatican II.
The first reading is typically from the Old Testament, except during the Easter season. We read from the Old Testament to see how God was at work preparing us for the coming of the Messiah. During the Easter season, the first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles since we are celebrating a time after the Resurrection and see how God was at work in the early Church. The first reading during Ordinary Time was selected to have similar themes as the Gospel passage for the day.
The Responsorial Psalm comes next. The Psalms are a summary of salvation history and include foreshadowing of the coming Messiah. It is the only book of the Bible that we read from at almost all of our Masses.
The second reading is always from the New Testament. These readings reveal to us the teachings of Jesus Christ through the early Church and the early history of the Church. They are mostly letters from the Apostles or disciples of the Apostles. Many of these readings instruct us how to live in friendship with God. During Ordinary Time, these passages are semi-continuous in that they are read to us from a New Testament book in the order that these passages appear in that book. They might or might not have similar themes with the other readings.
For weekday Masses there usually is not a second reading. Only if the weekday is a feast or solemnity would there be a second reading.
We sit for the first reading, psalm, and second reading since that is a position for meditation and learning. We stand prior to the Gospel as a sign of reverence and attention.
Our Sacred Scriptures are given to as a means to encounter God, and one way to do this is through Lectio Divina, or divine reading. God will speak to our hearts through sacred scripture if we let Him. Set a certain amount of time to it. This is not speed reading, nor is it to read an amount of material. We intend to spend time with God. There are four basic parts: Lectio (Reading), Meditatio (Repetition / Meditation), Oratio (Prayer), and Contemplatio (Contemplation).
Lectio is a listening kind of reading, where we are paying attention to what we are reading so that a word or phrase strikes us. Something that perhaps we didn’t notice before that gets our attention.
When this happens, we enter into meditatio, where we repeat it slowly to let it “soak in.” We savor it since God is trying to speak to us through it. We open up ourselves to listen to what God might be trying to say to us. When the inspiration from these words leaves, then we leisurely return to Lectio. Near the end of the time period, we might have multiple words or phrases. Sometimes we may not have any words or phrases despite our efforts, and that’s okay. Choose one, anyway, and carry it with you periodically entering into meditatio throughout the day.
Meditatio leads to oratio. If God speaks powerfully through a word or phrase we may become “overwhelmed with affections” and have a “surge of the heart” through which the Holy Spirit is praying in and through us. Other times we may not have such an experience, in which case we take the word or phrase selected and compose our own prayer thanking God for His gifts and for the time spent with Him.
Contemplatio is the final part, in which a person is seized or captured by God’s loving presence so powerfully that its reality exceeds ones’ own life. It is a gift from God that is not always given, nor can we fabricate it through our own efforts; it can only come from God.