Lectio Divina

“Lift High the Cross” by Callie Nowlin

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Steps to Lectio Divina
Start by using these steps to reflect on the Scripture verse. Then read my meditation slowly.
Lectio: Having asked for the grace to hear God’s word, read the passage twice.
Meditatio: During the second reading, pause whenever so moved and reflect on a word, a sentence, or an image that strikes you.
Oratio: Speak directly to God, and open your reflection to Him.
Contemplatio: Listen contemplatively for any response God might choose to make. Remember that God responds to us at times with loving silence.

The Scripture
From the Second Reading for September 14, 2017, Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. (Philippians 2:6-10)

Brothers and sisters:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.

Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.the-crucified-christ-with-the-virgin-mary-saints-and-angels-the-mond-crucifixion-raphael

Reflection

The great hymn in Philippians is the earliest recorded hymn of the Christian faith.

I love this hymn because of a specific word that is used, “exalted.” In the hymn, it states that Jesus “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this God greatly exalted him.” Because of Jesus’ humility, God raised Jesus up from this lowered state.

In today’s feast, we celebrate the triumph of the Cross of Christ, we lift Him high in victory and in worship. When we sing “Lift High the Cross,” we are singing in worship of Him and his triumph. For us to exalt Him, to raise Him up above our heads, is an act of worship. But for Jesus to be raised by the Father means something completely different, for God does not raise Jesus above Him, but to Him, as his Son.

Both for the ancient church and for us today, this hymn from Philippians is proclaimed in the context of the Mass. This context is important because in the encounter of the Mass, we are reminded of our humanity but also of the transcendence of the godhead. To put it another way, we are reminded that we are not God and that we belong to Him. In the very raising of Jesus, above our heads in triumph, which incidentally the cross-bearer does at the beginning and end of every Mass, we affirm these same truths: That He is God. That we are not. That He is triumphant in his cross and resurrection. That we belong to Him. And this is the God whom we worship.

These are jarring and life-changing truths. I invite you consider these truths anew with me today as the Church celebrates her Lord’s victory on the sacred wood of the cross, calling to mind the true and living God to whom we all belong.

 

Originally Printed in the NTC.

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Lectio Divina

“Whom My Heart Loves” by Callie Nowlin

Feast of St. Mary Magdalene
Steps to Lectio Divina

Start by using these steps to reflect on the Scripture verse. Then read my meditation slowly.
Lectio: Having asked for the grace to hear God’s word, read the passage twice.
Meditatio: During the second reading, pause whenever so moved and reflect on a word, a sentence, or an image that strikes you.
Oratio: Speak directly to God, and open your reflection to Him.
Contemplatio: Listen contemplatively for any response God might choose to make. Remember that God responds to us at times with loving silence.

The Scripture
From the Gospel for July 22, 2017, the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene. (John 20:1-2, 11-18)

On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”

Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew,
“Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her,
“Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
But go to my brothers and tell them,
‘I am going to my Father and your Father,
to my God and your God.'”
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples,
“I have seen the Lord,”
and then reported what he told her.

magdalene_desktop01
Reflection
Today we celebrate one of the Lord’s closest followers, St. Mary Magdalene. And I have to be honest, this year was the first time I heard Mary Magdalene’s heart breaking as she cries out repeatedly, “I don’t know where they laid him.” She seeks, “Him who her heart loves” (Song of Solomon 3:4). She searches, thirsts, yearns, and mourns for Jesus. And when Jesus comes to her and calls her by name, she turns to Him in reverence and in familiarity both.

Yearning for God in prayer is a true gift from God to join Him in a deeper relationship, for it is He who first yearns for us. It is He who first desires our friendship. It is He who first waits for us in prayer. But we cannot forget that it is from this yearning, and from this deep well of prayer, that we receive our mission. For like Mary Magdalene we are called to yearn for Jesus as a deer for streams of water, for Him who alone satisfies.

But for this to be authentic it must not stop there. For as we see in today’s reading, immediately after she finds the object of her yearning, Jesus tells her to, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and tell them…” She is immediately given the mission to be an Apostle to the Apostles, to tell the Twelve that Jesus is alive.

He has truly risen, as He has said. Alleluia, Alleluia.

Feast of Mary Magdalene - Quote

In art this scene is called Noli Tangere, or literally “Do not touch me” in Latin. Jesus exhorts Mary Magdalene to not hold on to her understanding of who He was before the crucifixion. Instead his will is that she be transformed by the encounter and so be ready to proclaim his Resurrection.

Spurred on by her example and her intercession, may our hearts long to find Him, rejoice in meeting Him, and be transformed by Him as we are sent out to proclaim His Word.

Originally published by NTC.