Nourished by the Word

A reflection on the Gospel reading for April 15, 2020 (Luke 24:13-35) by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB

After His Resurrection, Jesus appears to His disciples and asks if they have anything for Him to eat. We can see by this that He so wants to be at home with them, wants them to recognize that it’s really Him, and they do not need to fear. I can imagine Christ saying, “I’m here with you, I’ll eat with you, I’ll do all things with you…Do not be afraid.”

Then we hear that “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). I think this is the key to Lectio Divina—it’s not something we do of ourselves, but something Christ does. All we need to do is be present. He can open the Scriptures for us. He can bring to life those words. You are going to hear it straight from Him. I pray that whole world would experience this grace, because His words are life. They are the sword that can cut away all evil, and the very thing that is light and gives light. Take the time to read the Scriptures and delight in them, because God meets you in them, and He delights in you.

Christ gave us His very self, and what will we give Him in return? I hope we will offer Him our very selves, over and over again. That’s what we can do every time we read the Scriptures: “God, I offer you myself again.  Let me be that vessel You fill up.”

Our scheduled time for sacred reading is from 5:40-6:40 am, but we are encouraged to revisit the Scriptures throughout the day in order to be continually nourished by the Word.

…my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst…and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.

John 6:32-38, abridged

Laying Down One’s Life

cross-on-yellow-sky-editedIn the scriptures for today we hear about life and what it means to have life. In Deuteronomy we are told to

“Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”  (Deut. 30: 19-20)

Then in Luke,

“Then [Jesus] said to all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”  (Luke 9:23-24)

Christ is the center in all of this – the choosing of Him over all things.  You often hear people say when speaking of following a religious vocation, “I don’t want to do that.  I have a life!”  What do they gain?  What do they get out of that life?  But when we say, “I am going to give up everything.  I am going to give my life for Him”, then we get eternal life.  We give up a drop to gain eternity!

In Chapter Five of the Holy Rule, on obedience, St. Benedict says, “The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all else. The Lord says of men like this, ‘no sooner did he hear did he obey me.”  Again he says, “Such people as these immediately put aside their own concerns, abandon their own will and lay down whatever they have in hand, leaving it unfinished.”   That is so hard but what a wonderful practice!

Do we do this?  When we hear the bell for the Divine Office do we set aside what we are doing, leaving it unfinished, in order to hasten to the Work of God?  Or when someone comes to use while we are working to ask something of us – do we set aside what we are doing in order to give them our full attention?  And, in turn, we should be sensitive to timing when we ask something of another.  That is charity.  If a sister is working in the kitchen – oven door open, food overflowing, steam everywhere – it probably isn’t a good time to ask a favor of her.

In charity, let us be attentive to the moment and be ready to stop what we are doing, in order to be fully present to one another.  Truly, that is laying down one’s life.

Reflection by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB on the Mass readings for March 2, 2017.