Bible text is “life-affirming”
The text is also life-giving in that it is always meant to be primarily a celebration of the story of grace in our lives and our world. We celebrate Jesus alive today; Jesus alive in us; Jesus alive and at work in us. This is very much in keeping with the catholic understanding of the human person which has a positive view of human nature. In each of us there is a story of grace and a story of sin. But the story of grace is the deeper story and truer story about each one of us. Even in the worst expression of sin the underlying story is one of grace. Sin has not destroyed our goodness, it has wounded it. At the core we are good – a flawed goodness but non-the-less essentially good. The bible texts will always speak to what is best in human nature while not ignoring the story of sin. In Lectio Divina we celebrate the story of grace and confess the story of sin. But the celebration is primary and it is on the platform of grace that we confess our sin.
The experience of sin in Lectio Divina is like that of a good parent who challenges a child with the words: “You are a good person and the wrong you have just done does not represent the best in you; we both know you are capable of better.” Sin is a falling short of the goodness which we are capable of.
How different that is to our normal experience of bible reading where our experience was that it was a put down; that it always found some fault in us; that we always came away from it feeling badly about ourselves. “Jesus did this – How we are not like Jesus. Jesus said this – How we are not like Jesus. You should change your ways. You ought to behave differently. You must stop doing this or that.”
We all know from experience that it is by affirming the positive that we grow and this is what Bible reading seeks to do.
In Lectio Divina we experience the texts as a “homecoming experience.” Through Meditation we enter into the text and discover that it has been fulfilled in our own life-experience of family, neighbourhood, parish, country and world. In that sense, there is a coming home to the familiar world of people and situations and events that make up our lives. So the Bible stories are not merely stories about the past events that took place in another era, involving a foreign people, in an alien land but are experienced as happening today, in our time, and to our people in a new way.
Reading the bible passages according to the method of Lectio Divina nurtures in us an awareness of the sacredness of our own lives, of humanity and of the world in which we live. We come to recognize that our stories too are Bible stories; our stories are sacred stories; our lives are truly great lives. The place to be is just right where we are; the time we live in is a good time to live; the person to be is who we are. Jesus is here; the disciples are here; our community is a Bible community. Our bible reading gives us a sense of our identity and we recognise our dignity and worth as children of God.
“So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors: you are citizens like all the saints and part of God’s household. You are part of a building that has the apostles and Prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone. As every structure is aligned on him, all grow into one holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him are being built into a house where god lives in the Spirit.” (Eph2:19-22
“He lifts up the lowly from the dust
From the ash-heap he raises the poor
To set him in the company of Princes,
To give him a glorious throne.” (I Sam.2:8)
“he Lord’s flesh is real food and his blood is real drink; this is our true good in this present life: to nourish ourselves with his flesh and to drink his blood not only in the Eucharist but also in the reading of sacred scripture. The Word of God drawn from the knowledge of scriptures is real food and real drink.” St.Jerome