Introduction: we start our spiritual journey with this Lectio Divina inspired by the Gospel of Luke. The aim of this Gospel, according to some scholars, is to show the Mission of Jesus, that is, God’s compassionate Love and Mercy for the outcast of society, the sick and the sinner, in a very objective and concrete way which Luke proves in the historical and traditional facts of Jesus. As we go through the different stories of the Gospel, we may take an active role and feel coparticipants of those facts portrait in the stories. Try to identify yourself with stories and characters in it, so that the Lectio Divina may become more alive.
1. Read: Luke 3:21-22 slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you?
2. Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.
3. Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead you to ask for from the Lord?
4. Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Do not say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?
5. Take now the word, sentence, or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word leads you to action.
Conclude your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…
Reflection: we situate ourselves at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel which describes both the birth of John the Baptist and of Jesus. I am not going to deal with them here but in some other time. I would like us to concentrate in Jesus’s public life and discipleship. He begins his public life at the age of 30 (3:23), yes, with his baptism Jesus begins a new life and public ministry.
Denis McBride in his book (‘The Gospel of Luke” p. 57) describes these beginnings as “a turning-point” “the beginning of a new way” of Jesus’ life and ministry. Jesus was baptised not because He needed conversion or a change from an immoral or wayward life to a holy life, but, because He wanted to be in solidarity with the people who wanted to change their lives turning away from sin. Besides God wanted to manifest Himself at Jesus’ baptism as the triune God, and Luke describes them in a tangible or factual way for the reader to connect with them.
Central Message: “Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer” … “The Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove”. A voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son the beloved; my favour rests on you’.
a) “Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer”. Luke, unlike Matthew (3:13-17), and Mark (1:9-11) does not describe the baptism of Jesus, neither both Gospels mention that Jesus was at prayer. Notice too that Jesus in Luke’s Gospel was baptised before John was put into prison by Herod. These two events are significant facts which Luke wants us to put attention to. So, the first is when John has been put into prison, it marks the end of the last prophet before Christ’s coming and the beginning of a new era. Jesus’s baptism marks as well the inauguration of his Mission as the Messiah, the anointed One, who came to save his people from the power of evil in its many forms. This is the turning point of Jesus’s life, from being for thirty years in hiding, to new start of public life of teaching, preaching, healing, and training his disciples. The second event mentioned in this text is that Jesus “was at prayer.” Luke’s Gospel describes Jesus at prayer in the most important moments of his life or when He must make decisions. Jesus must have acknowledged the fate of his cousin John and what is to come ahead of Him, so, he goes to pray to the Father before starting his ministry. While at prayer the heaven opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him. That is what prayer does, the Holy Spirit comes and overshadows Him, comes to assist Him. The Holy Spirit will be the one who will sustain, animate guide the Mission of Jesus. Therefore, He needs to be in constant prayer, in dialogue with God the Father to look always for his will. We all need a new beginning, a turning point to start a new life in the Spirt of Jesus; we all need to make important decisions in our life and so, we need to follow Jesus’ example, to go and pray to God the Father that through his Spirit we may know what He wants from us.
b) “The Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove.” The descend of the Holy Spirit on Jesus is the sign of the anointing the chosen one of God for a messianic mission (Is 42:1). The manifestation of the Holy Spirit appears here in a very tangible way, a dove. Luke perhaps recalls Noa’s dove as a sign that the floods were over. This is only to make the reader understand that the Holy Spirit is real and must be known in some way. The Holy Spirit is the one who empowers and guides Jesus for his new ministry while on earth. In Acts 10:38 we read “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power” who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him”. In a similar way, Jesus said of Himself, “The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed Me … (Luke 4:18,19′).” Jesus was always aware of the presence of the Spirit in him, who made the bond of unity and constant dialogue in prayer with the Father. So, it is the same Spirit that Jesus will give to his disciples to assist them when he will no longer be with them “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and then you will be my witness.” (Acts 1:8). It is the Holy Spirit who will assist the Church giving her different Charisms to continue preaching the word of God and be an instrument of salvation for all the nations. The Church needs to be in constant prayer invoking the Holy spirit to carry out its mission to the world.
c) “A voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son the beloved; my favour rests on you’. There are three effects that we can identify in Jesus’ prayer. The first effect is ‘the heaven opens.’ He shows us here the power of prayer. God hears his prayer and answers him in a form of a Voice coming down from heaven. Jesus always told his disciples that their prayers will never go unheard, but the Father will always listen to them: “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you (Lk 11:9). The second effect is God’s voice is heard, and it is addressed to Jesus to kind of stablish Jesus’ status ‘You are my Son the beloved’. It is like the Father giving Jesus’ identity ‘my Son’ which at the same time confirms God’s identity ‘the Father’, for where there is a Son there must be a Father. And the third effect is a deep and personal relationship between God the Father and Jesus with an ongoing communion, communication, and community among them, the Triune God. At the end, the Father assures Jesus that He is pleased with him to carry out his redemptive mission. We participate in the sonship of Jesus making us too God’s children and at the same time accepting the mission entrusted to us. We are invited to enter in that relationship with the Triune God following Jesus’ example of life.
Some questions for our reflexion:
1. What is your turning point in life?
2. How do you expect the Holy Spirit to be present in your life?
3. When have you been most aware that God is well please with you?