Introduction: Our Lectio Divina for this month is focused on the theme: “Christmas a missionary event per excellence”. There are three texts we shall use for our Lectio Divina: two from Luke 1:26-38 and 2:1-20; and one from the Gospel of Mathew 2:1-12. They are three scenes which tell us about the annunciation of the birth of Christ and about the commitment (Mission) of sharing what has been heard, seen and touched. We are invited to contemplate the scenes and allow ourselves to be touched by what possibly went on in the minds and hearts of Mary, the Shepherds and the Magi. Perhaps the following question will help to meditate the scenes: What would you say and do if you were in their situation?
Thank you for sending us
Your first Missionary to the world, your Son Jesus,
Who lived like us and among us
And who rescued us from the power of
Sin and death to lead us to You Father,
The fullness of life.
- Read the texts Luck 1:26-38 and 2:1-20; and Matthew 2:1-12, read them slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you?
- Reflect: read the texts again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.
- Respond: read the texts 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 do these texts lead you to ask for from the Lord?
- Stay with the Word: read the texts a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Don’t say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?
- 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 lead you action.
Conclude your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…
Reflection: in the month of October Pope Francis invited all Christians to take to heart the proclamation of the Good News, Jesus Christ, that in him forgiveness triumphs over sin, life defeats death and love conquers fear. This is to be proclaimed with renewed faith and great joy just like Mary, the Shepherds and the Magi did and who became disciples and missionaries of Jesus. We are also call to be disciples and missionaries of Jesus ready to share the joy of his Gospel.
Central Message: The Angel Gabriel said to Mary: “Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour, the Lord is with you!”…Do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus”(Luke 128-32). “The Shepherds were terrified, but the angel said, “Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord”(Luke 2:9-12). The Magi said: “We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage…and the sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage”(Matt 2:1-12).
a) “Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour, the Lord is with you!” Similar greeting was said to some of the prophets like Moses, Jeremiah etc. accompanied with a particular mission according to God’s plan of Salvation. Mary disturbed by the greeting tries to understand what these words could mean in order to embrace and accept the invitation. As practical as she was, she wouldn’t just accept any invitation she had to ponder what could this imply. But the angel noticing her concern said “do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour”. These words and the explanation of the angel of what was about to happen gave her reassurance to accept such a mission entrusted to her, be the Mother of the Most High. Two main attitudes of discipleship are drown from Mary, the first is ‘humility’, after receiving the message and the explanation given by the angel, Mary surrendered herself and humbly accepted to be the handmaid (servant) of the Lord. It describes not only what she is but what she will do, to be a servant of others. Jesus will learn from her this attitude, in fact he will mention it later on “I have come to serve and not to be served” (Mt 20, 28). The second is ‘obedience’, “let what you have said be done to me”; Mary was faithful to God’s word throughout her life, St Irenaeus said that, “as Eve, by her disobedience, caused her own death and that of the whole human race, so did the Virgin Mary, by her obedience, become the cause of her own salvation and of that of all mankind.” The same is said of Jesus, “because of his obedience he saved the world”.
b) The angel, like he did with Mary, reassured the shepherds with angelic voice “Do not be afraid … I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people”. The appearing of the angel to Mary, the shepherds and other people in the Gospels, was to unveil God’s mystery of his incarnation: “Today a Saviour had been born to you” the expected Messiah; but still he had to be discovered because it was not so easy to know how he would have come or how he would have appeared like. So the angel gave them a sign to identify him, “you will find him wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger”. The shepherds were too disturbed by the visit of the angel, but they listen attentively the message reveal to them. We found in them, too, three attitudes of discipleship: the first is ‘listening with an open’ heart the message of great joy. Secondly, ‘believing’ without seeing him, but the sign given to them marked the beginning of their journey of faith towards the Saviour. Thirdly, they ‘harried away’ to seek and find the baby, it was an immediate reaction as if there was not time to waste. As they found the baby just as they were told, they repeated to those present what they have been told about him. They were already ministering as disciples and missionaries of Jesus without knowing it. It was Jesus who revealed himself to them, they just were opened to his revelation and ready to receive him. They shared back home full of joy all that they have heard and seen. They became missionaries of the incarnate God.
c) In the case of the three wise men it’s not an angel who announced the good news that the King of the Jews was born, but it was a star that led them from far to meet him “We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage”. There was the popular believe that the appearance of a new star was a sign of a significant event or a birth of an important person in the history. The journey of their faith in Jesus the King had begun as they set out in search for him guided by the star. We can find two main attitudes of discipleship and missionaries in the experience of the wise men. The first is ‘desire’. They have such desire and determination to search and find the infant king that nothing prevented them from accomplishing their dream, even if they found obstacles in the way. It is God who puts the desire in people’s hearts to search for him and he allows them to find him, for the one who searches always finds. The second is ‘joy’. “The sight of the star filled them with delight”. The desire that sprung from their hearts brought joy to their lives even before they met the baby king, because God was already with them and in them, though they were not believers. The journey of their faith in Jesus started from that moment on because they had the desire to meet him and do him homage”.
We find a common denominator of the personages of these texts, Mary, the shepherds and the Magi, who after meeting Jesus their lives were not the same, they all changed radically. Mary being a virgin turn to be the Mother of the Most high and his very first missionary of Jesus, giving her son to the World; the shepherds being ignorant of the promises of God became the first believers in the God of the incarnation and missionaries of the revelation of God in the person of Jesus; the wise men from being pagans turn believers and missionaries carrying out what they saw and heard.
Some questions for our reflexion:
- Is there a place for Jesus in my life?
- What signs of God’s presence can I see in my life?
- What was it that guided me through my life?