"Lectio divina is an authentic source of Christian spirituality recommended by our Rule. We therefore practice it every day, so that we may develop a deep and genuine love for it, and so that we may grow in the surpassing knowledge of Christ. In this way we shall put into practice the Apostle Paul’s commandment, which is mentioned in our Rule: “Let the sword of the spirit, the Word of God, live abundantly in your mouth and in your hearts; and whatever you must do, do it in the name of the Lord.”
Carmelite Constitutions (No. 82)
Lectio Divina: Luke 1:39-45
Friday, December 21, 2018
1) Opening prayer
God, we tend to lose ourselves in the hustle and bustle of the day, in our work and in our petty worries. Give us the freshness of heart to seek the things that matter, those that make our lives deeply human, and at the same time open us to Your world and to Your values. Make us long to encounter You with joy, that we may discover again the quality of gratuitous giving, of respect, and of carefree, self-forgetting love, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading – Luke 1: 39-45
Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the hill country to a town in Judah. She went into Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth. Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, “Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
• Luke stresses the readiness of Mary in serving, in being a handmaid. The angel speaks about the pregnancy of Elizabeth, and immediately Mary rises and sets out as quickly as she can to go and help her. From Nazareth to the house of Elizabeth there were more than 100 km, at least four days of traveling!, There were no buses or trains. Mary begins to serve and fulfills her mission on behalf of the people of God. • Elizabeth represents the Old Testament, which was about to end. Mary represents the New Testament. The Old Testament accepts the New one with gratitude and trust, recognizing in it God’s gift which is going to be realized and is going to satisfy people’s expectations. In the encounter of the two women the gift of the Spirit is manifested. The child leapt with joy in Elizabeth’s womb. This is Elizabeth’s faith-filled reading of things. • The Good News of God reveals His presence in the most common things of human life: two housewives who visit each other to help one another. Visit, joy, pregnancy, children, mutual help, house, family: Luke wants us and the community to see precisely this, and to discover in this, God’s presence. • Elizabeth says to Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” To this day, these words form part of the most prayed prayer in the whole world: “The Hail Mary”. • “And blessed is she who has believed that the promise made to her by the Lord would be fulfilled”. This is the Elizabeth’s praise of Mary and the message of Luke for the community: to believe in the Word of God, because the Word of God has the power to fulfill all that it proclaims. It is a creative Word. It generates new life in the womb of the Virgin, and in the hearts of people who accept it with faith. • Mary and Elizabeth already knew one another. In this encounter, they discover in each other a mystery which they had not known as yet, and which fills them with great joy. Today, we also meet people who surprise us because of the wisdom they possess and the witness of faith that they give. Has something similar ever happened to you? Have you met people who have surprised you? What prevents us from discovering and living the joy of God’s presence in our life? • The attitude of Mary before the Word expresses the ideal which Luke wants to communicate to the community: do not close yourselves off, but get out of yourselves, be attentive to the real needs of people and try to help others as far as possible according to their need.
4) Personal questions
• Putting myself in the place of Mary and Elizabeth: am I able to perceive and experience the presence of God in the most simple and common things in everyday life? • Elizabeth’s praise of Mary: “You have believed!” Her husband had difficulty believing what the angel was telling him. What about me?
5) Concluding Prayer
We are waiting for Yahweh; He is our help and our shield, for in Him our hearts rejoice, in His holy name we trust. (Ps 33:20-21)
As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven.
All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister."
The Carmelites see in Elijah a solitary prophet who nurtured his thirst for the one and only God, and lived in his presence. He is the contemplative, burning with passionate love for the Absolute who is God.