"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: Matthew 1,18-24
Monday, December 18, 2017
3rd Week of Advent
1) Opening prayer
Lord, faithful God, in Jesus You have given us someone taken from our human flesh and blood, a man, yet Your Son, through whom You want to restore integrity and fidelity among us. Help us to give with Him, to You, and also to one another," the proper and adequate response of faithful, serving love, which You expect from Your people. Be our God for ever through Jesus Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading – Matthew 1:18-24
This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being an upright man and wanting to spare her disgrace, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you must name Him Jesus, because He is the one who is to save His people from their sins.”
Now all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “Look! the virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom they will call Immanuel, a name which means 'God-is-with-us'.”
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife into his home.
• In Luke’s Gospel, the story of the infancy of Jesus (chapters 1 and 2 of Luke) centers around Mary. However, in the Gospel of Matthew, the infancy of Jesus (chapters 1 and 2 of Matthew) centers around Joseph, the promised spouse of Mary. Joseph was a descendant of David. Through him, Jesus belongs to the line of David. Thus, in Jesus, the promises made by God to David and his descendants are fulfilled.
• As seen in yesterday’s Gospel relating to the genealogy of Jesus, there was something unusual in the marital unions of the five women mentioned. Today’s Gospel shows Mary to be something of a companion to these women. Her union with Joseph is also abnormal, and contrary to the laws of the time, because she was pregnant before living with Joseph. Neither the people, nor the future husband, knew the origin of this pregnancy. If Joseph had the same idea of justice as held by the scribes and Pharisees, he would have denounced Mary. The penalty she would have suffered would have been death by stoning.
• Joseph, however, shows a different manner of justice. He practiced what Jesus would later teach, namely, that “if your uprightness does not surpass that of the Scribes and Pharisees you will never get into the kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 5:20). For this reason, Joseph, not understanding the facts and not wanting to repudiate Mary, decided to leave her in secret.
• In the bible, the discovery of God’s call takes place in different ways. Joseph succeeded in seeing the significance of what was taking place in Mary by means of a dream. In his sleep, an angel uses the bible to clarify the origin of Mary’s pregnancy. It came from the action of the Spirit of God.
• When everything was clear for Mary, she says “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word!” When everything was clear for Joseph, he takes Mary as his spouse and they went to live together. Thanks to the justice of Joseph, Mary was not put to death and Jesus continued to live in her womb.
4) Personal questions
• In the eyes of the scribes, the justice of Joseph would be disobedience. Is there a message for us in this?
• How do you discover the call of the Word of God in your life?
5) Concluding Prayer
For God rescues the needy who call to Him, and the poor who have no one to help. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the needy from death. (Ps 72:12-13)
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.