Saturday, January 23, 2016

Lectio Divino Gospel of Matthew (Part 1)

I've taken a longish break from reading the Gospels because it wasn't rewarding to me.  Small groups at church, weekly mass attendance, nothing seemed to be nourishing me spiritually.  Father Kevin, the pastor of St. Francis where Maya was baptized, once said to "go where you are fed spiritually". Even if that means outside the Catholic church.  He probably didn't mean outside of organized religion or Christianity, but his words remain wise nonetheless.  I'm not being nourished spiritually within the Catholic tradition anymore, though I have been putting forth an effort since the women's retreat back in August.  Granted, I cannot seem to make a private spiritual practice stick, but I think that is in part because all of the other Christian things I'm doing are just not speaking to me, and I see no point in doing more of what's not working.

That said, I've decided to take another look at the Gospels.  Not quite Lectio Divino anymore.  I read the commentary in my bible, I read the chapter twice.  I pray before starting.  And I jot down whatever resonates with me, not limiting myself to a single verse per chapter.  To be honest, I'm not putting myself into the reading as is the recommendation.  I'm trying something different, something less dependent on this relationship with Jesus-as-God that I don't believe in, and more focused on the wisdom to be found in his words.  It's spiritually exciting for me to find parallels between what Jesus is purported to have said and what I'm reading from the Tao Te Ching.

Below is what I have so far.

Mt 1:20 "Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream"

Mt 2:11 "The prostrated themselves and did him homage.  Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts."

Mt 3:8 "Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance."  (lost me on the repentance again)

Mt 4:10 "The Lord, your God shall you worship and him alone shall you serve."

Mt 5:3 "Blessed are he poor in spirit, for their is the kingdom of heaven."  (poor in spirit are those whose dependence is on God and not on wealth, social status, favors, etc.  These people don't fret; thus they are "in heaven")

Mt 5:34, 37  "Do not swear at all [...] Let your 'yes' mean 'yes', and your 'no' mean 'no'." (Why do only the Quakers ever talk about this?  This integrity basic really resonates with me.  No more swearing of oaths for me.)

Mt 5:44-45  "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of
your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall o the just and the unjust."

Mt 6:3  "When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret."

Mt 6:6  "When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret."

Mt 6:8  "Your Father knows what you need before you ask him."  (for this reason prayer should be about listening for God and not talking at God)

Mt 6:14  "If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you."  (a priest at a retreat once said that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is merely a celebration of the forgiveness that has already taken place!  The moment I recognize a wrong doing and truly repent in secret to God, I am assured of forgiveness... so long as I likewise forgive those who wrong me.  Seems logical to opt out of a celebration that doesn't add anything to my spiritual journey)

Mt 6:17-18  "When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting."

Mt 6:21  "Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."  (what you focus on will increase.  This is why I do not want to focus on sinfulness and repentance, but rather on transcending limitations and striving to fulfill my potential)

Mt 6:26  "Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them."

Mt 6:28, 30  "Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.  They do not work or spin [...] If God so clothes the grass of the field [...] will he not much more provide for you?"

These last two, along with the highlighted part of Mt 5:44-45 is just so beautifully Dao.  This is what I want to keep searching the Christian (and Jewish) scriptures for.  To find the wisdom of the Dao in the familiar wording of the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Nature has so much to teach us, yet outside of Franciscan spirituality, I rarely hear being reminded of this simple truth on the pulpit.

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