Visio Divina for 12/14/11 – “Word Made Flesh” – Day 4 (Seeing cont.)

SEEING

Return to God’s word for the purpose of “hearing and seeing” Christ in the text. Fix your gaze on the illumination. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart and enable you to see what God wants you to see.

 

COMMENTS

I continue to ponder the idea of the Word stepping forth from eternity. It’s almost as if this is the next scene, following the one in Phil. 2:6-11. There, we hear of Christ Jesus emptying himself, giving of himself out of love, being born in human likeness. With my spiritual imagination, I can see Christ, having made the decision to take on the human form, setting forth on this journey from beyond the veil and back again.

This reminds me of another story- A Hobbit’s Tale; There and Back Again. Now you know. I am still a huge Lord of the Rings fan, like some people are Star Wars fans. I think of Frodo having made the excruciatingly difficult decision to go into Mordor, putting on the mithril shirt as he begins his adventure beyond Rivendell. This is not a perfect analogy, I know. Frodo is just a simple hobbit, not the divine. Also, we have to read or watch to see what happens at the end. It is how good stories are written. But that’s not how John writes his Gospel.

Instead of waiting to reveal eternal life after the crucifixion and resurrection like the other Gospels, John gives us the inside scoop right from the start. Does that ruin the story? Not for me. Here is a promise from God: If I receive Jesus and believe in his name, he will empower me to become God’s child. Because Jesus stepped forth, becoming flesh, I am able to step forth, too, choosing light and life over darkness. I don’t have to wait until the ending, there is eternal life now! Am I ready to step forth? That is a good question. Am I ready to take on more of what it means to be human as Jesus is human: loving, serving, giving? There lies the challenge!

What challenges you in the illumination? Are you open to the images, thoughts, impressions, and feelings that come into your awareness?

Kathy Janku

©Christ Our Light, Donald Jackson, 2002 The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota.  Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Visio Divina for 12/13/11 – “Word Made Flesh” – Day 3 (Seeing)

SEEING

Return to God’s word for the purpose of “hearing and seeing” Christ in the text. Fix your gaze on the illumination. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart and enable you to see what God wants you to see.

COMMENTS

There is so much to see in this illumination! I am struck by the brilliant gold, which appears to be either fading or taking on human nature, or both. We believe in our faith that Jesus Christ is both fully divine and fully human, one does not lessen with the advent of the other. But as S. Irene Nowell writes, “We are invited to imagine the Word stepping out of eternity and becoming flesh.” The process of incarnation is not quite complete here. What I am particularly drawn to is Christ’s right foot. It is bent in an unusual way. It reminds me of the illumination from Mark’s frontispiece, Baptism of Christ. In that illumination we see John leaving the scene, having fulfilled his role to prepare the way for One Greater. As he walks away, he turns and looks back, almost with sadness at the life he leaves behind. You’ll see that his foot is in the same position as Jesus’ in Word Made Flesh.

This makes me wonder if Jesus is sad to leave his eternal home. Is he stepping forth, like John, in faithfulness and determination? But unlike John, Jesus is both God and human in order to take on his role of Savior of the world.

Where are the eyes of your heart drawn to?

Kathy Janku

©Christ Our Light, Donald Jackson, 2002 The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota.  Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved

Visio Divina for 12/12/11 – “Word Made Flesh” – Day 2 (Meditating)

MEDITATING

Ruminate on the word you were drawn to in yesterday’s scripture passage (John 1:1-5, 10-14). What does the word or phrase you have chosen mean to you today?

COMMENTS

The phrase to which the Holy Spirit draws my attention is “full of grace and truth.” These two concepts would have been common for the Greek-speaking person of John’s day. To say a person was full of grace meant that the person showed a special manifestation of the divine presence. Simply put, God was with that person. Likewise, for those in Greek society, truth was an ideal, a goal to strive for. For John, Jesus was the embodiment of grace and truth, “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15).  Grace and truth are words that have been taken over by the Christian community. We use grace in greetings, to speak of God-touched moments such as when we receive the sacraments or admire a sunrise. These are words that I am still learning about as I see Christ model them for me.

In my reading, I found that in the Hebrew, there are words synonymous with the Greek concepts of grace and truth. These are the concepts of unfailing love and faithfulness. In some places, mercy is found instead of faithfulness. These are very special words; they are words used in the covenant between the Israelites and God. In Exodus 34:6-7a, we have the faith statement of God’s chosen people, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation.” For me, these are words inviting relationship with God. Since Jesus is full of grace and truth, or unfailing love and faithfulness, he also invites me into relationship with a God who I can put a face to. He has come into this world to be in covenant with me, with us.

What does your word or phrase mean to you this day?

Kathy Janku

©Christ Our Light, Donald Jackson, 2002 The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota.  Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Visio Divina for 12/11/11 – “Word Made Flesh” – Day 1 (Listening)

LISTENING

Read the text below, preferably aloud.  As you hear the word, “listen with the ear of your heart” for a word or short phrase that God has for you this day.

John 1:1-5, 10-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

     He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

     And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

 

COMMENTS

 As I listen to the Prologue to John’s Gospel with the “ears of faith,” I am aware that this evangelist repeats himself in the opening lines, as if he is definitely driving a point home. It has been about sixty years since the death of Jesus of Nazareth, sixty years to ponder just who this person was. He had come from Galilee, ministered to the people of Israel, but few Israelites recognized him as other than a prophet. Not many accepted Jesus as the Anointed One sent by God. You can almost hear the objections raised by those struggling to formulate their beliefs. “He was just a man, yes, a man who did works of God, but was just a created being just like you and me!” On the other hand, those called docetists declared that Jesus was not fully human, but a god who only gave that appearance.

Is there a word or phrase that touches your heart?

The Prologue of John’s Gospel explodes with a “higher” Christology. Coming at it from a cosmic perspective, John proclaims that Jesus was not just a man, but is fully human and fully God. In fact, Jesus, God’s creative Word, was with God in the very beginning, preexistent, the creative agent separating light from darkness, land from water, and day from night. As God spoke, Jesus Christ made all things, the good and the very good. John masterfully connects Jesus with the Creator God of the Hebrew Scriptures using words and concepts hard to miss, words like “In the beginning,” “life,” and “light.” At the same time, the evangelist employs such words as logos and sarx to drive home for the Greek-speaking populace of the Roman world that Jesus Christ is both the very Word of God and a whole human person. With seeing eyes, made clear by faith, the author testifies that Jesus possessed the very glory of God, full of grace and truth.

Kathy Janku

©Christ Our Light, Donald Jackson, 2002 The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota.  Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Visio divina for 12/10/11 – “Messianic Predictions” – Day 7 (Becoming Christ-like)

BECOMING CHRIST-LIKE

Return to God’s word. Allow it to transform you. Notice how your faith is being deepened and your way of life motivated.

So far, this Advent season has proven to be both a journey and a struggle for me.  For well over a year, I’ve dreaded the implementation of the new Roman Missal.  Now that it is here, I’m having to find ways of moving beyond my personal hang-ups and reengaging in the source and summing of my own spiritual life and the life of the church universal.  It’s been a journey, but it’s been a struggle. 

This past fall, I made the decision to attend grad school.  It’s been a wonderful journey.  The people that have guided me through this process have been truly amazing.  I have no doubt this is where I’m supposed to be.  Yet, it has been a struggle.  I’ve been out of the academic routine for a while.  I’m not great at managing my time and I would have never dreamed that I would be as busy as I am.  It’s been a beautiful journey, but it’s been a struggle.

There’s something in the word “journey” itself the seems to imply that it’s more than just traveling from one place to another.  There’s a sense of the unknown; perhaps wrestling with some sort of difficulty is even implied.  I think this is a significant point in understanding our search for “everlasting peace.”  It’s a journey.  It involves the unknown and it involves difficulty.  Yet, we have that promise that we will find what we are searching for if we remain diligent in traveling along this journey of faith. 

So, how can I work toward becoming more Christ-like this Advent season and beyond?  As I alluded to in the previous post, I believe that it’s going about my daily activities with full mindfulness and intention.  Why I am I doing the things that I am doing?  For whom am I doing them for?  After all, the entire message of Advent is “stay awake!,” “be watchful!”  As I move toward the mystery of Christmas, I hope to keep this mindfulness about me.  I will seek to look for that “everlasting peace” in my everyday life, and I know that if I remain vigilant, I will find it.

Messianic Predictions, Thomas Ingmire, © 2005 The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, Copyright 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Visio divina for 12/9/11 – “Messianic Predictions” – Day 6 (Contemplating)

CONTEMPLATING

Notice the transforming presence of God within you. Let go of words and images. Surrender all that is stirring, even if only briefly, and rest for a few minutes in God’s embrace.

 

COMMENTS

Contemplation is not something that I naturally drift towards.  I would imagine that this is the case for most people as well. 

As I’ve spent the week reflection upon both the scripture text from Isaiah and its accompanying illumination, I’ve been trying to find that time for contemplation – that interior reflection and search of “everlasting peace.” 

One thing that I’ve been much more conscious of is my time spent driving.  I generally like to listen to the news or classical music, but I’m beginning to realize how precious this drive time can be.  I’ve been trying to keep the radio off lately and use that time for reflection.  It really is amazing how contemplative a drive can be, even if it’s only five minutes.  I think it’s an important lesson to learn how to relish even the smallest moments of quiet.

What do I think about during these quiet times?  Sometimes my mind wanders, but lately I’ve been reflecting on that idea of “everlasting peace.”  Oddly enough, there’s a certain amount of peace that comes from even contemplating such an idea!  I think that what it comes down to is going about our daily lives with a certain amount of mindfulness.  Why are we occupying our time with the activities that we do?  For whom are we doing these things?  I think if we can be conscious about our day-to-day actions and intents, we can start to grasp at the “everlasting peace” that Isaiah promised.

Messianic Predictions, Thomas Ingmire, © 2005 The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, Copyright 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Visio divina for 12/8/11 – “Messianic Predictions” – Day 5 (Praying)

PRAYING

Pray to God, allowing for the transformation of your being and feelings. Give to God what you have found in your heart.

COMMENTS

Creating God, at the beginning of time, you brought order out of extreme chaos.  As we move toward the birthday of your son, we find ourselves bogged down and overwhelmed with our own chaos.  The demands of life are many and we do not easily see your activity in the world. 

Bring order to our lives, O God!  Remove the illusion from our hearts that we must constantly occupy ourselves in order to be successful!  Stir up a love for you in our hearts that we may be moved to seek out and find the gift of everlasting peace which you have promised us through Isaiah. 

As we prepare for the coming of your son in only a few short weeks, let us be conscience of your presence in our lives and the work of your creative spirit in the world.  Open our eyes to see the face of your son in the work we do, in the events of daily life, and in the people we meet, so that on Christmas day, we may truly experience the great joy and energy of that promise you entrusted to Isaiah long ago.

We as this in the name of your son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen!

Messianic Predictions, Thomas Ingmire, © 2005 The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, Copyright 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Visio divina for 12/7/11 – “Messianic Predictions” – Day 4 (Seeing cont.)

SEEING

Return to God’s word for the purpose of “hearing and seeing” Christ in the text. Fix your gaze on the illumination. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart and enable you to see what God wants you to see.

COMMENTS

In yesterday’s reflection, I noted how the various lines in the illumination called to mind how our various journeys in life always intersect with the divine.  As I read the text once again and return to the illumination, several new items have emerged.

The word that initially stuck me was “endless peace.”  Today I noticed that this very phrase crowns the illumination in the small, center arc.  I also noticed how Isaiah’s prediction at the bottom of the illumination is superimposed over a very different series of colors than at the top of the illumination.  I’m mainly struck with how joyful this image truly is.  Explosions of color, text, and lines jump off the page.  There’s certainly a sense of excitement! 

However, in many ways, I’ve found this illumination to be challenging.  I enjoy abstract art and I find this illumination completely beautiful.  How do I move beyond seeing a beautiful image to seeing God’s message for me within this image?  Perhaps I’m not always supposed to find a specific message for me personally.  Perhaps this illumination is supposed to serve as a reminder of the sheer joyfulness and exuberance of the incarnation. 

This image of bursting joy will be one that I carry with me throughout this advent.  May we all experience the day of Christmas with as much joy and excitement as this illumination projects!  What strikes you in this illumination?  What challenges you?

Messianic Predictions, Thomas Ingmire, © 2005 The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, Copyright 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Visio divina for 12/6/11 – “Messianic Predictions” – Day 3 (Seeing)

SEEING

Return to God’s word for the purpose of “hearing and seeing” Christ in the text. Fix your gaze on the illumination. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart and enable you to see what God wants you to see.

COMMENTS

Yesterday I reflected that the process of seeking out Jesus Christ, who is “everlasting peace,” can be a messy process.  As I focus on this illumination, I see what a completely beautiful mess this process really is!  There’s an energy and joyfulness about this illumination, but it’s anything but neat!

In many ways, I see the multicolored lines as being our various journeys on our quest for “everlasting peace.”  These lines are helter-skelter.  Some are bright and joyful, while others are dark and lonely.  Yet, every single line intersects with one of the wonderful titles of the Messiah from Isaiah: “Prince of Peace,” “King of Kings,” “God with us.”  If that isn’t enough, every lines also intersects with a jubilant “Hallelujah!” 

For me, this is reflective of how the Divine constantly intersects with our lives, whether we know it or not, whether we asked for it or not.  There’s an old saying that comes to mind that says “Summoned or not summoned, God is present.”  I see that very clearly in this illumination.  Through life’s highs and lows, somehow we are always running into a “Hallelujah” moment.  These moments become possible through the promise of Isaiah at the bottom of the illumination “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.  Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”  From this unassuming prediction comes a savior, a Messiah, who is always with us on our journey and who ultimately leads us to himself, “everlasting peace.”

Messianic Predictions, Thomas Ingmire, © 2005 The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, Copyright 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Visio divina for 12/5/11 – “Messianic Predictions” – Day 2 (Meditating)

MEDITATING

Ruminate on the word you were drawn to in yesterday’s scripture passage (Isaiah 7:13-14, 9:6-7). What does the word or phrase you have chosen mean to you today? 

 

COMMENTS

That phrase in the passage from Isaiah that I keep returning to is “endless peace.”  In the midst of the unrest that reigned during Isaiah’s time, he predicts that a Messiah will come and that this Messiah will usher in a new era of peace. 

This is an incredibly chaotic time of year.  Parents try to make ends meet as they strive to create the “perfect” Christmas morning for their children.  Students hack away on their computers trying to write that “perfect” final paper.  Church musicians and liturgists are busy planning the “perfect” Christmas service.  In an era that seems to demand so much perfection, where is this “endless peace” that Isaiah promises?

My gut response as a Christian is “well, obviously Jesus is this endless peace.”  While I know this is true, the answer doesn’t completely satisfy me.  I think that’s because we often ignore the fact that we have to actually make the effort to seek out Jesus Christ, who is “everlasting peace.”  This seeking can be messy and unclear at times.  However I know that if I keep my heart open and seeking, it’s often in the completely unexpected moments I end up finding this peace.

As I read this passage from Isaiah, I know that God understood the frustrations of Israel.  God sends a sign: “…the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel…”  At the time, I’m sure this sign seemed quite unspectacular.  Like many things in our lives, it’s only by stepping back that we realize the true gift that God is offering us.  God offered Israel a powerless child that will bring endless peace.  God offers us this same gift.  May we keep our hearts open to receiving this gift of endless peace as we move through the journey of Advent.

Which word or phrase spoke to you?

 

Messianic Predictions, Thomas Ingmire, © 2005 The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, Copyright 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.