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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Visio divina for 12/15/11 – “Word Made Flesh” – 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

Word of God, Breath of Creator God, I believe that you have been with God from the very beginning. I marvel that you and God were able to have fun together, while bringing about order. Who suggested the armadillo or the Venus flytrap? All things were made through you; not one thing was made without you. Together, you pronounced all good and very good. Help me to see all creation as you see it.

Both God and Human, you chose to “become what we are in order that we might become what you are.” Help me step out in love and self-giving like you did in order to empower others to become God’s children. I can do this during this Advent season. By your example and with your help, I can bring grace and truth to others. I can share the source of eternal life, encouraging others to choose light and life rather than darkness.

Thank you for revealing the end of the story at the beginning! Thank you for John’s Gospel which gives another perspective of who you are. I thank you for your holy Spirit which guides our pondering then and now. Help us to dwell on your fullness during this Advent/Christmas tiime, expanding our vision and faith so that we can be as bold as John.

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.

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Visio divina for 12/16/11 – “Word Made Flesh” – 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

Recently I have become more aware of contemplative prayer as its own practice. Some people just do centering prayer or the Jesus prayer without doing lectio. At it’s formation, lectio was meant to be prayer through the text both with words, or the kataphatic, and without words, the apophatic. These two ways of prayer were not meant to be separated as they have been. The retrieval or resurgence of the practice of lectio/visio divina is a means of reuniting these two ways of engaging the Word.

In contemplation, I am reminded that I am invited to sit in Silence before the Word. In that time of no words or images, the Holy Spirit, Bond of Love, works to deepen my relationship with God. It is beyond my capacity to know what happens in this sacred time. On my part, I come, sit, breathe in the love of God and breathe out my love in return.

In doing visio divina with Seeing the Word, sometimes we take only a moment or two in contemplation, but I encourage you to make time in your day to spend more time, twenty minutes or an hour. It is a mystery wrapped around an intentional practice.

So this day, come and sit with me in silence as we gaze in love at the Word Made Flesh.

Advent Blessings!

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.

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Visio divina for 12/17/11 – “Word Made Flesh” – 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.

 

COMMENTS

Now we come to the last movement of visio divina, becoming Christ-like. Of course, visio divina is more fluid than that, with no clear ending, but a movement back and forth between the different rhythms. I have found that returning to God’s Word, reading it for a third time is essential to transformation. When I hear the Word again, it acts in such a way as to gel my ponderings, making my transformation more solid. It’s sort of like a conclusion, for now, until I revisit the text and ponder again. Of course, the holy Spirit will continue to bring the text or my word or phrase to me in surprising ways in the days and weeks to come. It’s amazing how creative the Spirit is and how watchful we need to be to catch those surprises.

By listening to the Word again, I am reminded that I am in relationship with the God made Flesh. He has given me the power to step forward into humanness as I receive grace upon grace from him. As Christmas approaches and the cookies aren’t made or gifts wrapped (or even bought!), I can slow down and be more like Jesus: not rushed, caring for others, and certain in my being that I am loved. This makes all the difference in the world and in this Advent season. And so I will make special treats while blessing the people who will enjoy them. I will wrap presents slowly and prayerfully. And when I begin to be frazzled again by the rush, I will revisit these amazingly powerful and mysterious words about the Word Made Flesh and ponder them anew.

Where has the text and sacred art changed you? In what way has it deepened your faith and/or motivated your faith?

Rejoice with me in His Coming!

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.

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Seeing Advent – Week 4 – 2012 – Word Made Flesh

“Today you will know the Lord is coming, and in the morning you will see his glory.” (Liturgy of the Hours)

On this eve of Christmas, Rebecca Spanier, graduate student at St. John’s School of Theology-Seminary and graduate assistant at Seeing The Word reflects on the Illumination, Word Made Flesh from John 1:1-5, 10-14.

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Audio ReflectionAudio Reflection

Illuminating the Call: The Word Made Flesh

Illuminating the Call is a series of audio reflections connecting the themes of Advent and Christmas, and the calling of a major Old Testament figure with the illuminations of The Saint John’s Bible. The series will explore the ways God is calling us to be disciples today.

The Word Made Flesh
John 1:1-14

Jessie Bazan
Jessie is a first year Masters of Divinity student at the Saint John’s University School of Theology and Seminary. She also works as the graduate assistant for Seeing the Word.