In preparation for this Sunday’s Liturgy, spend some time today and during this week preparing with this lectio divina meditation. This week’s Gospel reading is Luke 9:51-62, which is about the “Would-be Followers of Jesus.” Follow this four step lectio divina process, taken from Pope Benedict’s Verbum Domini, in your meditation on the Gospel.
Read June 30th’s Sunday’s Gospel and proceed through each step of the lectio divina process below.
LECTIO (Reading): What does this passage say that everyone should understand?
In this passage, Jesus officially begins his final journey to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel and the center of religious life for the Jews. It is there that the Temple of God was built by king Solomon, son of King David.
Jesus begins this journey in the same way it will end: rejection. He enters a Samaritan town with his disciples. The Samaritans and the Jews did not get along. Actually, that is an understatement. They hated each other. The disciples probably weren’t very surprised when the Samaritans rejected Jesus for heading to Jerusalem since they had their own holy place on Mount Gerizim. They would have taken Jesus’ trip to Jerusalem as an insult.
So there is no surprise that the brothers James and John considered treating the Samaritans like the enemies of the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament. Surely, Jesus would want to send down the consuming fire from God to destroy them. They must deserve it for this kind of rejection.
No, Jesus rebuked his disciples. These people would not be punished.
It turns out, discipleship is a lot harder than one would think. Maybe James and John should have cut the Samaritans some more slack. To follow Jesus, you have to give up everything, even your family.
To be a true follower of Jesus you must consider him more important than your home and even more important that the family and friends you love the most. This is an incredibly hard sacrifice to ask, yet this is the challenge of discipleship.
What does Jesus mean by “let the dead bury their dead” (Luke 9:60)? Burying dead relatives was a family obligation of the highest importance in Jesus’ day. Yet, Jesus says that those obligations do not compare to the requirements of discipleship. The followers of Jesus are alive. Those who walk separated from God, those who are spiritually dead, they can bury those who are physically dead.
Want to be truly alive? Follow Christ.
Want what is best for your family? Jesus tells us: follow him.
MEDITATION (Meditation): What does the text say to me, today, and to my life?
For today’s lectio divina meditation on the Would-be Followers of Jesus, reflect on the following:
- Are there people in your life, like the Samaritans, who just don’t like you? Do they cause you anger like James and John? Would you be able to respond in the same was as Jesus does in this passage (Luke 9:51-56)?
- Have you been appointed as one of Jesus messengers preparing for his reception in people’s lives? This could mean working in religious education, youth ministry, adult faith formation, parish life, and many other kinds of ministries. Put yourself in the shoes of Jesus’ messengers in this passage. Imagine you are James and John, sent ahead but rejected by those to whom you’ve been sent. How would you react?
- Jesus is telling you, “Follow me.” Hear him say these words to you. What’s your excuse? What will be the hardest for you to give up?
- Do you feel worthy to “go and proclaim the kingdom of God”? Why or why not? Where do you need God’s grace to help you proclaim the good news of salvation?
- Imagine you are in a field pushing a wooden plow. It’s hard work. You have to plow in a straight line, which means you can’t look back. You have to look forward. At the end of the line before you is the Kingdom of God. What do you see in the distance? What are the obstacles standing in your way? What do you feel you want to look back to? Who are you leaving behind?
ORATIO (Prayer): What can I say to the Lord in response to his word?
Consider the following suggestions for your conversation with the Lord:
- Imagine you are sitting before Jesus himself. Tell him, “Jesus, I will follow you wherever you go.” How will he respond? Where will he go and where must you follow?
- Jesus is calling you and asking you to put him first, above all else, including your closest loved ones. This isn’t easy for anyone to hear. Tell him how you feel about this. It’s ok to be scared or angry. It’s ok to be afriad. Share thes feelings with him in this time of prayer.
- Reading this passage about the dead burying the dead may bring up some thoughts and memories of the loved ones you have lost. Bring these thoughts and memories to your conversation with Christ. Share the pain with him. Ask for his healing touch and help in pushing ahead toward his kingdom.
CONTEMPLATIO (Contemplation): What conversion of the mind, heart, and life is the Lord asking of me?
Reflect on the following questions and statements, recognizing the need to be changed by God’s grace:
- Are you afraid of rejection? Place this fear before the Cross. Ask for the strength to face this fear and endure any rejection that might come your way.
- God is calling you to be his follower, his witness who proclaims the Gospel. What or who do you have to lose to respond to this call?
- Is there anyone holding you back from your journey toward the kingdom of God?
- Only Christ is the savior. You can’t save them. You can’t save your friends. You can’t save your family. Only Christ can be a savior. Ask for the grace to entrust their lives into God’s care. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and trust in God’s ability to do the rest.
Remember none of these changes in your life occur without God’s grace. He doesn’t ask us to carry our crosses alone. He gives us the strength and promises us that the losses we feel will, in fact, be the only way to save the life we are meant to live.
(photo credit: ellenwallace)